Cooked Pizza Sauce

Cooked Pizza Sauce
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Finished pizza, looking good!

What’s up with all the pizza sauces? Well, we regularly have homemade pizza and we still haven’t found the perfect sauce. So, we try recipe after recipe, hoping that this will be the one. And even though it might not be the one that’s perfect for us, it might be perfect for you. So, tonight we’ll pass along our standard pizza sauce. It’s the one that we like the best, although we feel it is still lacking.

It’s a good sauce, don’t get us wrong; we just know that somewhere out there is the sauce for us. And the recipe is just waiting and waiting and wishing for us to find it. (You don’t happen to have it, do you?) As we really try our hardest not to claim a recipe as our own when it isn’t, this is based, loosely, on a supposedly Ultimate Pizza Sauce.

Makes about a quart

Cooked Pizza Sauce

Cooked Pizza Sauce


  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 can (28 ounce) San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 can (7 ounce) tomato paste
  • 1 Tbs dried basil
  • 1 Tbs dried oregano
  • 4 Tbs Parmesan cheese (or 3-4 Parmesan cheese rinds)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp celery seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbs fennel seeds

Abbreviated Instructions

Heat oil and butter in a large sauce pan, over medium heat, until melted.

Add onions and garlic, and cook until tender and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes and paste. Break up whole tomatoes, if necessary, and stir until smooth.

Add remaining ingredients, and simmer for 30 to 60 minutes.

Remove bay leaves (and cheese rinds, if using).

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Ingredient discussion:

Tomatoes. Well, it’s not as if you can get good tomatoes at a store, so at least try to go with San Marzano tomatoes. Sure, they cost more, but they have a better flavor. For the herbs and spices, we’ve had good luck with getting ours from Penzey’s. Great prices and the turnover is good, so nothing stays around too long. You’ll also note that we talk about Parmesan cheese rinds. We use a lot of Parmesan cheese, perhaps several pounds a month, and it all has a rind that really can’t be grated for cheese. It goes into a freezer bag for just these occasions. It’ll add the Parmesan flavor, but won’t stick all over the bottom of the pan and the spoon like grated Parmesan.

Procedure in detail:

mise en place
Getting everything together before starting never hurts.

Mise en Place. While it isn’t really necessary for this recipe, we do like to put everything in place before starting. It’s especially nice to put together a small bowl with all the spices and other things beforehand. That way, we can just toss it right in when we need to. Think of it as a spice bomb for pizza sauce.


Saute onions and garlic. In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter and heat the oil. Once melted, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent.

Add tomatoes. Once the onions and garlic are ready, add the tomatoes and paste. If necessary, break up the tomatoes into small pieces, and stir until the paste is well- mixed.

adding spices
Add the spice bomb. Then simmer until you’re ready.

Add spices. Add that spice bomb you made in step one. Just pour it all in, stir it around, and lower the heat.


Simmer. Now, depending on your time frame, simmer the sauce for anywhere for 15 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Adjust seasonings. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. We find that when we simmer a tomato sauce for a while, it seems to bring out the acid in the tomatoes, making for a tart-tasting sauce, so we have to add a bit more sugar. At the same time, remove those bay leaves (and cheese rinds, if using).

sauce on pizza
Sauce the crust right before you are ready to put it in the oven to help prevent “crust sog.”

Sauce your pizza. Remember to assemble the pizza right before you’re ready to put it in the oven. We know that it’s tempting to get it done ahead of time, but don’t. Not unless you want a soggy crust.

Of all the pizza sauces that we’ve made at home, this is probably the one we like the best, so far. Don’t get us wrong; it’s a good sauce, but there are definitely better sauces out there. So, four stars.

If you have leftovers, and you will, unless you’re making a half-dozen pizzas, this sauce works pretty well on pasta, too.

Worth the trouble?

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