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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. There is no hard and fast rule here – it depends on the size of the leaves, etc. usually I put 5 or 6 leaves, no need to cut up. Add more if you find you love the flavor like I do

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve been making my own pizza for eons but I must say that your dough recipe is to die for! I also followed the sauce recipe and it too was superlicious! My son-in-law wants me to open a pizza shop, but at 71, my working days are long over ! Thanks for the recipes…you’re my new BFF! ?

  2. 5 stars
    Love this recipe as well as Ur pizza dough recipe. Im just wondering if you ever used fennel seed in Ur sauce and if u would recommend it?

    1. I never have although I think that would be especially good with a sausage topping! I would try it, but it’s not classic NY style and you can always change it next time

  3. I’ve made this with whole tomatoes and seems to be slightly watery when I purée in the blender. Anything I can do to thicken the sauce a bit? Simmer it for a little while?

    1. Hi Mark, I’d just pour it into a fine mesh strainer (with a bowl underneath) and allow for some of the water to drip out into the bowl (to your liking).

      1. Great minds think alike! I was thinking about doing that while I was lying in bed. I’ll let the ingredients marinate in the container than perform the extraction! Thanks! Love the dough!

  4. This sauce is amazing, and so easy. Tomato puree or sauce isn’t easy to find here but passata is everywhere, so I wasn’t sure if I should cook the passata some or not…laziness won out and I went with not. I left out the sugar and the water (thinking the passata was thin enough, being uncooked) and added 1/2 tsp of chili flakes and 30 grinds of fresh black pepper since we like it on the spicier side. It came out so delicious. Possibly a little too thick after baking, so I will try 1/4 cup of water next time and see what we like better. Thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    I made this sauce to go with your NY style pizza dough and I was really pleased with it! I’ve never made pizza dough or sauce myself before so I was a little nervous about how the end product would work out (and I was finding my sauce to be a bit on the watery side since I used canned peeled tomatoes and not puree or sauce, though I needn’t have worried since it turned out great) but it was a really nice complement to the pizza! Nice and light and fresh, but still the right amount of savory from the spices, I can’t wait to make another one tomorrow!

  6. 4 stars
    I’ve been using jersey fresh crushed tomatoes with basil, oregano, garlic, onion powder, alittle sugar and parm cheese. Problem is, sometimes I get that canned tomato taste. Is it because of the brand I’m using or is there a way to get a different result. I’m not a big fan of San marzano tomatoes in a can, they tend to be bitter. I’ve been using caputo 00 flour and love it, but I’ve been trying different methods for sauce. Any suggestions?

    1. I have found that the metallic taste varies with brand. For the San Marzanos, make sure you buy the cans with the DOP certification, which means that they are from Italy not grown in US with Italian seeds! World of difference! Also, I’ve recently tried using the Pomi brand, which comes in a carton…have you seen it? No metallic taste. I don’t think they make a tomato paste though. I have seen tomato paste in a tube – maybe that would help?

      1. I add tomato paste to my detroit style pizza sauce – if you like a sweeter sauce, tomato paste can be a great addition!

    1. I’ve never used all tomato paste to make a sauce – sorry. I’ve used it here and there to thicken up a sauce but never as a main ingredient. The sauce would be too sweet.

      1. So you used polly-o cheese as specified on the link you sent or do you have a preferred brand? Also, I seem to use too much cheese could give me a rough estimate how much to use 1/2 a cup maybe or less?

        Many thanks,

      2. Hi Servio – I don’t measure the cheese, just do it by eye. I probably should start weighing it so my pizzas come out more consistent. I’ve just uploaded an image of the pizza before baking here. Hopefully that will give you an idea of how much cheese I use..

      3. currently, I’m using the Polly-O low moisture, whole milk. In the past, I’ve used Costco’s brand, Kirkland, which I also liked. I originally stated not to use pre-shredded but I have been known to break my own rules to order to save time..

