Can You Use Spaghetti Sauce as Substitute for Marinara Sauce?


Marinara sauce is a classic Italian sauce that is known for its simplicity and versatility. It is made with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and various herbs and spices. Marinara sauce is commonly used in pasta dishes, pizzas, and as a dipping sauce.

Can spaghetti sauce be used as a substitute for marinara sauce?

The Short Answer:

Yes, you can use spaghetti sauce as a substitute for marinara sauce in certain recipes. However, it’s important to note that the two sauces have some differences in flavor and consistency, so the end result may vary slightly.

The Detailed Answer:

1. Flavor Profile

Marinara sauce has a vibrant and fresh flavor due to its simple ingredient list. It typically has a hint of sweetness from the tomatoes and a slight tanginess from the garlic and onions.

On the other hand, spaghetti sauce tends to be more complex in flavor. It often contains additional ingredients such as ground meat, mushrooms, or wine, which can give it a richer taste.

If you decide to use spaghetti sauce as a substitute for marinara sauce, keep in mind that the flavors may differ slightly. You might want to adjust the seasonings accordingly to match your desired taste.

2. Consistency

Marinara sauce is generally thinner in consistency compared to spaghetti sauce.

The thinner consistency allows it to coat pasta evenly without overpowering it.

Spaghetti sauce tends to be thicker due to the added ingredients like meat or vegetables. This thickness can make it a bit heavy for certain dishes where a lighter sauce is preferred.

If you are using spaghetti sauce as a marinara substitute, consider adding a little water or broth to thin it out. This will help achieve a more similar consistency to traditional marinara sauce.

3. Recipe Adaptation

When substituting spaghetti sauce for marinara sauce, it’s important to consider the recipe you are working with.

If the recipe calls for plain marinara sauce, using spaghetti sauce with additional ingredients might alter the overall taste and texture of the dish. In such cases, you may want to omit or adjust other ingredients accordingly to maintain the original flavors.

On the other hand, if the recipe already incorporates different flavors and textures, using spaghetti sauce as a substitute can add depth and complexity to the dish.


In summary, while spaghetti sauce can be used as a substitute for marinara sauce in certain recipes, there are some differences to consider. The flavor profile and consistency of both sauces vary slightly, which may affect the final outcome of your dish. By adjusting seasonings and adapting recipes accordingly, you can still create delicious meals even when using spaghetti sauce as an alternative to marinara sauce.