Kalyn's Kitchen

Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce for the Freezer

If you’ve got an abundance of fresh garden tomatoes, use them to make this wonderful Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce for the freezer. And you can make this flexible sauce recipe with all canned tomatoes if you don’t have fresh ones!

PIN Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce for the Freezer!

Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce for the freezer shown in plastic containers

My garden tomatoes are in overdrive, and I’ve been frantically making things like roasted tomatoes, Gazpacho, and now Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce! And at this time of year I’m always happy when it’s time to make this sauce, my all-time favorite pasta sauce, and something I’ve been making for years.

If you come to my house in the winter and open the freezer, you’ll see square containers like the ones in the photo filled with this sauce. I’ll eat it served over Zucchini Noodles for a low-carb dinner, or with whole wheat spaghetti if I’m not as concerned about carbs, but this would be great with any type of pasta you prefer. And I never get tired of this favorite sauce.

What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

What makes this a flexible recipe?

This is a very flexible recipe. I always use fresh tomatoes, but if you don’t have them available, you can use canned, diced tomatoes and still get a good result. I use turkey Italian Sausage most often, but pork sausage would taste great too. I used a combination of dried and fresh herbs for more depth of flavor, but you could still make a pretty good sauce even if you only have dried herbs. I add a lot of fresh basil, but if you don’t have a good supply of fresh basil like I do, you could get by with a lot less. But please, please, please, don’t skip the ground fennel. That’s one of the things that makes this sauce over-the-top good.

Would you prefer Instant Pot Pasta Sauce?

Here’s an absolutely delicious Instant Pot Pasta Sauce with sausage, tomatoes, and herbs if you prefer that method!

Steps for Making Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes:

Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce for the Freezer, Made with Fresh Tomatoes from KalynsKitchen.com

  • Peel ripe tomatoes (instruction below), and chop into pieces. Roma tomatoes are best, but I roasted most of my Romas, so this batch of sauce was made with Celebrity tomatoes.(These photos are double the amounts of the recipe.)

Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce for the Freezer, Made with Fresh Tomatoes from KalynsKitchen.com

  • Add tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, dried basil, dried oregano, ground fennel, minced fresh garlic, and dried bay leaves to fresh tomatoes and simmer 1-2 hours.

Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce for the Freezer, Made with Fresh Tomatoes from KalynsKitchen.com

  • Brown turkey sausage well in a small amount of olive oil. Don’t rush this step. Add the sausage to the sauce, scraping out all the browned bits. Simmer 2-3 more hours.

Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce for the Freezer, Made with Fresh Tomatoes from KalynsKitchen.com

  • When sauce has thickened to desired consistency, add a generous amount of chopped fresh basil, a little fresh oregano, and a bit of olive oil and simmer 10-15 minutes more. This has reduced so much I actually put it into a smaller pan to get a better photo, and the flavor is great. If you’d like, divide the sauce into individual containers to freezer or to eat during the week!

More Recipes with Fresh Garden Tomatoes:

Tomato-Basil No-Cook Pasta Sauce
Middle Eastern Tomato Salad
Summer Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese

Weekend Food Prep:

This recipe has been added to a new category called Weekend Food Prep  to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week!

Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce for the Freezer, Made with Fresh Tomatoes from KalynsKitchen.com

Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce for the Freezer

Yield 20 servings
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 45 minutes

Use your fresh garden tomatoes to make this Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce.


  • 20 very ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced in pieces 1/2 to 1 inch
  • two 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
  • two 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 3 T dried basil
  • 3 T dried oregano
  • 2 T ground fennel seed
  • 3 T minced garlic or garlic puree
  • 5 dried bay leaves
  • two 19.5 oz pkg. turkey Italian Sausage (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus 1-2 T for browning sausage
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano (more or less, depending on what you have)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (more or less, depending on what you have)


