The Ever-Popular Pizza
Pizza ranks right up with Mac & Cheese and fried chicken with a side of mashed potatoes for popular comfort foods. Depending on where you hail from, your definition of what makes a great pizza may differ.
The perfect pie in New York City is one with thin slices, typically eaten folded in half. Philadelphians are partial to a thick, square-shaped pizza served at room temperature. In Chicago, Windy City residents prefer deep-dish.
But unless you are going commando, so-to-speak, with a white pizza, most pizza aficionados will tell you it’s the sauce that makes the pizza.
Pizza Sauce Basics
The base for most pizza sauce is tomatoes, and you can make a pizza sauce from tomato paste and just a few other ingredients. But you have other options as well, as you’ll see in the following pizza sauce recipes.
What constitutes the best homemade pizza sauce is somewhat a matter of taste because some like it a bit sweeter (add a touch of sugar), while others like it garlicky and pungent. But try to use the highest quality ingredients you can obtain and fresh herbs where possible.
No-Fail Homemade Pizza Sauce
- 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes* (suggested pick: Cento brand)
- 3 tbsp tomato paste (suggested pick: Muir Glen Organic)
- 1 ½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp fresh minced garlic
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 ½ tsp dried oregano
- Fine sea salt & fresh, ground black pepper to taste
Like most pizza sauces, this one has some vitamin C and A, and it’s low in calories, at around 30 calories per serving. It makes enough for 2 medium pizzas.
- In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil at medium and then add garlic. Sauté briefly.
- Add tomato paste and heat for a few minutes.
- Remove from heat. Stir in crushed tomatoes, herbs, salt, and pepper to your liking.
Many cooks say that for an authentic Italian pizza sauce recipe, you should use peeled plum tomatoes of the San Marzano variety.
5-Star Italian Pizza Sauce Recipe
- 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup minced onion
- ½ – ¾ tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- ¼ – ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- Empty tomatoes into a large bowl and break up tomatoes until chunky (you can use a pastry blender, your hands, or kitchen shears).
- Heat the olive oil, onions, garlic, herbs, and red pepper flakes over medium heat for a few minutes.
- Add tomatoes, sugar, and salt. Allow it to simmer for about 20 minutes.
About 35-40 calories per serving, and will make enough sauce for 3 pizzas. You can freeze any extra for 2 months.
Pizazzy Pizza Sauce
- 1 6-oz. can tomato paste (suggested pick: Contadina Organic Tomato Paste)
- ½ c. lukewarm water
- 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp anchovy paste (suggested pick: Crown Prince brand)
- ¾ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp each dried oregano, marjoram, and basil
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
- ⅛ tsp dried red pepper flakes
- salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well, ensuring the Parmesan cheese doesn’t clump.
- Let stand for half an hour before spreading over pizza dough.
Savor and enjoy what might be your best pizza sauce ever! (With approximately 80 calories per serving, this recipe yields enough for one pizza pie.)
Unique Variations to Make It Your Own
You can tailor any recipe for pizza sauce and make it your very own signature, homemade pizza sauce recipe just by adding select ingredients. Try a couple of these flavor boosters:
Anchovies: Stir 2 anchovy fillets into olive oil at the beginning, until they sizzle. Then add your fresh minced garlic for another minute before adding tomatoes.
Extra Garlic and Onion: Sauté a full head of finely minced garlic in a few teaspoons of butter, and then add a whole chopped onion and sauté before adding the equivalent of a 28 oz. can of tomatoes, along with sugar, salt, and Italian seasonings.
Sun-Dried Tomatoes: Sautée onion and garlic in olive oil, add in 2 tbsp of minced sun-dried tomatoes along with Italian herbs before adding tomato paste, a bit of water, and sugar.
Learning how to make pizza sauce is easy. But take note, even if you are out of canned tomatoes for sauce, pizza should never be made using spaghetti sauce. Pasta sauce has already been cooked, and it’s just not the same flavor as even the easiest pizza sauce, so don’t be tempted to take this shortcut.
Another tip is to remember to add a bit of sugar if you feel your canned tomatoes are too acidic. However, resist the urge to use fresh tomatoes for your pizza sauce, as they tend to make a watery sauce. That being said, if your homemade pizza sauce ends up too thin for some reason, you can try to reduce it by simmering on a low heat.
To substitute peeled tomatoes for crushed tomatoes in your pizza sauce recipe, just drain most of the juice and crush them. (The resulting cupful will equal about 1 15-oz. can of crushed tomatoes.)
Your best pizza sauce recipe is just a crust away. Many grocery stores sell uncooked pizza dough in their bakery section, so it’s easy to try one recipe and then choose another for your next pizza night, tweaking as you gain confidence. You can also keep most homemade pizza sauces in the fridge for a week.
Remember, you can make pizza sauce from scratch in under 5 minutes, and everyone’s taste buds will thank you.