The Best Recipe for Pizza Sauce

It brings the party together and is perfect for any time of day, hot or cold. Pizza is without a doubt one of the best foods on the planet—the crispy crust, the mozzarella, and the scrumptious toppings, you just can’t get enough of it!

However, aside from the wide range of toppings, a good pizza would be nothing without a thick and creamy delicious sauce. It provides our favorite dish with a unifying flavor. In a sense, pizza sauce ties everything together and compliments your toppings and crust.

The Best Recipe for Pizza Sauce Featured Photo

I enjoy preparing pizza at home since it is simple, more enjoyable, and inexpensive than ordering online. Plus, I can fully tweak it with whatever ingredients I like. And I have the same motivation for making my own homemade pizza sauce.

For me, the thicker the better. I mean.. right? It is entirely up to personal taste, though. I prefer something thicker than plain tomato sauce but not as thick as tomato purée or paste. The more you thin it down, the richer the flavor becomes.

In this article, we’re going to delve into the art of making the best pizza sauce. This essay will delve into the art of preparing the best pizza sauce. Whether you’re dipping in a New York-style pizza, Margherita, or the likes of the Detroiter, making the best recipe for pizza sauce at home is easy and takes only a few minutes to whip up.

So, gather your ingredients, and let’s make the best compliment for layering your favorite pizza toppings!

Pizza Sauce Is a Versatile Sauce!

While this red sauce tastes the best in your pizza pie, you can also use it in a variety of ways.

It’s worth noting that pizza and pasta sauce are comparable and often interchangeable. What makes them different from each other is their consistency.

Pasta sauce can be soupy, whereas pizza sauce is thicker. This means you can use your leftover pizza sauce in any dish that calls for uncooked, fresh, canned, or pureed tomatoes.

I personally like it for making salsa, seafood stew, ravioli, and as a sauce for my penne pasta.

How To Make the Best Pizza Sauce

How To Make the Best Pizza Sauce

A good pizza is always paired with a delicious and flavorful sauce that compliments your favorite toppings and crust. I curated this easy homemade pizza sauce recipe that you can brag about to your friends and family at dinner!

Feel free to tweak it to your taste and add herbs and spices you like.


First, let’s have the ingredients ready. Making a delicious pizza sauce requires only a few ingredients:

A can of whole peeled tomatoes. Whole peeled tomatoes in juice may be the best option since those packed in purée can give your sauce a flavor that’s too cooked. Diced ones contain an additive that retains their firmness and crushed tomatoes are inconsistent. Also, tomato purée has a thinner consistency.

Tomato paste. This thickens up your sauces and adds a rich, intense tomato flavor.

Extra-virgin olive oil. This lends the sauce a really nice flavor. While regular olive oil will do, extra-virgin olive oil will give the most flavor. You can leave a bit of virgin olive oil for that preppy bite.

Unsalted butter. This is a good addition aside from olive oil. Unsalted butter lends an incredibly smooth and refined flavor to your pizza sauce. And this is true for most other sauces.

Freshly grated garlic and yellow onion. These ingredients will give your sauce a lot of flavor.

Herbs and spices. Fresh or dried oregano, fresh basil springs, and red pepper flakes are flavorful additions. These herbs and spices can bring out the flavors of your pizza sauce.

Kosher salt. You can use table salt though kosher salt will be the best choice since they are coarser and a little goes a long way.


Step 1: Run your tomatoes and juice in your food processor or you can pulse them in your food mill. You can also use an immersion blender to purée your tomatoes. Don’t make it too smooth but don’t leave big chunks.

Step 2: In a medium saucepan, add the olive oil and unsalted butter and let it simmer over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, toss the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and a large pinch of salt. Cook them for about 3 minutes, stirring the mixture until you smell the aroma.

Step 3: Combine the tomatoes, yellow onion, basil, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Simmer to the lowest heat. Then, cook and stir occasionally for an hour or until reduced by half.

