This simple homemade pizza sauce recipe is ready in no time with canned tomatoes and a few other pantry staples!
We’re firm believers that the best pizza sauce is the one you make from scratch. And this marinara sauce is the perfect blend of homemade comfort food and lickety-split dinner prep!
This recipe is ultra-simple: Just sauté some onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil, stir in a few spices (basil, oregano, salt, and pepper), and add a can of tomato sauce. Let it simmer until the sauce has thickened, then spread it over your favorite pizza dough and bake away!
A few tips for the best pizza sauce
- Use a large, wide skillet instead of a saucepan. A skillet has more surface area, which lets extra water evaporate from the sauce more quickly – meaning your sauce will be ready faster!
- Cook your sauce until it’s quite thick – almost like tomato paste. If your pizza sauce is too runny, it will make the crust soggy, form pools of liquid at the center of the pie, and turn your pizza into a floppy mess (especially if you’re making deep dish!) For best results, use a very thick sauce on your homemade pizza. If you’d like to make this sauce thicker (without waiting for it to cook down), add a few Tablespoons of tomato paste!
- Use high-quality tomatoes. Use good canned tomatoes here for the best flavor. We usually grab the Cento brand; they use very ripe tomatoes and have a BPA-free can lining. You can also check out this list of the best chef-approved canned tomato brands!
- Taste your sauce and adjust as you go! Tomatoes are typically very acidic and can vary by brand and season, so it’s important to taste and season your sauce! Let the sauce simmer and give it a taste when it looks almost done. If the flavors don’t quite “pop” yet, add a pinch of salt. If the sauce is too acidic, add ½ teaspoon of honey, sugar, or brown sugar to cut the acidity.
Riffs and Substitutions
- Add some heat! For a spicier pizza sauce, add a pinch of red pepper flakes when you add the rest of the spices.
- No time to chop veggies? Use ½ teaspoon onion powder and ¼ teaspoon garlic powder in place of the fresh garlic and onion if you need to (though the flavor won’t be quite as complex!)
- If you have an allium allergy or sensitivity, you can make this without garlic and onion. Make the rest of the sauce as directed, then taste and add extra basil or oregano if needed to round out the flavors.
- Add sweetness to balance acidity. If your tomato sauce is too acidic, stir in ½ teaspoon of honey or sugar (we love using brown sugar) to cut the acidity.
- For a smoother sauce, let the pizza sauce cool and then blend it in a blender or foot processor to work out any chunks of onion and garlic.
Common questions about pizza sauce
Yes! This sauce freezes very well. Let it cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 4 months without losing flavor. Defrost overnight in the fridge or in a small saucepan over low heat. We recommend freezing sauce in ½ or 1 cup portions so you can defrost just what you need!
Pizza sauce lasts up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge and up to 4 months in the freezer. (You can freeze it longer if you like, but we find that the flavor is best within 4 months).
Store-bought spaghetti sauce and marinara sauce are often made with pasta in mind, so they typically aren’t as thick as a good pizza sauce should be. We like making pizza sauce from scratch so we can control the thickness and flavor!
Pizza sauce is VERY forgiving – you can use just about any tomatoes you like! If you’re using canned tomatoes, we like using a smooth variety like tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes. You can use canned whole or diced tomatoes if you don’t mind a more textured sauce. You can also use fresh tomatoes here! Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and San Marzano tomatoes are our favorite varieties for sauces since they have very concentrated flavor. For extra oomph, you can roast your fresh garden tomatoes before adding them to this sauce! We recommend steaming and peeling your fresh tomatoes before adding them to the sauce OR running the final sauce through a food mill to remove any peels.
This easy homemade pizza sauce is quick to make with a few pantry staples!
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ of a large yellow onion, diced (about ¼ cup)
- ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 can (15.5 ounces) plain tomato sauce
- kosher salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon honey or sugar (optional), to cut the acidity of the tomatoes if needed
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add pepper, oregano, basil, and a pinch of salt to saucepan and stir to combine.
- Add tomato sauce to pan and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Taste sauce and add salt and honey or sugar to taste.
- Use immediately or let sauce cool completely and transfer to an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.
Cook your sauce until it’s quite thick for best results. We want to cook off as much excess water as possible so the sauce doesn’t make our pizza crust soggy! Good pizza sauce should be thick – almost like the consistency of tomato paste.
Taste your sauce and adjust as you go! Tomatoes can vary in acidity and sweetness. When the sauce is almost done, give it a taste. If the flavors don’t quite “pop” yet, add a pinch of salt. If the sauce is too acidic, add ½ teaspoon of honey or sugar to cut the acidity.
How much sauce should I use? We recommend using between ½ cup and 1 cup of sauce per pizza, depending on the size. Spoon sauce onto your pizza dough a bit at a time and spread it gently over the dough until you have a thin layer of sauce across the whole surface, leaving about ½ inch of space around the edges for the crust.
Additions and Substitutions. For a spicier sauce, add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Use ½ teaspoon onion powder and ¼ teaspoon garlic powder in place of the fresh onion and garlic if you like, or omit them altogether if you have an allium sensitivity. If you omit the onion and garlic, you may want to add extra herbs to round out the sauce. Use any variety of canned tomatoes you like here: we typically grab tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, or diced tomatoes. Replace the canned tomatoes with fresh tomatoes if you like! We recommend using about 1 pound of tomatoes for each 15.5 ounce can of tomato sauce, and steaming and peeling your fresh tomatoes before adding them to the sauce OR running the final sauce through a food mill to remove any peels.
If you’d like a smoother sauce, let the pizza sauce cool and then blend it in a blender or food processor until smooth. We don’t typically blend our sauce; the onion and garlic cook down quite a bit so you don’t notice too much texture here.
How to store pizza sauce. Let sauce cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the fridge (up to 5 days) or freezer (up to 4 months without losing flavor).
Keywords: marinara, pizza