Pizza Sauce Perfection: Crafting Your Ultimate Tomato Base

Pizza Sauce Perfection: Crafting Your Ultimate Tomato Base

Get ready to transform your kitchen into a haven for pizza lovers! This article is all about unravelling the mystery behind the perfect pizza sauces. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced cook, we're here to spill the saucy secrets that will have you creating your very own dream pizzas. From timeless flavours that transport you to the streets of Italy, to imaginative twists that suit your palate, we're here to serve up tips, tricks, and a whole lot of flavour. So, roll up your sleeves, grab some tomatoes, and let's dive into the saucy world of pizza.

Prep time

10 mins

Cook time

20-30 mins


6-8 pizza bases


Main Course




  • 1 can (400g) San Marzano tomatoes (whole peeled or crushed)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-2 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces


Step 1 - Prep and Crush

Start by preparing the tomatoes. If using whole peeled tomatoes, crush them by hand or with a spoon to break them down slightly. If using crushed tomatoes, such as Mutti Polpa, proceed to the next step.

Step 2 -Sauté Aromatics

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Add the minced garlic and gently sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant. Be careful not to let it brown.

Step 3 - Combine and Simmer

Carefully add the crushed or whole tomatoes along with their juices to the saucepan. Be cautious, as the tomatoes might splatter a bit due to the heat. Add salt and black pepper to the sauce. Stir to combine.

Step 4 - Gentle Simmering

Let the sauce simmer gently over low heat for about 20-30 minutes, allowing the flavours to meld and the sauce to thicken slightly. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Step 5 - Infuse with Basil

As the pizza sauce simmers, tear the fresh basil leaves into pieces and add them to the sauce. This will infuse the sauce with the authentic Neapolitan flavour. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed. Keep in mind that Neapolitan sauce is meant to be simple, letting the sweetness of the San Marzano tomatoes shine.

Step 6 - Perfect Consistency

Once the pizza sauce has reached your desired consistency and flavour, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly before using it as a base for your Neapolitan pizza.

Note: This basic pizza sauce is customisable. You can add other seasonings like thyme, rosemary, or fennel seeds to suit your taste preferences. Authentic Neapolitan pizza is all about simplicity and using high-quality ingredients. Additionally, if you prefer a smoother sauce, you can blend the cooked sauce with an immersion blender or regular blender until smooth.

Enjoy your Neapolitan creation with this traditional pizza sauce, along with fresh mozzarella and your favourite toppings. Be sure to save a little of your pizza sauce for the table - it makes a tasty dipping sauce for those leftover crusts!

What Are the Benefits of Hand-Crushing Tomatoes for Pizza Sauce?

Crushing tomatoes by hand for pizza sauce is a technique often recommended in traditional Italian and Neapolitan cooking for several reasons. Hand-crushing tomatoes allows for meticulous control over the sauce's texture. This hands-on approach enables you to finely adjust the tomatoes' coarseness, resulting in a sauce with a more rustic and slightly chunky texture. This tactile experience contributes to the homemade and authentic character of the pizza sauce.


Unlike mechanical processing methods such as using a food processor or blender, hand-crushing tomatoes is a gentler approach. This gentleness helps preserve the innate flavours of the tomatoes, utilising their distinctive sweetness and freshness. The resulting pizza sauce makes the most of the very essence of the tomatoes.


Another advantage lies in reduced oxidation. High-speed mechanical processing can inadvertently introduce air and heat, which may lead to undesirable oxidation. Have you ever whizzed up a tin of tomatoes and watched it turn from a bright red to a more dull orange colour? That’s the introduction of oxygen, which can impact the sauce's flavour. Opting for the hand-crushing method significantly reduces these risks, maintaining the pizza sauce's vibrant appeal.


Beyond its practical benefits, hand-crushing tomatoes holds a deeper significance. It embodies a time-honoured technique that spans generations in traditional Italian and Neapolitan culinary practices. Embracing this method allows for a genuine connection with the culinary heritage of these cuisines, paying homage to their authentic methods and enriching the culinary experience.


Simplicity is yet another virtue of this approach. Traditional Italian cooking values simplicity and the use of minimal tools. Hand-crushing aligns seamlessly with this culinary philosophy, requiring nothing more than your hands and a few basic utensils. This back-to-basics approach mirrors the spirit of traditional cooking techniques.


However, it's worth noting that while hand-crushing offers a path to rustic authenticity, it may not be the most efficient choice for large-scale operations or when aiming for an extremely smooth sauce consistency. In such scenarios, opting for equipment like a food mill, food processor, or blender could prove more practical, ensuring consistency and efficiency.


In the end, the decision between hand-crushing and mechanical processing hinges on your preference for texture, your commitment to traditional methods, and the scale of your sauce-making venture. Each approach brings its own set of benefits, contributing to a broad range of culinary techniques.

