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Can't make pizza sauce!

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
I've been attempting to make my own pizza at home lately and have finally gotten the right dough and cheese, mozzarella wasn't cutting it. I'm looking for a slightly spicy flavor to the sauce but everything I make comes out more like spaghetti sauce and just doesn't taste right. Does anyone have any ideas for making a good pizza sauce?

(I have 0 experience with pizza before hand and just got sick of ordering out or buying frozen pizzas.)
"**** is finding myself left with only vegan food, light beer, and menthol cigarettes."
"**** is finding myself left with only vegan food, light beer, and menthol cigarettes."
post #2 of 42
#10 can of Red Pack pizza sauce has always worked for me. ;)

Typically pizza sauce is, or supposed to be, just tomato puree and some basil. The pizza places I have worked in that had the best sauce...that is all the can said. Tomatoes. Basil. We added oil, s&p, and dried oregano on top of the pizza itself.

I know some sauces have onion, garlic and all sorts of other stuff in the sauce...but you would be amazed at how garlic in the sauce actually takes away from the flavor of a basic pizza.
post #3 of 42
Kuan posted a link once about good pizzeria pizza. One of the keys was the less cooked the sauce is, the better. The more it's cooked, the more the tomato taste wanes. And the sauce is the largest flavor source.

Cook's Illustrated espouses a no-cook pizza sauce of canned crushed tomatoes, garlic and olive oil (S&P too). And I have to say it's a decent sauce. I like some oregano and basil added to that. They're not adding a lot of garlic so go light with it.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #4 of 42
Basil in Pizza sauce?!?!? :eek::eek::eek::eek::rolleyes::D:D:D Just fudging with ya Lolla. But I will say no self-respecting Chicagoan would be caught dead with the stuff on a pizza unless it was Pizza Margherita and that's not on too many chicago menus. :look:

Anyhow a decent sauce for the home is.....

1 12oz can crushed tomatoes
1 12oz can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp fresh minced garlic
1 tsp Leaf Oregano
1/4 cup pure virgin olive oil.
Salt and Black pepper to taste

Combine all ingrediens in a bowl and mix well.

For a spicy sauce take the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add 1 tsp crushed red pepper. Heat for 20 sec and add directly to sauce and mix
post #5 of 42
I will make a confession: I use canned Contadina Tomato Paste ("Who puts eight great tomatoes in that little bitty can?" :lol:), often but not always the kind with "Italian Herbs," to which I add my own ground mix of dried herbs (including marjoram, oregano, basil, and fennel seed), mashed garlic, and whatever chili paste my hand hits first. I find that most tomato sauces are just too wet, and this gives me a nice, dry finished product that doesn't interfere with crispness. Sometimes it burns a little at the edge of the crust, but never to inediblity.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #6 of 42
Chicago doesn't know how to make a decent pizza. :eek:

Well, how can I say that. I've never been there. :look:

Anyway, I come from the WNY school of pizza making.
post #7 of 42
There is a website a lot like this one for pizza making. Ironically, its called Its a very good resource, and you could probably find more sauce recipes than you would ever want to look at. I'm a big home pizza maker, and the general consensus is to definately not cook the sauce. The rest of the ingrediants are pretty much to your personal taste. If you like it spicy, throw in a few pepper flakes. I like mine a little sweet, and add a little sugar. My recipe usually goes something like:

Coursely puree a can of tomatoes in a blender. Strain over a bowl for at least 20 minutes. If you don't the bottom of the crust will instantly get soggy when you spread it on
Add a pinch of salt, sugar, oregano, and sometimes minced garlic. Thats it. Spread it on, and put it in the oven.

If I'm in a hurry, De Fratelli (sp?) is my preference for store bought. I can only find it at Meijer in my area though.
post #8 of 42
If you want to go from scratch:

Basic Tomato Puree/Sauce

3 lbs ripe Roma tomatoes
1 brown onion, medium-fine dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 2 tbs tomato paste
1 - 5 tbs sugar (to taste)
1 tsp - 1 tbs salt (to taste)
2 tbs minced basil

1/2 - 1 tsp red pepper flakes, or a few shakes of hot pepper sauce
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup red wine, or 1/4 cup (inexpensive) balsamic vinegar

Peel and seed three pounds of fresh ripe Roma tomatoes, discard the peels and seeds. Reserve the flesh.