Step 4: Next, remove the onions and basil stalks and season with salt to taste. Let the sauce cool down before storing it in a sealed jar in the fridge 

Store or freeze it

If you have leftovers, it’s always a good idea to store them in your freezer. To freeze your sauce, calculate the amount you need for each pizza and keep it in sealed food storage containers. Allow at least half an inch at the top of the jar to give the sauce enough room when it expands as it freezes.

Don’t forget to mark or label the jar with the current date. If stored properly, your sauce can last up to three months.

Good Substitute Ingredients for Homemade Pizza Sauce

Each one of us has a complex palate. The consistency and flavor of your pizza sauce will depend on your taste. If you don’t have the basic ingredients on hand or simply want to experiment, you can use these variations.

Dried herbs. If you don’t have fresh basil on hand, go for dried. Many discerning pizza lovers argue that the sauce won’t taste as fresh, though others claim that there is really no significant difference in the flavor.

If you want to have the freshest tasting pizza sauce, go for fresh oregano. Sprinkle with more Italian seasonings and herbs such as marjoram, fennel, thyme, and rosemary. To add a little spice, you can also add some red pepper flakes.

And if you prefer your sauce to have a milder flavor, you may start by adding less and gradually add more to suit your taste.

Fresh tomatoes. Peel, take out the seeds and smash some fresh tomatoes in your food processor or immersion blender. If you prefer a thicker sauce, add a bit more tomato paste. But if you’d like it to be thinner, you can always lower the amount of tomato paste in your sauce.

Coconut sugar. To create a sugar-free sauce, skip the granulated sugar and replace it with coconut sugar. I believe that a small amount of sugar enriches the tomato flavor.

Parmesan or Romano cheese. You can stir in some finely shredded or grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. This is to give your sauce an extra flavor kick.

Fresh Herbs vs Dried Herbs

Most pizza sauce recipes demand dried oregano or dried Italian spice (dried oregano and basil). Your first instinct may be to use fresh herbs instead of dried but you’ll be surprised to find out that it makes no difference in the flavor.

We’ve already seen chefs prefer fresh herbs to dried ones for various reasons. Since most herbs include flavor compounds that are more volatile than water, a drying approach that takes water out can also reduce the flavor.

Herbs like rosemary, bay leaf, sage, and thyme perform comparably well in drying. However, this isn’t always true.

Any savory herb growing in hot, dry regions, such as oregano, features flavor compounds that are generally durable at high temperatures and are contained in the leaf. This is why oregano survives in its environment’s extreme temperatures and absence of humidity.

Herbs that grow in drier climates such as rosemary, bay leaf, thyme, marjoram, and sage, also dry fairly well.

So, is using fresh herbs better? Yes, sometimes. But if you have dried herbs available and you prefer those, all you have to do is cook them long enough to have a softer texture by sautéing the dried herbs in the oil and butter mixture. And you’ll get a flavor that is just as nice as using fresh herbs. Plus, it’s cheaper!

Except for the basil, which must be added fresh. You can try adding it minced at the end of your cooking to preserve its flavor, but you’ll find that it isn’t ideal for making pizza sauce. If you must add it fresh, you can toss basil springs as the sauce simmers and then discard them once your sauce is done.

Tips for Making the Best Recipe for Pizza Sauce

Making the best pizza sauce recipe doesn’t end with tossing herbs and tomatoes into your mixture. Here are some tips you can try in getting the right flavor for your homemade pizza sauce.

Use a red spatula.

Alright, using a red spatula has no impact on enhancing your pizza sauce. But if you want to avoid turning your white spatulas orange, I recommend mixing and stirring your sauces with a red spatula.

It comes in handy for just about everything, from cooking tomato-based dishes to homemade pizza sauces. Plus, it matches the color of your dish so why not?

Use a blend of fats to build flavor.

Extra-virgin olive oil is the base of most pizza sauces. While this is a good choice, you may want to expand your option. Butter is a wonderful addition to olive oil to get that incredibly smooth, sophisticated, and tasty sauce.

Adding butter to a sauce can soften out its sharpness, giving it a richer, thicker texture. 

Purée your own canned tomatoes.

Canned tomatoes are a great option since they are available all year ‘round. I mean, you would dread cooking fresh pizza sauce using dull winter tomatoes, wouldn’t you?

