The BEST Pizza Sauce is easy to make, luxuriously thick, and loaded with flavor. This homemade pizza sauce recipe will take your favorite pie to the next level...and it also makes an amazing dipping sauce!
If you enjoy different types of pizza, you'll also love Caprese French Bread Pizza or Pineapple Pulled Pork Pizza with Bacon, Jalepeños, + Cilantro!
My family likes pizza -- a lot -- so "Pizza Night" is a regular thing around these parts. Sometimes we order delivery, but more often than not, the kids help me whip up a few homemade pies. And regardless of the rotation of our favorite toppings, those pizzas always include this amazing, homemade, BEST Pizza Sauce!
I actually first shared this pizza sauce recipe six years ago as a dipping sauce for my kids' beloved Pizza Quesadillas. And while those quesadillas are certainly tasty, it's the sauce that always gets the rave reviews from recipe commenters. And I have to concur...it's so tasty that once you try it, you won't go back to whatever you used before!
This recipe is very much a case of simple ingredients combining for amazing flavor.
- Tomato puree OR tomato sauce. Tomato puree is thicker than tomato sauce, and it's typically what I use when making Pizza Sauce. That being said, this recipe does thicken as it cooks, so tomato sauce will work as well. You could also use crushed tomatoes if you prefer.
- Tomato paste. An essential addition thanks to its highly concentrated tomato flavor!
- Sugar. My family enjoys a slightly sweet undertone in our Pizza Sauce, but a bit of sugar is also important for curbing the acidity of the tomatoes. However, you may certainly tweak the amount of sugar to your liking. You could also substitute honey.
- Dried herbs. Namely, basil, oregano, parsley, and thyme. Keep in mind that this is an herby, flavor-packed recipe...no bland sauce here!
- Fennel seeds. SECRET INGREDIENT ALERT!!! I'll be the first to admit that I hate licorice and I strongly dislike fennel. However, crushed fennel seeds are what set this Pizza Sauce apart from others! It's the ingredient that will cause your house to smell like a pizzeria while making this recipe. And I promise that you will enjoy the flavor even if you happen to be a fellow licorice-hater. 😉 (See the next section for how to crush your fennel seeds.)
- Garlic powder + onion powder.
- Salt. I use fine sea salt...RealSalt is my favorite brand.
- Crushed red pepper flakes. I usually add just a pinch, but feel free to stir in more for extra kick.
How to Crush Fennel Seeds
Crushing the fennel seeds has two purposes. ONE, it releases their oil...and hence, their flavor. And TWO, who wants to bite into a whole fennel seed? The crushed bits blend much more smoothly into a sauce.
As far as how to crush your fennel seeds, there are various options.
- You could of course whiz them up in a spice grinder, should you be lucky enough to own one of those. A clean coffee grinder would also work.
- Using a mortar and pestle is typically my preferred method. Alas, when I unpacked my kitchen boxes after our last move, I located my mortar...but the matching pestle was nowhere to be found. *adds to Amazon list*
- So instead, I've been resorting to a good ol' fashioned method knows as bashing the seeds instead.
Simply put your fennel seeds into a small zip-top baggie and then gently pound and mash them with the flat side of a meat mallet...or a rolling pin...or just about any other solid, heavy kitchen accoutrement you can find.
Ta-daaaaa! Crushed fennel seeds.
How to Make Pizza Sauce
Now it's time to make the BEST Pizza Sauce! Ready for the oh-so-complicated steps?
- Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan.
- Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to a low simmer (AKA, occasional bubbles), and stir every 5 minutes or so.
- Cook until your sauce is thick, luxurious, and deeply flavored, which typically takes around 25 to 30 minutes. But if you're in a hurry, you may certainly remove it from the heat after just 15 minutes or so.
And that's it! Allow to cool a bit before spreading on your pizza.
Dipping Sauce Option
And don't forget that this makes a fabulous dipping sauce as well! Serve warm for dunking meatballs, breadsticks, quesadillas, and so much more.
This pizza sauce recipe yields about 1 heaping cup. I find this to be the perfect amount for two 12- or 13-inch pizzas, though you may prefer more (or less?) sauce on a pizza. In that case, the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.
This sauce will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.
Should you choose to make extra sauce, however, it freezes beautifully for up to 3 months. Simply thaw in the fridge overnight before you wish to use it.
So who's ready to make the tastiest Pizza Sauce ev-ah?!
Pizza Night will never be the same again. 🙂
More Italian-Inspired Recipes
Best Pizza Sauce
- 8 ounces (1 cup) tomato puree OR tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed (see NOTES below)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- In a small saucepan set over medium heat, stir together the tomato puree/sauce, tomato paste, sugar, basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, crushed fennel seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer, reduce to a low simmer (occasional bubbles) and cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until thick and flavorful, stirring every 5 minutes or so.
- Allow to cool a bit before spreading on pizza crusts, or serve warm as a dipping sauce. Cover and store leftover sauce in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze for up to three months.
- TO CRUSH FENNEL SEEDS:
- Grind them in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder.
- Use a mortar and pestle.
- Or place them in a sealed plastic baggie with the air squeezed out and (on top of a cutting board) pound the seeds in the bag using the flat side of a meat mallet, a rolling pin, or another flat, heavy object.
- This sauce can splatter a bit as it bubbles, so I recommend making it in a deep saucepan, if possible.
- The total yield of this recipe is 1 heaping cup of sauce, which in my experience is enough to cover two medium (12- to 14-inch) pizzas.
- If you are short on time, you may cook for only 10 to 15 minutes. A longer cooking time just further thickens the sauce and deepens its flavor.