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Your favorite pizza sauce recipe?

Hi Friends.

I am a miserable failure at making homemade pizza. If it's not a dough fail, it's a bake fail, or a sauce fail. Most recently I made a cheese pizza and used my own marinara for the sauce. Well it tasted awful, like there should have been spaghetti on that pizza, not a pizza sauce at all.

I have had minimal success with canned ones at the store, (have used pesto & sliced fresh tomatoes and they work pretty well) but would love to hear your thought or recipes of sauces you've made and taste great on pizza. Mainly looking for the traditional tomato sauce but welcome any ideas you may have.

Thanks for your input!

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  1. I found this on Chowhound a couple of years ago and never looked back. An 8 oz can of tomato sauce mixed with a 6 oz can of tomato paste. I saute a little onion and garlic and add the tomato paste and cook that for a bit. Add dried herbs of choice then mix in tomato sauce. I would just add your tomato sauce instead of the can.

    4 Replies
    1. re: King of Northern Blvd

      Cool, that's sounds easy enough. It tastes like pizza sauce and not pasta sauce, right? No need to add sugar or acid?

      1. re: Phurstluv

        the secrets:
        - toasted ground fennel seed
        - good-quality dried Italian oregano
        - grated parm stirred into the sauce
        - a touch of anchovy paste (this one's optional, but i love what it does to the flavor)

        1. re: Phurstluv

          It does taste like pizza sauce and not pasta sauce. I never found the need to add sugar as I like it a bit tart from the paste.

          1. re: King of Northern Blvd

            I find that my best pizzas are one where I place uncooked sliced tomatoes on the dough, other items and cover with cheese.

      2. Hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes. Or the crushed tomatoes with basil from Fresh and Easy is an excellent (and much less expensive) sub. That's it. Delicious, simple, beyond easy. Definitely traditional.

        1 Reply
        1. re: modthyrth

          I use those tomatoes to make my marinara. Just tomatoes, onion, garlic & paste. Still tastes like pasta sauce to me.

        2. Personally, I've got to agree with Modthyrth above, and so does Jeff Varasano (long read, but he discusses sauce a little over halfway down the page) - and his tip about not cooking the tomatoes before topping the pie really makes a big difference.


          2 Replies
          1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

            I will have to try that, maybe it's the not cooking that's the secret.

            1. re: Phurstluv

              Go for it - nothing ventured, nothing gained.
              I should probably point out that not warming the sauce will affect how the cheese melts, so you might have to compensate by moving the pie towards the end to get a little time under the broiler.

          2. I like to bring several minced cloves of garlic to heat in a few tablespoons of oo. When they start to sizzle I add 1/4 cup or so of red wine, a teaspoon or two of an Italian herb blend and half a jar of simplest store bought spaghetti sauce. I let it simmer until it thickens up a bit and cool before making my pizza.

            It really tastes pretty authentic if what you're going for is a mom and pop pizza place flavor (which I am)

            1. 99% of the time I use a raw sauce of simply canned whole tomatoes that I drain and crush/puree (or use a tomato passata which has only tomatoes and salt). I sometimes add a bit of salt or a garlic clove worked into a paste but thats about it.

              1. I start with a big can of Muir Glen fire roasted crushed tomatoes. Dump those in a pot, add some oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper - let it simmer for a bit until it reaches your desired consistency - add a little red wine vinegar. I don't measure any of it, so just to taste. If I want it smoother, I'll hit it with the stick blender.

                1. If you like smooth sauce:

                  A basic uncooked sauce does not taste like spaghetti sauce. I have made this recipe I am linking to and it's pretty good. (Except I omit the rosemary and use minimal amounts of dried herbs if I don't have fresh.)

                  If you like a fresher tasting, chunkier sauce, just open a can of crushed tomatoes (or crush a can of San Marzanos) and add nothing more.

                  I prefer a pizza sauce base with almost no seasonings because it tastes more like tomato and less like sauce. The first recipe, though it contains herbs, is pretty darn good though.

                  1. Are you tasting it as you go? I never use a recipe, I just make it with what I have around. IMO, a pizza sauce is going to be more reduced and a little bit tangy relative to a pasta sauce. The only thing I do that is always the same is start with olive oil in a pan in hot oil. I also always use either shallots or onion, depending on what I have. Then I either peel and seed and dice tomato, or throw some canned tomatoes or tomato sauce in there, or both, depending on what I've got. Usually both. Sometimes I puree, sometimes I don't. I throw a healthy amount of dried basil and oregano in there and let it reduce for awhile, like 20 minutes maybe, stirring frequently. Then I add tomato paste if it's not strong enough for my taste and let it cook a bit longer. Then, only toward the end, I add balsamic vinegar to taste for that tangy flavor, somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, a teaspoon at a time, or thereabouts, and salt. Then fresh basil and/or oregano if it's on hand it seems like the sauce could use it.

                    Done. I think the balsamic is what makes it really fool proof. I don't use the particularly sweet stuff, but the stuff for salads - one to two leaf balsamic, i.e. inexpensive. You could probably just use red wine vinegar instead. I always get compliments on my sauce. You just make it while the dough rises - that gives plenty of time. In a pinch I also doctor up jars of pasta sauce, etc., pretty much exactly as described above.

                    And taste, taste, taste and reduce, reduce, reduce. My sauce, when it's done, no longer freely spreads out in the pan. It has the texture of a light roux. It sticks.