  1. To peel tomatoes: Bring a deep pot of water to a slight boil.
  2. Wash tomatoes, then cut a V into the top of each tomato, cutting away stem area.
  3. Put tomatoes with stem area removed into boiling water 1-2 minutes.
  4. Remove tomatoes to cutting board, and peel off skin, which should come off easily. If it doesn’t slip right off, leave tomatoes in boiling water a tiny bit longer.
  5. I do 4-5 tomatoes at a time, and usually let them cool for a minute or two before peeling them.
  6. Chop tomatoes and put in large heavy pot.
  7. Add tomato sauce, canned diced tomatoes, dried basil, dried oregano, ground fennel, minced garlic, and bay leaves and let sauce simmer 1-2 hours.
  8. Heat 1-2 T olive oil in a large frying pan.
  9. Squeeze sausage out of casing and brown, breaking up with heavy turner or potato masher, until sausage is well browned.
  10. Add browned sausage to sauce mixture and simmer 2-3 hours more.
  11. Add olive oil, fresh oregano and fresh basil to sauce and simmer 10-15 minutes.
  12. Let sauce cool before refrigerating or freezing.
  13. This sauce will keep for close to a year in the freezer if it is stored in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid.


You can use one package of sausage if you prefer. Use mild or hot sausage, whichever you like.

Nutritional information is based on 1/2 cup serving size.

This recipe created by Kalyn and has been made over and over for years!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 125Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 278mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 9g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Every ingredient in this Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce is friendly for all phases of the original South Beach Diet and most other types of low-carb eating plans, although tomatoes definitely have some carbs. This would be perfect served over Zucchini Noodles for a low-carb meal or for South Beach Phase One.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Tomato Recipes or Sauces for more ideas like this one. Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You can also Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This recipe was posted in 2006 and I’ve probably made it every year since then! It was last updated with more information in 2021.

Pinterest image of Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce for the Freezer

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    35 Comments on “Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce for the Freezer”

  1. Amy, so glad you liked it. And I love the way you added more veggies!

  2. I LOVE this sauce! I have to admit I was a little leery about including the fennel and the bay leaves but they really bring out the flavor of the sausage.

    Although the recipe does not need anything else I did add some yellow and green bell pepper diced really fine(I think my family does not get enough veggies and try to add when I can), some of your slow roasted tomatoes diced, and a handful of chopped kalamata olives. I used a mixture of spicy and sweet turkey sausage but in hindsight I wish I used all spicy.

    Thanks so much for a sauce that I KNOW will become a family favorite!

  3. I personally don't think the crockpot will stay hot enough with the lid cracked to reduce the sauce, but it might depend on your crockpot. If you try it, let me know how it works.

  4. Could you crack the lid a bit to let it reduce? I would think it would work if you cooked on low for 8 hours or so. Just a thought if you can't be home to babysit it.

  5. I wouldn't make it in a crockpot, because it's the long slow simmering that thickens the sauce and adds flavor. You might be able to cook it part of the time in a crockpot though, and then put in a regular pan and simmer to thicken at the end.

  6. Hi. Can you do this in a crock pot? Thanks!

  7. I use 15 oz. cans.

  8. Looks like a great recipe! I was just wondering what size can you use for the canned tomatoes and sauce.

  9. I make the sauce exactly like this and then freeze it. You could add more fresh herbs when you reheat the sauce if you have them.

  10. I'm making your sauce and I'm wondering; If I am going to freeze the sauce should I still add the fresh herbs now or should I wait until I reheat the sauce and add it then?

  11. I have a huge pot of this on the stove that's been simmering for over four hours. It looks great. Can't wait to dive in. Regarding using all fresh tomatoes–I've been making my own fresh sauce at least once a week but it's never enough to freeze. By adding the Muir Glen, it gives me enough so that my family and I can't possibly eat it all within a day or two. Also, there's only so many tomatoes that I am willing to scald and peel in one day.

  12. Carl, you can definitely make it with all fresh tomatoes if you wish. I also have this recipe for Roasted Tomato, Italian Sausage, and Basil Sauce that doesn't use any canned tomatoes.

  13. This looks like a great recipe. I am just curious though … at this time of year where there are tons of fresh tomatoes on hand, why do you mix fresh tomatoes with can tomatoes in this recipe? Can't one just go with fresh tomatoes?


  14. Steve, you can certainly do it that way, but it wouldn't be my preference. I like the way the sausage flavors the sauce as it cooks. Your choice though, I'm always happy to let people adapt my recipes any way that suits them!

  15. My wife had a good point as I considered making this recipe… Make the saucethaw – leave out the sausage… cook and add sausage at the time of serving (in winter after thawing sauce). Keeps sausage fresh. -steve