Can You Use the Marinara Sauce for Pizza?

Yes, you can use marinara sauce for pizza. It is, in fact, a traditional choice.

I was faced with the same question not long ago when I decided to make pizza from scratch for the first time. Trust me, the world of pizza sauce can be overwhelming.

There were so many options and recipes, yet I just wanted a simple answer. I decided to share my findings with you, my fellow pizza lovers.

You see, marinara sauce isn’t just for spaghetti anymore. As I dove deeper into the history of pizza, I discovered that this delightful tomato-based sauce had been the secret ingredient of many delicious pies for centuries.

But what makes it so special? How does it compare to other sauces? And most importantly, can you use it for your homemade pizza?

Join me on this saucy adventure as I reveal the secrets of marinara sauce, explore its versatility, and discover if it is the perfect pizza sauce.

Let’s roll up our sleeves, grab a spoon, and dive into this mouth-watering world.

What is Marinara Sauce?

Can You Use the Marinara Sauce for Pizza - What is Marinara Sauce

As a classic Italian tomato-based sauce, marinara sauce is cherished for its simplicity, versatility, and delightful flavor.

Marinara sauce has roots in Naples, Italy, dating back to the 16th century. The word “marinara” is derived from the Italian term “Marinaro,” which means “sailor.”

According to some sources, the sauce was named marinara because it was the go-to meal for sailors returning from the sea.

The ingredients used in the marinara sauce were easily accessible, non-perishable, and quick to prepare. This made it an ideal choice for sailors who needed a satisfying meal after a long voyage.

The main ingredients in a traditional marinara sauce include tomatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil, and herbs such as basil and oregano.

However, there are countless variations of this basic recipe. Some chefs add capers, olives, or anchovies for a more complex flavor.

On the other hand, others prefer to keep it simple with just a few high-quality ingredients, allowing the natural flavors to shine.

Types of Marinara Sauce

There are several types of marinara sauce, each with its unique flavor profile and ingredients. As I’ve explored the world of marinara, I’ve come across these popular variations that you can try in your kitchen:

  1. Traditional Marinara Sauce: The traditional marinara sauce is a simple recipe. That highlights the natural flavors of tomatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil, and herbs such as basil and oregano. This classic version is the base for many other variations.
  2. Spicy Marinara (Arrabbiata) Sauce: If you’re a fan of spicy dishes, you might enjoy the spicy marinara sauce, also known as Arrabbiata sauce. This version adds red pepper flakes or fresh chili peppers to the traditional recipe to give it a spicy kick.
  3. Puttanesca Sauce: Puttanesca sauce is a bolder, more robust variation of marinara sauce that includes ingredients like capers, olives, and anchovies. This combination of flavors gives the sauce a tangy, salty taste that pairs well with pasta and seafood dishes.
  4. Marinara Sauce with Meat (Bolognese): Some people prefer a heartier version of marinara sauce by adding ground meat, such as beef, pork, or veal. This creates a rich, savory sauce commonly known as Bolognese sauce. That is perfect for pasta dishes like spaghetti and lasagna.
  5. Roasted Vegetable Marinara Sauce: Try a roasted vegetable marinara sauce for a more complex flavor and texture. In this variation, ingredients like bell peppers, zucchini, and eggplant are roasted before being added to the traditional marinara base. This adds a depth of flavor and a chunkier texture to the sauce.
  6. Creamy Marinara (Vodka) Sauce: If you prefer a smoother, creamier marinara sauce, you might enjoy the vodka sauce variation. Adding heavy cream and vodka to the traditional marinara recipe creates a velvety sauce with a slightly sweet and tangy taste.
  7. Vegan Marinara Sauce: A vegan marinara sauce omits animal-based ingredients and focuses on plant-based ingredients like tomatoes, garlic, onions, and herbs. This version is perfect for those following a vegan diet or seeking a lighter, healthier alternative.

Difference Between Spaghetti Sauce, Marinara Sauce, and Pizza Sauce

As someone who loves cooking and exploring different types of sauces, I understand how it can be unclear for beginners to differentiate between spaghetti, marinara, and pizza.

To help you better understand these sauces, I’ve compiled 10 key points that highlight their distinctions and characteristics:

1. Purpose

Spaghetti sauce is primarily used for pasta dishes, while marinara sauce can be utilized in various Italian recipes, including pasta and pizza. On the other hand, pizza sauce is specifically designed for use on pizza.

2. Ingredients

Spaghetti sauce can include various ingredients such as tomatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil, herbs, and sometimes meat, mushrooms, or other vegetables.

Marinara sauce combines tomatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil, and herbs like basil and oregano. Pizza sauce typically consists of tomatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil, herbs, and occasionally sugar.

