What is the best pizza sauce to use for pizza?

I get asked this question frequently.  How do you make pizza sauce as well as what is the best pizza sauce for pizza?

Tomatoes ready to be crushed

Edward writes: “I just checked out Tony Gemignani’s Pizza Bible to see how he makes his pizza sauces & it seems that he doesn’t cook his sauces I’m thinking Maybe because his ovens are so hot he doesn’t have to. What do you think? I just made a pizza yesterday and was very reluctant to put uncooked sauce over it at the same time I do have great respect for Tony’s knowledge …”

My response: “I never use sauce on my pizza. I use a can of high quality stewed tomatoes. I then put them in a food processor for a few seconds and put on my pizza. I think everything will cook great on the pizza. That is just my take on it. If you like sauce on your pizza I say keep doing it… it really is up to you and your own taste.

You can also crush the tomatoes by hand, to get the full effect of tomato goodness. You do not have to use a food processor or blender. Just use your fingers to take out the lumps. My friend John Arena from Metro pizza does the same thing.”

My Dad is my inspiration for making pizza. I remember what he did when he made pizza. He would not use any sauce, he would just open a can of tomatoes, crush them with a fork and top the pizza with this. No sauce, just crushed tomatoes. He would then add garlic and spices on top.

When I teach my pizza making class with my students, I try to keep things as easy and simple as possible. I want to open the door of possibilities to them of pizza. While there are endless variations for what you can put on pizza, I think keeping it simple and easy is certainly the best way.  When they have a few pizzas created I explain that they are free to experiment as much as possible.

Stewed tomatoes

Stewed tomatoes

Here is a video I created which explains the entire reason I do not use any pizza sauce on my pizza!

Full disclosure. I took this course and was so impressed I signed up for two more of Peter’s courses. You need to sign up for a Craftsy account and this is totally free, with no strings attached.
Understand, the reason the course is free is Craftsy, hopes you will buy other courses. But you do not have to if you do not want to!



Domenico Crolla · January 24, 2017 at 10:51 am

Hi Albert, I agree with crushing the plum tomatoes by hand. A food processor works the fibres of the fruit too much, changing its texture and color. If the pips are also crushed they will add a bitterness to the sauce. Plus the roughness adds a wholesome rustic look to the pizza.

    pizzatherapy · January 24, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Thanks for the tip Domenico! That makes a lot of sense. I will start crushing my tomatoes by hand and leave my food processor on the shelf!

Clinton ferrara · January 24, 2017 at 11:31 pm

On pizza I use a marinara sauce which I always have on hand for pasta dishes. For scicilian pizza I use fresh sliced tomatoes.

    pizzatherapy · January 28, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    Thanks for the feedback, Clinton…I’m sure your Marinara recipe is a closely guarded secret! Fresh tomatoes are fantastic on pizza!

pizzatherapy · January 30, 2017 at 2:38 am

​From Papa John: Hello, Albert. Happy 2017!

It’s always good to hear from you. Things sure have changed in the few years since I spent many weekend afternoons on the Pizzatherapy message board. Ah, for the good old days! But, I digress.

​I have often considered using crushed tomatoes in lieu of sauce on my “red” pizza. I make a “white” pizza as well, that includes some spinach and artichoke hearts in the melange. For a tomato sauce, I developed a simple recipe: 1 small can tomato paste, about a half cup of Paisano, adequate pressed garlic, and about a hlf teaspoon each of oregano and basil (if dried, or the equivalent of fresh). This comes out to a real nice consistency and some good flavor. However, I am going to go with your recipe next time. As my dad used to say, “Variety is the spice of life. That’s why they call me ‘Ginger’.”

On another note, a little over a year ago I took the plunge and bought a Big Green Egg – the XL size. I never thought I would spend that kind of money on a “grill” but my primary goal was to be able to make pizza on the grill. I had been doing it on my Weber kettle, but it was just difficult for a number or reasons. This was my birthday present to myself for the next 15 years. I have no regrets. It’s like having a wood fired pizza oven. I crank it up to 650-700 degrees, slide my pie on the stone, and in about 7 minutes, it’s sheer perfection! The side benefits of what I can do with it as a smoker are great as well. But that’s a different hobby.

Thank you for the sauce info, I’ll give that a whirl on my next pizza adventure. As always, thanks for keeping in touch. Have a great 2017!

Papa Don in Apollo Beach, FL (formerly Tampa)

Gail Churinetz · January 30, 2017 at 8:42 pm

Hi Albert,

For years (as you know) I’ve been cooking pizza sauce using my home canned tomatoes. After trying Tony G’s “New Jersey Sauce” I stopped cooking mine. I did add my own twist to his sauce using a tablespoon or two of melted butter (this sweetens the sauce tremendously and rids the sauce of the “aluminum taste”, which I am so sensitive to), a pinch of crushed fennel seeds, red peppers, pinch of dried basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. DELISH! Last night I tried Jim Leahy’s 72 hour dough from the Baking Steel Website. Very very good….like you I am always trying new ways to perfect homemade pizza. Looking forward to meeting you in Las Vegas next month! Appreciate all you have done and continue to do for all us pizza lovers!

    pizzatherapy · January 31, 2017 at 4:35 am

    Thanks Gail. Always a pleasure to hear from you and your pizza insights. After all you are the creator of the “$20,000” pizza recipe! Looking forward to seeing you as well

Ralph Angelo · February 4, 2017 at 3:45 pm

I use only quality plum tomatoes (canned) from Sclafani or Nina Brand. I use a colander type hand grinder with the coarse grinding plate to grind the tomatoes. To about 128 oz of the now grated tomatoes, I add no more than one table spoon of oregano, less is better!! Then I add about 1/8 pound of grated quality Romano cheese and mix all in to the sauce. Nothing more, that is it!!!!
I am from New Haven Ct where there are numerous famous pizzerias. All that I am friends with, myself included, do not cook pizza sauce prior to putting it on pizza. The sauce should go on in its raw form and it does cook just fine on the pizza. So add this sauce, add the Mozz and what ever topping you choose, bake then enjoy. I think you will like this. Very simple and simple most times is better!! If you try it and like it, or not, drop me an email!!

    pizzatherapy · February 4, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Ralph, thanks for your insights on using plum tomatoes. Being from New Haven, you know pizza! Glad to hear you agree with not using pre-cooked sauce. Simple is always better!

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