Pizza Sauce vs Pasta Sauce?

Pizza Sauce vs Pasta Sauce

Pizza and pasta are well known and delicious dishes in this day and age. They are also easily made at home. But what is the difference between pizza sauce and a traditional spaghetti sauce and is there a significant difference?

Continue on as we elaborate on the topic;

Pizza Sauce vs Pasta Sauce

What Is Pizza Sauce?

Sauce for pizza is a red sauce that is used as a base on pizzas. 

It is typically made with plain tomato sauce or uncooked puréed tomatoes, olive oil and tomato paste, garlic, and herbs such as dried oregano and basil leaves, and has a slightly sweet taste.

Some people also add spices such as onion powder, garlic salt, Italian seasoning and sugar to their pizza tomato sauce to give it a slightly tangier flavor.

What Is Pasta Sauce?

Pasta sauce is a type of tomato sauce that is used to top pasta dishes. It is typically made from pre-cooked blended tomatoes, garlic, and herbs such as bay leaf and basic spices such as salt, pepper, onion powder and oregano. 

They can also be used as a dipping sauce for breadsticks or other types of bread. Pasta sauces are a versatile addition to any kitchen and can be used in a variety of different recipes.

What is Marinara Sauce / Spaghetti Sauce

Everybody has at some stage heard of a spaghetti sauce as well as a marinara sauce. But what is the difference, and how do they compare to a pizza sauce?

What is Marinara Sauce?

This type of sauce is quite thick in consistency and made out of tomatoes. It is often used on sandwiches and pasta, but one can also use it as a dipping sauce.

This slow simmered smooth sauce is made over a low heat together with some roasted garlic cloves for extra taste.

Apart from using it on spaghetti or penne pasta, you would often find this type of sauce on top of meatball subs and steak sandwiches. It is also commonly used to dip in mozzarella sticks among other things.

This sauce originally comes from Naples.

Marinara Sauce vs Pizza Sauce

These two sauces are very similar, but not quite the same. 

If you compare a marinara sauce to a sauce for pizza, you will find that the marinara has a semi smooth consistency and is just a bit thinner than a typical pizza sauce. 

The marinara sauce does however have a lower moisture content than your typical pasta sauce.

When preparing a marinara sauce, the tomatoes used are often peeled, very finely diced and then placed in a food processor to get rid of the chunks. The ingredients are, however, not fully puréed, it is not a paste, but rather a smooth sauce.

Good pizza sauce is typically cooked on a pizza crust and marinara sauce is generally served as a dipping or topping sauce.

Spaghetti Sauce vs Pizza Sauce

A spaghetti sauce has the highest water content among these three different sauces, giving it the thinnest consistency. 

But like the other sauces, this one too is made from a mix of fresh tomatoes and spices of great flavors.

Difference Between Pizza Sauce vs Pasta Sauce

Ingredients & Flavor

  • Great pizza sauce is typically made with raw pureed tomatoes and tomato paste, while pasta sauce is usually made with cooked crushed tomatoes.
  • Pizza sauce has a slightly sweeter and tangier taste that goes well with the flavors of pizza toppings like pepperoni, sausage, and mushrooms. Pasta sauce has a slightly saltier and herbier taste that goes well with pasta dishes like spaghetti and lasagna.
  • Pizza sauce is typically seasoned with fragrant spices such herbs like oregano and basil, Italian spices and onion sauce while pasta sauce is usually seasoned with more simple spices such as garlic, onion, pepper and salt.


  • The consistency — which is the main difference — of the sauce for pizza is thicker than that of pasta sauce. This is due to the pizza sauce containing raw pureed tomatoes and tomato puree. A thicker sauce on a pizza base is preferred and much better. You do not want your base getting soggy when you cook it due to too much moisture. Pizza sauce also has a much smoother consistency than pasta sauce.
  • Tomato sauces meant for pasta are much thinner or runnier and this is due to the high water content of the cooked crushed tomatoes. You want a thinner sauce on pasta in order to properly cover each spaghetti strand on your plate. You will often find chunks of juicy tomatoes in pasta sauce, which is something you would never find in a pizza sauce. 

Cooking Process

  • A pizza sauce is typically poured onto the base raw after which you cook it in the pizza oven together with other toppings at a high heat. All the ingredients and spices are blended together and spread across the base before cooking.
  • One would typically cook a pasta sauce before adding it to the pasta dish. The crushed tomatoes and spices are simmered on a low heat in order for all the spice to infuse with the tomatoes and one another. It is then combined with the spaghetti.