3. Texture

Spaghetti sauce varies in texture from smooth to chunky, depending on the ingredients used. Marinara sauce is generally thinner and lighter, with a chunkier consistency. Pizza sauce is thicker and smoother, making it easy to spread on pizza dough.

4. Flavor

Depending on the recipe, spaghetti sauce has a diverse flavour profile, ranging from sweet to savoury or spicy. Marinara sauce has a lighter, more herbaceous, and savoury flavour. Pizza sauce is usually sweeter, with a more concentrated tomato flavor.

5. Cooking Time

Spaghetti sauce often requires a longer cooking time, particularly when it includes meat or a variety of vegetables.

Marinara sauce typically has a shorter cooking time, as it emphasizes the freshness of its ingredients. Pizza sauce is generally cooked for a short period or sometimes not cooked at all before being used on pizza.

6. Complexity

Spaghetti sauce can be more complex regarding ingredients and preparation, while marinara sauce is known for its simplicity and fresh flavors. Pizza sauce focuses on creating a balance between sweetness and acidity to complement pizza toppings.

7. Versatility

Spaghetti sauce is versatile and can be used for various pasta dishes. Marinara sauce can be used in multiple Italian recipes, such as pasta, pizza, and dipping sauce. Pizza sauce is tailored for pizza and is not commonly used in other dishes.

8. Meat Content

Some spaghetti sauces, like Bolognese, contain meat, while the marinara sauce is traditionally meatless. Pizza sauce does not typically include meat, as it serves as a base for the pizza toppings.

9. Tomato Concentration

Spaghetti and marinara sauces often use fresh or canned tomatoes. Pizza sauce tends to have a higher tomato concentration, sometimes utilizing tomato paste or tomato puree to achieve a thicker, more robust sauce.

By understanding these 10 key points, I hope you can confidently differentiate between spaghetti, marinara, and pizza sauce and choose the appropriate sauce for your culinary creations.

Can You Use the Marinara Sauce for Pizza?

Can You Use the Marinara Sauce for Pizza
Can You Use the Marinara Sauce for Pizza

Yes, you can use marinara sauce for pizza. Using the marinara sauce on your pizza can bring a unique and delicious twist to your homemade pizza.

There are several reasons why it’s a great choice.

1. Flavor

Marinara sauce offers a distinct flavor profile compared to traditional pizza sauce.

Its lighter, fresher and more herbaceous taste can provide a unique and delicious twist to your homemade pizza.

In my experience, using marinara sauce has helped me create a more flavorful and enjoyable pizza.

2. Versatility

Marinara sauce is versatile and compatible with many toppings and pizza styles.

Marinara sauce provides a flexible foundation for your pizza creations, from classic cheese and tomato combinations to more adventurous toppings like seafood or exotic cheeses.

3. Health benefits

From a health perspective, marinara sauce can be a better option for pizza due to its lower sugar content and antioxidant-rich ingredients.

A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that cooked tomato sauces are rich in lycopene.

This powerful antioxidant has been linked to various health benefits, including reduced heart disease and cancer risk.

Marinara sauce for pizza can contribute to a more nutritious meal without compromising taste.

4. Cost-effectiveness

Making marinara sauce at home is often more affordable than purchasing store-bought pizza sauce.

According to a survey by Statista, the average price of store-bought pizza sauce in the United States was around $2.79 per 14-ounce jar.

You can create a tasty and budget-friendly option for your homemade pizza by using fresh, inexpensive ingredients.

5. Ease of preparation

Preparing marinara sauce for pizza is a straightforward process, even for beginners.

You can create a delicious sauce for your pizza without advanced culinary skills with just a few essential ingredients and a simple cooking method.

6. Traditional authenticity

Marinara sauce originates in Neapolitan cuisine, and using it on pizza helps maintain the authenticity of traditional Italian pizza.

This connection to culinary history can make your pizza feel more genuine to its roots.

7. Allergen-friendly

Marinara sauce is often free from common allergens like dairy and gluten, making it an excellent choice for those with food allergies or sensitivities.

This can be particularly beneficial if you’re serving pizza to a group of people with varying dietary needs.

8. Vegan and vegetarian-friendly

Because marinara sauce is made primarily from plant-based ingredients, it’s a suitable option for vegans and vegetarians.

This allows you to cater to a wider range of dietary preferences when making pizza at home.

How to Make Marinara Sauce for Pizza?

