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The Best Pizza Sauce

Get ready for an authentic pizzeria-style sauce recipe that is both easy and no cook. This sauce is the real deal, made from a blend of tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil, and dried spices, and fresh herbs. It’s the secret behind those legendary New York slices, and now you can bring that iconic taste to your own kitchen!

So roll up your sleeves, grab your favorite pizza toppings, and get ready to savor every mouthwatering bite of this genuinely amazing pizza sauce!

close up on spoonful of pizza sauce with bowl in background
The Best PIzza Sauce – One of NYCs secret to the Best Pizza!

 

Since writing my first post on making NY style pizza dough, I’ve gotten a few requests for a good pizza sauce recipe. The pizza dough is only part of the making of a good pizza (although an important part if you ask me)- finding a good sauce recipe and a favorite cheese combination is definitely the other part of the battle for good pizza. If you need to calculate how much dough you need try our pizza calculator! And if you have leftover sauce and want to use it, try my stuffed peppers – they will NOT disappoint!

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Why You’l Love this Recipe

So, why make this pizza sauce? And what makes it the best?

  • It’s incredibly easy to make – you are basically just measuring and mixing (and sometimes I just “eyeball” it!)
  • The recipe comes from a pizzeria owner in NYC who knows good food!
  • It’s got the perfect balance of flavors from the tomatoes, herbs, and spices.
  • It’s very easy to customize to your liking.
  • It’s easy to make ahead and keep on hand!

What Makes a Good Pizza Sauce?

Without question, the quest for a good pizza sauce recipe largely depends on using high quality tomato sauce products, much like I said when I wrote my creamy tomato soup recipe.

Choosing a tomato brand will depend on your tastes and what products are available in your area. A few of my favorites brands include Red Pack (which seems hard to find), Cento, Muir Glen, and of course, San Marzano. I also like Tutto Rosso and Nina brands. Bianco Di Napoli and Jersey Fresh are also very very good.

The pizza sauce should have a well-balanced combination of sweetness, acidity, and savory notes. The sweetness comes from the natural sugars in the tomatoes, while the acidity adds brightness and helps cut through the richness of the cheese and other toppings.

Ingredients

pizza sauce ingredients in bowls ready to mix
Tomato sauce/puree/crushed, olive oil, garlic powder/onion/oregano, sugar, water, salt/black pepper/red pepper flakes

Method: It’s So Easy!

After mixing the sauce ingredients, it does help to let the sauce sit for a while in the refrigerator to let the flavors marry. I have skipped this step in a pinch, but plan to do so if you can.

The recipe is quite simple if you have all the ingredients – just mix, let sit, and use.

pizza sauce ingredients in bowl
Add ingredients to a bowl.
stirring pizza sauce ingredients in glass bowl
Mix gently (add water if too thick)

Back of the Spoon Test: Getting the Best Consistency

So how do you get the perfect consistency to your pizza sauce? If you’re like me and you sometimes like to use tomato puree, which can be too thick (but delicious), you’ll need to water it down a bit.

But how much?

The “back of the spoon” method is a simple technique to test the consistency of a sauce, including pizza sauce. Here’s how you can use it:

  1. Prepare your pizza sauce according to the directions.
  2. Take a spoonful of the sauce and let it sit on the back of a spoon. Make sure to use a spoon with a convex, rounded back rather than a flat one.
  3. Observe how the sauce behaves on the back of the spoon. Pay attention to its thickness and how it spreads or flows.
  4. If the sauce is too thin and runs off the spoon immediately without leaving a coating, it may be too watery. In this case, you might want to thicken it by cooking it or adding a small amount of tomato paste.
  5. If the sauce is too thick and doesn’t move or spread easily, it might be too dense. You can adjust it by adding a little water (a small amount at a time and then retesting) to achieve a smoother consistency.
  6. Ideally, the sauce should have a balanced consistency, neither too thin nor too thick. It should gently coat the back of the spoon and slowly drip or flow off it.

By using the back of the spoon method, you can visually assess the sauce’s thickness and determine if any adjustments are needed. Keep in mind that personal preferences can vary, so feel free to make further modifications based on your taste and the desired texture for your pizza sauce.

To Cook or Not to Cook?

One subject of controversy is to whether to cook pizza sauce before using it.

I do not precook my sauce and from what I have read, most NY style pizza makers do not pre-cook their sauce.

From what I understand, the tomato puree (and tomato sauce) is already precooked, so that helps to impart the deeper flavor that you get when you cook pasta sauce – possibly another reason that I like to use tomato puree.

Types of Canned Tomato Products

I find that tomato puree and tomato sauce have a cooked flavor, which I prefer for NY style pizzas. If I’m making Neapolitan pizza, then I use fresh whole tomatoes and smash them (and that particular type of sauce does not call for many ingredients).

Here’s a table comparing tomato sauce, tomato puree, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and whole peeled tomatoes:

table showing various features of canned tomato products

How Much Pizza Sauce Do I Need?

This recipe makes a little more than 4 cups and you can easily cut the recipe in half using the 0.5x option in the recipe card below.

The amount of pizza sauce you use per pizza depends on personal preference and the thickness of the sauce. However, as a general guideline, a range of sauce amounts typically used is as follows:

  1. 12-inch pizza: 1/2 to 3/4 cup (approximately 118 mL to 177 mL) of pizza sauce.
  2. 14-inch pizza: 3/4 to 1 cup (approximately 177 mL to 237 mL) of pizza sauce.
  3. 16-inch pizza: 1 to 1 1/4 cups (approximately 237 mL to 296 mL) of pizza sauce.

Note that it’s always a good idea to start with a moderate amount and adjust to your liking as needed. Too much sauce can make your pizza soggy and hard to transfer to your pizza stone or steel (if you use one).

Tips and Tricks

  • Choose a brand of tomatoes that you know and love. It might take a while to try different ones but the tomatoes really make the sauce.
  • High quality olive oil will also make your sauce stand out so splurge a little here and try good different brands.
  • Add salt slowly and test for saltiness. Customize to your liking.
  • Although this recipe takes only 5 or 10 minutes to make, if you make it ahead or the day before, you’ll give the tomato sauce time to to marinate in the flavors and for the flavors to marry and so it’ll be even better.

Storage and Make Ahead

  • Pizza sauce can be made ahead of time and stored for convenience.
  • Store it in an airtight container.
  • Homemade pizza sauce can be refrigerated for 5-7 days.
  • To freeze pizza sauce, pour it into a freezer-safe container, leaving some headspace, and store it for up to 3-4 months.
  • Thaw frozen pizza sauce by transferring it to the refrigerator overnight or using quick thawing methods like the microwave or warm water.
  • Reheat pizza sauce gently over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, without boiling it.
pizza dough being spread with pizza sauce

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Fresh Tomatoes to Make this Sauce?

Yes! To get smooth tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes, you can follow these steps:

Choose ripe tomatoes: Select ripe tomatoes that are vibrant in color and have a slight give when gently pressed. Ripe tomatoes tend to have more flavor and are easier to work with when making sauce.

Blanch and peel the tomatoes: Bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath by filling a bowl with ice and water. Score a small “X” on the bottom of each tomato.

Carefully place the tomatoes in the boiling water for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until the skins start to loosen. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to the ice bath to cool quickly. Once cooled, remove the skins by gently peeling them off.

Remove the seeds (optional): Cut the peeled tomatoes in half horizontally and gently squeeze or scoop out the seeds and any excess juice. This step is optional but can help prevent the sauce from becoming too watery.

Blend or process the tomatoes: Place the peeled and seeded tomatoes in a blender or food processor. Pulse or blend until the tomatoes reach a smooth consistency.

Be careful not to over-process, as it may turn the sauce too thin.
Strain the sauce (optional): If you desire an even smoother sauce, you can strain it to remove any remaining pulp or seeds. Place a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth-lined colander over a bowl and pour the blended sauce into it.

Allow the sauce to strain for a few minutes, gently pressing with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.

Season the sauce: Transfer the smooth tomato sauce to a bowl and season it as directed in the recipe. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your preference.

Remember, the quality and ripeness of the tomatoes will greatly impact the flavor and texture of the sauce, so choose the best tomatoes available for the best results.

What are the Best Type of Canned Tomatoes to Make this Sauce?

For a no-cook pizza sauce, you have several options for tomato products that work well:

Tomato Sauce: Tomato sauce is an excellent option. It has a smooth consistency and works well as a base for the sauce. Choose a good-quality tomato sauce without any added flavors or seasonings.

Canned Tomato Puree: Tomato puree is a thick and smooth tomato product that works perfectly for no-cook pizza sauce. It provides a rich and velvety texture to the sauce. Ensure you select pure tomato puree without any added ingredients.

Canned Crushed Tomatoes: Canned crushed tomatoes are a popular choice for no-cook pizza sauce. They have a slightly chunky texture and a good balance of flavors. Look for high-quality crushed tomatoes with no added ingredients. You may want to add some tomato paste to impart a cooked flavor.

Canned Whole Tomatoes: Of course, you can also use canned whole tomatoes and blend them. These are typically very good but also require a little more work to get the consistency right for this pizza sauce recipe.

