Go Back
+ servings
Marinara sauce garnished with some basil leaves.

Hearty, Easy Paleo and Keto Marinara Sauce

This keto and paleo-friendly marinara sauce is simply the best!! It is hearty, sugar-free, made with canned or fresh tomatoes, and so easy to make. Flavors of basil, garlic, and red onions are simmered to robust perfection. It is also whole30-friendly and tastes amazing!
Course Dips, Dressings and Sauces
Cuisine Italian
Diet Gluten Free
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 110kcal


  • A medium-sized non-metallic pot or saucepan.
  • Large bowl
  • Wooden cooking spoon.
  • A sharp knife and a chopping board.
  • Hand blender (optional) - use this if you prefer your keto or paleo marinara sauce smoother.


  • 28 ounces tomatoes (about 794 grams - canned or fresh)
  • 1 red or white onion (halved or quartered)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (alterenatively, you can use any low-carb or keto-compliant oil such as avocado oil)
  • 6 cloves garlic (slivered)
  • 1 large sprig basil leaves (plus a few leaves cut into thin ribbons, to garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup water


Keto and Paleo Marinara Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes

  • Start by peeling the tomatoes. To do this, boil some water in a pot then use a sharp knife to scar X-shaped cuts at the top of each tomato. Next, place the fresh tomatoes into the pot for about 60 seconds.
  • Meanwhile, separately fill a large bowl with ice-cold water. Use kitchen tongs to carefully remove the tomatoes from the pot and slide them into the bowl with the ice-cold water. Peel and deseed the tomatoes (the skin should now easily come off).
  • Transfer the tomatoes to a chopping board, allow to slightly cool then chop into quarters. Next, place the peeled tomatoes in a large bowl and use your hands to crush them.
  • Set the saucepan to heat under medium heat. To the pan, add the olive oil and slivered garlic. Allow the garlic to sizzle for about a minute, then stir in the peeled and crushed fresh tomatoes, onion, water, salt, red chili pepper flakes, oregano, the sprig of basil, then stir.
    28 ounces tomatoes, 1 red or white onion, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 large sprig basil leaves, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon red chili flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ cup water
  • Reduce the heat to a low, cover, and cook for a further 25 minutes, stirring from time so the marinara does not burn. I recommend covering as it helps the tomatoes to sweat, so they break down easily. Once cooked, remove the basil and onion and set them aside in a bowl.
  • Add more salt if needed, garnish with some thinly sliced basil leaves and serve.

Marinara Sauce using Canned Tomatoes

  • Transfer the canned tomatoes to a bowl then crush with your hands, if whole. This recipe makes for a hearty marinara sauce, but simply use a hand blender if you prefer your sauce less hearty.
  • Sliver the cloves of garlic, add the extra virgin olive oil to a deep enough pan, and stir in the slivered garlic. Allow this to heat under moderate heat. You want the garlic to sizzle, and not necessarily brown as this could affect the taste of your low-carb marinara sauce.
    6 cloves garlic, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Stir in the tomatoes and water and allow to simmer. Next, add the sprig of basil, onion chunks, oregano, red chili pepper flakes, salt then stir.
    28 ounces tomatoes, 1 red or white onion, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon red chili flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ cup water, 1 large sprig basil leaves
  • Cook covered under low heat, stirring from time to time. Use the back of a wooden spoon to press the tomatoes when cooking. Once cooked, remove the basil and onion and set them aside in a bowl (do not throw this away, you can use this in other recipes such as in making soups)!
  • Check for salt and add some more if you need to. You can tell it is cooked when the oil separates from the tomato mass and floats on top of the sauce. Also, the cooked sauce will have an orange-red color and have a less tangy taste, as the heat helps cut down the acidity.
  • Thinly slice a few leaves of basil and sprinkle on top as garnish. Serve this keto and paleo marinara sauce with zoodles, use it as tomato sauce in recipes or simply eat it with some low-carb bread.



Useful Tips
  • Do not worry about using your hands to crush the tomatoes, think about all the wonderful dishes that we make using our hands, starting with pizza! Use a hand blender, if you prefer your sauce less chunky or hearty.
  • I do not recommend using a cast-iron skillet or a metallic pot as the tomato sauce will probably end up having an acidic taste.
  • Sweetener - Seeing that different types of tomatoes have different levels of acidity, feel free to add 1-2 tablespoons of a sugar-free sweetener, such as erythritol, allulose, or monk fruit. Skip the sweetener for whole30 and stir in one cup of grated carrots, instead.
  • Thickening - Use additional carrots (for paleo) or xanthan gum to give this sauce some depth and thickness.
  • Flavor variation - Throw in some anchovies, capers, olives, or your favorite seasonings and herbs for a variation in the flavor! Feel free to add about half a cup of red wine, if not on a keto diet! Also, I personally find that it tastes better when it has been made a day before to use later.
  • Nutritional information per serving - Each serving of this keto marinara sauce has 87 calories (6.5 grams fat, 1.7 grams protein, and 3.8 grams net carbs).
  • Peeling fresh tomatoes - When cutting an X into the tomatoes before peeling it is easier to do it on the opposite side of the part that was attached to the stem. This makes peeling them easier.
  • Refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for four to five days.
  • Freeze this keto marinara sauce by placing it in a freezer-safe container and freezing it for four to six months.
Serving Suggestions:
This low-carb tomato sauce has so many uses! It goes particularly well with spiralized vegetables, such as zucchini and carrots. It also pairs well with keto pizza and spaghetti, cauliflower mashed potatoes, or some delicious meatballs. As always, do not let this limit you, simply feel free to serve it with your favorite dishes! 
“Nutrition information on the site is an estimate calculated using a third-party source and is provided for informational purposes only. It is highly recommended that you make your own calculations. If you have any specific dietary concerns, kindly consult with your healthcare practitionerVariations may occur for many reasons, such as ingredients used and food preparation. We make no representation or warranty of the accuracy of this information.” Net carbs exclude fiber, erythritol and allulose since they do not impact the blood sugar levels in most people.


Calories: 110kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 401mg | Potassium: 337mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1210IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg