Neapolitan Pizza Sauce Recipe

In this article I’ll show you a recipe for an authentic Neapolitan sauce that tastes incredible! One of the best things about this sauce is that it can be made in about a minute. That’s right, just 1 minute!

Marinara with Neapolitan pizza sauce
The Marinara – a Neapolitan pizza with just tomato sauce, garlic, and oregano

You’ll find out everything you need to know about Neapolitan pizza sauce in this article. Now let’s dive in!

If you want to skip the details, feel free to click here to jump to the recipe.

Does authentic Italian pizza have sauce?

Authentic Italian pizza typically has a simple tomato sauce. Good quality tomatoes are used with very few added ingredients. This allows the flavour of the tomatoes to shine.

Authentic Italian pizza with sauce
Cooking an authentic Italian pizza in my Ooni Karu 16 pizza oven

The sauce is spread on the pizza base, before the other toppings are added. These usually include cheese, basil, and olive oil. Occasionally meat and other toppings like mushrooms are added.

Does Neapolitan pizza have sauce?

Neapolitan pizza is the original (the OG!), coming from Naples in Italy, the birthplace of pizza. Like most authentic Italian pizza, it almost always has a sauce on it.

Classic Neapolitan pizza sauce consists of blended or crushed tomatoes with a few basic seasonings. It really is that simple!

The Margherita pizza is the most famous Neapolitan pizza, usually consisting of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese (and sometimes parmesan), fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil. Of course, these toppings are placed on top of a hand stretched, freshly made dough.

Topped Neapolitan pizza with sauce
The classic Neapolitan Margherita

Occasionally though, the pizza maker will make a Margherita without tomato sauce. In this case, the base is topped with Mozzarella before adding cherry tomatoes, along with any other toppings.

This style of Margherita is not common though. The vast majority of Neapolitan pizzas have a tomato sauce.

Is Neapolitan pizza supposed to be soggy?

Neapolitan pizza is supposed to be soft but not soggy. This softness is largely due to the extreme temperature that the pizza is cooked at.

In a wood fired oven, temperatures reach 450C/850F and pizzas cook in just 60-90 seconds! This means that the pizza doesn’t get as crispy as one that is cooked for longer, at a lower temperature.

Pizza in Ooni Karu 16
Cooking Neapolitan pizza in my Ooni Karu 16

This speed of cooking also means that the toppings don’t cook very much. The cheese melts and all the ingredients combine, but they don’t fully cook.

Overall, this results in a pizza which still has some moisture in the toppings. The crust is crispy on the outside but soft on the inside and the base is mostly soft but with some charring.

The perfect Neapolitan pizza should be foldable and definitely not dry. But, contrary to popular belief, it shouldn’t be soggy.

Neapolitan pizza slice
Neapolitan pizza should be foldable but not soggy!

If you’ve experienced a soggy Neapolitan pizza, it probably wasn’t prepared probably. The most common problems are too much topping and poor cooking technique/oven temperature. Issues with the dough can also lead to soggy, undercooked pizza.

No cook Neapolitan pizza sauce

Traditionally, Neapolitan pizza sauce is not cooked. It is simply crushed or blended into a smooth sauce and then seasoned.

No cook Neapolitan pizza sauce
Contrary to popular belief, Neapolitan pizza sauce is not traditionally cooked

The meain reasons for this is are as follows:

  • Being uncooked, more of the natural flavour of the tomatoes is preserved
  • The sauce cooks somewhat on the pizza anyway, in the oven

And as a bonus, not cooking the sauce saves a lot of time and effort! You can make a no cook Neapolitan pizza sauce in as little as a minute!

Are San Marzano tomatoes good for pizza?

San Marzano tomatoes are great for pizza. In fact, they are considered the most authentic option for Neapolitan pizza.

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They are a variety of plum tomato that originate from the small town of San Marzano near Naples, the birthplace of pizza. In fact, you can still buy canned tomatoes from this region, they are labelled “DOP”.

Naples, near the home of San Marzano tomatoes
Naples, the birthplace of pizza

DOP stands for “Designated Origin Protected”. If you ever see “San Marzano DOP” on a menu, it means they’re using the original, and most authentic, form of the tomatoes.