Can I Make This Sauce Ahead and How Do I Store It?

Yes, you can make this ahead. Store the sauce in a airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days or in the freezer for 3 to 4 months.

📖 Recipe

pizza dough being spread with pizza sauce

The Best Pizza Sauce

Easy to make, NY style pizza sauce
4.91 from 32 votes
Author: Marie
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Pizza
Cuisine American
Servings 4 cups
Calories 208 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 28 oz (793.79 g) tomato puree or tomato sauce (I now prefer sauce; you can also use diced tomato, whole tomatoes that you puree yourself, etc)
  • 1/2 cup (118.29 g) water (**only if using store bought puree**)
  • 1/4 cup (54 g) olive oil
  • fresh basil large handful (I only use this in summer when in season, you can also use basil paste or frozen cubes) do not use dried basil.
  • 1-2 teaspoons (4 g) sugar (optional – taste your tomatoes first as they all differ in sweetness and then, if needed, add a little at a time)
  • 2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) dried oregano
  • 1.5 teaspoon (4.5 g) garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) onion powder
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) ground black pepper (optional)

Instructions
 

To Mix Sauce

  • Combine all ingredients except water in a bowl and mix well
  • If you used puree, slowly add water, using more or less if necessary until you reach desired consistency.
  • The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon but thin enough to spread easily on the pizza.
  • Keep in mind that the sauce thickens a bit in the oven when baked on pizza, so if it is too thick to begin with you will end up with paste.

Optional: Back of the Spoon Test for Consistency

  • Take a spoonful of the sauce and let it sit on the back of a spoon. Make sure to use a spoon with a convex, rounded back rather than a flat one.
  • If the sauce is too thin and runs off the spoon immediately without leaving a coating, it may be too watery. In this case, you might want to thicken it by adding a small amount of tomato paste (or cook it over low heat, slowly, to thicken it).
  • If the sauce is too thick and doesn't move or spread easily, it might be too dense. You can adjust it by slowly adding a little water (1 tablespoon at a time) to achieve a smoother consistency.
  • Ideally, the sauce should have a balanced consistency, neither too thin nor too thick. It should gently coat the back of the spoon and slowly drip or flow off it.

Notes

Top each pizza with at least 1/2 cup of pizza sauce – generally, use between 1/2 cup to 1 cup. Remember, too much sauce can make the pizza soggy. Less is more! 
Leftover and Storage: 
  • Pizza sauce can be made ahead of time and stored for convenience.
  • Store it in an airtight container.
  • Homemade pizza sauce can be refrigerated for 5-7 days.
  • To freeze pizza sauce, pour it into a freezer-safe container, leaving some headspace, and store it for 3-4 months.
  • Thaw frozen pizza sauce in the refrigerator overnight or use quick thawing methods like the microwave or warm water.
  • Reheat pizza sauce gently over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, without boiling it.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 208kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 4gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gSodium: 1224mgPotassium: 920mgFiber: 4gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 1376IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 4mg
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68 Comments

    1. It depends on how much sauce you like – I usually start with about 1/2 cup for a 12- to 16-inch pizza and go from there. I’ve added a section to the post, since this is an excellent question! The recipe makes a little more than 4 cups, and you can cut in half using the 0.5x option.

  1. Help me out here please. Sugar in your sauce? I read all over the place that sugar in tomato sauce in a huge no-no and you being of Italian decent would know better than i would so I trust your opinion on the subject. I make pizza at home. I also make the sauce that goes with it. Sometimes I simmer the sauce, sometimes i don’t. My pallet can not taste a difference between either way. But I have yet to add sugar to my sauce only because it is advised by most (not all) not to. I know some tomatoes are more acidic than others, that being the reason (I guess) that some add the sugar to their sauce. I’m confused. Cook or no cook, sugar or no sugar? Do what I want according to my taste, seems to be the best solution but i’d like to know the correct way. It’s all over the place. Love the pizza recipe, will try the sauce. Thanks!

    1. Hi Mike, I completely understand your point – I used to feel the same way! I make other styles of pizza and would NOT add sugar to the sauce for those (especially for Neopolitan style) – remember recipes are guidelines, feel free to adjust to your own tastes. Thanks for your comment and happy cooking!