Can I Make a Large Batch of Pizza Sauce and Freeze It?

Yes, you can definitely make a large batch of pizza sauce and freeze it for later use. Allow the sauce to cool completely before portioning it into airtight containers or freezer bags. Label with the date and freeze for up to a few months. Simply thaw the pizza sauce in the refrigerator before use.

Is Using San Marzano Tomatoes Essential for a Pizza Sauce Base?

San Marzano tomatoes have made quite a name for themselves in the cooking world, and it's no wonder why. These are a type of plum tomato hailing from the San Marzano region in Italy, snuggled near Mount Vesuvius. Adding these tomatoes to your pizza sauce brings a world of goodness to your pie.


The taste of San Marzano tomatoes is a real game-changer. They have a unique blend of mild sweetness and gentle tanginess, along with a reduction in acidity. This special combo creates a pizza sauce that's packed with flavour, truly hitting the spot.


One of the key advantages of San Marzano tomatoes lies in their lower moisture content and fewer seeds. This makes them a preferred choice for sauce-making, as less liquid needs to be cooked off during the sauce's preparation. The result is a thicker, more concentrated sauce that clings beautifully to your pizza crust.


Talking about texture, these tomatoes have got it down. Their low seed count and natural lack of moisture mean that when they're cooked and crushed, they turn into a sauce that's as smooth as velvet.


Embracing San Marzano tomatoes in your pizza sauce not only elevates the flavour but also adds a touch of authenticity. These tomatoes have earned their place in Italian cuisine, particularly in traditional dishes. Incorporating them into your pizza sauce pays homage to the culinary heritage of Italy.


But wait, there's more! These tomatoes aren't just perfect for your pizza sauce. They ultimately do shine in sauces, but they also play nice with pasta sauces, soups, and hearty stews. Their robust flavour and incredible aroma can level up a whole bunch of dishes. Plus, the amazing smell of San Marzano tomatoes adds a lovely fragrance to your pizza sauce. This inviting aroma makes your pizza even more enjoyable, engaging both your taste and smell for a truly satisfying experience.


It's important to note that not all canned tomatoes labelled as "San Marzano" are necessarily authentic. To ensure you're getting true San Marzano tomatoes, look for the DOP (Denominazione d'Origine Protetta) label, which certifies that the tomatoes were grown and processed in the designated San Marzano region in Italy.


While San Marzano tomatoes can be pricier than other tomato varieties, their unique qualities and the depth of flavour they bring to your pizza sauce can make them well worth the investment, especially if you're aiming to create an exceptional pizza experience.


Using San Marzano tomatoes can certainly enhance the flavour and texture of your pizza sauce, but it's not absolutely essential. You can still create a delicious pizza sauce using other tomato varieties. Many home cooks and pizzerias make fantastic sauces using different types of canned tomatoes, including regular plum tomatoes, or even canned whole tomatoes. Why not experiment with alternatives like Mutti Polpa Chopped Plum Tomatoes, Mutti - Tomato Double Concentrate, and Rega Cherry Tomatoes? These choices offer their own distinct flavours and textures, adding a new dimension to your pizza sauce creations.


Ultimately, the success of your pizza sauce depends on the quality of ingredients, your cooking technique, and your taste preferences. It's always a good idea to taste and adjust your sauce as it simmers to ensure it meets your expectations. Whether you're using San Marzano tomatoes or another type, the goal is to create a flavourful and balanced sauce that complements the other components of your pizza.

How Much Pizza Sauce Should I Apply to My Base?

The quantity of pizza sauce you should apply depends on the pizza's dimensions, your personal taste preferences, and the overall flavour equilibrium you're pursuing. Here are some general benchmarks to assist you in gauging the appropriate amount of pizza sauce:


For Thin Crust Pizza: When crafting a thin crust pizza, a gentle to moderate quantity of pizza sauce typically suffices. Start with approximately 60 to 80 millilitres (2 to 3 ounces) of pizza sauce for a small to medium-sized pizza (10-12 inches), and adapt as necessary.


For Thicker Crust Pizza: More substantial crusts can manage a tad more pizza sauce without succumbing to sogginess. Approximately 80 to 120 millilitres (3 to 4 ounces) of sauce works well for a medium-sized thick crust pizza.


Considering Personal Preferences: If you have a penchant for a sauce-rich pizza, you're free to apply more sauce. Nonetheless, exercise caution to avert overwhelming the other toppings and the crust with an excessive amount of sauce, which might result in a soggy pizza.


Spread the pizza sauce evenly starting from the pizza's centre and moving outward in a spiral motion. Take a spoon's back to help you spread it, and be sure to leave a bit of space around the edges for the crust.


Remember, the sauce amount might need a tweak depending on the kinds and amounts of toppings you use. Cheese, veggies, and meats can all play a role in how moist the pizza turns out.


