Saucy Tips for Homemade Pizza

Homemade pizza sauce at

“I like to eat chocolate and pizza—that’s my vice!—just like everyone else.
But if I do it I have to keep it under control.”

Cara Castronuova, two-time Golden Gloves winner and certified trainer. Appears on The Biggest Loser.

When it comes to Friends Eating Pizza at CHEFScatalog.comhomemade pizza, which component is the most important?

  1. The crust?
  2. The sauce?
  3. The toppings?

Arguments are many for all three and the huge impact they have on the overall flavor of the pizza, but we can all agree the sauce is definitely key. Bad toppings can be picked off and—as long as the crust isn’t burnt—it can be overlooked.

But the sauce? The sauce’s flavor can be the deciding factor in whether or not your pizza is memorable.

A pizza sauce recipe can actually be quite simple. Just use a modified version of the marinara sauce you use for spaghetti. Pizza sauce tends to be a little sweeter than pasta sauce, so add a little extra sugar, until it tastes the way you want.

This recipe originally called for vegetables, but we’re going to leave them out because we want the taste of the tomatoes and herbs to really come through for a traditional Italian-style pizza.

Modified marinara sauce for pizza


  • 6 pounds ripe Italian tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (don’t forget to add more to taste for pizza sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh basil

Fresh ingredients

One of the easiest ways to enhance the flavor of your sauce is to use fresh ingredients. You can either get these from the farmers market, your grocer’s produce aisle, or your own backyard. We like to grow our own herbs and veggies for cooking—you just can’t get any fresher than what you’ve hand-picked!

If you don’t have any fresh herbs and want to use dried herbs, keep in mind the 3-to-1 ratio: Dried herbs are more potent than fresh ones because the flavor has been concentrated, so you need three times as many fresh herbs as you do dried ones.

Making the sauce

Electric Tomato Strainer at CHEFScatalog.comThe first thing you need to do to make your pizza sauce is peel the tomatoes. The easiest way to do this is to put the tomatoes through an electric strainer, which will remove the peels and seeds and crush the fruit for you.

However, if you don’t have one, you can peel the tomatoes by hand using these tips:

  1. Lightly slice an “X” in the skin on the bottom of each tomato with a paring knife. Bring several cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan and submerge the tomatoes for five to 10 seconds. Remove the tomatoes from the water and use the paring knife to peel the skins off starting at the “X”.
  2. Slice the tomato in half and squeeze to remove the seeds. Place the tomatoes in a blender and puree until smooth.

Once you have peeled and crushed the tomatoes, you are ready to begin cooking the sauce.

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic before covering the pan and cooking for five minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Uncover the pan and add the pureed tomatoes, sugar, fresh herbs, salt, and pepper before bringing to a simmer. At this point, taste the sauce to determine if it is sweet enough or if it needs more herbs. Make any adjustments you feel are necessary based on your taste preferences.
  3. Cover the pan and allow the sauce to simmer for another 15 minutes.

Don’t burn the sauce!

Never Burn Sauce Pot at CHEFScatalog.comWhen cooking your sauce, it is important to stay attentive so it does not burn. Naturally, you are going to want to start preparing your toppings or checking on your dough while the sauce is simmering, but if you forget to tend to it, your sauce will come out with a burnt flavor that will affect the taste of your pizza. Here are a few tips to keep your sauce from burning while you are busy preparing the rest of the meal:

  • Always cook the sauce in a pot (The Never Burn Sauce Pot lives up to its name) or pan with a thick bottom so that it is insulated from the flame on your stovetop.
  • Cook your sauce over low heat so it doesn’t get hot too fast.
  • Remember to occasionally stir your sauce throughout the entire time it is cooking to prevent the contents in the bottom of the pot from cooking faster than the rest of the sauce.

Top off your pizza

Once your sauce and crust have finished cooking, you are ready to top off your pizza!

Using a spoon, add a few tablespoons of sauce to the middle of your crust. Take the back of the spoon and begin spreading the sauce in a circular motion, moving outward from the center.

Add sauce as needed a few tablespoons a time to prevent slathering on too much. If you over-sauce your pizza, it will make the crust soggy and your toppings will slide off easily when you bite in.

The toppings on your pizza are only limited by your imagination, but here are some of the typical (and some not-so-typical) toppings:

Popular Pizza Toppings








Blue Cheese

Baby leeks



Black Beans

Chicken (BBQ, Cajun, Marsala)








Cherry tomatoes


Monterey Jack


Italian Sausage


Kalamata olives



Mushrooms (includes porcini and portobello)



Onions (including all kinds)






Peppers (Red, green, yellow)



Red beans


Smoked Gouda






Sea Food




Sun dried tomatoes



Sweet corn









Oh how we love pizza! Can’t get enough? Check out these pizza-related blogs on CHEFS Mix for more:

Your turn: Is sauce for the goose sauce for the gander? Or do you only fix one kind of pizza sauce?

Grilling Essentials at

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