If you don't know how to peel and seed Romas: Set a pot of water on the fire to boil. When it's boiling, cut a small cross on the pointy end of each tomato, and drop the tomatoes three at a time in the pot. You can see the skin change texture after a minute, and the edges of the cross start to pull from the flesh. Remove the tomatoes from the water, reserve them, and add three more. When you've blanched nine tomatoes, take one of the cooler ones, and peel it over the sink. The peel should slip off pretty easily. Hold the peeled tomato in your fist and give it a squeeze. All the seeds will shoot into the sink. Reserve the peeled tomato in a separate bowl. Keep peeling and seeding until you've finished the first three tomatoes, then blanch three more, and so on, until all the tomatoes are done.

Chop a medium onion into fairly fine dice, and sweat it in a generous amount of good olive oil. Meanwhile mince a garlic clove. Toss that in the pan with the sweated onion. When the garlic softens (don't saute, don't brown) and it's aroma blooms, add between 1 and 2 tbs tomato paste. The less ripe the tomatoes, the more paste you'll need. Stir as the paste cooks and darkens, about 5 minutes. Note: It's important to cook tomato paste through, as it's powerful and unpleasant when still raw. The best way to cook tomato paste is like this, with very little else in the pan.

While the paste cooks, rough chop the tomato flesh. When the paste has darkened, add the tomatoes to the pan. Add 1 tsp of salt, and 1 tbs of white sugar, along with the wine or balsamic vinegar and/or the red pepper or hot sauce if using. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for about 10 minutes, and adjust the seasoning for salt, pepper and sweet, staying slightly under seasoned. Note: Black pepper will "hit" more in the palate and throat than red pepper, which will excite more on the tongue. If you make the sauce spicy with red pepper, it is said to be "angry" or "arabiata" in Itailian. Arabiata is molto bene with sea food.

Cook another 5 minutes, or until there is absolutely no more raw taste. Taste and adjust the seasoning again. Be careful with the salt, but don't be afraid of the sugar. It's a good friend to tomato. Although this sauce is a building block, it should taste good on its own. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Puree the still warm tomatoes and their juice using a processor, blender, mill (very good), or by forcing them through a medium sieve (the other very good, but a lot of work). If you make the puree in a blender or processor, you may sieve it immediately afterwards. This is the best of both worlds. As you sieve, you'll see the color redden, the air come out, and the texture become silky. Add the chopped basil after pureeing.

This puree/sauce is extremely versatile. It may be used as is, or as the base for any number of longer cooked sauces. The recipe may be doubled, tripled, or enlarged to any size proportionately. We think it's a worthwhile to make a couple of gallons at a time, and freeze or can (we freeze).

post #9 of 42
One more thought about pizza specifically: Almost all home pizza makers, and most commercial ones too for that matter, use too much sauce. Easy does it.

post #10 of 42
adding a little tomato paste and black pepper really brings out the flavour of the tomatoes
and bdls sauce sounds wicked ..... not fair bdl topost such a yummy tasting recipe for me to see at 630 am now its gone and made me want Pizza for breakfast:p
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires
post #11 of 42
Don't kid a kidder Tessa. You're every bit the cook I am on savories and way better on sweets. I'm sanguine you can make a fresh tomato sauce from scratch. You know full well my recipe falls in the "nothing special" category. That is, unless you really don't know how to make a fresh tomato sauce -- don't know the approximate proportions, don't know the techniques, don't know the timings -- then it's magic. Fresh tomato sauce is definitely a VGT (very good thing), every cook should have in her or his repertoire.

Thanks for reminding me about the pepper so diplomatically. I'll edit it into the recipe. I was flying by memory and just forget. Never written this thing down before, you see. One of the things I like about participating on this forum, is the discipline "writing it down" imposes. Book or no book, my recipe file is getting a lot better.

