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Pizzeria-Style Pizza Sauce

5 from 5 votes

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A five-minute homemade pizza sauce recipe that’s easy as pizza-pie! Learn tips for making a simple pizza sauce with canned tomatoes and pantry seasonings. This recipe makes a thick, tasty sauce for topping up to six 12-inch pizzas.

A jar of labelled tomato sauce with fresh basil and garlic cloves in the background.
An easy pizza sauce recipe that tastes fresh and bright.

If there’s one thing that makes a great pizza, it’s incredible pizza sauce! Here’s a foolproof recipe for a rich and tasty sauce made from scratch. It doesn’t require cooking and uses canned tomatoes and pantry seasonings.

Why should you make your own pizza sauce? Well, for one thing it tastes brighter, fresher and simply more delicious than anything you can buy in a grocery store.

And of course, making pizza at home is also much cheaper than ordering take-out pizza. One batch of this sauce makes enough to top six 12-inch pizza crusts, or 3 extra-large pan pizzas.

A baked margarita pizza topped with pepperoni in a cardboard takeout box.
Pizzeria-style sauce for take-out pizza at home.

I worked at a local pizzeria in high school, where old-school pizza, pizza strips, spinach pies and loaves of Italian bread were baked in an ancient coal-fired oven. I loved the mouth-watering aromas when you walked in the door, the dusty coat of flour on the floor, and of course, giant buckets of pizza sauce that were prepared daily.

Classic pizza sauce doesn’t need to simmer or require any cooking. As a matter of fact, the best pizza sauce is typically a simple combo of canned pureed tomatoes and seasoning. The thick sauce is spread out in a layer on the pizza dough. As the pizza bakes, the sauce concentrates in flavor. It mingles with the cheese and compliments the pepperoni and all the other toppings on your pizza crust.

Whether you’re building a pizza with a homemade pizza dough recipe, store-bought prepared dough or pre-baked pizza crust, this is the red pizza sauce to complete your pie.

A can of tomato puree, dishes with balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper on a board.
Canned tomato puree, tomato paste, olive oil and seasonings make a simple pizza sauce.

About the ingredients

Pantry staples are the base of this sauce.

  • Canned tomato puree: This recipe calls for one 28-ounce can of tomato puree. You can also use whole, peeled canned tomatoes. Pulse them briefly in a food processor, blender (or use an immersion blender) to smooth out the texture. Look for canned tomato brands that use San Marzano type tomatoes (they don’t have to be from Italy to be good). Tomato sauce is a type of canned processed tomato that already has salt, pepper and other seasonings added to it. In a pinch, you can substitute an equal amount of canned tomato sauce to make this pizza sauce, but since it’s already seasoned, give it a taste and reduce the amount of salt called for in the recipe if needed.
  • Tomato paste: A concentrate of tomatoes, this thickens the texture of the sauce and enhances tomato flavor in the best way.
  • Balsamic vinegar: Vinegar is a “secret” ingredient in pizza sauce. A little sweet balsamic vinegar actually helps balance the acidity and sweetness of canned tomatoes, which can vary from can to can. That means you don’t need to add any extra sugar to the sauce. Red wine vinegar can also be used.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil: Use your favorite everyday EVOO.
  • Herbs: Dried oregano (or marjoram), dried basil or Italian seasoning give the pizza sauce that nostalgic aroma and flavor that takes you right back to dining in your favorite pizzeria. Save your fresh basil as a garnish for the baked pizza.
  • Granulated garlic: Fresh garlic cloves can overwhelm the balance of flavors because this sauce isn’t simmered or cooked. Granulated garlic dissolves and seasons the pizza sauce quickly, and you don’t need much.
  • Salt: I use kosher salt. Cut the amount of salt in half if you’re using table salt or fine sea salt.
  • Optional seasoning: A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes will add a welcome spicy warmth to the sauce. But keep in mind that certain pizza toppings (like pepperoni) are also spicy and will contribute to overall heat level.

Recipe steps

An unbaked pizza crust topped with slices of mozzarella cheese and pepperoni.
Personalize homemade pizza with your favorite toppings.

Pizza sauce versus pasta sauce

  • Technically, pizza sauce CAN be used on pasta — there’s really no rule that says it can’t be done. The difference between a basic marinara pasta sauce and pizza sauce is that pizza sauce isn’t simmered or cooked before using. Instead, the sauce cooks and becomes concentrated in the high heat of the oven.
  • On the other hand, rich and zesty pasta sauce is simmered anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours to develop flavor from various seasonings like fresh garlic, onion, red wine, meat, and other seasonings. Tomato sauces for pasta can also include ingredients like chunky vegetables and meat that would usually serve as toppings on a pizza.
A jar of labelled sauce for pizza, with fresh basil and garlic cloves in the background.
Use glass jars with my favorite reusable stainless steel lids

Storing pizza sauce

  • If not using right away, transfer the sauce to a covered container. Glass Mason jars are a perfect choice because they don’t stain like plastic containers do.
  • Pizza sauce keeps up to one week in the refrigerator and 2 months in the freezer. Thaw the container overnight in the refrigerator, or immerse in a pot of hot water (make sure your container is heatproof).
  • This recipe yields about 3 3/4 cups sauce, which is enough sauce for at least six 12-inch pizzas or 2-3 larger pizzas.

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Pizza dough spread with pizza sauce on a work surface.

Pizzeria-Style Pizza Sauce

Karen Tedesco
A five-minute homemade pizza sauce recipe that's easy as pizza-pie! Learn tips for making a simple pizza sauce with canned tomatoes and pantry seasonings. This recipe makes a thick, tasty sauce that will top up to six pizzas. Freeze up to 2 months.
Print Pin
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Sauces
Cuisine Italian
Servings 24 servings

Ingredients

Yield: 3 ¾ cups sauce

  • 1 28-ounce (793 g) can tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, basil, marjoram or Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional

Instructions 

  • Put all ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk or stir until smooth. The sauce is ready to use immediately.
  • Use about ½ cup sauce for each 12-inch pizza crust or more for a larger pizza.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • To use whole, peeled canned tomatoes instead of puree, pulse them briefly in a food processor, blender (or use an immersion blende)r to smooth out the texture.
  • If not using it right away, transfer the sauce to a covered container. 
  • Pizza sauce keeps up to one week in the refrigerator and 2 months in the freezer. Thaw the container overnight in the refrigerator, or immerse in a pot of hot water (make sure your container is heatproof).
  • This recipe yields about 3 3/4 cups sauce, which is enough sauce for at least six 12-inch pizzas or 2-3 larger pizzas.
Inspired by a recipe in Perfect Pan Pizza

Nutrition

Calories: 20kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 166mg | Potassium: 163mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 203IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg
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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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2 Comments

  1. Carolyn Drennen says:

    Best pizza sauce ever. I actually used 2 cloves of fresh minced garlic and cooked it on low for 20 minutes. Cant stop eat it with a spoon!

  2. 5 stars
    I make pizza all the time and I can’t wait to try this recipe! Thank you! –L