Pizza Sauce vs. Pasta Sauce: What’s the Difference?

Are you baking your homemade pizza and thinking about using the pasta sauce in your cabinet? Read this pizza sauce vs pasta sauce comparison first.

Pizza sauce and pasta sauce may have one thing in common: Tomatoes. However, they taste different and have different consistencies. Each of these sauces is designed for its specific uses. But would it be so wrong to substitute pasta sauce for pizza sauce? Read along to find out.

Pizza Sauce vs. Pasta Sauce What's the Difference pin

The main difference between pizza sauce and tomato sauce is this: Pizza sauce is uncooked, while pasta sauce is cooked and ready to use. But there are more differences, and also some similarities.

This article covers everything you need to know about pizza sauce vs pasta sauce—their similarities, differences, and alternatives.

Pizza Sauce Vs Pasta Sauce: The Differences

Pizza and pasta sauces are both seasoned tomato-based sauces. You will find everyday things in both sauces like pepper, salt, and some similar spices. So, what makes them different? Why not use pizza sauce in your pasta?

The differences between pizza sauce and pasta sauce exist in the ingredients, preparation, and consistency. Let’s get deeper into each of these differences.

1. Pizza Sauce Vs Pasta Sauce Ingredients

Pizza Sauce Vs Pasta Sauce Ingredients

Pizza sauce lies more on the simple side. Jarred pizza sauces have tomato paste and tomato puree seasoned with pepper, garlic, oregano, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt.

You can top your pizza sauce with extra ingredients (spices, fruits, etc.) as you desire.

Pasta sauce in a jar has more ingredients beyond crushed tomatoes, garlic, onion powder, pepper, and salt. You could find ground beef, sausage, and extra spices in your jarred pasta sauce.

Like pizza sauce, you can add more ingredients to suit your pasta whenever you make homemade pasta sauce. You will find a simple homemade pasta sauce recipe below.

2. Pizza Sauce Vs Pasta Sauce Preparation

Pizza Sauce Vs Pasta Sauce Preparation

The pizza sauce you buy at the store is made with uncooked tomato. But pasta sauce is usually cooked (slow-simmered) to develop the full flavors. Why?

The pizza sauce in a jar cooks in the oven together with the pizza dough. The result is fresh tomato flavors when you pull your cooked pizza out of the oven.

But for the pasta sauce, you will pour it on your cooked pasta and let the flavors bath your pasta strings.

3. Pizza Sauce Vs Pasta Sauce Consistency

Pizza Sauce Vs Pasta Sauce Consistency

Pizza sauce is thicker than pasta sauce. Each sauce’s consistency serves the purpose.

If you placed a watery sauce on your pizza dough, it would become soggy as it cooks in the oven. And everybody loves a crunchy pizza crust!

As for the pasta sauce, it needs to be a little watery. It makes sense to use a thin sauce for your noodles or spaghetti. The light sauce spreads quickly in your pasta for flavorful and slippery pasta strings. Sticky pasta is the worst!

You may also find that your jarred pasta sauce has tomato chunks, unlike the smooth thick pizza sauce.

Want to know more about pizza sauce and pasta sauce? Read on to learn how to make your homemade sauces, how to use them interchangeably, and their possible alternatives.

What Is Pizza Sauce?

Did you know that modern pizza is native to Italy, Naples specifically?

The history of pizza with tomatoes started in 1889 with the Italian chef, Raffaele Esposito. In honor of the Queen consort Margherita of Savoy, he garnished pizza with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella to represent Italy’s flag colors. That was the first pizza margherita.

As Italians spread their pizza across Canada and the US, pizza seasonings have evolved to include various spices mixed with tomato sauce. And thus, came the pizza sauce.

You can buy a jarred pizza sauce or make yours at home. Here’s how to make pizza sauce. It’s effortless!

Easy Homemade Pizza Sauce Recipe


Please note that you can cut back, add and tweak the ingredients as you desire. Don’t sweat it. Just add, taste, then tweak it.

  • 8 oz Tomato Sauce
  • 6 oz Tomato Paste
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • Two pinches of red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp Sugar
  • I tsp kosher salt
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • ½ tsp Onion powder
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 cup olive oil

How to make your pizza sauce?

Mix all of your ingredients in a large bowl until you have a smooth consistency. You can use a food processor for this.

That’s it! No cooking is needed. 

Apply a generous layer of this flavorful sauce to your pizza crust and bake.

Refrigerate the leftover for up to 5 days. Or freeze it in small packs for 3 to 6 months!

Would you rather cook your pizza sauce?

Do you want to use fresh tomatoes for your pizza sauce?