What's wrong with pizza for breakfast?

(If RPM's reading -- this is a shoutout. I know you're on a whirlwind basics mastery tour. Jason too.)

post #12 of 42
yeah i can but yours just sounded really tasty especially as im feeling hungry and wont be having breaky for a while..... and i just adore pizza for breakfast, especially if its been made the day before and is cold :bounce::bounce:
i think im more hungry this morning as i woke up dreaming about flan flavours im going to be trying for my next competition:talk::talk: some people wake up dreaming about other thingss ....... me i wake up dreaming and concoctting foods :talk::talk::talk:
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires
post #13 of 42
Well I haven't lived in Chicago for 25 years so thems not fight'n words for me anymore:rolleyes: So WNY? Would that be Bochester or Ruffalo? (That should get Chrose's attention:roll:)

Pizza is Pizza and is best eaten at the place in the city that serves it. Having enjoyed pizza in both "schoyls" I know how to fold and also know that my pizza could take an hour to get. Although I am still picking that provelle stuff they use in St. Louis from the roof of my mouth.....and t last time I had an Imo's pizza was in 1994. (now that takes care of shroom' :bounce:)

I may be in the minority on this but I'm gonna have to stick to my guns about the basil. Also about only oregano on pizza. I love basil but it's too sweet an herb with the tomatoes on pizza for my taste.

Hey I'll make ya a deal, P'hurst isn't too far from Richmond. Nextt time your in the area I'll we'll do a zaaaa bake off and.......:rolleyes:

Now I will say there was one form of rolled Pizza called a Rollato that I've had with basil. Actually something my Calabrese Grandmother would make. It was tomatoes, basil and hotternhell fresh peppers (fried) rolled into bread dough and baked. No cheese, so sausage just what I mentioned.
post #14 of 42
Niagara Falls to be exact........

And I will do a zaaa bake off. My soon to be ex. co. sous chef and I (he is from NYC) had a pizza show down and I schooled him. My pizza, a full sheet tray, was gone in minutes, while his sat there and floundered a while. :smoking:
post #15 of 42
Try Googling "encyclopizza". Everything about pizza you'd ever want to know. And they have like 7 or 8 or 9 sauces for every type of pizza. I kind of like their "Sweet and sassy" sauce.

On the other hand, I make my own sauce.

Basically plum tomato sauce canned fresh by my wife after buying plum tomatoes each summer at the Farmer's Market. I add a little can of tomato paste (I fry it in a "hot spot" a little like Lidia B. does). But first I add some olive oil to a hot pan, and fry up some onion and then add some garlic (so the garlic doesn't burn). I add some basil, a little thyme and a little oregano. Stir it up to extract the flavors and then add the tomato sauce and paste. I like to add a TBSP or two of Brown Sugar near the end. Works for me.

But I've tasted all kinds of pizza, and almost everyone had a different sauce. Some I liked more than others. I'm pretty satisfied making my own pizza. Secret is the baking stone, 550F preheated for like 1/2 hour, slide the pizza on corn meal dusted peel onto the hot stone. 10-12 minutes later, done, with the mozz just starting to brown on top.

Creamy milky white underneath the browned top. Pretty much a thin crust.

Also important to paint the dough with EVOO before adding the sauce to "sauce-proof" the dough so it doesn't get soggy. Shake the pizza around on the peel to make sure it doesn't stick as you add the ingredients.

More than you probably were looking for.

post #16 of 42
In a pinch the WalMart brand (great value?) tomato sauce spread on the crust with a shake of dried Italian seasoning on it. Works well and the walMart tomato sauce is surprisingly good for being dirt cheap. I am looking forward to fresh romas from the garden, those I just slice and pile on the pizza, add some herbs and cheese :roll:I favor a cracker type crust thats fermented on the counter for 24 hours then rolled as thin as possible. Into a 500 degree oven on top of the stone.
post #17 of 42

