Simple Italian pizza sauce recipe made from scratch.
Use canned tomatoes (preferably San Marzano) for the best taste and make a double batch to have in a jar for another time. Also suitable for pasta!
Homemade pizza sauce is cheaper and tastier than a store-bought one. Either you're making a simple Margherita pizza or a whole wheat Mediterranean-style pizza, this classic tomato sauce will add flavor and freshness to your recipe.
Because it's not always easy to find fresh and very ripe tomatoes, Italian San Marzano tomatoes from a can work best for this recipe since they're thicker, sweeter and less acidic.
If you have another favorite tomato variety you can use that too. Martha Stewart has an article with more information about San Marzano tomatoes and Epicurious has tested various brands of canned tomatoes just to find the best one.
The best thing about homemade pizza sauce is that you can customize it the way you want, mostly by choosing the herbs and spices you prefer.
So, if you don't like garlic, you can totally leave it out or if you prefer thyme you can surely substitute it for the dried oregano the recipe calls for.
Other herbs and spices you can use are chives, tarragon, parsley, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, cumin and even a pinch of ground cloves.
Many times I also add mushrooms to this sauce, though I don't mention them in the recipe at the end of this post.
If you like mushrooms, start by adding half a pound of sliced champignons to a very hot pan with a bit of olive oil. Stir until the mushrooms water out and all the juices are evaporated. Then, lower the heat, add the onion and the garlic and continue according to the directions.
Did Italians really invent pizza? Does a great pizza require San Marzano tomatoes? This article with 8 Bogus Pizza Myths, Debunked from First we Feast will solve all your questions!
How to make it from scratch
- Cook some garlic and chopped onion with olive oil until translucent.
- Add the pureed tomatoes, salt, pepper and the spices you prefer and simmer over low heat.
- Taste and add more salt and some sugar if needed.
- Remove from the heat and add any fresh herbs you like. Spoon over your pizza dough or store in a jar.
A thing I find helpful when making tomato sauce is to use a deep saucepan because tomato sauce can splatter a lot during cooking. Also, canned tomatoes are the perfect solution because tomatoes are not always in season.
A good quality brand uses seasonal, ripe tomatoes something that ensures that the tomatoes are at the peak of their taste.
If you prefer using fresh tomatoes, chose the ripest ones you can find and use approximately two cups of pureed tomatoes (about 500 grams). Note that they'll take longer to thicken because they'll probably contain a bit more water.
What is the difference between pizza and spaghetti sauce?
For me, there's no difference between the two sauces, except maybe from their consistency. Pizza sauce is usually thicker than spaghetti sauce.
You don't want it very thin because the toppings can slide-off before you have the chance to bite it, not to mention that it can make the crust soggy.
This only means that pizza sauce (in contrast to spaghetti sauce) just needs a bit more cooking time.
Other than that, you can use a pizza sauce recipe for spaghetti and vice versa.
For a different kind of pizza, try this spaghetti sauce with ground beef (bolognese) and top it with a mix of grated cheddar, mozzarella and some Parmigiano Reggiano.
How do you thicken pizza sauce?
- When making pizza sauce from scratch you have to let it simmer over low heat until most of the water is evaporated. To make things faster, use a wide saucepan. A pan with a large surface is ideal when we want a lot of moisture to evaporate quickly.
- Another solution is to add 1-2 tablespoons of thick tomato paste. Thick tomato paste will bind a lot of the extra moisture from the sauce, thus thicken it.
- If you don't have neither time nor tomato paste, your ultimate solution is to dilute 1-2 tablespoons of corn starch to 1-2 tablespoons of cold water and gradually add it to the sauce. Let it boil for 1-2 minutes until the starch coagulates and gets cooked through. This isn't a common solution to thicken pizza sauce but it will work and it won't change the flavor of the sauce.
Can you use tomato puree for pizza?
Yes you can! This is not the classic Italian way for making pizza sauce, but if you don't have the time or just don't feel like cooking, then you can just use thick tomato puree mixed with just enough water until you get the consistency you like.
Add some dried oregano, dried basil and dried garlic powder to enhance the taste. I use a simple sauce like that in this Croissant dough pizza with ham and cheese. This type of pizza is ideal for brunch or breakfast.
Once cooked and cooled, the pizza sauce can be transferred to an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Because tomato sauce can stain plastic bowls and vessels I always make sure to use something made of glass.
Very often, when I make tomato sauce either for pizza or pasta, I make a double batch and can the half while it's hot from the saucepan. I follow an easy canning method which I describe in this small batch easy peach jam (no pectin).
Homemade pizza sauce recipe with canned tomatoes
- 1 can (14 oz / 400 grams) San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped or shredded
- 1 garlic clove, crashed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil ((or 4-5 leaves of fresh basil, chopped))
- a pinch of sugar
- Puree the tomatoes: Blend the content of the can with an immersion blender or a normal blender or a food processor.
- Cook: Transfer the onion, the garlic and the olive oil to a deep saucepan and cook over medium/high heat until the onion is translucent (3-4 minutes). Add the pureed tomatoes, the oregano, a pinch of salt and freshly grated black pepper according to your taste.Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the sauce thickens, about 20-30 minutes (time will vary depending on the heat and the size of the pan).
- Taste and adjust: Once the sauce has thickened, taste and add the sugar and more salt if needed. Take off the heat, add the basil and stir.
- Use immediately or store: Let it cool for a few minutes, discard the garlic, spoon the sauce over your pizza dough and top with your favorite ingredients.
- If you prefer using fresh tomatoes, chose the ripest ones you can find and use approximately two cups chopped (about 500 grams). Note that they'll take longer to thicken since they'll probably contain a bit more water.
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