Vegan Life > Recipes > Appetizers & Snacks > Spicy Marinara Dipping Sauce

Spicy Marinara Dipping Sauce

May 18, 2021

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spicy marinara sauce in ramekin with mozzarella sticks on side

This marinara sauce is thick and spicy; perfect for dipping mozzarella sticks, breadsticks, and garlic bread! Like any good dipping sauce, it's chunky, with pieces of tomato, onion, and garlic mixed in with herbs and red pepper flakes. The pepper flakes are optional; leave them out or reduce the amount if you're not into spicy foods!

Since this sauce is mostly crushed tomatoes, I recommend using a good brand. The flavor of canned tomatoes varies widely. I personally look for San Marzano tomatoes that were grown in Italy. They're pricier, but I think the flavor justifies the price.

This recipe uses the smaller-size, 15-oz. can of crushed tomatoes, since mozzarella sticks will require less sauce. You can keep leftover sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days; freeze it for longer storage. Reheat in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Add water if needed.

top down view of spicy marinara sauce in a ramekin next to a kitchen towel
This recipe makes a thick and spicy sauce perfect for dipping!

Spicy Marinara Dipping Sauce

5.00 stars from 1 reviews

Yield6 servings

Prep Time10 minutes

Cook Time20 minutes

Total Time30 minutes


  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced (2 cloves)
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp. salt


  1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then add chopped onion. Cook until the onion is just beginning to turn golden, about 6-8 minutes.

  2. Add garlic, basil, oregano, and red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  3. Add the tomato paste to the pan and mix well. Cook for 30 seconds, then add crushed tomatoes, maple syrup, and salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat and serve with mozzarella sticks, breadsticks, or anything else you’d like!

Notes & Hints

Leave out the red pepper flakes for a heat-free version. Or, add more pepper to increase the heat.

Use a high-quality brand of crushed tomatoes for the best flavor. (I like San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy.)

Nutrition Data

Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe; Calories: 70Fat: 5 g.; Saturated Fat: 1 g.; Cholesterol: 0 mg.; Sodium: 134 mg.; Carbohydrates: 7 g.; Fiber: 1 g.; Sugar: 4 g.; Protein: 1 g.; Vitamin A: 0 mcg. RAE; Vitamin B12: 0 mcg.; Vitamin C: 10 mg.; Vitamin D: 0 mcg.; Calcium: 7 mg.; Iron: 1 mg.; Potassium: 274 mg.; Zinc: 0 mg.

Note: This data should be used only as an estimate. Please see the nutrition section of my terms and conditions for more information on how this data is calculated.

Four vegan dishes: Creme Brulee, Detroit-style pizza, General Tso's Tofu, and Lemon Tart

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A hand holding a mozzarella stick after dipping in spicy marinara sauce; sauce and other mozzarella sticks on a plate in the background

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