Can You Use the Marinara Sauce for Pizza - How to Make Marinara Sauce for Pizza

Here’s a simple recipe to make marinara sauce for pizza:


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • Fresh basil leaves (optional, for garnish)


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and black pepper. If you prefer a slightly sweeter sauce, you can also add the sugar at this point.
  4. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Allow the sauce to cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. This will allow the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken.
  5. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings as needed. If you’d like a smoother sauce, use an immersion or a regular blender to puree the sauce until it carefully reaches your desired consistency.
  6. Allow the marinara sauce to cool slightly before spreading it on your pizza dough. If you’re using fresh basil leaves, you can tear them into small pieces and sprinkle them on top of the sauce for added flavor and visual appeal.
  7. Proceed with adding your desired toppings and baking your pizza according to your preferred method.

This homemade marinara sauce is perfect for pizza, offering a fresh and flavorful alternative to store-bought pizza sauces. Enjoy experimenting with various toppings and pizza styles using this versatile sauce as a base.

Tips for Using Marinara Sauce on Pizza

Here are some tips for using the marinara sauce on pizza:

  • Don’t over-sauce: When spreading marinara sauce on your pizza dough, be mindful not to use too much. Over-saucing can make your pizza soggy and difficult to handle. A thin, even layer of sauce is usually sufficient.
  • Pre-cook watery toppings: If you use toppings with high water content, like mushrooms or zucchini, consider pre-cooking them to remove excess moisture. This will help prevent your pizza from becoming soggy due to moisture release during baking.
  • Season to taste: Before spreading the marinara sauce on your pizza, taste it and adjust the seasonings as needed. Adding extra herbs, spices, or salt can help elevate the overall flavor of your pizza.
  • Experiment with additional flavors: Don’t be afraid to add other ingredients to your marinara sauce to enhance its flavor. Some popular additions include red pepper flakes, balsamic vinegar, or a splash of red wine.
  • Consider cheese pairing: Marinara sauce pairs well with a variety of cheeses. For a classic combination, use mozzarella or provolone. Try pairing the sauce with goat cheese, Gorgonzola, or feta for a more unique flavor.
  • Pre-bake the crust: If you’re worried about a soggy crust, consider pre-baking the pizza dough for a few minutes before adding the marinara sauce and toppings. This will create a firmer base that’s more resistant to moisture.
  • Use a pizza stone or baking steel: To achieve a crispy crust, consider using a pizza stone or baking steel. These tools help distribute heat evenly, producing a perfectly cooked pizza with a crisp crust.
  • Cool the sauce: Cool slightly before spreading it on your pizza dough if you’re using freshly made marinara sauce. This will help prevent the dough from becoming too soft or soggy due to the heat from the sauce.

Remember these tips: You can make the most of your marinara sauce by using it on pizza. Experiment with different toppings, cheese pairings, and additional flavours to create a delicious and satisfying homemade pizza.


Can You Use Prego Marinara Sauce for Pizza?

Prego marinara sauce is designed for pasta dishes, but can you use it for pizza? Technically, yes. But it’s not going to give you the best results.

Prego marinara sauce is thinner and has a flavor profile different from pizza sauce. It may not have the right consistency or flavour for use on pizza. It’s better to use a pizza sauce designed explicitly for pizza.

Can I use the store-bought marinara sauce for pizza?

Yes, you can use store-bought marinara sauce for pizza. Just make sure to choose a sauce that is not too watery, as it can make your pizza crust soggy. Look for a thicker, chunkier marinara sauce to hold up well on your pizza.

Should I pre-cook marinara sauce before putting it on the pizza?

Pre-cooking marinara sauce before putting it on pizza is not necessary. The sauce will cook with the pizza and infuse the flavours into the crust and toppings. However, if you prefer a thicker sauce, you can simmer it on the pizza for a few minutes before using it.

Can I freeze the leftover marinara sauce for later use on pizza?

Yes, you can freeze the leftover marinara sauce for later use on pizza. Just cool the sauce to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container and freezing it. The sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Can I mix the marinara sauce with other sauces for pizza?

Yes, you can mix the marinara sauce with other sauces for pizza. For example, mix the marinara sauce with barbecue sauce to create a tangy pizza sauce. Mix the marinara sauce with Alfredo sauce for a creamy tomato sauce. Experiment with different sauce combinations to find your favorite.


While marinara sauce can be used for pizza, it’s not the same as pizza sauce and may require additional ingredients to make it work well on pizza.

Tomato-based pizza sauce is the best choice for pizza, but other sauce options are also available.

If you decide to use the marinara sauce on your pizza, remember to use it sparingly, add spices to give it a more robust flavor, and consider a thicker crust to support the weight of the sauce and toppings.

Following these tips and avoiding common mistakes, you can create a delicious pizza using the marinara sauce to impress your family and friends.

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