The Difference Between Pizza And Pasta Sauce Is In The Cooking

If you've ever caught yourself standing in a grocery store aisle staring at the seemingly endless array of tomato sauces and wondering about their differences, you're not alone. Choosing a tomato sauce can be overwhelming when there is a multitude of options. Luckily, if you have chosen to prepare a pizza or pasta dish, the labels may provide clues to help you make a decision.

A well-stocked grocery store will likely come equipped with jars and cans conveniently labeled as either pizza sauce or pasta sauce, which makes it easy enough to choose the right product for your recipe. But, naturally, the mind can wander. To most of us, the ingredient lists on these jars look very much the same. We're just talking about tomatoes and spices, right? As it turns out, there is one nuance that makes one sauce a better fit for whipping up some pasta, while another is the right one to put on homemade pizza.

Pasta sauce is pre-cooked

Since pasta sauce is often added at the very end, it makes sense that jarred pasta sauce has already been cooked. The process used to make jarred pasta sauces often includes adding water to tomatoes to create a puree first, then tossing in all sorts of ingredients like herbs, sugar, olives, and occasionally even meat to amp up the flavor. Then, the sauce is slow-roasted to create a full-flavored, finished product perfect for completing a pasta dish. Some home chefs may prefer to simmer jarred sauce anyway, especially to add additional spices or ingredients. To make picking out a pasta sauce even easier, try one of our favorite grocery store spaghetti sauces.

Pizza sauce that comes in a jar or can has not been already been cooked — which is the key difference between the two types of sauces. When you make homemade pizza, the sauce gets added to the dough, topped with cheese, and the ingredients get cooked together. Pizza sauce usually has fewer ingredients and doesn't get the water treatment, making it thicker. Since pizza sauce comes uncooked, cooking it once at high temps keeps the base tasting like fresh tomatoes, especially since the flavor of pizza sauce can be brighter and more acidic in flavor. Pizza toppings tend to be the feature, so a simpler sauce is perfect. Not sure about what brands of pizza sauce are superior? Check out our recommendations for the best pizza sauces in 2022