Crock Pot Marinara to Blow Your Mind!

Crock pot slow cooker marinara recipe

I hate to say a recipe can change your life but I have and I won’t stop.  I made this recipe using simple ingredients you can buy at Aldi exclusively if you so choose.  It will be better than most sauces on the market and will cost far less (as you will see).  Even if you buy fancy Italian tomatoes, it will still be much less than two jars of your favorite imported-tomato-based sauce. It makes about 13 cups of sauce!  With the average jar of the pricey stuff coming in at about $5.00 per 16-24 oz, that’s about 5 servings ($25.00 total!).  We never eat an entire jar of sauce, which is wasteful.  I usually get about 6 family-sized servings out of this or a couple months of sauce.

I’ve made this recipe different over time, mind you.  I’ve probably got about 16 iterations of it but this is the most Aldi-friendly version.

Marinara is a staple here.  You can use this on pasta, in lasagna, add ground beef or turkey to make meat sauce, or use it on pizza.  Overall, it is a great base for many meals. I like to make this on lazy sundays but you could do it while at work.  It is a beautiful sauce but warning: it will make you so hungry to smell it all day!


  • 3 large cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup of dry red wine (I use cabernet and you could sub water if you don’t want to use alcohol)
  • 1/4 cup water for rinsing the cans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (without seasoning) (OPTIONAL if you want “chunky” sauce)
  • 6 cloves garlic or 3 tbs garlic powder
  • 1 small white onion, chopped finely or 3 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 a package of basil (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing aromatics
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • salt to taste

Start by turning your slow cooker to low for 8 hours.  Dump in 3 cans of crushed tomato.  Rinse each can with a bit of dry red wine diluted with a bit of water.  This makes about 3/4 a up and split each quarter through each can.  You want to get all that tomato goodness out and you need the moisture for this sauce.  If you don’t want to use alcohol, just sub water.  Add in diced tomatoes if you want a chunky sauce (we don’t do that at our house).

If using fresh garlic and onion, sauté until the garlic is slightly browned and the onions begin to get transparent.  Dump into sauce.  Add Italian seasoning and fresh basil if you would liked which you’ve chopped finely.  Add sugar and then add salt to taste.  If using powder garlic and onion, add olive oil here if you choose.  Stir well!

There is nothing to do at this point.  You’re basically just waiting on the sauce.  You can stir it a couple times as it cooks but that isn’t essential.

Once ready, turn the sauce off and serve over any pasta you like or use as you see fit.

To freeze, let sauce cool FULLY and then put either in freezer bags or containers.  I didn’t have enough containers to freeze it in this time (meal prepped a LOT this past month and had a huge freezer stash) so I put it in bags.  Here is how you freeze it lying flat.  It will make your life easier when you unfreeze it.  When you want sauce, just defrost it a day ahead or in an hour or so in cold water and warm on the stove like any pasta sauce!

As this is an aldi recipe (minus maybe the basil and fresh garlic or single onion), it is SO affordable to make:

  • Crushed Tomatoes – $4.00
  • Tomato paste – $1.25
  • Cabernet – $2.00 if you buy a $9.00 bottle
  • Onion ($1.00)
  • Garlic ($.90)
  • Basil ($1.50)

About $10.00 vs. the $25.00 you’d pay to buy this stuff.

I’d say that is a win for high-quality and EASY sauce!


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