What’s The Best Sauce To Use For Pizza? (7 Saucy Suggestions)

The saucy stuff on pizza, otherwise known as pizza sauce, is what gives pizza (besides the actual base) a base to work from when it comes to topping your pie. It’s the sauce that brings extra flavour to the pizza party, and possibly even one of your five a day.

Aside from all that, if you’re looking to make the best pizza possible, and you’ve already reached the point of mastering your dough, you probably just want to know what sauce is best to use on pizza.

There’s loads of things that could be used to sauce a pizza, but the best option is widely considered to be simple canned plum tomatoes, either crushed, mashed or puréed, with a pinch of salt. In particular, San Marzano tomatoes from Italy are deemed the absolute best, assuming you can get your hands on them.

Here we’ll cover why San Marzano tomatoes are thought to be so special, before going over some alternative pizza sauce ideas.

San Marzano Tomatoes: Why So Special? 

San Marzano tomatoes are famous for being the sweet and mildly acidic plum-shaped tomatoes that get canned, and just so happen to be perfect for pizza sauce. They’re considered so special because they’re grown amongst the volcanic soil near Mount Vesuvius, and their supply is limited.

The soil in which San Marzanos are grown is said to be particularly fertile thanks to the Mediterranean climate, and because they’re only grown in a certain Italian region (Agro Sarnese Nocerino in San Marzano, between Naples and Salerno), to high quality standards, there’s only so many tomatoes that are officially San Marzanos.

While many pizza purists will say that only San Marzano tomatoes should be used to make pizza sauce, there’s obviously other sauces that also do a great job on pizza. Here’s seven saucy suggestions:

1. Tomayto Tomarto Sauce

Tomayto, tomarto. Whether it’s the classic San Marzanos, a random brand of some other canned tomato, or really, any type of tomato-based sauce like passatta, most pizza will be pretty good as long as the base sauce is tomato. Except, tomato paste or purée just isn’t cool. And there’s just no need to cook pizza sauce if you’re doing it the traditional way.

2. Spruced-Up Tomato Sauce

While there’s no real need to add ingredients to a simple tomato pizza sauce (and adding extras flavours might not complement your pizza toppings), there’s nothing stopping you from throwing in a bunch of basil, oregano, a bit of garlic, or a chilli or five, just to spruce things up a bit.

3. Cheese Sauce

Cheese almost acts as a sauce on pizza at the best of times, so the next best option after tomatoes is surely cheese sauce. There’s the obvious Italian options of using Parmeggiano-Reggiano and melty mozarella, but Carbonara sauce for pizza is well worth considering, as are béchamel and blue cheese sauce.

4. Pesto (Olive Oil-Based Sauce)

Not to everyone’s taste, but pesto is still naturally a popular choice for an alternative pizza sauce, being from… in Italy. Some say pesto should only be added once the pizza’s cooked, yet there’s still recipe after recipe for pesto pizza. Other olive oil-based sauces can work great on pizza too, such as tapenade and chimichurri. 

5. Puréed Veg Sauce

Head to many pizzerias around the world now and there’s a chance you’ll find pizza with sauce made from butternut squash, or some other type of puréed vegetable. As much as the AVPN might cringe, puréed veg as a pizza sauce actually works, with puréed peppers and pea purée being just two other potential options that spring to mind.

6. Any Ol’ Sauce

Once you start thinking about what sauce is best to go on pizza, it’s easy for the mind to wander to the back of the fridge or cupboard, where there’s probably a bunch of sauces and condiments just waiting to be tried on pizza. Barbecue sauce is an obvious choice, while things like balsamic glaze, mustard and sriracha sauce are all worth an experiment.

7. Sweet Sauce

Hardly an original suggestion, but Nutella is obviously the original go-to sweet sauce for pizza, or hazelnut chocolate spread to be precise. Nutella is pretty much the starting point for any pizza dessert (even if you think Lindt or Gu do it better), although using puréed fruits as a pizza sauce is another sweet idea – just consider those that might burn easily.

A Saucy Summary

The so-called best sauce for pizza is simple San Marzano tomatoes from a can, ideally with D.O.P certification. But there’s plenty of other groovy pizza sauce options beyond San Marzano tomatoes, from the finest Italian pesto through to the best chocolate hazelnut spread, not to mention the real secret sauce to making great pizza…