Pizza Sauce vs Marinara Sauce – What’s The Difference?

What is the difference between pizza sauce and marinara sauce? Pizza sauce can be described as a creamy tomato sauce created by mixing raw ingredients. It’s not cooked until it’s added onto a pizza base. Marinara sauce is cooked before being added to another dish and contains other key ingredients other than tomato sauce.

With the variety of tomato-based sauces on the market, it can be challenging to keep track of their distinct flavors, especially when they’re all from the same culinary background. Italian cooking is widely known for being influential in food concerning sauces, let alone pizza or marinaras.

When I was first introduced to pizza sauce and specifically marinara sauce, I thought they were just the same thing as each other. Are they the same, I thought? They’re not – far from it!

If you’re struggling to keep up, don’t worry, as I will give you further information you will find interesting about the difference between pizza sauce and marinara sauce.

What Is Pizza Sauce?

As you can imagine by the generic name, pizza sauce is used on all pizza bases.

Everyone should know that there are many kinds of pizza sauce. However, the first one was a tomato-based type and is still used today by many pizzerias worldwide.

Many people mistake the current tomato sauce with a simple tomato sauce for pizzas. Hence the term “pizza sauce” to better differentiate between them.

A tomato sauce is available in nearly every store and has a highly processed, watered-down consistency. It’s usually colored with food coloring agents and stuffed with preservatives and artificial flavors.

A high-quality pizza sauce is made from fresh tomatoes and slowly blended to make a lovely sleek sauce.

Certain seasonings can be included. However, like salt and pepper, no preservatives or other additives are added. This kind of tomato sauce is like tomato-based pasta sauce.

Every type of food and even culture has its way of cooking. Since pizza is Italian, it is recommended to adhere to their definitions of “pizza sauce” and their recipes and cooking methods to create the most authentic and delicious sauce.

At the end of the day, I was always under the impression that the better the pizza sauce, the better the pizza would be from the very first slice!

Pizza Sauce
Credit: Leites Culinaria

In the last century, pizza sauce has changed and then changed. In our opinion, we believe that it’s finally been made perfect.

The most basic pizza sauces are easy to make, with the most important ingredient being the ingredients used.

Pizza Sauce Ingredients

The foundation of pizza sauce is made of tomatoes. I prefer to utilize fresh tomatoes, but if you’re not feeling the effort, you can try using some canned tomatoes or canning tomato sauces that are fresh tasting and will work in a pinch.

If you are using canned tomatoes, make sure to use half the tomatoes cut and the other half crushed. If you’re employing fresh tomatoes, then you’ll first have to crush them before creating your sauce (we will talk about this later in the section).

Sugar (white or brown sugar granulated) is an essential ingredient because it helps cut through the rawness and acidity of tomatoes. Without sugar, the sauce will appear bland and bland.

The next step is to look at the essential ingredients of seasoning, comprising salt, black pepper, and Italian spice.

Salt is a vital ingredient in every recipe and especially in savory dishes. Black peppers should be freshly ground for maximum flavor. Italian seasoning is a necessity.

Italian seasonings are a mixture of dried herbs, such as oregano and basil, rosemary, and thyme. You can also mix your own blend and add dried garlic flakes.

That brings us to our final ingredient, garlic. As we’ve mentioned earlier, adding garlic flakes can be a good alternative, but using freshly chopped garlic is the best choice. Garlic is a highly fragrant aroma that is essential to Italian food preparation.

We now proceed to lesser-important but highly suggested ingredients. They are onion and fennel seeds, as well as parmesan, along with olive oil.

Finely chopped shallots or onions work similarly to garlic and are delicious. It makes a huge distinction and gives the texture and semi-sweet flavor.

Including parmesan cheese is optional, particularly when using it as an ingredient.

Olive oil can be mainly utilized to thin the mixture when needed. Olive oil can also provide a better flavor than other oils, like canola or sunflower.

How To Make Pizza Sauce

This is the way we create pizza sauce. There are many different ways to make pizza sauce. However, this is our base recipe and the ingredients we prefer to make it with.

Pizza sauce does not need any preparation. Some people prefer to cook their garlic, onions, and spices before mixing them; however, we don’t believe this is required since it will cook when added to the pizza.

Add all the ingredients into a blender, then blend it for a few seconds. If you want your sauce to be thinner and smoother, mix for a longer time.

We use garlic, onions, Italian seasoning, parmesan cheese, fresh basil leaves, and fresh tomatoes.

Let’s talk about the tomato issue. If you’re using fresh tomatoes, first, remove the skin by boiling them in boiling water for one minute. After that, slice the entire tomato into pieces and add it to the base of your sauce.

If you’re with canned tomatoes, you can mix them into the recipe. Add sugar to counteract the acidity and metallic taste that may be necessary.

If you’re looking to get the most from the pizza sauce you have and save it for pizzas in the future, You can store your pizza sauce when you’re finished.


Based on the ingredients employed and the production method, when followed correctly, the result should be that it is thicker and spreadable but not an actual tomato paste.

The hue should be a lovely vibrant red. You will be able to smell deep umami aromas.

