Pizza Sauce vs Marinara Sauce: What’s The Difference?

Most pizza sauces that we know are red and are made of tomatoes so it is no wonder that some people mistake pizza sauce for marinara sauce and vice versa. There is certainly a difference between the two even if they have very similar ingredients.

There has been a lot of confusion between a pizza sauce and a marinara sauce and we are here to discuss the difference between the two.

While they are both tomato-based, a pizza sauce has a thicker consistency than a marinara sauce. This is because the dough might get soggy if the sauce is thin and runny. While a marinara sauce has simpler ingredients and it can be used as a dipping sauce or even a pasta sauce.

As a pizza and pasta lover, I definitely had my share of tomato-based sauces and I used to think that pizza sauce and marinara sauce are the same. But, now I know that they have their differences. In this article, we will talk about how these two sauces differ from each other. And, if you are planning to make a big batch of these sauces, read until the end to find out if they can be frozen!

Difference Between Pizza Sauce vs Marinara Sauce

Difference Between Pizza Sauce vs Marinara Sauce

Pizza sauce and marinara sauce can look the same, especially tomato-based pizza sauce, but there is a notable difference between the two sauces.

While tomato is commonly used as the base for pizza sauce, that is not the only one that you can put on pizza. Pesto, alfredo sauce, olive oil, and garlic can also be used as the sauce for pizzas while a marinara sauce is simply a tomato-based sauce. A marinara sauce is also sometimes used as a pasta sauce and a dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, etc.

The difference between pizza sauce and marinara sauce is in their consistency and the herbs and spices used to make the sauce.

What Is A Pizza Sauce?

What Is A Pizza Sauce

The first pizza pie was said to have been made by Raffaele Esposito who gifted King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy a pizza with tomato, mozzarella cheese, and basil as toppings. The colors of the sauce and toppings were said to represent the colors of the Italian Flag.

There are many types of pizza sauce that do not use tomatoes such as pesto, white sauce, and olive oil. But, a pizza sauce commonly uses tomatoes as a base with a variety of herbs and spices to make the sauce flavorful.

Pizza sauces have a thicker consistency so the dough does not get soggy from the sauce. The tomatoes on a pizza sauce are also pureed which gives it a thick consistency instead of having chunky bits of tomatoes.


A pizza sauce is very easy to make. As long as you have tomatoes, salt, black pepper, sugar, garlic, olive oil, and Italian seasoning, you can make pizza sauce.

Italian seasoning consists of basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, and marjoram. But, there are other blends of Italian seasoning and you can definitely make your own blend. There are also ready-to-buy Italian seasonings in the market if you cannot find the herbs you want. But, herbs like basil, oregano, and thyme are usually found in your local grocery. You can also check your local spice market for other herbs.

It is recommended to use fresh tomatoes when making pizza sauce but using canned tomatoes is also acceptable. There are also ready-made pizza sauces in cans where you can adjust the taste by adding sugar, salt, and pepper.

How To Make Pizza Sauce

Once you have your ingredients ready, making pizza sauce will be a breeze.

You do not need to cook pizza sauce as it will start cooking once your pizza is in the oven. You just need to blend your ingredients together in a blender and then it is ready to be used. If using canned tomatoes, make sure to drain the juices first and set them aside. You can add some of the juices back if your sauce is too thick for your liking.

If you want to cook your pizza sauce, you can mix your ingredients together in a saucepan on medium heat and let it simmer. Then, reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for another 15 minutes.

What Is A Marinara Sauce?

What Is A Marinara Sauce

While pizza sauce does not need to be cooked, the marinara sauce does. Like most pizza sauces a marinara sauce has a tomato base and is also sometimes just called a tomato sauce.

Marinara also tends to have a thinner consistency than a pizza sauce but not in a watered-down version. Like pizza sauces, you can make your own marinara sauce, or buy a canned version. You can use fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, or even a premade sauce to make marinara.

Mozzarella sticks are often paired up with marinara sauce as their flavors go really well together. People also often confuse marinara sauce for spaghetti sauce but both are very different. Spaghetti sauce has a thicker consistency and meat is often added as an additional ingredient.


The marinara sauce has simpler ingredients than pizza sauce. You only need fresh basil leaves, garlic, onion, your choice of tomatoes, as well as salt and pepper to taste. While these are the main ingredients of a marinara sauce, you can also add other ingredients such as red pepper flakes or olive oil.

How To Make Marinara Sauce

To make marinara sauce, you need to sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil first before adding in the tomatoes and fresh basil leaves. If you are using fresh tomatoes, you can use a wooden spoon to gently break up the tomatoes.

Let the sauce simmer then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for an additional 20 to 30 minutes. After 20 to 30 minutes, turn off the heat and you can start using the sauce.

You can also blend the sauce if you want a smoother consistency.

How To Freeze Marinara Sauce Or Pizza Sauce

If you have leftover sauces or you are making a big batch of sauce, you can freeze the leftovers and use them in your next pizza, pasta, or dipping sauce.

Freezing Pizza Sauce

You can freeze pizza sauce like you can freeze pizza dough. Tomatoes freeze really well and you can freeze them raw or cooked even if it is whole, sliced, or pureed.

To freeze pizza sauce properly, transfer the pizza sauce into several small ziplock bags so you can thaw out what you only need. Using a quart-sized ziplock bag is recommended as they are not too small or too big to store your pizza sauce.

You can also freeze pizza sauce in small mason jars or even in ice cube trays before transferring the cubes into the ziplock bags. If you are going to use ziplock bags, make sure to remove excess air from the bags.

You can keep a properly stored pizza sauce in the freezer for up to 6 months. To defrost frozen pizza sauce, let it thaw in the refrigerator.

Freezing Marinara Sauce

Like pizza sauces, the leftover marinara sauce can also last in the freezer for up to 6 months. Portion your marinara sauce and put them into airtight containers or ziplock bags for storage. As usual, remove excess air from ziplock bags if that is your preferred way to store the sauce. It is also best to let the marinara sauce thaw in the refrigerator before us to keep the quality fresh.

Where To Use Marinara Sauce and Pizza Sauce

Where To Use Marinara Sauce and Pizza Sauce

Pizza sauce obviously goes with pizza. But in a pinch, you can probably use pizza sauce for pasta. But, you need to make several adjustments as pizza sauces are usually sweeter because of added sugars. You would also need to add a little bit of water to change the consistency of your pizza sauce.

Marina sauce, however, can act as a pizza sauce. It is also a good dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks and is also used as a sauce in chicken parmigiana.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can Pizza Sauce And Marinara Sauce Be Used Interchangeably?

A pizza sauce cannot be used as a marinara sauce even if they do have similar ingredients. There are also different types of pizza sauce and not all of them are tomato-based.

However, a marinara sauce can be used as a pizza sauce but it might be less sweet and the flavor might differ because of the herbs used.

Can Marinara Sauce Be Used For Pizza?

Yes, the marinara sauce can be used for pizza. Since it is a tomato-based sauce, it can be a substitute for pizza sauce.

What Sauce Is Normally Used On Pizza?

Traditional red sauce pizzas use tomatoes as their base. But, you can use other sauces such as pesto, garlic, oil, and white sauce. You can even use barbecue sauce for a more unconventional type of sauce.


Pizza sauce and marinara sauce are different from each other. A pizza sauce has a thicker consistency while marinara sauce runs a little thinner and can be used as a pasta or dipping sauce.

Know that you know their differences, you can start making your own pizza or marinara sauce. The good thing is, both of these sauces freeze very well so you can definitely make a big batch!

Hopefully, this article has been helpful in your cooking journey! Let us know if you have any questions.