slow cooker marinara sauce

Easy Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce

  • Author: Amy Palanjian
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: makes about 2 quarts 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Italian


Scale up or down for a smaller or larger slow cooker. You don’t have to be precise! And the chopped tomatoes can be very roughly chopped. 


  • 4 quarts fresh tomatoes, very roughly chopped with stems discarded
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Fill the slow cooker with chopped fresh tomatoes, stems discarded, and the garlic. Cover and cook on low overnight, or for about 8-10 hours. 
  2. Remove the lid and let cool for 30-60 minutes. (This makes it possible to blend them without the risk of the steam making your blender explode. Which is key.)
  3. Use a large slotted spoon or small mesh spoon to scoop out the tomato solids and garlic into a blender, leaving the liquid in the slow cooker. Add oregano, salt, olive oil, and basil and blend into a smooth sauce. (You may need to do two batches.)
  4. Pour into freezer containers or storage bags and freeze for up to 1 year. Thaw overnight in the fridge. (Don’t worry if it looks a little separated—it will come back together when it’s warmed up.)
  5. To use, heat a pot over medium heat, add sauce, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. 


Meat sauce: Brown 1 pound of ground beef, turkey, or even sausage before Step 5. Add the sauce and simmer, to make a simple meat sauce.
Ratatouille sauce: Add a chopped yellow squash, eggplant, and onion to the tomato mixture in the slow cooker. Proceed as directed.
Stovetop: You can do this method on the stovetop if you prefer, ladling off spoonfuls of liquid as it separates out. Or simply let it bubble away all day!

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