how to make italian pizza sauce from scratch | Family Cuisine

Making a homemade pizza sauce from scratch is not only easy, but it tastes better than store-bought varieties. There are a few steps to making this recipe, but the end result is worth the effort.

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How to make italian pizza sauce from scratch

The best pizza sauce recipe is also the easiest no cook pizza sauce recipe! The best part is, it’s also an authentic Italian recipe-so what are you waiting for? Next time you make pizza, this is your recipe!

best pizza sauce recipe

Reading: how to make italian pizza sauce from scratch

I am amazed at how many pizza sauce recipes I’ve found that are so complicated, include a laundry list of ingredients (including sugar) and that are nothing like a pizza sauce that I’ve ever seen in Italy!

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Some recipes take so much time because you have to cook the sauce before putting it on the pizza, but pizza sauce should never be cooked! A few of the photos I’ve seen have scarred me for life: red spackling paste? Please let me help you. (Updated: just read some of the reviews below. This recipe is life-changing!) 😀

pizza in Rome
Typical Roman pizza in Rome.

Why is this the Best Pizza Sauce Recipe?


That’s the reason, in a nutshell. So who am I to tell you what the best recipe is? I am by no means a pizza making expert. However, my mother was born in Italy (just north of Naples, where pizza was born), and she and her family (6 sisters who are amazing cooks) know how to make an authentic Italian pizza sauce, trust me on that!

pizza sorbillo
Pizza in Naples.

I’ve also been traveling to Italy and eating incredibly delicious pizza there since I was a born. If you’re not looking for a really authentic, traditional and classic Italian pizza sauce, this isn’t for you.

Gianfranco and me making pizza in Italy
My cousin Gianfranco and me making pizza in Italy in our nonni’s wood oven (circa 1985).

For example, there are a few ingredients you will never find in an authentic Italian best pizza sauce recipe.

Do NOT use these ingredients if you want the best results:

  1. Inferior quality tomatoes, i.e. tasteless, acidic, and/or sour tomatoes, whether fresh or canned; your pizza will be ruined. If you want to read in more detail about the difference in canned tomatoes, click here.
  2. Tomato paste. It simply should never meet pizza dough in any form. Most people do not use tomato paste properly or as it was intended to be used by Italians.
  3. Sugar. Any type of sweetener is simply unnecessary when you are using top quality, great tasting tomatoes.
  4. “Italian Seasoning.” This is a non-Italian creation. It simply doesn’t exist in Italy, therefore, belongs in no authentic Italian dish, including pizza.
  5. Garlic powder or garlic salt. Just no. (No onion or other powders, for that matter.)

Doesn’t this pizza sauce look more appealing than a dark red spackle-type sauce? It’s light, fresh and delicious, like so many other authentic Italian creations! If you don’t like pieces of tomato or seeds, just use a purée or passata which is smooth. (You can also pureé whole or chunky tomatoes to make them smooth.)

pizza sauce in a spoon

Read more: Dehydrating123: How To Make Tomato Sauce Powder | Family Cuisine

Looking for a real (easy) Italian spaghetti sauce?

spaghetti sauce with spaghetti

What is the Best Pizza Sauce?

Pizza’s original home is Naples, so why wouldn’t we use the best pizza sauce recipe from there? Given that most of us don’t live in Naples, I will share tips on how you can make the best pizza sauce in your home without stressing about following the “rules” to a T. According to the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the best pizza sauce recipe includes, but is not limited, to the following:

Italian tomatoes in a can
See that label at the bottom by Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana? That’s a very good thing.
  • TOMATOES: you can use fresh tomatoes, however, for guaranteed quality and taste, try to get your hands on “pomodoro pelato S.Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino D.O.P.” Don’t be scared of that long name! These are simply the “cream of the crop” of the Greatest Tomatoes from Europe. Of course, you can use any good quality canned tomatoes for great results, including pomodorini (cherry tomatoes) like the photo of the can above.
  • EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL: be sure to use a top quality oil (some are mixed with other oils.)
  • CHEESE: grated hard cheese, like Parmigiano Reggiano
  • OREGANO: dried oregano is fine.
  • BASIL: fresh basil is best.
  • SALT: use a good quality sea salt.

adding oil to pizza sauce

How is Pizza Sauce Different from Pasta Sauce?

The main difference is that pizza sauce is raw, whereas pasta sauce is cooked. In the region where my mother is from, oregano is for pizza sauce, not pasta sauce. Also, don’t believe for a minute that either one should be “thick” or “heavy.” If you end up with a thick pizza sauce, you’re not making anything remotely Italian.