These tomatoes are a great option for your pizza making at home. They are expensive though, so you’ll have to weigh up whether it’s worth it or not. I can highly recommend trying them though.

Why are San Marzano tomatoes so good?

San Marzano tomatoes are often regarded as the best canned tomatoes in the world, not just for pizza. There are a few qualities that make these tomatoes so well regarded.

In general, they are bright and sweet with a tender texure, low moisture, and few seeds. This makes them excellent tomatoes for sauces.

San Marzano Tomato
San Marzano tomatoes are generally considered to be the best choice for pizza

When used in a classic Neapolitan pizza, they are paired with very few subtle flavours. This allows the flavour of the San Marzano tomatoes to shine.

The volcanic soil in the San Marzano region, along with the climate, are often credited as being the keys to the tomatoes.

The San Marzano tomato variety, which is a type of plum tomato, is actually grown around the world. But within the region of San Marzano itself, there are strict regulations for it’s production.

This is probably the main reason the tomatoes are so highly regarded. The regulations are designed to protect the quality of the tomato.

Neapolitan pizza sauce ingredients

Typically a Neapolitan pizza sauce consists of just a handful of ingredients. With Neapolitan pizza sauce, less is more.

The ingredients are as follows:

  • Canned peeled plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano tomatoes)
  • Salt (preferably sea salt)
  • Black pepper (optional)
  • Fresh basil (optional)
  • Olive oil (optional)

As you can see, there are very few ingredients. Neapolitan pizza sauce can be as simple as crushed tomatoes that have been seasoned with salt!

Simple pizza sauce
Neapolitan pizza sauce is incredibly simple, often with just salt and pepper added to tomatoes!

This is why the quality of the tomatoes is so important. There is nothing to cover their flavour in any way. The sauce is all about the tomatoes!

San Marzano pizza sauce

It should be noted that San Marzano tomatoes are generally the preferred option for Neapolitan pizza sauce. They are the most authentic and traditional tomato for pizza. Many people would argue they are the best canned tomatoes money can buy!

However, they tend to be expensive and difficult to get hold of. True San Marzano tomatoes feature “DOP” on the label, but most cans don’t.

Authentic San Marzano tomatoes
Authentic San Marzano tomatoes with “DOP” on the label

Often, canned tomatoes labelled as “San Marzano” feature the San Marzano variety but they haven’t been grown in San Marzano itself. Therefore, they haven’t had to follow the strict rules of production.

If you can’t get hold of the true “DOP” San Marzano tomatoes though, don’t worry. Just because they haven’t been grown in Italy, it doesn’t mean they’re not good quality.

Tinned tomatoes for pizza
You don’t have to use San Marzano tomatoes!

Even regular plum tomatoes (non San Marzanos) can be delicious. I recommend trying as many different canned plum tomatoes as possible. You may find some that you really like and they’ll probably be much cheaper too!

Neapolitan pizza sauce with fresh tomatoes

Instead of using canned tomatoes, you can also make Neapolitan pizza sauce with fresh tomatoes.

In this case, fresh plum tomatoes are skinned before being crushed into a sauce and seasoned with salt.

Neapolitan pizza sauce with fresh tomatoes
Fresh cherry tomatoes are peeled first

The alternative is using fresh sliced cherry tomatoes on top of the cheese, instead of a sauce. When made like this, sea salt is usually sprinkled over the pizza and the tomatoes.

The Recipe – Neapolitan Pizza Sauce

How To Make An Authentic Italian Pizza Sauce

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(6)

This is a really easy pizza sauce that allows the flavour of quality tomatoes to shine.

IngredientsNeapolitan Pizza Sauce

Enough sauce for 16 x 10 inch pizzas.

  • Peeled Plum Tomatoes (ideally San Marzano) – 400g tin
  • Sea Salt – around 4g (to taste)
  • Black Pepper (optional) – a few cracks (to taste)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional) – a few glugs (to taste)
  • Basil (optional) – a few fresh leaves

Note: In general, I recommend leaving out the basil and olive oil. These can be added as toppings to the shaped pizza. If you do choose to add basil, preparing the sauce the day before allows time for the flavour to infuse.