How To Use Pizza Sauce

Pizza sauce is served on pizza: Spread an even layer of sauce over the pizza before adding toppings, and then cook either in the oven or over an open flame. As we’ve discussed previously, it isn’t cooked before being served.

Pizza sauce can be described as a flexible sauce used in various ways. At the beginning of this article, we discussed that many diverse cuisines and cultures generally use the same sauce, with minor variations.

Pizza sauce is typically used for pizza, but it is also a fabulous sauce that can be used to make pasta. It can be incorporated into pasta dishes or add additional ingredients such as meat or vegetables.

You can easily transform your pizza sauce into salsa by adding chilis or hot sauce, red onions, black beans, and extra fresh tomatoes. The mixture becomes chunky and also provides a lot of flavors.

Another intriguing use we’ve heard about recently is the making of cocktails. Use fresh pizza sauce instead of tomato juice for the Bloody Mary recipe! Pizza sauce can also be an excellent cooking liquid for beef and vegetables.

What Is Marinara Sauce?

After discussing pizza sauce in greater detail, Marinara sauce will go a little faster because both sauces are alike.

Marinara Sauce is also a tomato-based dish. Many people even refer to it as “tomato sauce.” It is also Italian, which is why some people are confused between the two.

Marinara sauce isn’t always made with fresh tomatoes, however. It uses pre-made tomato sauce (possibly even pizza sauce) incorporated with other ingredients. All ingredients are cooked before being mixed.

Pizza Sauce vs Marinara Sauce - What's The Difference?
Credit: Cooking NY Times

Marinara Sauce Ingredients

A marinara sauce is easy to make and contains fewer ingredients since tomato sauce provides the most flavor.

The tomato sauce is the principal ingredient and the basis of the dish. Don’t mix tomato sauce with ketchup because they taste different and are produced and utilized in various ways.

The other major ingredients include freshly cut basil leaves, onions, and garlic Lots and lots of garlic. This implies that the sauce is far more flavorful than pizza sauce.

Basil and onions provide the traditional Italian flavors. You can’t create a marinara without them. Afterward, it’s an additional type of sauce. Some prefer fresh tomatoes that have been diced to add more texture to their pasta.

Pepper and salt are both ingredients to be included; however, certain tomato sauces may already have enough salt and pepper, and you shouldn’t add too much salt to your delicious sauce.

If you’d like to add a hint of tang to your sauce, consider adding balsamic vinegar.

How To Make Marinara Sauce

Begin by sautéing the onions diced in olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add your garlic and the other spices and cook for several minutes.

The cooking process helps the ingredients release more flavor and, in the end, adds depth to the sauce.

After the aromatics are cooked, mix in the tomato sauce and simmer for around 10 minutes. In the end, basil leaves will be added at the end.

Many prefer to mix their marinara sauce once more to have no onion pieces. However, some prefer to leave it the way it is. The final product is yours to decide.

How To Use Marinara Sauce

Once the sauce is made, it is used in different recipes. It is used in nearly every way pizza sauce can be. The major difference is that marinara can be utilized in various ways than pizza sauce.

It is possible to use marinara to make basic dishes like dipping sauces, pasta sauce, or salsa.

The most interesting methods to make it work are for dishes such as meatballs, ratatouille, or minestrone. The reason for its greater range of applications is that this sauce is cooked already and doesn’t need further cooking.

Marinara and Pizza Sauce Similarities

What are the similarities between marinara and pizza sauce? Let’s look at some of the similarities.

Likenesses between pizza and marinara sauce:

  • Sauces originate from Italian cuisine
  • The base ingredient is tomatoes.
  • Different aromatics, including basil and garlic, are included in some manner
  • Blended, they have a delicate consistency yet are not as watery as tomato juice
  • In combination with other dishes or mixed into other dishes

The moment we have been anticipating for. What are the real differentiators?

Then, let’s dissect them into three primary variations: what ingredients are used, their manufacturing method, and how they’re used.

Marinara might be simpler to make using a pre-made tomato sauce. However, it’s more complex with more ingredients that are added over time and can also be created entirely from scratch.

This is because marinara requires additional ingredients to top off tomato sauce, while pizza sauce is a simple form of tomato sauce.

The other major distinction is in the method of cooking. Pizza sauce is simply blended and not cooked before being put on pizza. Only then does it get cooked with the pizza or other dish.

Marinara is prepared, cooked, and later blended, which means it can be served as-is without having to prepare it further.

The last difference is the method in which they are utilized. We’ve already mentioned that pizza sauce is added before cooking, and marinara sauce may be added later; however, other than that, the sauces can be employed in various ways.

Marinara is a simple ingredient used in pasta to serve as a base for making other dishes, as a dipping sauce, topping for nachos, etc.

Pizza sauce can work well for pizzas and casseroles that require baking.

Can These Sauces Be Interchangeable?

As discussed in this article, marinara sauce is created with tomato sauce. Since pizza sauce can be described as a form that is tomato sauce type, it is not able to be substituted for marinara. However, it can be used as a base for creating marinara.

Marinara is an excellent choice to substitute pizza sauce, mainly since it’s cooked. However, it might not have the same sweetness and more of a herbaceous taste.

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