Pizzia Sauce

4 tbs Olive oil
3 to 4 garlic cloves sliced,smashed or mashed
1,5 tbs fennel seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 small can tomatoe paste
water to whatever consistance u desire
1 tbs basalmic vinegar
Onion powder salt,pepper
Put oil in sauce pan.when oil is hot put seeds,then garlic.once you got
some aromatic action going put in tomatoe paste push it around the pan
so that it mixes with the seeds and garlic then give it a little time to carmalize. Then add water to desired consistance. Add onion powder and vinegar then season with salt and pepper. taste and adjuct vinegar and seasoning to you liking.
post #18 of 42
Missed the oregeno
add 1 tbs oregeno in oil with seeds and garlic
post #19 of 42
mixing equal parts of water (or broth) with tomato paste gives you exactly the right pizza sauce consistency.

1 small can of tomato paste
1 small can of broth or water
1/2 tsp of salt (if broth is low sodium)
1 tsp of sugar (brightens up the tomato flavour)
juice of 1/2 lemon (brightens up the tomato flavour)
handfull of dried rubbed oregano (approx 2 - 3 tbsp)
1 tbsp of basil
1 tsp of olive oil
do not cook, mix and use as is

if you want slightly spicy
heat a small skillet medium high. wait until hot, Add 1 tsp of olive oil immediately add 1/2 - 1 tsp of cayenne pepper flakes. heat until most is turned brown (not black). Quickly scrape from the skillet to the sauce above. Stir and use.

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #20 of 42
always reading sir. always...

and a p.s. to everyone.

Chicago doesn't know how to make pizza. :) New York does, but to be honest, NJ does it better (at least at Delorenzo's)
post #21 of 42

You're suggesting using a sauce made with equal parts tomato paste straight from the can, plus an equal volume of liquid, and some seasonings?

Based on my experience with paste, that doesn't seem right to me. Paste has a very distinctive raw, concentrated taste which requires some handling and a great deal of dilution. Are you sure you don't have some other tomato product in mind? Canned tomato sauce or puree perhaps?

post #22 of 42
The recipe I posted is what I do for my pizza. I'll admit I eyeball the seasoning but I measure the liquid in the can. Works every time because tomato paste (versus other tomato concentrates like puree) is standardized in Canada (at least). A 1:1 ratio of paste and liquid gives a ketchup like consistency which is what I found to be the case in Montreal delivery pizzas.
the product I use the most often is found here (last item below: tomato paste)
CanGro Foods Inc.

I doubt the paste in Canada is different then the one in the US but maybe it is...
Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #23 of 42
we may not be comparing apples to apples here. It may be a question of terminology:

here is what Canadian regulations says:
B.11.009. [S]. Tomato Paste shall be the product made by evaporating a portion of the water from tomatoes or sound tomato trimmings, may contain salt and Class II preservatives and shall contain not less than 20 per centtomato solids, as determined by official method FO-19, Determination of Tomato Solids, October 15, 1981.

B.11.010. [S]. Concentrated Tomato Paste shall be tomato paste containing not less than 30 per cent tomato solids, as determined by official method FO-19, Determination of Tomato Solids, October 15, 1981.

B.11.012. [S]. Tomato Puree shall be the heat processed product made from whole, ripe tomatoes, with the skinsand seeds removed, concentrated to yield a product with a specific gravity of not less than 1.050 (20°C/20°C) and may contain salt and a Class II preservative.


you may be referring to concentrated tomato paste which is the more concentrated commercial version of the consumer tomato paste I am referring here.

Luc H
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #24 of 42
A general thought:

Most fresh "pizza sauce" is simply sugo marinara aka "marinara sauce." Marinara is a light, simple sauce with a smooth consistency which focuses on the sweetness and freshness of the tomatoes. It's a sauce cooked so quickly the sailor's wife (la marinara) could whip it up after the boat was tied up and the sailor (il marinaro) was hanging up the nets and walking home.

It's not a dark sauce made with long simmering. Nor, should it be made with lots of tomato paste. Paste is a way of adding structure sauce -- that is helping it come to a sauce consistency. It also adds depth to the flavor when it's properly cooked -- which means either browning it or cooking it for a very long time. And in the case of marinara, it also means using very sparingly.

