This pizza sauce recipe is easy to make and tastes fresher than store bought. Homemade pizza sauce is much lower in sodium than most store brands, too.

Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: You probably have everything you need to make homemade pizza sauce in your pantry.

How long it takes: 5 minutes to prep, and 30 minutes to simmer
Equipment you’ll need: blender or immersion blender, saucepan
Servings: makes 2 cups

Homemade pizza sauce in a glass jar with tomatoes in the background.
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What would pizza be without the sauce? A good Italian style pizza sauce can make or break a pizza. It’s so disappointing when your pizza tastes like it was made with plain tomato sauce out of a can or worse. Some pizzas have such a skimpy amount of sauce that you can’t even taste it.

When you make your own pizza, you want to be sure that your sauce is amazing. Why go through all the work otherwise? That’s why you’ll love this homemade pizza sauce recipe. It’s easy and turns out perfectly every time. I’ve tweaked and tasted it until it’s just right.

Of course, the best part of making your own is that you can tweak and taste it until it’s just right for you. That’s the beauty of cooking!

About This Pizza Sauce Recipe

This sauce is really easy to make. I bet you have everything you need to make homemade pizza sauce in your pantry right now: onions, garlic, canned tomatoes, dried basil, olive oil, and seasonings. Throw all the ingredients in a blender, pour the sauce in a pan, and simmer for 30 minutes .

Make the sauce ahead. This recipe makes 2 cups of sauce, easily enough for two pizzas, depending on the size of the pizzas and how much sauce you like. You can make it a day ahead to use later or freeze half to use another time. Keep reading for lots of ways to use pizza sauce.

Helpful hint: Don’t wear white while you’re stirring. Partially cover the pan to contain the spatters (my mother speaking). Or go to the dollar store and get one of those wire mesh pan covers.

Pepperoni pizza with homemade sauce in background.

What You’ll Need

  • Onion: You’ll need about half an onion. I usually use yellow onions for cooking but any type will do.
  • Garlic: Use fresh garlic cloves for the best flavor. I add one large clove but you can make it more (or less) garlicky, however you like it.
  • Canned Tomatoes: Choose no-salt-added tomatoes so you can control the amount of sodium in your sauce. Everything’s going into the blender so it doesn’t really matter whether the tomatoes are diced or whole. You’ll need a large can (28 oz.) or two small cans.
  • Tomato Paste: With all those tomatoes, you may think you can skip the tomato paste. Wrong! Tomato paste has a concentrated flavor and it adds richness and umami to the sauce. Trust me, you need it. You won’t use a whole can, just 2 tablespoons.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: Add just a pinch for a little tingle on your tongue. If you have really picky eaters in your family, you may want to omit the spice.
  • Brown Sugar: A bit of sweetness balances out the tangy acidic tomatoes.
  • Olive Oil: A couple of tablespoons add flavor and richness to the sauce. You could substitute butter if you prefer.
  • Dried Oregano and Dried Basil: Most people have these two herbs in their pantry and they are basic to Italian cooking. Italian seasoning is a good alternative. If you have fresh herbs in your garden, by all means substitute those. You can triple the amount added because fresh herbs aren’t as potent as dried.
  • Kosher Salt: Start with a half teaspoon but taste the sauce to determine if you need more.
Ingredients in separate containers including tomatoes and onions.

Freezing Leftover Tomato Paste

You only need 2 tablespoons of tomato paste for the sauce and you’re wondering what to do with the rest of the can. Don’t throw it away! Divide the rest of the paste into 2 tablespoon amounts and put it into snack size bags. Seal the bags, flatten each one, and put them into a freezer bag. They’ll keep for a few months in the freezer. The next time you need a couple tablespoons of tomato paste, just open a packet and drop the frozen paste in.

How To Make This Pizza Sauce Recipe

Are you ready to get some sauce cooking? Get your blender out. If you don’t have one, an immersion blender or a food processor will do the job, too.

Prep ingredients. Roughly chop up the onion and garlic. There’s no need to be precise because it will get chopped more completely in a minute.

Open the can of tomatoes. Don’t drain them, the juice is good, too. Add all of the ingredients to the blender. If you’re using an immersion blender, purée the sauce right in the saucepan.

Ingredients in a blender, not yet blended.

Put everything into food processor. Process until the sauce is just the right consistency for you. There definitely shouldn’t be huge chunks of tomato or onion. I like my sauce to have some texture but maybe you like your sauce completely smooth. It’s up to you.

Transfer to pan. Carefully pour the sauce into a deep saucepan or skillet. Whatever you choose, make sure it has a lid.

Pizza sauce in a large white pan with a wooden spoon.

Simmer. Simmer the sauce for about a half hour, partially covered to reduce spatters. Cook until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly. It should not look watery or juicy. If the sauce is too thin for your liking, simmer it longer. You’ll notice the color will darken slightly.

Check the seasoning. Taste the sauce to make sure the seasoning is perfect and then your homemade pizza sauce is ready to use. Enjoy it on pizza or try one of the ideas listed below.

Sauce being spooned on a pizza.

Looking for a recipe for homemade pizza crust? Try this easy pizza dough recipe. You can even make it ahead and stick it in the refrigerator or freezer.

FAQs

What’s the best sauce for homemade pizza?

