Since writing my first post on making NY style pizza, I've gotten a few requests for a good pizza sauce recipe. See, truth is, the pizza dough is only part of the makings of a good pizza - finding a good sauce recipe and a favorite cheese combination is definitely the other part of the battle for good pizza.
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 the Panera-like 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. For those of you who are new to making pizza sauce, do not use pre-made pasta sauce!
For the most part, I have always used tomato puree, but would like to also try crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce to make my sauce in the future. This is a matter of personal taste - again, you can use what you like. I have always liked tomato puree because it has been passed through a sieve to remove all the seeds, which impart a bitter undertone in my opinion.
Tomato puree is, however, too thick and so you must water it down a bit. If you use tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, consider passing the sauce through a food mill to eliminate the seeds before you mix with the other ingredients - I think it makes a big difference! One of the older Italian women from my old neighborhood taught me that trick.
The other 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 is already precooked, so that helps to impart the deeper flavor that you get when you cook tomato sauce - possibly another reason that I like to use tomato puree. However, I have also read that cooking sauces releases the aromatics, which never return again so I will be experimenting with crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce in the future.
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.
You can freeze leftovers, but the sauce becomes more watery after it is defrosted - I don't mind this, but you should consider this beforehand. I usually use ½ cup of sauce for each 14 inch pizza that I make.
Do not use aluminum containers to store pizza sauce.
- 28 oz can of tomato puree or tomato sauce (I now prefer sauce; you can also use diced tomato, whole tomatoes that you puree yourself, etc)
- ½ cup water (**only if using store bought puree**)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- handful of fresh basil if available (I only use this in summer when in season)
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar (optional - taste your tomatoes first as they all differ in sweetness and then, if needed, add a little at a time)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1.5 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
- 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, so if it is too thick to begin with you will end up with paste.
Mike Sr says
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!
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!
Don Packard says
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.
Farhana Mahalan says
This is THE BEST PIZZA SAUCE I’ve ever make and it’s so EASY without cooking the sauce!! I’ll keep this recipe 😘
How many medium size basil leaves would you suggest using? Sorry, I’m so bad at estimating lol!
I usually throw in a handful:) I’d say at least 4 or 5 leaves
Wonderful!! Best recipe ever! How long does this stay good for in the fridge?
It’s best after three days but I’ve used it 4 or 5 days after too
I made this and left it in the fridge overnight and its like jelly now, do you know why this would be?
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?)
Can the sauce be frozen?
Did the olive oil congeal?
Has anyone used Cento tomatoe sauce with the recipe? I have Cento crushed, but am curious if the sauce will be better. Thanks!
Made a batch today with Cento crushed. Added water and sugar this time as directed. Best batch I've ever made.
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.
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
Charles Putzer says
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
Nico C says
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.