Healthy Pantry Shortcuts: Crock-pot Fire Roasted Marinara Sauce

Why take shortcuts? Well aside from the obvious hot busy mess we call life, sometimes the transition from tomato to sauce isn’t as simple as one would imagine.

Sometimes these little buggers actually prefer to stay green. [the nerve!]
or sometimes you make a ridiculous amount salsa and run out of tomatoes entirely
And don’t even get me started on the months that tomatoes aren’t in season…

Whatever the reason, you can always raid your pantry for some trusty canned tomatoes and save spaghetti night from going extinct.  Pre-made sauces can be expensive, sketchy, or laced with sugar, so unless you are one of the lucky people who have cash money to burn and infinite Whole Foods/Trader Joes access [jealous!], you might want to whip up a super simple batch of your own sauce.  My reason?  A certain marine decided it would be a great idea to impluse buy an obscene amount of canned tomatoes right before our impending move, and a certain blogger totally ate all the garden tomatoes making salsa and vegan BLTs. On repeat =)

Crock-pot Fire Roasted Marinara Sauce

Healthy Pantry Shortcuts: Crock-pot Fire Roasted Marinara Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 5 cups of sauce
  • 28oz can of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 14.5 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • approx 4 oz of tomato paste (controls the thickness)
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1-2 tsp dried parsley
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
  1. To get a rockin' consistency for the sauce, quickly add both cans to your blender or food processor and blend for just a few seconds, until tomatoes look more crushed than diced.
  2. Pour tomatoes into your slow cooker, season, and walk away!
  3. Set crockpot to low if you'll be leaving the house [6-8 hours] and high [4 hours] if you'll be around the house.
  4. No crock pot? No problem! Simply add to a sauce pot and cook at low to medium-low on the stove-top. Super easy! =)

So… How was it? P and I may or may not have eaten this with a spoon at some point. =) The cayenne definitely gave this marinara a kick and, having never tried a spicy spaghetti sauce before, I can honestly say i’m obsessed with it!  If you’re sensitive to cayenne, feel free to omit it entirely, but if you don’t mind a little heat, by all means add it in!  It absolutely rocked!  I kept 1/2 of the sauce in the fridge to put on, well, everything! and  froze the remainder for later use.  And by later, I mean 2 days from now.  I’m totally making either zucchini lasagna or stuffed shells with it this week.  Deeelish!

For all you canned goods haters, this sauce would continue to be rock-your-face-off good with the addition of fresh tomatoes and herbs.  And you can bet your butt i’ll be making a garden fresh version as soon as I have enough tomatoes…  Though sometimes it’s nice to whip up a super inexpensive sauce with nothing more than a few pantry staples and some spice rack favorites, ya know?  I’ll for sure be making this sauce year round, especially in the dead of winter!

What’s your all time favorite sauce? Red? Pesto? Alfredo?


  1. says

    Absolutely! It will taste the same on the stovetop as it will in a crockpot
    =) The only difference is you can’t make it while you’re not there =) lol.
    If you take this recipe and add extra tomato paste it will make a baller
    pizza sauce!

  2. says

    I’m all about started with a canned base and building from there.  Those fire-roasted are one of my fav new discoveries – especially since they have the no salt added version!  I don’t have a crock pot, but can vouch that works on a stove top!

  3. Erica Jordan says

    im a bad wannabe cook because i dont have a crockpot. shame on me! i need one

    i want to try. my grandmother made THE BEST spaghetti sauce ever and though i dont think i could ever re-create it, id love to try making sauce on my own so id love to try this!


  4. says

    Ah I love cayenne! On my sandwiches, in my sauces…just gives everything a kick! My all time favourite sauce- as a kid it was definitely Bechamel- now perhaps a balsamic-esque tomato sauce or a sundried tomato pesto- Mmmm

  5. says

    I am totally trying this. I might add some ground turkey or ground chicken to it! Thank you for the recipe. And I can’t wait until my tomato plants finally ripen. Then I’ll be up to my elbows in tomatoes and I’ll need every recipe imaginable! I will most likely freeze some of this sauce too. 
    And for my favourite pasta sauce? It has to be my papa’s homemade bolognese sauce, but I rarely have it anymore. Usually, I just take lazy to the next level & sautee some chopped tomatoes in olive oil & add basil, oregano, cayenne pepper and zucchini and call it a “sauce”. 

  6. says

    This tomato fiend over here definitely has some canned tomaters in her pantry “just in case” haha. One of my favorites is that Muir Glen fire roasted that you included- I have to stop myself from eating them out of the can. I’m rootin’ for your tomatoes to ripen :)

  7. says

    I have a couple of cans of organic tomatoes in my pantry just dying to be used up ~ thx for the inspiration!! BTW, I bought that tempeh bacon and I’ve been loving me some vegan BLTs too! Have a good day girl!

  8. Helennaturally says

    Girl my house is never without tomato sauce, diced, crushed, and paste!  They are so easy to cook with, super simple with herbs/spices added in, and can be a life saver on nights when you need a quick dinner!  We are having spaghetti tonight for my sons b-day :)

  9. Lauren says

    Pesto gets my vote and I have been known to buy prepared pesto and put it on everything. I have such garden envy even if your tomatoes are green. I guess I do have WF and Traders but no garden in the city.

  10. says

    Those have become my favorite canned tomatoes. The fire-roasted flavor is soooo good. Sometimes I’ll do half-and-half for a more subtle smoky flavor, but it’s hard to go wrong : )

  11. Megan @ MackeyMadness says

    Ahhhh, love this!! This is way more the way I cook…from a can. : ) I’m glad that it can still be delicious!!

  12. Michelle says

    I love tomatoes sauces best!  But I put very little on! HAHA  I always love your pictures! You are such a foodie photographer! I love it! XOXOXO

  13. says

    ooh, I just discovered canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and they add such a spicy smoky kick to my salsa. plenty of canned tomatoes go in my homemade tomato sauce, too (for pizza or pasta!). i’m with you on the canned shortcuts!

  14. says

    Thanks Kristine! =) Def try the sauce! Its so easy and delish! I just made
    stuffed shells with it today and the leftovers from the freezer were

    sooo lucky you have TJs 10 min away! I’m coming to visit! haha

  15. Alexandra says

    DROOL! Your food pictures always turn me into a ravenous animal haha 😀
    I love good ol’ plain tomato sauce the best, especially from those Muir Glen tomaters :)

  16. Errign says

    Who would have thought a question about sauce would be so difficult?  I have NO idea which is my favorite, though it’s definitely not alfredo – it’s usually too heavy.  I miss Trader Joe’s so bad.  Luckily Asheville does have Whole Foods and Earth Fare, but I’m totally contemplating a trip to Greenville or Charlotte to stock up at TJs ( I probably should just wait until August when I have a flight out of Charlotte eh?)

  17. Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean says

    yum!!!!! i love making my own sauce but have never actually tried it in a crockpot. brilliant

  18. says

    I have never made my own spaghetti sauce before, but I don’t have a good excuse for why that is. I need to do it…and this recipe sounds great! I love red sauces, but a pesto sauce is really amazing in certain dishes, too!

  19. says

    Oooh…that sounds/looks really delicious.  I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never actually made my own tomato sauce.  I always buy it.  But this post makes me feel like I could do it myself – and better than store-bought!

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