Pizza Sauce vs. Pasta Sauce – What’s the Difference?

by Charlie
Difference Between Pizza Sauce and Pasta Sauce

Sauce is the most important ingredient in pizza and pasta. Oftentimes, the excellence of your pizza and pasta depends on the way you prepare your sauces. Now, tomato-based dishes and sauces vary greatly in richness of flavor and texture. And a common question that comes up is, can you use pizza sauce and pasta sauce interchangeably?

Indeed, both are tomato-based sauces. They look, smell, and taste quite similarly that people think they can be used interchangeably in recipes. But there are some differences between these two.

So what’s the difference between pizza sauce and pasta sauce? The main difference between pizza sauce and pasta sauce is the way they are used in cooking. Pizza sauce is used uncooked, spread raw over pizza dough, then baked together with cheese and other pizza toppings. On the other hand, pasta sauce is cooked together with herbs and seasonings, then poured over or mixed together with cooked pasta or meatballs and the like.

Sometimes, the pasta is cooked ¾ of the way and then poured into the simmering pasta sauce to finish cooking together with the sauce.

There are two ways to cook your pasta sauce, or as other people call it, spaghetti sauce. You can do a quick simmer or a slow simmer. Slow simmering pasta sauces develop a richer tomato flavor and may likely thicken the longer they keep cooking.

With regards to pizza sauces, some choose to pre-cook or heat the pizza sauce for a bit before using. However, many recommend using raw pizza sauce as it is intended to be used. Uncooked pizza sauce gives time for the different pizza ingredients to develop their flavors together.

What are Other Differences Between Pizza Sauce and Pasta Sauce?

There are more differences between pizza sauce and pasta sauce. For one, pizza sauce has a thick consistency, while pasta sauce has a thin consistency. Moreover, other pizza sauce recipes add tomato paste, thereby making pizza sauce even thicker.

A thick sauce is important to prevent the pizza dough from becoming soggy as the pizza bakes. The thickness of the sauce also helps bind all the pizza ingredients together, from the dough, to the cheese, and to the different pizza toppings. Additionally, when pizza sauce is cooked just as it is baked, it gives you a fresh tomato taste in each bite.

Another difference is in the kind of tomato used. Pizza sauce uses pureed tomatoes, giving it a smooth texture. But pasta sauce uses chopped, diced, or chunky tomatoes and may have a pulpy, chunky texture.

Pizza sauce and pasta sauce are also different when it comes to the ingredients used. Pizza sauce is just pure tomato. The sauce doesn’t need to be complex because pizza will have its additional layers of cheese plus other toppings. But pasta sauce usually has some ground beef or pork in it. Some use Italian sausages or a mixture of minced pork and beef. Others throw in some meat bones and mushrooms into the pot when cooking a slow-simmering pasta sauce.

One big difference between pizza sauce and pasta sauce is the seasoning. Pizza sauce is plainly seasoned. There’s salt, pepper, and maybe some basil or oregano. But pasta sauce uses a variety of herbs and other seasonings. You can put in garlic, oregano, parsley, onion, chili flakes, pesto, balsamic vinegar for that tangy taste, or red wine. Compared to pasta sauce, you might even say that pizza sauce is a bit bland.

Can You Use Pasta Sauce on Pizza?

Yes, you can definitely use pasta sauce on pizza. Since it is tomato-based, you can spread it on your pizza dough. Keep in mind that pasta sauce is thin. The problem with a thin sauce is that it will not cover the dough enough. And it will most likely produce a soggy pizza dough, because the thin pasta sauce has more water content than the thick pizza sauce.

Make adjustments to your pasta sauce so that it can produce a great-tasting and crisp pizza for you. Cook it for some more minutes until it thickens enough to resemble the texture of a pizza sauce. If your pasta sauce is particularly chunky, it’s a good idea to pulse your pasta sauce in a food processor to puree it some more and make the sauce smoother and thicker.

Does Pizza Sauce Taste Like Pasta Sauce?

Yes, pizza sauce may taste similarly to pasta sauce because both are tomato sauces. However, pizza sauce is usually bland or mildly seasoned, while pasta sauce is well-seasoned.

Can You Substitute Pizza Sauce for Pasta Sauce in Recipes?

Yes, you can substitute pizza sauce for pasta sauce in recipes, but you have to cook the pizza sauce. And since pizza sauce is thicker, you will need to add some more water. You may also substitute pasta sauce for pizza sauce in recipes.

Since pasta sauce has chunky tomatoes, you need to pulse the sauce some more to puree the tomatoes till the sauce smoothens. You may need to discard some of the clear or thin juices to thicken the sauce a bit. Season the sauce well. Then spread the sauce straight away on your pizza dough.

Can You Use Marinara Sauce for Pizza Sauce and Pasta Sauce?

Marinara sauce does not really make a suitable substitute for pizza sauce, but it can substitute for pasta sauce. In fact, marinara sauce is sometimes added to pasta sauce.

Final Thoughts

  • Pizza sauce is uncooked, while pasta sauce is cooked.
  • Pasta sauce uses a lot of seasonings, but pizza sauce is plainly seasoned with salt, pepper, and basil or oregano.
  • Pizza sauce is thicker and smoother, while pasta sauce is thinner and chunkier.
  • Pasta sauce has more water content than pizza sauce.
  • Pizza sauce uses pureed tomato, but pasta sauce uses chopped, diced, or chunky tomatoes.
  • Pasta sauce uses meat from pork, beef, or a combination of both. Pizza sauce does not use any meat since the pizza will have additional toppings.

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