My homemade pizza sauce recipe is simple and ready in under 15 minutes. Naturally gluten-free and vegan, this tomato sauce for pizza is better than anything you can buy in a jar and better than any red sauce pizza takeout.
Everybody loves pizza. What other food in the world is as customizable as this Italian delicacy? You can thank the good people of 10th-century Naples for bringing pizza to the world. But you can thank me for my delicious homemade pizza sauce.
It’s so easy to make and uses just a handful of ingredients to produce a flavorsome quick pizza sauce. It’s perfect for sprinkling with cheese and covering with your favorite toppings. Yes, even pineapple is allowed here!
What Is Pizza Sauce
A traditional tomato sauce for pizza, or “pizza sauce”, is a thick tomato paste that’s spread on top of pizza dough. It acts as a base for the other ingredients, helping to stabilize them – as well as providing lots of flavor.
Other sauces are also used for some pizzas, including white and pesto sauces. But the classic pizza sauce recipe was created because of the glut of tomatoes that grew in the region. Tomatoes are also the base of many prominent Italian sauces and dishes.
Pizza Sauce Vs Marinara
Though lots of the ingredients are similar, there is a key difference between marinara sauce and pizza sauce – consistency. Traditionally, a recipe for pizza sauce purees the tomatoes to thin them out; the sauce on a pizza is never thick. A marinara, more frequently used as a dip or pasta sauce, is thicker so it can stick to other foods.
Pizza Sauce Vs Pasta Sauce
What differentiates pizza sauce from tomato sauce (or pasta sauce) is, like marinara, consistency. Pizza sauce is also typically made with uncooked tomatoes, whereas a pasta sauce will cook tomatoes as part of the recipe. Generally, pizza sauce is also much simpler – flavored just with spices. Whereas pasta sauce can include lots of other ingredients, including meat.
Pizza Sauce Ingredients
- Canned Red Crushed Tomatoes: San Marzano tomatoes are used traditionally for the best homemade pizza sauce. But you can also use Roma, Guilietta, or Plum tomatoes. Canned is best (it’s easier to blend!).
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Another popular Italian ingredient. You can also substitute with butter, avocado oil, or walnut oil.
- Garlic Cloves: These will infuse your sauce with garlic flavor.
- Sugar: I like to use brown sugar for a slightly sweet, caramel-y flavor.
- Dried Oregano: You can use also mixed Italian herbs if you prefer. You can also add fresh basil or dried basil, while cooking, for a richer flavor.
- Salt and pepper: to taste. And if wanting a bit of spice, add a pinch red pepper flakes.
Tomato Sauce Substitute
You can also use passata if you prefer instead of canned tomatoes. You can also make pizza sauce from fresh tomatoes.
How to Make Pizza Sauce
There are just a couple of steps to make pizza sauce from scratch.
Cook the Garlic
To start your DIY pizza sauce, peel and mince the garlic. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, lightly sauté the garlic in the olive oil for around 30-45 seconds. Be careful not to burn it – garlic burns very quickly.
This will infuse your oil with garlic flavor. If you prefer, you can just use garlic oil and no fresh garlic.
Bring the Sauce Together
Add your tomatoes and simmer with the lid on. Add the sugar, salt and pepper, then leave to simmer for a further 2-3 minutes. Stir occasionally to stop the sauce from burning at the bottom of the pan.
Finally, add the oregano. Stir well, then switch off the heat.
If you aren’t using the sauce immediately, then leave it to cool down to room temperature before transferring it to your container, to store.
How Long Does Pizza Sauce Last in the Fridge
If you make your pizza sauce recipe in advance, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days. Store in an air-tight container.
Alternatively, you can freeze your pizza sauce. Tomatoes freeze very well. Any sauce, including marinara sauce or pizza sauce, will keep in the freezer for up to six months.
Fill a freezer-safe jar or an air-tight container most of the way full with home made pizza sauce. Don’t fill it all the way – sauces like marinara sauce expand as they freeze because of their high water content. So you want to give them plenty of growing room! Place a small piece of clingfilm over the sauce to prevent moisture from leaking in.
If you prefer to use a jar, place it in a freezer bag before putting away to keep it protected.
Ways to Use Pizza Sauce
It’s such an easy pizza sauce recipe! And you’re not just limited to using it on pizzas (though I highly recommend you do!). Most classic pizza recipes use a version of this healthy pizza sauce, so it’s the perfect addition to homemade pies.
For me, there’s no better place for the best pizza sauce than on the best homemade pizza recipe – Neapolitan-style Pizza. It’s made with just a handful of simple ingredients and cooked to perfection. If you can’t go to Italy, it might just satisfy your wanderlust cravings. You can add it to any recipe for red sauce pizza.
If you’re wondering how to make pizza sauce more versatile, consider including it in your dip rotation. Pizza tomato sauce is perfect for dipping something crispy in. I love dipping my Crispy Fried Squash or even Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Wings into this homemade pizza sauce for an added boost of flavor.
Of course, if you don’t have a homemade marinara sauce recipe, pizza sauce is a great way to bring the missing tomato flavor into pasta dishes. Take any tomato sauce for pizza and incorporate it with your favorite pasta dishes. I love adding it to Pasta alla Norma (with eggplant), a Vegetarian One Pot Pasta Bake (a perfect mid-week meal), or to Baked Feta Pasta packed with delicious cherry tomatoes.
Let me know in the comments below what your favorite way to use this sauce would be.
More Flavorful Sauces
If you try this homemade pizza sauce recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
Quick and Easy Pizza Sauce
- 1 cup tinned red tomatoes I used Plum Tomatoes (San Marzano are best) OR Passata
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 garlic clove crushed/minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar I use brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- Peel and crush/mince your garlic.
- In a pot over medium heat, lightly saute the minced garlic in the olive oil for 30-45 seconds, being careful not to burn. This will infuse your oil with the garlic flavor.
- Add the tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes with the lid on.
- Add the sugar, salt and pepper and stir, then leave to simmer for a further 2-3 minutes. Stir occasionally, to stop the sauce from burning at the bottom of the pan.
- Add the oregano, stir well, and switch off the heat. If you aren't using the sauce immediately, then leave it to cool down to room temperature before transferring to your container, to store.
- You can store this homemade pizza sauce in an airtight container – I like to use a jar – in the fridge for up to 5 days. Alternatively, it can be frozen for up to three months.
- You can add onion to the sauce too. Finely dice it and saute the onion and garlic in the pan at the beginning, until softened.
- I used oregano for my marinara sauce. Feel free to use mixed Italian herbs, if you’d prefer. You can also add fresh basil or a bay leaf, while cooking, for a richer flavor.
- Add some crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce for spice. Add them while the garlic is sauteeing, when there 15-20 seconds remaining before you add the tomatoes. This will help infuse the flavor in the oil a bit.
- Swap out the sugar for a little honey or another natural sweetener. I prefer to use ones that don’t have too much of a ‘unique’ flavor, to affect the sauce.
- You can, optionally, add some fresh (peeled) tomatoes to your sauce along with the canned. The fresh tomatoes will add a note layer of flavor to the dish.
- The final texture of the sauce is up to you. Use a blender for a super smooth “puree”, or lightly crush in the pan to your desired texture.