      4. 4 stars
        Whole milk cheese or fresh mozzarella is the only way to go u can mix a little low minister cheeses in it if u wish haven’t Tryed sauce yet. But I buy Caputo 00 flour for my pizza dough its the best

  7. I made an attempt at using all fresh for the recipe. I will let you know how it turned out.


    Fresh Dry
    1/4 cup high quality olive oil = 1/4 cup high quality olive oil
    1 tablespoon fresh oregano = 1 teaspoon dry oregano

    2 teaspoons sugar = 2 teaspoons sugar

    2 teaspoons salt = 2 teaspoons salt
    3 cloves of fresh garlic = 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
    3 tablespoons fresh onion chopped = 1 teaspoon onion powder
    9 leaves of fresh basil = 3 tablespoons dried basil
    12 peeled plum tomatoes = 1 28oz can of San Marzano plum tomatoes

    Optional Ingredients
    1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes = 1 pinch

    1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper = 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper"

    1. Sounds good, David. I just used a can of all-in-1 from Cento….SO good! I believe it’s a mixture of crushed tomatoes in puree. Definitely my new “go-to” for now. Let us know how the fresh tomatoes worked out. I suspect it will be highly dependent on the quality of the tomatoes used.

      Just a note on basil: http://foodpreservation.about.com/od/Freezing/a/The-Best-Ways-To-Preserve-Basil.htm

      Dried basil tastes nothing like fresh basil. I read an article once explaining why but I can’t recall where I found the article. The link above seems to have some good information. You indicated you were using fresh everything so I’m assuming you didn’t use dried basil.

  8. My pizza crust and sauce turned out amazing, and i didn’t have to use the rolling pin, I did it by hand and the dough held up perfectly. Only mistake i made was taking for granted i had a little too much dough for the size pizza stone i had, so the sides of it were a little squished, but it didn’t affect the taste. This was the best pizza i ever had, especially here in Texas. No more take out for me, and i had all the ingredients in my kitchen, the only thing that cost me was the pepperoni…Big difference between $$2.00 and $30 for takeout plus the tip.Thanks again for such great recipes. I no longer fear making pizza.

  9. 5 stars
    Best pizza sauce hands down. Simple yet full of flavor. I get tired of recipes with a ton of ingredients that really mask the true flavor of the sauce. I used to always cook my sauce but after trying this, NEVER again. Why cook your sauce twice when its going to go into the oven anyways, doesn’t make sense. We tend to make cooking way too complicated then it should be, lol…Thanks again for this recipe. I have your pizza dough in the fridge right now from last nite. This will be my 2nd attempt at homemade pizza. First time was actually Trader Joes pizza dough, but it still wasn’t right and i tore it trying to get it thin by hand.My dough in the fridge looks great right now, but to be honest i’m more nervous about getting it the thin consistency of an authentic NY style crust.I may have to break out the rolling pin this time.

    1. Hope you enjoyed it! Be careful with the rolling pin. I don’t recommend it because you will push all the air out of the dough and could end up with a very flat crust. If you already did this, try again using the technique shown in the video on the post.

  10. 5 stars
    I agree…it is perfect! I stumbled across this today and tried it tonight and everyone in my family loved it. Definitely a keeper. Saying bye-bye to store bought pizza sauce! I loved how easy this was. I used an Italian type seasoning in mine. I put my tried and true favorite recipes in my recipe box and this will be added. Thanks!

  11. 5 stars
    By far, this is the best pizza sauce I have ever made! It does not get more simple than this. Seriously. Tomato paste, water, oil, sugar, and spices? I don’t even have to cook it!?I’ve done everything from blanching, peeling, seeding, dicing, simmering, and blending my own tomatoes to the horrible mistake of just adding sugar to pasta sauce, as recommended by one blogger. Nothing was exactly what I wanted. This was PERFECT! I also really like your pizza dough recipe. I make it without the oil and sugar, but I think it’s great! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes! They’ve found a long-term home in my recipe box. 🙂

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