THIS IS PHOTO IS NOT PIZZA SAUCE, I’m just sharing my Authentic (Quick) Italian Tomato Sauce for Pasta. Someone mistakenly thought this was a photo of me cooking pizza sauce, so I’m explaining in more detail.

quick and easy homemade authentic Italian tomato sauce

How do you make Italian pizza sauce from scratch?

It’s so easy: source the best ingredients and follow my recipe below!

cooked pizza, raw pizza and pizza sauce

Can I Make Pizza Sauce Ahead of Time?

Yes, just keep it refrigerated if you don’t plan to use it right away. It will keep in the fridge for two or three days.

pizza with a view
Pizza in Santa Maria di Castellabate (not too far from Naples) 2019.

Can I Substitute Tomato Paste for Pizza Sauce?

Absolutely 100% NO! This is the devil’s pizza sauce if you do this! Tomato paste has no place anywhere on a pizza, or in a pizza sauce. I just don’t understand how Italian cuisine has become so misunderstood and disparate in the US and UK (mostly). Tomato paste is used as a thickener when you have really runny tomatoes, or to add some tomato flavor to a soup, but never used as a pizza sauce base, or even in a pizza sauce. The flavor and consistency are the main reasons for not using the paste. Do a taste test if you don’t believe me.

Pizza with Christina and Denisa
Pizza in Ponte Melfa, Lazio.

Can I Freeze Pizza Sauce?

Yes! If you plan to keep it longer than two or three days, put the pizza sauce in a freezerproof container and freeze. It should last about a month in the freezer, but try to use it before then.

How do you Make the Best Pizza in the Oven?

So this is the part we have the least control over in making a really good Italian pizza: the oven. We can always buy a pizza stone, which helps, but the fact that we can’t get an oven temperature of more than 500 degrees F is the biggest problem. Pizza needs a super hot oven upwards of 700 degrees F.

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Without buying a professional pizza oven, the next best thing I’ve found is an inexpensive countertop pizza maker. I love mine and it reaches over 600 degrees F! The Petite Pizzeria that I have has been discontinued, but this Chef di Cucina Pizza Maker looks almost exactly the same and gets rave reviews.

My mother and family’s go to pizza sauce is actually what is called a Marinara pizza. Somehow, Americans/Brits got mixed up with what marinara sauce is. A Marinara pizza sauce includes garlic and oregano, however, for a Margherita pizza, these are omitted.

pizza fritta
Another type of pizza in Naples: pizza fritta (fried pizza).

Best Pizza Sauce Recipe

by Christina Conte enough sauce for 4, 10″ pizzas

FULL PRINTABLE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW (including recommendations for the best products)


  1. Pour the can of tomatoes into a bowl. If it is pomodorini or whole tomatoes, crush them with your hands, or you can roughly cut them with kitchen shears. If your tomatoes have a lot of liquid, if you mix them all together, it shouldn’t be too watery. However, if you don’t use an entire can, just leave more of the liquid with the tomatoes you don’t use.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Taste for salt and add if needed. That’s it, the sauce is ready to use! (Don’t add too much sauce to the pizza dough; you don’t want to drown it.)

mixing pizza sauce

For an easy, no knead pizza dough recipe, check out my post here, however, I will be updating it very soon as this is one of my earliest posts and is in need of a face lift!

Favorite Homemade Pizza dough

Although this is a “best pizza sauce recipe” post, I want to briefly discuss the toppings. Since the pizza sauce is so tasty on this pizza, you don’t need a ton of toppings. You can have it plain, which is my mother’s favorite pizza. Just go easy on whatever you add: a little fresh mozzarella, some sautéed mushrooms, anchovies, roasted red pepper or pepperoni. You can truly add what you like, just don’t tell me if you add Hawaiian p——-e!

Pizza picture, Rome
Pizza in Rome

At this point, you may believe me that this is the easiest pizza sauce recipe ever, but you’ll have to taste it to believe that it’s the best. If you try it, please leave a review (see the star rating in the printable recipe card or the WRITE A REVIEW at the bottom next to the comment tab). (Updated 2/2021: PLEASE READ WHAT PEOPLE HAVE ALREADY WRITTEN IN BOTH THE COMMENTS AND REVIEWS TAB BELOW!)

pizza la taglio in front of Monte Cassino
Pizza in Cassino, Italy.

I hope this changes your pizza game! Let me know if it does. Ciao!

Christina in Rome, Christina

pizza with mozzarella
My pizza.

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Read more: how to make pasta sauce with philadelphia cream cheese | Family Cuisine

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