Marinara is not made very spicy -- either in terms of heat or complexity. The traditional herbal component when making the sauce is basil -- enough to taste and not much more. My suggestion is to add only what's necessary to make the tomatoes taste as though they were perfectly ripe, and just a tiny bit more to make it delicious. Made this way, the sauce is extremely versatile and stores well.

Part of its versatility is that once made, it can be altered to suit. Seasnings may be added. The sauce can be cooked down, etc. A couple of tomato sauce tricks have come up here. One that hasn't been mentioned is adding a little espresso or instant coffee to the sauce. It's surprising what a compliment that is to tomato. However, I suggest reserving it for a longer cooked sauce than simple marinara.

My experience with pizza is that it's best to put the seasonings on, rather than in the sauce. This includes garlic, herbs, and peppers.

Not to careen off on a tangent, but: If you like a spicy-hot pizza (and I do, I do, I do) you might want to try chipotle hot sauce on it after the pie has baked. Tabasco makes an excellent chipotle hot sauce. It's not quite as hot as their regular red and has a slightly sweet component along with the smoky hotness.. It's so good it's addictive. Harder to find is a brand called Yucateca, it's hotter with an even more pronounced sweetness and it's my fave. More to Mexican tastes in terms of what chipotle should be, but not that particularly hot, is Bufalo Chipotle. I use Bufalo for cooking (smokier) and Yucateca or Tabasco for the table (taste better).

It's a bit much for most people, but one of my favorite "salt and pepper" combinations in the food universe is pizza with anchovies and jalapenos.

post #25 of 42
Your "tomato paste" that's 20% tomatoes doesn't sounds like anything I've seen in U.S. markets. In the States and in recipe writing, "tomato paste" refers to "concentrated tomato paste," i.e., a product stiff enough to hold its shape on a spoon. Commercial pizza sauces are typically made with a high component of paste, but with a great deal of cooking as well. As is, canned tomato paste is pretty obnoxious.

At least this has always been my impression. I'd certainly like to hear if anyone who reads recipes reads the term "tomato paste" differently. I understand the term "tomato paste" in a recipe to mean the very thick stuff that comes in little cans and tubes (of course you can get big cans, but you know what I mean), is too thick to pour. Anyone?

post #26 of 42
Just made me think of a quick little dipping sauce I throw together for quesadillas, and also good as a chicken wing sauce:

About a quarter cup honey
maybe a tbs or so of tabasco chipotle hot
couple teaspoons apple cider vinegar
tbs or so of chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk it all together. I don't usually measure. I just look for the right consistency, and then taste. The sweet honey hits first, then the pepper sauce kicks in. Its really simple, and can be used with a lot of different things.
post #27 of 42
tomato paste to me , i buy in the little 50 cent cans.....use a spoonful (having the damnedest time getting it OFF the spoon) and ditch the rest....

here is a pic

and we ALL know wikipedia is 100% accurate 100% of the time
Tomato paste - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
post #28 of 42
another for my short rib braise...
post #29 of 42
Precisely the same product I am referring to.

Oh and I forgot to mention: the reason I said to use my recipe as is is because if you attempt to cook the recipe it will end up tasting like a canned spaghetti sauce.

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #30 of 42
Thread Starter 
Thanks a lot all, I really appreciate all the answers. I'm thinking a may experiment a bit. My wife came up with idea to make pizza and made it herself. While I could eat it, it made me die a little inside. The sauce was straight store-bought which she added a bunch of dried "pizza seasoning" to, the cheese was pre-shredded kraft mozzarella, and the dough was some pillsbury crap. To be diplomatic, I asked if I could give it a shot and just went crazy. The real problem was the sauce, I just kept making it like a tomato pasta sauce and it never came out right. Thank you all. I can finally show here why pizza isn't called "saucy, cheesy, sponge".

Edit: Wrong terminology
"**** is finding myself left with only vegan food, light beer, and menthol cigarettes."
"**** is finding myself left with only vegan food, light beer, and menthol cigarettes."
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