Easy Recipes to Make With Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce may be the perfect accompaniment to a big bowl of pasta, but that’s hardly the only way to enjoy this versatile pantry staple. This tasty tomato-based concoction can also be used to make a wide array of delicious entrees, appetizers, and side dishes, all just by opening a jar. Even better, teach yourself how to make a simple marinara sauce. Prepare a double or triple batch, freeze the leftovers, and you’ll always have one of the key ingredients for these seven easy recipes on hand.

1. Quick Mussels Fra Diavolo


Mussels | iStock.com

Mussels are the kind of delicious seafood you should be eating more of, since they’re fairly cheap and easy to prepare. Steaming the little bivalves and then serving them with marinara is one of the most popular ways to prepare this underrated shellfish, When you use ready-made pasta sauce, you can have an impressive dinner on the table in a matter of minutes. Recipe from Skinny Taste.


  • 1 (2.25-ounce jar) jarred marinara sauce, or an equivalent amount of homemade sauce
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup minced shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 3 pounds (48 to 50) live mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
  • Crusty whole wheat crusty bread, for serving

Directions: Add the olive oil to a large saucepan and heat over medium-high. Add the shallot, garlic, and crushed red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and let come to a boil. Continue to cook until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the marinara sauce and bring to a simmer.

Add the mussels to the pan, cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until the mussels open. (Discard any mussels that do not open.) Season the pan’s contents with salt to taste, then spoon the mussels and sauce onto a platter. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately with bread.

2. Homemade Spanish Rice

spanish rice with vegetables in a black bowl

Spanish rice | iStock.com

Making homemade burritos, enchiladas, or tacos for dinner? Add something extra to the table by preparing a batch of Spanish rice to serve on the side. Or, you could stir in some spicy sausage or cooked chicken and serve with a salad for a simple meal. Recipe from What’s for Dinner, Gena?


  • 2½ cups water, divided
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup spaghetti or marinara sauce
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

Directions: Add 2 cups of water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add rice, stir, and reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes.

Uncover and stir in the chicken broth, breaking up any clumps of rice as you do. Stir in the marinara sauce, tomatoes, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. Depending on the desired consistency, add an additional ½ cup water.

Cook for another 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and let cool for a few minutes.  The rice will thicken as it sits.

3. Italian Meatloaf with Marinara Parmesan Crust

Meatloaf with Tomato Sauce

Italian meatloaf with marinara parmesan crust | iStock.com

Crowd-pleasing meatloaf gets an Italian-style upgrade in this recipe from Downshiftology. Unlike many other meatloaf recipes, this one doesn’t feature any fillers like breadcrumbs, which means you get a more intense, beef-y flavor in every bite.


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ tablespoon dried basil
  • ½ tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅓ cup parmegiano reggiano, finely grated
  • 1 cup marinara sauce

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the beef, onion, garlic, egg, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper to a large bowl. Using your hands, mix everything thoroughly until all of the ingredients are well combined.

Spoon the meat mixture into a loaf pan, pushing down gently so that the meat is flat. Spread one cup of the marinara sauce evenly over the meat and sprinkle the cheese over top.

Bake for 1 hour. Remove the meatloaf from oven and tilt the pan over a bowl to drain any juice that has pooled along the side of the pan. Remove meatloaf from the pan, slice, and serve.

4. Oven-Roasted Ratatouille


Ratatouille | iStock.com

Ratatouille, a traditional French stew, is the perfect way to get more vegetables in your diet. Slow-cooking the zucchini, tomato, and eggplant with marinara sauce results in a dish so rich and flavorful you won’t miss the meat. Recipe from Budget Bytes.


  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spread ½ cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish or pie plate. Top with the onion slices. Then, layer the vegetables in the dish as if you were stacking dominoes. If the slices are not all roughly the same diameter, slice into halves or quarters. Sprinkle vegetables with salt, pepper, dried basil, and oregano. Top with the remaining ½ cup of marinara.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and sprinkle shredded cheese over top. Return the dish to the oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.

5. Kale and Feta Egg Bake


Eggs | iStock.com

Baked eggs are perfect for both quick breakfasts and simple dinners. In this recipe from Running to the Kitchen, they’re layered with marinara sauce, kale, and feta for a nutritious, filling meal.


  • 5 to 6 large leaves of kale, washed, trimmed, and chopped
  • ½ a medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons marinara sauce, divided
  • ⅓ cup crumbled feta, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sauté onions, garlic, and olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add kale and red pepper flakes and cook until kale is wilted, another 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Coat an oven-safe ramekin or small baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce into the bottom of the dish. Add half of the kale and onion mixture, then top with half the feta. Spoon on the remaining 2 tablespoons of sauce, then the rest of the kale and onion.

Crack 2 eggs on the top of the kale and tomato. Sprinkle with remaining feta. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until eggs are set but still runny. Serve immediately with crusty bread or toast.

6. Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya


Jambalaya | iStock.com

Marinara sauce adds a great tomato flavor to this chicken and shrimp jambalaya from Jo Cooks. Unlike most versions of this classic dish, this one doesn’t call for sausage, so it’s lighter and healthier (though you can add some andouille sausage if you wish).


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut in small pieces (or use an equivalent amount of chicken breast)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 large dried bay leaves
  • Pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • 2 cups basil marinara sauce
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 pound peeled, deveined large shrimp
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun spice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Green onions for garnish

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt the butter in a large oven-safe skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute onion until transparent, about 3 minutes. Add bell pepper, celery, and chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, bay leaves, and pepper and stir.

Add the marinara sauce, chicken stock or water, and rice to the pot and stir until everything is fully combined. Bring to a boil, then add hot sauce. Cover the pan and bake for about 30 to 45 minutes until rice is cooked.

As the rice cooks, clean the shrimp and season it with Cajun spice. Pour the olive oil into a skillet and heat over medium-high. Add the seasoned shrimp and cook for about 1 minute per side, until it turns pink.

Remove rice mixture from the oven and stir in the cooked shrimp and green onions. Serve.

7. Baked Goat Cheese

Goat Cheese Baked with tomatoes

Baked goat cheese | iStock.com

You only need four ingredients — marinara, goat cheese, salt, and basil — to make this delicious, creamy appetizer. Serve with garlic bread or crostini and watch this dip disappear faster than you can say “presto!” Recipe from The Wicked Noodle.


  • 8 ounces goat cheese, softened
  • 1 (16-ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Press goat cheese into a small baking dish, leaving a 1-inch border around edge. Poor marinara into the space between the edge of the dish and the marinara, being careful not to cover the middle of the cheese. Sprinkle with salt.

Bake until cheese is soft and warmed through and marinara is hot and bubbling, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with basil. Serve immediately with garlic bread for dipping.

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