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Marinara Vs. Spaghetti Sauce – The Ultimate Comparison

Marinara-Vs.-Spaghetti-SauceAmong endless varieties of sauces, when it comes to Marinara vs. spaghetti sauce, which one should be on your priority list?

Though both are types of tomato sauce specifically used for pasta and look almost similar at first glance.

There are some significant differences between them which can build curiosity in choosing.

Italian cuisine isn’t just your favorite; people around the globe love it due to its flavorful, tasty sauces.

The major difference between marinara and spaghetti sauce is the texture and ingredients. Spaghetti sauce contains meat and has a thicker consistency than marinara sauce, but these variations are sometimes difficult to distinguish.

Therefore, we have shared a detailed comparison between the two to get the one you are actually looking for.

Marinara Vs. Spaghetti Sauce – The Similarities & Differences 

Before heading towards the differences and similarities between marinara vs. spaghetti sauce, you must understand their basic descriptions.

Marinara Sauce is another form of tomato sauce but contains only a few ingredients compared to other sauces. You will not find a single recipe for preparing it because there is variation in every region. The main ingredients are tomatoes. Garlic, onion, and fresh herbs. While in Italy, carpers, spices, olives, and a small quantity of wine are added to enhance flavor.

On the other hand, the name Spaghetti Sauce originated from spaghetti which is pasta, and any sauce added to it will be considered spaghetti sauce. The sauces added to spaghetti are usually cream or tomato-based. This sauce has a thick tomato paste mixed with meat and cheese.



  • The main ingredient in both sauces is tomato, a common and essential ingredient.
  • The texture seems almost similar.
  • The color is red because both include tomatoes.
  • Both sauces are often used for the same purpose, and that’s why you can also use them interchangeably.


  • The major difference is the composition of these sauces, as marinara has the simplest composition that doesn’t include many ingredients.
  • In contrast, spaghetti sauce has a more complex and long list of flavorful ingredients.
  • Marinara sauce is often used as a dipping sauce.
  • The consistency of the marinara sauce is thinner due to the lack of meat and cheese.

Marinara Vs. Spaghetti Sauce – A Quick Comparison


The common sauces used as toppings on pasta and other foods are marinara and spaghetti worldwide. Sometimes, they are used interchangeably, which may need to be clarified if they are similar. As we have discussed some basic similarities and differences, here is a detailed comparison.

Seasonings & Flavorings

The differences in flavor are more obvious when you try them more than once. Despite having the same ingredients, there is a great difference in flavor.

  • Marinara tastes spicy with vegetables to boot.
  • Spaghetti has a more meat-like taste and has increased tomato flavor. It also has a stronger taste than marinara.


At first glance, you will not see a significant difference in the texture, but on consuming them, you will notice the considerably varying texture.

  • Marinara has a thinner consistency and is more delicate when placed on a dish, while its ingredients are bulky.
  • As meat and cheese are added to the Spaghetti sauce, it gives thicker consistency. During consumption, you will need to chew this sauce which might be a new experience.


Tomatoes are present in both sauces, but other ingredients play a major role in identifying the original taste.

  • The marinara sauce includes aromatic herbs, garlic, onion, salt, black pepper, and Italian spices.
  • In comparison, spaghetti has major meat and cheese contents, making it the perfect thick paste to add as toppings on pasta.

Preparation Time

  • Marinara sauce is easy to cook and takes less time without sauteing onions, garlic, and ground meat which is necessary for spaghetti sauce. You will only need to boil the marinara sauce and add it to the pasta for serving.
  • Spaghetti sauce requires more preparation time, and you will need to spend plenty of time sauteing onions and garlic. Doing this will increase flavor and make your sauce more delicious.


  • You can add marinara sauce to meat-based dishes and pasta. You can add it to a variety of foods.
  • In contrast, spaghetti sauce is more specific for pasta. It is also considered the American variant of bolognese sauce.

Can Marinara Sauce Be A Substitute for Spaghetti Sauce?

There is no doubt in using marinara as a substitute for spaghetti sauce because both contain tomatoes, making them ideal for pasta. Marinara sauce can also be substituted for other tomato-based sauces except for ones containing cream or pesto sauces due to varying flavors.

Jar-bought spaghetti sauce is also used to replace marinara sauce on pasta due to its similar consistency. But you can not substitute it with homemade tomato sauce.

Which Is Healthier? Marinara Vs. Spaghetti Sauce

Both sauces include healthy ingredients, with spaghetti sauce containing more meat proteins and cheese. At the same time, marinara is rich in vitamins and minerals. Tomatoes are present in both sauces. Marinara is generally counted as healthier, with a good calorie count, reasonable carbohydrates, and more vitamins.

Which Is Better For Lasagna? Marinara Vs. Spaghetti Sauce

People often think there is no spaghetti sauce but have more likeliness for bolognese, Alfredo, and Carbonara sauces. Instead of pouring sauce, you can also drizzle some olive oil on your pasta. Spaghetti sauce is often also confused with thick paste sauce served with meatballs, considered an American dish instead of Italian.

Adding ground beef to the marinara sauce can alter its flavor and consistency, giving it more similarity to Bolognese sauce. Most people prefer marinara as their favorite pasta sauce. However, to make spaghetti, you will need to add more tomatoes to the marinara sauce to make it thicker. A thick, tomato-based sauce is also known as Americanize marinara or Spaghetti sauce.


What Other Sauces Are Substitute For Marinara & Spaghetti 

Have you tried marinara and spaghetti sauce so many times and want to taste some other sauces? Here are some best alternatives to these two sauces:

  • Bolognese Sauce

This Italian-based pasta sauce includes meat and more tomato flavor. Bolognese is translated as a bowl of comfort, served with fettuccine, spaghetti, gnocchi, tagliatelle, and pappardelle.

  • Amatriciana Sauce

The ingredients are pecorino romano cheese, olive oil, tomatoes, and guanciale. It is best served with farfalle, lasagna, and orecchiette.

  • Puttanesca Sauce

Originating in Naples, this sauce includes garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, anchovies, and capers. You can serve it with spaghetti, long pasta, fettuccine, and vermicelli.

  • Alla Norma Sauce

This tomato-based sauce comprises tomatoes, eggplants, and creamy ricotta cheese. It is best to serve with ziti, penne, rigatoni, pipe rigate, and manicotti.

Final Thoughts

In the world of sauces, there is nothing match-able to marinara and spaghetti sauce. Having lots of similarities and differences, they are used all around the globe due to some unique traits.

More importantly, you can use the marinara sauce as spaghetti sauce by adding the required ingredients. Hopefully, this comparison of marinara vs. spaghetti will help you get the best taste with the spice of life.

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