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

When it comes to sauce, the use is extensive and can be used alongside different foods from rice to pasta and even as a pizza topping. Tomato sauces are the standard toppings for pizza. However, would you know the difference if your pizza deviated from the standard tomato sauce to Marinara sauce?

Pizza Sauce vs. Marinara What's the Difference 1

Marinara sauce originates from Italy and has been in use since 1692, it has been adopted by several countries and has been changed a few times to suit the adopted country’s taste.

Tomato sauce is used widely around the world, and several countries, including Spain and Italy, have claimed its origin. Other countries like America and New Zealand have also tried to be a subject to this matter, but who owns tomato sauce?

Where did tomato sauce originate from?

Where did tomato sauce originate from

Tomato sauce ownership is between the Spanish and the Italians, but the word owner is vague and does not pinpoint the usage. The normal tomato sauce originated from Spain while tomato sauce for pizza originated from the pioneers of pizza themselves, Italy.

The first person to ever bring the word tomato sauce into writing was said to be a Franciscan Friar, Bernardino de Sahagun, who moved from the kingdom of Spain to New Spain, but the first cookbook about tomato sauce was by an Italian Antonio Latini and was published in the 1690s.

The history of Marinara sauce

The history of Marinara sauce

The history of Marinara sauce can be dated back to Neapolitan times when soldiers came back home from war.

This sauce was made by their wives as a welcome meal around the 19th Century hence, the term Marinara came from the word Mariano, the Italian term for sailors.

When the southern Italians moved to America in the 1900s, the sauce became widely known and was adopted by a lot of people.

What is a pizza sauce made of?

What is a pizza sauce made of

When we talk of sauce, we talk of tomato mainly.

The main ingredient is the tomato, and most times, it is just a plain tomato puree or sometimes chopped tomato puree that has been simmered with olive oil, some herbs, and spices, which is then used for several purposes such as with pasta or on pizza.

Tomato sauce preparation differs from country to country with some countries using it as a mere minimum puree while others making it an important national dish with the combination of different condiments.

What is a Marinara sauce made of?

What is a Marinara sauce made of

A standard Marinara sauce is a more busy and seasoned tomato sauce consisting of several herbs and spices like garlic, onions, basil, oregano, and occasionally with a dash of wine.

It can be served with pasta with beef or meat as the serving or served as a pizza base.

How to make pizza sauce

There are several recipes on the internet or in various cookbooks on how to make a pizza sauce and here is one of them.

  • Making a pizza sauce does not require heating, but some people love their sauteing onions and spices before blending.
  • Simply add all your ingredients which include plain tomato puree, tomato sauce, garlic, onions, salt, black pepper, fresh basil leaves, and sugar which can be brown or white inside a blender.

You can check other types of Pizza Sauce Recipes.

  • Close the blender and blend until it becomes smooth and the consistency becomes even.
  • You can then use this as your pizza base or cook it for your dipping or sauce.

Popular YouTube Channel Cooking-Shooking shows how to make a pizza sauce.

How to make a Marinara sauce

Making a marinara sauce does not require too much effort, unlike pizza sauce. The base tomato sauce can be premade tomato sauce or even pizza sauce itself.

  • Start by drying your diced onions inside some olive oil until it becomes brown or translucent.
  • Add other ingredients like garlic, pepper, and salt.
  • Add your tomato sauce and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add the basil leaves and use them.

Some people dislike the chunky nature of the marinara sauce and most times blend it after the cooking method. Serve as desired.

This YouTube Video shows how to cook a perfect marinara sauce.

What are the differences between pizza sauce and Marinara sauce?

What are the differences between pizza sauce and Marinara sauce

There are several differences between Pizza sauce and Marinara sauce and they include;

Ingredients used during preparation

Pizza sauce is prepared with plain puree tomatoes with tomato sauce. It is sometimes spiced with oregano, garlic, salt, Italian seasoning, olive oil, salt, black pepper, and sugar for that tangy flavor.

The essence of the tanginess is to compliment the used fats and cheese on the pizza. The essence of the sugar is to counter the acidic and raw taste of the tomato to avoid a bland finish. All of the added products play a role in making the perfect pizza sauce.

Marinara sauce is made with tomato sauce as its base and is served with onion, basil leaves, and lots of garlic. This is by far easier to cook unlike the pizza sauce that requires lots and lots of spices and ingredients.


Pizza sauce is thicker in concentration than Marinara sauce. This is because the pizza sauce serves as a layer for other pizza toppings and the thickness avoids spillovers or runoffs.

Marinara sauce is not as thick as pizza sauce because they are not often used as a base but as pasta or dipping sauce where consistency does not matter.

Cooking Method

Pizza sauce is not cooked; it is blended. The tomato sauce with the tomato puree is blended with olive oil and other added spices. This is because the pizza base will still undergo another cooking activity when the pizza is placed in the oven. So, what essence is pre-cooking?

Marinara sauce is cooked for about 19 minutes and sometimes blended again depending on the users’ taste. This is because they are used immediately as a sauce or other use that requires immediate eating.


Pizza sauce is used before cooking, that is, before the pizza is placed in the oven to bake while Marinara sauce is used after cooking as side sauces or dipping.

Despite these differences, these two sauces have some similar characteristics. They both use tomato sauce as a basic ingredient and have their descent from Italy. They are both spiced with similar herbs and spices like basil leaves and are used with other dishes.

Can these two sauces be used interchangeably?

Can these two sauces be used interchangeably

Yes, these two sauces can be used interchangeably but one outshines the other. Pizza sauce can be used as a dipping or pasta sauce and still produce a very good taste but Marinara sauce may not necessarily be the best base topping for pizza because of its consistency.

Marinara sauce can be thickened by adding tomato purees if you intend on using it as a pizza base. Aside from these, they can be used interchangeably.

Is Marinara sauce for pizza or pasta?

Is Marinara sauce for pizza or pasta

The marinara sauce was originally made for pasta because of its pre-cooked, sautéd nature. You can also use Marinara sauce for pizza, but the only difference is that you should not chill the sauce before using it.

The sauce should be blended properly and thickened with extra tomato puree to give it a thick consistency, which can then now be used as a pizza sauce. Do you know there is a type of pizza called pizza marinara, you check it here.

Why do they confuse these two sauces?

The reason most people confuse the pizza and Mariana sauce is because of the similar ingredient used which is the garlic, onion, and basil leaves.

Others say it’s because of their conflicting history, while some say it’s because they both originated from Italy. But as a matter of fact, these two sauces are quite different.

Which sauce is more versatile and flexible?

The pizza sauce has the upper hand in terms of versatility and flexibility because it can be transformed into several other sauces. For example;

  • Pizza can be used as a sauce for rice and pasta and is best served with either meat, chicken, or fish.
  • You can quickly turn your pizza sauce into salsa once you add hot sauce, black beans, and other ingredients.
  • It is one of the best marinating liquids for fish and chicken
  • It is sometimes used in place of tomato paste by bars in making the Bloody Mary cocktail.
  • You can use it as a dipping.

Bottom line

These two sauces are perfect Italian cuisines for your homemade pizza, your meatball dipping, or as pasta sauce. You can use the recipe provided or the YouTube links to make any of the sauces.

Instead of comparing the two Italian sauces for the best, you can use the two sauces simultaneously for different dishes or even combine them, check for more different sauce types here.

Pizza Sauce vs. Marinara What's the Difference 2

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