Well, this homemade pizza sauce, naturally! The first time I made this sauce and added it to my homemade pizza, my husband dubbed it my best pizza ever. No kidding, I’m not making that up! Cooking from scratch pays off, don’t you think?

Is pizza sauce the same as marinara?

They contain similar ingredients: tomatoes, herbs, and garlic. Usually pizza sauce includes tomato paste, and is more heavily seasoned with salt and sugar. It seems like there are lots of opinions on what goes into pizza sauce and what goes into marinara. I don’t claim to be an expert. I just know that this homemade pizza sauce recipe tastes great and you can use it on whatever you like, including pasta.

Make It Your Own

  • Use fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes. Many of you have gardens that are bursting with fresh tomatoes. Choose a meatier tomato like Roma or plum. Peel the tomatoes by scoring them with a knife (make an “x” in the end) and plunging them briefly in boiling water. The skins will crack and you’ll be able to slip them right off.
  • Make it without tomato paste. If you’re not a fan of tomato paste or don’t happen to have any, simply omit it and substitute tomato sauce or tomato purée for the canned tomatoes.
  • Change up the seasoning. The seasonings in this recipe can be adjusted any way you like. If you like sweeter sauce, add more brown sugar; if you don’t care for sweet sauce, omit the brown sugar. Use fresh herbs instead of dried (use three times as much fresh as dried). Add more salt or cracked black pepper. Add more or less red pepper flakes.
  • Add cheese! Stir in a quarter cup of grated Parmesan cheese after the sauce has simmered.
  • Alternatives to pizza sauce: Top your pizza with homemade basil pesto or arugula pesto. We love BBQ chicken pizza topped with homemade BBQ sauce.
Close up of pizza sauce being scooped out of a jar.

Make-Ahead Ideas

You can make the pizza sauce ahead. I like to make a double or triple batch and keep it in the fridge or freezer so it’s ready to add to pizza or any other recipe (check out the recipes below).

Storage Tips

Refrigerate: The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to five days in a covered container.

Freeze: The sauce can be frozen for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.

How To Use Pizza Sauce

This homemade pizza sauce can be used in so many ways besides pizza. Here are (quite) a few ideas for you:

More Sauce Recipes

Recipe

Homemade Pizza Sauce

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
This pizza sauce recipe is easy to make and tastes fresher than store bought. Homemade pizza sauce is much lower in sodium than most store brands, too.
Save this recipe!
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Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Blend all ingredients in blender until combined and fairly smooth. Sauce should not be completely smooth but with no large chunks remaining.
  • Pour sauce into a large heavy saucepan or a deep skillet. Over medium low heat, simmer sauce, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until reduced and thickened.

Notes

  • Makes about 2 cups, plenty for two large pizzas.
  • The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • If you like, substitute fresh tomatoes. Choose a meatier tomato like Roma or plum. Peel the tomatoes by plunging them briefly in boiling water. The skins will crack and you’ll be able to slip them right off. Proceed with the recipe as directed.
  • The seasonings in this recipe can be adjusted any way you like. If you like sweeter sauce, add more brown sugar; if you don’t care for sweet sauce, omit the brown sugar. Use fresh herbs instead of dried (use three times as much fresh as dried). Add more salt or cracked black pepper. Add more or less red pepper flakes.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup, Calories: 52kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 184mg, Potassium: 161mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 149IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 32mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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34 Comments

  1. Cassie | Bake Your Day says:

    Chia seeds! Brilliant. I love this!!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Thanks Cassie!

  2. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking says:

    I love a chunky pizza sauce and yours looks perfect, Rachel! Chia seeds is an awesome addition, too.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Thanks Georgia. PS: I still haven’t mailed your book, SO sorry! Getting to the post office w/ two kiddos has proved difficult. Will do asap!

  3. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts says:

    Chia seeds? What a great idea! I am sure you can’t even taste them, but knowing pizza is a little better for you is always good!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Definitely! I’m always trying to think of ways to sneak extra nutrition in. :)

  4. Gerry @ Foodness Gracious says:

    I know, we should all be making our own sauce. Wayyy better taste and if you can throw in some seeds go for it! Ouchy with the birthday suit though :)

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Haha! Yes! I’m trying to make more things from scratch.

  5. Nik@ABrownTable says:

    I am going to repeat what everyone has already said because it is true, you’re a genius with the chia seeds! Great idea.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Hehe–thanks Nik!

  6. Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain says:

    I’m totally trying this!! Chia seeds? Brilliant.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Thanks Lauren!

  7. Deborah says:

    I really need to jump on this chia seed bandwagon!!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Yes! :)

  8. Vicki Bensinger says:

    This sounds like a great recipe for pizza sauce and why not add the chia seeds for extra nutrition. I think it’s a great idea. I always asked my kids what they wanted for dinner. I think it makes them feel special and let’s face it – they are!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Agree! I usually give her a couple of choices for lunch, but as a food blogger I typically have a plan for dinner. ;)

  9. Tracey says:

    I’ve never tried chia seeds, but I’m seeing them more and more in recipes lately. I need to get with it!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Definitely! They are so unique.

  10. Kathryn says:

    I’d never have thought to throw some chia seeds in there too! Did you (or E!) notice them at all?

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Tiny bit of crunch if you ate the sauce off a spoon, but undetectable on the pizza. E loved it!