Preservation And Healthy Content

  • Pizza sauce is typically canned or jarred, while pasta sauce is most often sold in a carton or plastic container. Pizza sauce has a shelf life of about 18 months, while pasta sauce can last up to 24 months.
  • Pizza sauce is usually lower in calories than pasta sauce, as well as sodium and fat. However, pizza sauce is also typically lower in vitamins and minerals than pasta sauce. When it comes to healthy content, pasta sauce is generally a better choice.

Pizza Sauce vs Pasta Sauce: Similarities 

  • Pizza sauce and pasta sauce are both tomato-based sauces that are popular in Italian cuisine. 
  • They both share a common base ingredient, which is tomatoes and similar spices and herbs such as basil.
  • Both pizza sauce and pasta sauce are healthy and nutritious options for adding flavor to your food.
  • Pizza sauce is made with raw tomatoes, but pasta sauce is made with cooked tomatoes. That may not appear to be a significant factor, but it can make all the difference in the taste and consistency.

Using Pizza Sauce for Pasta

Do you have a lot of jarred pizza sauce left over which you do not want to discard? You can easily substitute pasta sauce with pizza sauce. 

This can be done by transforming the uncooked tomato sauce into a lovely spaghetti sauce, by simply adding a few ingredients.

Change Your Pizza Sauce to Pasta Sauce

Take your leftover pizza sauce and place it into a pot and on the stove. Add a bit of water from the cooked pasta in order to thin out the sauce. 

Heat the sauce slowly and cook it while adding some spices, such as salt, pepper, some sugar and garlic powder.

You can also add to the pot some vegetables of your choice or some ground beef or Italian sausage before adding it to your cooked pasta. 

Stir gently while the sauce cooks to make sure that all the ingredients are properly mixed together.

Using Pasta Sauce on Pizza

The same way that you can use pizza sauce for pasta, one can also substitute pizza sauce with leftover pasta sauce. Continue on to learn how.

Change Your Pasta Sauce to Pizza Sauce

Start by simply putting your jarred pasta sauce through a food processor. This will get rid of all the tomato chunks that are present in pasta sauce, giving it that smooth consistency that you want. 

Transfer the blended tomato sauce into a pot, add some tomato purée and spices such as red pepper flakes, herbs, salt and pepper and simmer the sauce, until it reduces down to the thick sauce that you want for your pizza. 

For a more paste-like pizza sauce, run it through a strainer. 

Add the smooth tomato sauce to a raw pizza dough base, add other ingredients of your choice, place the pizza into a piping hot oven using a pizza peel and watch how your delicious pizza cooks away.

Pizza Sauce vs Pasta Sauce: Frequently Asked Questions

Is Pizza Sauce a Good Substitute for Pasta Sauce?

As you can see from the information above, one can easily substitute one sauce for the other by adding a few more ingredients.

What Other Sauces Can Be Used on Pizza?

Even though a sauce made from canned tomatoes is the most popular to put on your pizza sauce, there are many others that can be used instead. 

These include:

  • Olive oil and garlic sauce
  • Pesto sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar glaze
  • Alfredo sauce
  • Ricotta cheese

What Are the Best Tomatoes to Use?

Plum tomatoes are a good choice when making these sauces. But essentially San Marzano tomatoes are the best to use. They are proper traditional Italian tomatoes filled with meaty and tangy goodness. 

One downside, they are a bit on the pricey side.

For a cheaper option, get canned tomatoes or plum tomatoes.

Takeaway on Pizza Sauce vs Pasta Sauce

Tomatoes may or may not be used in pasta sauce and pizza sauce. However, the majority of jarred sauces are seasoned tomato sauces.

Tomatoes are a crucial ingredient in many sauces, but they can’t always be used.

For instance, pasta sauce requires cooked tomatoes while pizza sauce has no cooking involved.

Another difference between the two is that if you’re making a homemade pizza dough then it’s best to use whole milk mozzarella rather than low-fat versions which melt too quickly when exposed directly to heat sources like pizza stones or ovens (this will also give them more flavor).


Overall, both pizza sauce and pasta sauce are delicious, healthy, nutritious, and versatile sauces that can be used in a variety of Italian dishes. 

While they have some similarities, the key difference is in their consistency and seasonings. 

So, whether you’re making pizza or pasta, be sure to use the sauce that best suits your dish

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