In puréeing your own canned tomato sauces, you can go for either whole peeled tomatoes, diced, or crushed. You can also go for paste or purée to make the cooking process quicker.

Whole peeled tomatoes

These canned tomatoes are the least processed. They are made up of whole tomatoes that have been peeled and then packed in either tomato purée or juice. Tomato juices are less processed, which makes it a more versatile option. Even if you use those packed in purée, on the other hand, will give you that cooked flavor.

Diced tomatoes

Diced or chopped tomatoes are whole peeled and have been machine-diced and packaged in juice or purée as well. What makes whole tomatoes different from diced tomatoes is that the latter are often treated with calcium chloride, which makes the dice keep their shape inside the can.

The firming agent can also make the tomatoes excessively firm. So, when you cook them the diced tomatoes don’t break down correctly.

Diced tomatoes that don’t contain calcium chloride are also available. They are a better option if you want to make cooking easier.

Crushed tomatoes

The thing with crushed tomatoes is that, depending on the brand, they have varying textures. There are no regulations enforcing the labeling of crushed tomatoes. So, you may expect one brand’s crushed to be lumpy than the other.

I would shy away from crushed tomatoes and crush whole, fresh tomatoes instead.

Tomato paste

A tomato paste is simply concentrated tomato juice. Canned tomato pastes are processed by cooking fresh tomatoes, filtering out the coarser particles, and slowly boiling the juice down to a moisture content of 76 percent or less.

They are a common option for giving stews and braises a rich umami base. But, this may be something you don’t want in your pizza sauce.

Tomato purée

A tomato purée is strained and cooked. It’s like paste but thinner in consistency and more liquid. While it may be a wonderful alternative for quick-cooking sauces, it lacks the depth that comes from a less-processed tomato product.

Balance out the flavor.

A good tomato product should have a great level of acidity and sweetness. Your pizza sauces should also contain these flavors, though they must be balanced. Slow cooking is the most effective way to balance out the flavor.

Most canned tomatoes contain citric acid to increase their level of acidity. So, slowly reducing the puréed tomatoes introduces new flavor compounds that lend depth to your sauce. It also removes water content, which intensifies the existing flavors.

If you don’t go slowly, the high heat may produce undesirable browning in the sauce. And you don’t want to add burnt, caramel notes to your sauce!

You may sprinkle some sugar to help to balance out the newly-intensified acidity. Adding a pinch of pepper flakes will also provide a mildly spicy kick.

If you do it right, you’ll get a sweet, a bit spicy, and very savory pizza with a consistency that allows it to blend in well with the mozzarella.


Can you freeze pizza sauce?

Freezing is the best way to preserve the excess sauce for your next pizza dinner. You can do this if the batch you make is more than you need for your pizza. I recommend that you use a quart-sized freezer bag.

Whenever you need the sauce, you can simply tear it open and put the frozen pizza sauce into a little sauce pot to reheat it. Make sure to reheat your pizza sauce to low heat and stir it occasionally until well heated.

How long can pizza sauce last in the fridge?

If you keep it in an airtight container and store it between 35 and 40 degrees F, your pizza sauce can last five to seven days. And if you properly store it in the freezer at -0.4 degrees F, the sauce can survive for around three months.

Can I use canned tomato sauce?

Pizza sauce is very forgiving, so yes, you can use any tomatoes you like. However, you should expect the flavor to be not as wonderful as when you use crushed tomatoes. It may be a little bit textured, but you’ll get a more intense flavor in your pizza sauce.

You can also go for canned crushed tomatoes. They offer a smoother texture than canned whole or diced tomatoes.

Is pasta sauce a good substitute for pizza?

You could use pasta sauce for pizza, but I don’t recommend it. While both marinara and pizza sauce are tomato-based, the two sauces have a few key differences. For one, these sauces have varying consistencies. Marinara or pasta sauce is on the thinner side, whereas pizza sauce is thicker.

Pizza sauce is typically flavored with oregano, while pasta sauce is spiced with basil. Pasta or spaghetti sauce is widely variable, but the traditional base is simpler than pizza sauce and garlic is used commonly for depth rather than oregano.