Utensils Required

Not all the following utensils are required but these are what I use and they tend to make the process much easier.

Method

So easy it takes just a minute to make!

  1. Blend the tomatoes into a sauce but try to leave some texture to the sauce, don’t over blend.
    Neapolitan tomato sauce
  2. Sieve the sauce if required to thicken the sauce. Most quality tomatoes should be fine without sieving but this is a good option if your sauce looks too runny.
    Sieving Neapolitan pizza sauce
  3. Season the sauce with salt to taste (usually around 4g) and some ground black pepper (to taste) if you like.
    Seasoning Neapolitan pizza sauce
  4. Add a few glugs of Olive oil if using. I prefer to leave this out and add it to the topped pizza.
  5. Mix in a few leaves of basil if using. Preparing the sauce the day before using allows for more flavour to develop.
  6. Make some incredible Neapolitan pizza!
    Pizza in Ooni Karu 16

Notes

  • Use the sauce straight away or seal it up and it will store in the fridge for a few days.
  • With left over sauce you can cook it to make a pasta sauce. I like to add some chilli and garlic for an easy Arabiatta (spicy tomato sauce).

Neapolitan pizza sauce recipe

Final Thoughts on Neapolitan Pizza Sauce…

Many people think that pizza sauce should be cooked but this just isn’t true. In fact, no cook pizza sauce is the authentic Neapolitan way. Afterall, the sauce does cook on the pizza.

Fresh Neapolitan pizza

Here’s one I made earlier – with no cook tomato sauce!

A nice bonus is that it’s incredibly quick and easy to make, taking as little as a minute to prepare! The only downside is that San Marzano tomatoes can be expensive and difficult to get hold of.

Having said that, you don’t have to use San Marzano tomatoes. Most good quality tinned peeled plum tomatoes work really well.

Hopefully you’ve been convinced to give no cook pizza sauce a go. It could just be a game changer!

Now let’s get pizza making!

Tom Rothwell from My Pizza Corner eating homemade pizza

About Me

I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!

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Tom Rothwell's Ooni pizza oven

My Pizza Oven

I often get asked what type of oven I use for my pizzas. Well, I use a pizza oven made by a company called Ooni.

The range of pizza ovens that Ooni offers is just brilliant. They cover all bases, and all price points. There's affordable and portable models such as the Fyra 12 Pizza Oven and then there's state-of-the-art models such as the Karu 16 Pizza Oven pictured below.

In all honesty, I would say that the oven makes a huge difference. If you're looking to make authentic Italian pizza, a pizza oven is a must.

By clicking the link below and purchasing from Ooni, you would be supporting this website. I've been using their ovens for a long time now and I wouldn't recommend them if I didn't believe in their products.

Time to make some amazing pizza!

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Comments
  1. Avatar for Chris Chris says:

    I generally don’t care for reading long books for simple “recipes”. 1 minute to make the sauce but 1 hour to read through the fluff. Give me the recipe, a few pointers, and save the “my kids love… etc”.

    However, there’s some great info in this one regarding Neapolitan style pizza, especially the parts on the San Marzano tomatoes. Those that skipped to the end (like I usually do) might want to consider skimming the rest of the article.

    1. Avatar for Tom Rothwell Tom Rothwell says:

      Thank you Chris, I try to be as helpful as possible. I understand some of my articles are long but I don’t want to leave any stone unturned. And as you say, you can always skip to the recipe if needed. Cheers!

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Tom Rothwell from My Pizza Corner eating homemade pizza

About Me

I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!

Pizza oven fire with logo
Subscribe for FREE Guide

Subscribe today for your FREE PDF guide! You'll also stay updated with our latest pizza recipes, articles, and videos.

Invalid email address
Pizza Catering

I'm now doing pizza catering in the UK!

If you're interested in hiring me for your event in the UK, feel free to check out my website with the link below.

Pizza Catering

Ooni Pizza