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

Are you baking homemade pizza and wondering 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.

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The main difference between pizza sauce and pasta 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.

Quick Overview: Pizza Sauce Vs. Pasta Sauce

Before we go over the nitty-gritty information, here’s a quick summary to give you an overview.

Criteria Pizza Sauce Pasta Sauce
Ingredients Tomato paste and tomato puree seasoned with pepper, garlic, oregano, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt The same as a pizza sauce for the base but can have ground beef, sausage, and extra spices
Preparation Made with uncooked tomato Usually cooked (slow-simmered)
Consistency Thicker A little watery

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 other 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 tomatoes. But pasta sauce is usually cooked (slow-simmered) to develop the full flavors.


The pizza sauce in a jar cooks together with the pizza dough. The result is the fresh flavor of tomatoes 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 bathe your pasta strings.

3. Pizza Sauce Vs. Pasta Sauce Consistency

Pizza Sauce Vs Pasta Sauce Consistency

Pizza sauce is thicker than pasta sauce, which allows it to stick better to the pizza dough. Conversely, the thinner consistency of pasta sauce helps it to coat the pasta more evenly. Thus, each sauce’s consistency is tailored to serve its purpose.

It would become soggy as it cooks in the oven if you placed a watery sauce on your pizza dough. That’s a big no-no since 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 homemade sauces, how to use them interchangeably, and their possible alternatives.

What Is Pizza Sauce?

What Is Pizza Sauce

Did you know that modern pizza originated from Naples, Italy. 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 bottled pizza sauce or make your own 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?

When we say it’s easy to make, we mean that it can be done in just a single step! Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until you have a smooth consistency. You can use a food processor for this. Then that’s it! No cooking is needed. (Was that quicker than expected?)

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!

Now that you know how to make one, would you preferably cook your pizza sauce?

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

fresh tomatoes for your pizza sauce

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

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?

make your pizza 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. Feel free to tweak it in 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?

How to cook pasta sauce

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

Then, mix crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil leaves, oregano, bay leaf, salt, sugar, pepper, and fennel seeds in a separate bowl. 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 your choice of pasta.

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

Tips When Making Homemade Sauce

Making Homemade Sauce

Here are some tips to keep in mind when making the sauce at home:

  1. Let the pizza sauce sit for a few minutes before you spread it over the dough. Doing this will help the herbs and spices to rest and meld together with the base.
  2. Never forget to add sugar to your sauce! Canned tomatoes tend to be more acidic. So a pinch would go the extra mile.
  3. Store your pizza properly after it cooled down. Usually, it can last in the refrigerator for a week. But if you can’t consume it within the time frame, it is best to freeze it in an ice cube tray. Then, transfer it to a freezer bag once it forms its shape.
  4. Another trick to make your pasta sauce thicker for pizza is to add cheese to it. It can help disrupt the watery texture while offering an excellent consistency for the palate.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pizza Sauce Vs. Pasta Sauce


1. Can you substitute pasta Sauce with pizza sauce?

Yes, you can use pasta sauce instead of pizza sauce with some alterations.

You’ll 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 slight 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.

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

3. Is there a difference between Marinara and 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. Is there a difference between tomato sauce and pasta sauce?

The difference between pasta sauce and pizza sauce is that the latter is not always tomato-based. 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.

5. What are the best tomatoes to use?

Using the best ingredients makes an excellent homemade sauce. On top of the list are canned whole plum tomatoes. That is if you don’t have access to bountiful fresh tomatoes. Plum tomatoes have a meaty feature while offering lesser water content. The taste has a tangy and enjoyable flavor that is not too sweet.

An example of this is the canned San Marzano tomatoes. You can find it in the Italian section of supermarkets or delis.

Pizza Sauce Vs. Pasta Sauce: The Takeaway

Pasta sauce and pizza sauce may or may not be tomato-based. But most of the jarred sauces are usually seasoned tomato sauces.

If you want to use pizza sauce for pasta sauce, cook it. And if you 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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