Pizza-making is a bit of an art and everyone has their own taste. It's a good idea to kick off with a moderate amount of pizza sauce. Then you can play around with more or less sauce in your next pizzas until you find that perfect balance that makes your taste buds happy.


Remember that pizza sauce is just one component of the overall pizza experience. It's meant to complement the crust, cheese, and toppings, so finding the right amount for your taste will help create a well-balanced and delicious pizza.

Should I Leave an Empty Edge on My Pizza Base?

When you're spreading pizza sauce on your base, it's generally a good idea to keep a little border around the edges of the crust. This border, sometimes called the "crust edge" or "pizza rim," actually has a few important roles:


Leaving this border helps the crust stay nice and crispy. Sauce can add moisture to the crust, and if it seeps all the way to the edge, you might end up with a soggy crust instead of that delightful crunch.


The edge without pizza sauce provides a bit of structure to the pizza. It makes it easier to pick up and enjoy without worrying about sauce and toppings sliding off as you lift a slice.


The contrast between the saucy centre and the clean crust edge can make your pizza look even more inviting. It's a simple touch that adds to the overall presentation.


Remember, the sauce is just one part of the pizza's flavour. By keeping some crust unsauced, you let the crust's unique taste shine through, adding another layer to your pizza experience.


Of course, pizza-making is all about what you like. If you're into a saucier pizza or you want to try something different with the sauce placement, go for it! Just keep in mind that it might affect the texture of the crust and the overall balance of flavours. So, get creative and make that pizza your own!

Are There Alternatives to Tomatoes for a Pizza Base?

When it comes to pizza sauce, tomatoes are the traditional go-to. But if you're up for exploring unique flavours or catering to dietary preferences, there are some creative alternatives worth considering. Here's a rundown of options to spice up your pizza base:


Pesto Sauce: Crafted from fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, pesto sauce injects a burst of herbaceous and nutty taste into your pizza. Our favourites are by Rummo, either their Basil Pesto Genovese for a fresh take, or Pesto Calabresefor a tangy twist.


White Sauce: Think creamy. White sauce made from ingredients like béchamel (a creamy roux-based sauce), ricotta cheese, or Greek yoghurt, gives your pizza a velvety base. It's a superb match for toppings like chicken, spinach, mushrooms, and artichokes.


Hummus: Take a detour to the Middle East with hummus. This spread, made from mashed chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic, imparts a distinctive twist to your pizza, especially when paired with Mediterranean-style toppings.


Olive Tapenade: Dive into the briny world of olives with olive tapenade. Comprising finely chopped olives, capers, garlic, and olive oil, it brings a salty and savoury layer to your pizza. Feta cheese, roasted red peppers, and fresh herbs make fantastic companions.


Roasted Red Pepper Sauce: Embrace a hint of sweetness and smokiness with a roasted red pepper sauce. Made from roasted red bell peppers, garlic, olive oil, and herbs, this sauce adds a unique twist to your pizza palette.


Barbecue Sauce: If you're after a sweet and tangy adventure, barbecue sauce can set the stage for a barbecue chicken or pulled pork pizza. Just keep an eye on the sugar content, as it can turn caramel-y in the oven.


Salsa: Heat things up with salsa. This spicy choice gives your pizza a lively and zesty kick, and works a treat with toppings like jalapeños, black beans, and corn.


Sweet Potato Puree: Get creative with sweet potato puree as your sauce. It adds a touch of sweetness and pairs wonderfully with toppings like goat cheese, caramelised onions, and arugula.


Pumpkin Puree: Yes, even pumpkins can shine as a unique base. With its slightly sweet and earthy character, it offers a delightful twist. Pair it with toppings like caramelised onions, goat cheese, spinach, or roasted chicken for an autumn-inspired pizza adventure.


Remember, experimenting with alternative pizza sauce bases can unveil unexpected and delicious flavour fusions. Just consider how your chosen sauce meshes with your toppings and the overall taste you're aiming for. It's a culinary journey that's bound to delight your taste buds.

Can I Make a Spicy Pizza Sauce?

Absolutely! Adding heat to your pizza sauce is a wonderful way to introduce exciting flavours. You can use ingredients like red pepper flakes, minced jalapeños, or even hot sauce to bring the heat. Just be cautious not to overpower the other flavours in your pizza.

A Taste of Italy and Beyond

Creating the perfect pizza sauce is an art that encapsulates tradition, creativity, and personal preference. From the rustic charm of hand-crushed tomatoes to the rich elegance of San Marzano tomatoes, we've explored the essentials of crafting a sensational base. We've uncovered the secrets behind achieving just the right texture, the art of sauce distribution, and the alternative avenues that lead to pizza perfection. Whether you're in pursuit of Neapolitan authenticity or craving innovative flavours, this guide has equipped you with the know-how to up your pizza game. So, fire up your oven, roll out the dough, and let your culinary creativity shine as you craft pizzas that are as unique as you are.