Even better! Crush your tomatoes (or blend), then use a strainer to remove the excess water. You want the sauce to be thick enough to hold your toppings and maintain a crunchy crust.

make your pizza sauce

Are there alternatives to pizza sauce?

Yes, here are some alternatives you could use besides tomato-based pizza sauce:

  • Ricotta cheese
  • Pesto
  • Alfredo sauce
  • Olive oil and garlic
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Balsamic sauce
  • Sweet chili sauce

What is Pasta Sauce?

Like pizza, pasta is Italian cuisine. Italian chef Francesco Leonardi was the first to use tomato sauce with pasta.

Tomato sauce with pasta has evolved to include complex ingredients beyond spices like bacon cubes, pork, Italian sausage, meatballs, or tuna. Now that’s pasta sauce for you.

Here’s how you can make your pasta sauce at home.

Easy Pasta Sauce Recipe


Again, this list of ingredients is not exhaustive. Tweak your ingredients whichever way suits your pasta.

  • 1-pound Italian sausage
  • ¾ pound ground beef
  • 28 oz Canned crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz tomato paste
  • 15 oz Tomato sauce
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 chopped basil leaves
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • ¼ tsp red pepper or 2 tablespoons white sugar.
  • ½ tsp fennel seed.

How to cook pasta sauce?

First, cook the sausage and beef with onions and garlic till brown in a saucepan. Drain the excess fat.

In a separate bowl, mix crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil leaves, oregano, bay leaf, salt, sugar, pepper, and fennel seeds. Pour these into the meats and stir.

As you stir, add olive oil and red wine. Slowly simmer as you occasionally stir for ten minutes up to an hour or more.

The sauce gets thicker as it cooks. Just add water and keep stirring until you achieve the right thickness.

If you don’t want chunks, use a food processor to blend the ingredients.

Enjoy your pasta sauce with spaghetti.

Put the leftover in a freezer to last up to 3 months.

Can you use fresh tomatoes for pasta sauce? Pasta sauce is best made with canned tomatoes.

Are There Pasta Sauce Alternatives?

Of course. Here are some alternative sauces to use besides tomato-based pasta sauces:

  • Ricotta or cottage cheese.
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Butter with red pepper flakes
  • Herb sauce with yogurt or milk.
  • Peanut sauce
  • White sauce

Frequently Asked Questions About Pizza Sauce vs Pasta Sauce


1.Can You Substitute Pasta Sauce With Pizza Sauce?

Yes, you can use pasta sauce in place of pizza sauce with a bit of alteration.

You will need to reduce the excess water (you can strain) and cook it longer for a thicker sauce.

If your pasta sauce has large chunks, pass it through a food processor or blender for a smooth consistency.

2.Can You Substitute Pizza Sauce With Pasta Sauce?

Yes, you can use pizza sauce as pasta sauce with a little improvement.

Start by sautéing onions in olive oil. Add crushed canned tomatoes, then add your pizza sauce and simmer as you stir. Water it down a little for a thinner sauce.

If you want to add extra spices and ingredients, don’t hold back!

3. Marinara Vs Pizza Sauce

Marinara sauce is a seasoned tomato sauce used with pasta, but it’s thinner than pizza sauce. Marinara sauce is also cooked, unlike pizza sauce. It has few ingredients compared to spaghetti sauce and features a solid roasted garlic flavor. Learn more about Marinara Vs Pizza Sauce.

4. Tomato Sauce Vs Pasta Sauce

The difference between tomato sauce and pizza sauce is that pizza sauce may not be based on tomatoes. Some pizza sauces are made with dairy products (like cheese) or pesto. Also, tomato sauce is always red, but pizza sauce could be white or other colors depending on the primary ingredients.

Pizza Sauce Vs. Pasta Sauce: The Takeaway

Pasta sauce and pizza sauce may or may not be based on tomatoes. But most of the jarred sauces are usually seasoned tomato sauces. The key difference between pizza sauce and pasta sauce is that pizza sauce is prepared without cooking, while pasta sauce is prepared by cooking the ingredients.

If you want to use pizza sauce for pasta sauce, cook it. And if you’re going to use pasta sauce for pizza sauce, reduce the water content. As for the spices, that is all up to you. Add what you love, and leave out what you don’t like.

What do you think about our comparison? Do you have a question or something you want to add? Have you tried your sauces with different ingredients besides those we mentioned? How did it turn out? Let us know in the comments below!

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2 thoughts on “Pizza Sauce vs. Pasta Sauce: What’s the Difference?”

  1. I did not see what to do to regular spaghetti sauce to make it fit for pizza. The article says to reduce the water, but in making pizza, no water is involved.
    Should we thicken spaghetti sauce with flour or corn starch or???


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