    2. Hey Mark,
      I know you posted a few months ago and probably won’t see this, but I feel like it might help others with your excellent question. While I completely agree with Marie that you need to taste your tomatoes to gauge how sweet/acidic they are and if too acidic/not enough sweet then you need to add some sugar to balance the sauce out. However, I was always taught (my maternal grandmother) that instead of using granulated sugar to finely dice a carrot and onion and sautee that in the pan until just starting to carmelize and then add your tomatoes. This will prevent you from adding too much sugar since it’s difficult to go overboard unless you don’t like the taste of onions. And you can play around with how much you let them caramelize depending on how sweet you like your sauce–I like mine a little more on the sweet side so I use a lot of very finely minced onions (along with the carrot) and cook them low and slow until they are a rich golden brown color. Then I’ll add some minced garlic right at the end and get a little color on that, too–just be careful cuz garlic burns much quicker than the onions and carrots. That way you build rich flavors. Plenty of other things you can add towards the end of the sautee if you like a chunky hearty sauce–mushrooms, sweet peas, peppers, summer squash, etc. I like to dice everything very fine so that it gets lost in the sauce and is kind of a surprise for my family/guests.

      And I always cook down my sauce a little bit, especially since I prefer to use canned diced tomatoes, so you still get the chunkier texture (obviously I prefer) but that way the pieces break down a little into a smoother sauce. Don’t worry so much about it getting too pasty–just remember that you can always thin it out by adding a little water, stock, or even vino! If adding the latter two, be careful about how much you add since you can easily overpower the flavor or screw up your seasoning since the flavors will concentrate as you cook it down.

    3. Sure, Mike, you could do everything Don suggests…. Or you could just add a little sugar, or even brown sugar, and spare yourself all that fuss. If still alive, my grandmother would be 134 today, and plenty of nonna’s her age and even older had no problem with adding a touch of sugar when necessary that I can recall.

  2. 5 stars
    This is THE BEST PIZZA SAUCE I’ve ever make and it’s so EASY without cooking the sauce!! I’ll keep this recipe 😘

  3. I made this and left it in the fridge overnight and its like jelly now, do you know why this would be?

    1. It definitely should not look like jelly – is it possible that you added too much water? Or if you used a low gluten flour (not all purpose or bread flour?)

  4. Has anyone used Cento tomatoe sauce with the recipe? I have Cento crushed, but am curious if the sauce will be better. Thanks!

    1. 5 stars
      Made a batch today with Cento crushed. Added water and sugar this time as directed. Best batch I’ve ever made.

  5. Sorry if this has been asked, but how much does this recipe yield? I know you mentioned you use 1/2 cup per 14″ pizza.

    1. This makes about 4 1/4 cups and can be cut in half if your tomatoes come in smaller cans. I usually stick the larger cans and refrigerate or freeze the remaining sauce

  6. 5 stars
    Found a better flour. All Trumps High gluten flour it’s what are used for ny style bagels Best pizza dough by far Your sauce recipe is great to. Thank you

  7. I don’t want to disrespect this recipe, but I am itching to substitute basil pesto sauce for the fresh basil
    leaves and I’m wondering since the pesto sauce already has kosher salt, olive oil and garlic cloves in it, do I still need to add the garlic powder and salt? I don’t want to ruin the sauce’s flavor because of my curiosity.

  8. 5 stars
    Instead of basil leaves I did crushed basil. About a teaspoon more of oregano. And a pinch more of sugar. No actual garlic or onions. I also simmered it while I added the ingredients. Was ready super fast. Is amazing!

    1. I bet the pizzerias you love don’t use it either. This is pizza sauce, not spaghetti sauce. Try it before you judge it. Make it a couple days ahead so it comes together and use good quality sauce. Either cento or tuttorosso

  9. Not good. I made exactly how it was written and I won’t try it again. It reminded me of Totinos frozen pizza. Sorry but sauce has to be cooked for the flavor to work. After eating this sauce and hated it I tried to cook it but it didn’t help. Just using garlic powder and onion powder won’t make pizza sauce.

    1. Awe, sorry you didn’t like it Jay. I do like a cooked sauce too! But if you use a brand of tomatoes that you really love (hard to find!), you may want to give this another try. Another trick is to put some tomato paste in it to give it more of a cooked sauce flavor. I must say, my homemade pizza never tastes anything like frozen pizza, so we are definitely doing something different!

      1. Can you please delete my review above for me? I admitted to doing something wrong the first time I made this sauce recipe. I made it again and loved it. The second time I used tomato purée but the last few times I now use tomato sauce. I like the sauce consistency the most.
        Five stars.

    2. 5 stars
      I would like to retract my original comment and give his sauce 5 stars after making it again. I must have done something wrong the first time. I don’t remember what kind of tomatoes I used but this time I used purée by Cento. I made the sauce on Thursday to use for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 4 pizzas in total. I really enjoyed it this time. I’m sure it was my choice of sauce this time that made the difference.

  10. Question about the fresh basil. Do you remove it after it’s been in the sauce or leave it and then it ends up a topping on the pizza?

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