What Is The Difference Between Marinara And Pizza Sauce? Everything You Need To Know


If you’re anything like me, then you must have wondered about the difference between marinara and pizza sauce.

This question has been bothering me after seeing how the two sauces can be so much alike. When I asked my chef friend for clarification, I was surprised that they’re not actually the same.

If you look closely, there lies a difference between the consistency, ingredients used, and the way of cooking.

My interest was piqued so I researched more about marinara and pizza sauce. If you like to know the details of my research, check them out below.

What Is A Marinara Sauce?


The origins of marinara sauce can be traced back to Naples where the sauce is often served to sailors who came back home from the sea, which predates the 19th century.

That explains why the term marinara is derived from marinaro, an Italian terminology for sailor. By the time the southern Italians moved to America in the 1900s, the sauce was created an Italian classic.

Marinara sauce is the easiest of all red sauces. All you need are just a few ingredients, like tomatoes, herbs, and olive oil. The quality of your sauce can be affected by the tomatoes you used, so use Marzano tomatoes as possible.

What Is A Pizza Sauce?


As the name suggests, a pizza sauce is used as a base ingredient for pizza. The easiest way to make a pizza sauce is to use tomato sauce with some garlic and olive oil.

If you have no fresh tomatoes, you can use the canned variety but make sure that no herbs are added to get the most basic taste of tomato sauce.

To achieve an authentic Neapolitan pizza, choose a can of San Marzano tomatoes. Unlike other types of tomatoes, San Marzano is sweeter and meatier in taste.

Traditionally, a pizza sauce can be made uncooked with fewer seasonings as possible. However, today you can cook the sauce and evaporate to desired consistency. Other pizzerias even use canned commercial pizza sauce for convenience.

So, What’s The Difference Between Marinara And Pizza Sauce?


Marinara sauce refers to a particular type of sauce while a pizza sauce can be any sort of tomato-based sauce that you can use on top of a pizza. Some people even use the marinara sauce as a pizza sauce and no one can tell the difference.

While you can make a pizza sauce without cooking, the marinara sauce needs to be cooked for a thicker consistency.

Although the marinara sauce is cooked to be reduced, the consistency seems to be thinner as compared to a pizza sauce.

You need a thicker pizza sauce because you don’t want the sauce to run out of the crust as you cook it in the oven. A thin pizza sauce  can also destroy the quality of the crust, making it squishy.

In terms of versatility, marinara sauce wins over the pizza sauce. You can use marinara sauce various dishes like pasta, pizza, or use it as a dipping sauce. In contrast, a pizza sauce can only be used for pizza.

The taste of marinara sauce seems to be more complex than the pizza sauce. While the marinara sauce tends to shine in every dish, the pizza sauce only serves as a base ingredient for pizza.

To be more specific, the pizza highlights the pizza’s crust while the flavor of marinara sauce gets highlighted in every dish.

A Simple Marinara Sauce Recipe


A savory, tangy marinara sauce suits perfectly as a dipping sauce or with any type of pasta. For inspiration, I use Chef Mark’s marinara recipe as shown in this video here.

[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4v-E-8po_0″]

The ingredients you need are the following:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3-4 cups crushed tomatoes (preferably fresh but you can also use the canned variety)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To begin, heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the garlic over high heat. When the garlic starts to brown, add the onions and basil and minimize the heat.

Once the onions have become translucent, mix the crushed tomatoes and simmer. After all the flavors are mixed well, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

A Basic Pizza Sauce Recipe


One of the most delicious pizza sauce recipes that you can follow is made by Chef John as demonstrated in this video here.

[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IcEyz5kAww”]

What you’ll need are these ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 anchovies (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 3-1/2 cup crushed tomatoes or 1 can 28-ounce tomatoes (preferably, San Marzano tomatoes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • A pinch of baking soda
  • Salt and pepper

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and fry the anchovies over medium-low heat. Once the anchovies start to sizzle, add the garlic and stir for about a minute. Next, add the oregano and stir for another minute.

At this point, you can add the crushed tomatoes and increase the heat to medium. Stir the salt, pepper, and sugar, then simmer for about 40 minutes. To neutralize the acid, add a small pinch of baking soda.

However, people’s tastebuds are not the same. And for that, some people may like or dislike the flavor of oreganos. So, if you don’t like the oregano flavor then you can avoid it. And if you like oregano’s recipe then you can add a bit more oregano than mentioned proportion to the pizza sauce.

Final Thought

The difference between marinara and pizza sauce is manifested by their versatility, consistency, and cooking process.

While you can use marinara for various dishes, a pizza sauce is only limited to pizza. Marinara has a thinner consistency than pizza sauce, but the latter can be left uncooked.

Have you tried making marinara or pizza sauce? Let us know in the comments section below. Don’t forget to share this wonderful post with your friends.

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