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I've been trying cook Marinara Sauce for a while now, I visited the states and had that sauce in their pizza hut. When I got back i tried cooking the same Pizza hut Marinara sauce but can never get the same taste or anything close aha. The only thing I have been able to do is get the texture and consistency right.

I have been looking at copycat ingredients but they haven't seemed to do the trick, or maybe it's just me? The recipe i am using is written below:

1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce

1⁄4 cup water

1 teaspoon sugar

1⁄4 teaspoon dried oregano

1⁄4 teaspoon dried basil leaves

1⁄4 teaspoon dried thyme

1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1⁄8 teaspoon black pepper

1 whole bay leaf

1⁄2 teaspoon lemon juice

Does this seem correct? Thanks for the help in advance. :)

  • Copycat ingredients or copycat recipes? Where did you get the recipe you're using? – Catija Apr 15 '16 at 16:42
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    What tastes off about it? Too sweet (which I suspect)? The answer would be to use very finely grated carrot instead of sugar and allow it to cook longer, but it's hard to tell what's wrong unless you tell us :) – Tim Post Apr 15 '16 at 17:20
  • I believe that this may be the source of the recipe: recipe4living.com/recipes/copycat_pizza_hut_marinara_sauce.htm – Catija Apr 15 '16 at 18:43
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Some things I can see:

1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce

You want to use good canned whole peeled tomatoes. Put them in a bowl, get your hands in there, and crush them very finely. But you have to let that tartness cook out a bit.

1 teaspoon sugar

Try very finely grating 3/4 cup (about one) peeled carrot instead of using sugar. The sugar isn't doing what you think it's doing if you're just tossing it all in together. Very finely grate it, you shouldn't be able to see it in the sauce, you're just grabbing the sweetness.

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

Start with that, you're probably going to need more.

1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder

You probably want to use toasted minced garlic, crushed using a mortar - or use a few cloves of fresh minced garlic instead.

Here's what I recommend:

Start with a large can of whole peeled tomatoes. Get them in a bowl, crush them. Finely grate one whole carrot into the tomatoes, set aside. Taste them; notice that sour, sort of tartness? It's your job to get rid of that.

Get an appropriately sized sauce pot going over medium heat. Crush your dried thyme into it and let it wake up in the pot for about a minute. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and carrot mince, bring to a boil then lower the heat. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Taste it - you want the tartness cooked out of those tomatoes. If it's still tart, give it another 15 minutes. And even another, depending on the tomatoes that you used. When it's not tart any longer, Add your salt, pepper, bay leaf and garlic. Stir and let simmer for a few minutes more. Taste again, adjust for salt. Make sure you cook out that tartness.

Let it gently bubble on medium-low heat, don't touch it for 30 minutes.

Again, taste for salt. If you can't clearly taste tomatoes, or if it tastes sweet, add salt a pinch at a time. Salt, here, is what makes those tomatoes the star of the sauce. Too much and you ruin it, too little and it's bland or sour.

You may or may not want to add more water at this point to thin it out. If you add more water, walk away after doing so and then come back in 15 minutes. Taste again for salt.

Let it cook another 20 - 30 minutes on medium-low heat. It should just be bubbling. Do a final taste - add sugar or salt if you think it needs it, add the basil and oregano then let it cook for another 15 minutes, and it should be ready to go.

Grate in some parmesan (but if you do, hold a little salt back in previous steps, as parmesan is salty).

That should get you pretty close. There's a conspicuous lack of onion here, I'm not sure if you're omitting it intentionally. If not, finely chop and saute one medium onion in a bit of olive oil until it turns translucent before you add the thyme or tomatoes. And, if you use fresh garlic, get it in there with the onions.

  • Sugar seems pretty reasonable to me - a small amount in tomato sauces mostly just balances tartness and brings out the tomato flavor. I can believe that you could accomplish something similar with carrot though. – Cascabel Apr 15 '16 at 18:21
  • @Jefromi Yeah, sugar works, but I think he was putting all of it in just together over the same heat - which generally ends up with a half-tart sauce that overpowers the rest of it, but didn't taste half-tart when tasted prior to using, if that makes sense. With carrots, you're guaranteed that there's not a few chunks floating about with an awful sort of sour to them, once the tartness is gone, it's gone everywhere. Sugar is a heavy hitter but doesn't always reach the whole sauce, which makes people (especially the impatient) add even more, and then they've got a great tomato pie filling :) – Tim Post Apr 15 '16 at 18:27
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    This is great advice for making a good marinara... but this person seems to be trying to duplicate the stuff they sell at Pizza Hut... which is probably over-sweet and not very complex in flavor... (I've never had it, personally but it's a pretty common result at low-quality "Italian" restaurants). – Catija Apr 15 '16 at 18:44
  • @Catija I thought of that, as my only experience with Pizza Hut for the last 15 years has been in The Philippines - this sauce is as close as I could come to what they serve here - it's actually really good. Fun fact, if you dial 911 1111 here, you get pizza hut delivery. But, I think the franchises use the same stuff, much like how Starbucks all use the same roast for taste/brand consistency. – Tim Post Apr 15 '16 at 18:59
  • @Catija And, well, he'll get a marinara sauce that tastes good nonetheless, which he might decide to get closer to Pizza Hut's in the US if they do use a different sauce internationally, and now I'm thinking of pizza I ate when I was a kid and getting hungry. – Tim Post Apr 15 '16 at 19:12

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