Can You Use Pizza Sauce For Pasta – Tips to Make It Work!

Published Categorized as Ingredients, Journal

Ever wondered if you could use pizza sauce instead of marinara for that fancy spaghetti dinner you were planning on? Well, wonder no longer because I’ve got all the answers right here for you! From bolognese to arrabbiata, we’ll be covering all the ways that you can make that leftover pizza sauce stretch for your spaghetti.

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tomato sauce in a terracotta bowl to be used for pizza or pasta sauce

What’s The Difference Between Pizza Sauce And Pasta Sauce?

If you’ve just finished making a Chicago or Detroit-style deep-dish and have some sauce leftover, you’ll be glad to know that it’s not too hard to make pizza sauce suitable for pasta. Most of the time, pasta sauce is not the same as pizza sauce, so I’ll begin by outlining some of their differences.

To begin with, pizza sauce and pasta sauce are actually very ambiguous terms, if you think about it. For instance, there are all sorts of pizza and pasta and you can purchase many different sauces for each – I use tomato-passata for both, but many buy pre-made sauces that are made differently.

Additionally, the variety within pasta sauces alone is wild – marinara, bolognese, and Fra Diavolo are the only three different kinds that I can name, but there are definitely more tomato-based sauces.

So what exactly is the difference between these sauces, and does it really matter?

Pizza Sauce vs Pasta Sauce

Pizza Sauce

This sauce tends to be a little blander than tomato-based pasta sauces. They might have some salt and a little oregano or basil, but sometimes just plain old passata is used. This varies from store to store of course, but they’re generally always blander because if the sauce was too flavorful it would overpower the toppings. Pizza sauce might also be thicker than some kinds of pasta sauce, and possibly even too thin for others. There are easy fixes for this, but it’s still important to keep in mind.

Pasta Sauce

As there’s a wide array of different pasta sauces, there’s a lot of variety in how they’re seasoned. Some pasta sauces are spicy, some a little blander with just a mix of salt, pepper, and sugar. Some are starchier because of the addition of pasta cooking water! In other words, the sauce is more flavorful because it’s usually the star of the show in a pasta dish. This is why you might be able to use a pizza sauce for some pasta, but not always use pasta sauce for pizza.

tomatoes to be used for pizza or pasta sauce in a basket

Can I Use Spaghetti Sauce For Pizza?

While it’s easy to adjust pizza sauce to fit with pasta, the same can’t always be said for the reverse. It’s a lot harder to take out ingredients than it is to add them, and pasta sauce tends to be more seasoned than pasta sauce. With that said, it can still be done! You might just have to pop out for a few ingredients. I’ll be covering the different ways you can adjust tomato sauce to your liking below.

How Do I Substitute Pizza Sauce For Pasta Sauce?

There are two major things to keep in mind when substituting these sauces for one another – the taste and the consistency. For example, if you were to use pizza sauce to substitute pasta sauce, you may want to season it and adjust the consistency to thicker or thinner according to the dish you’re making. If you were, however, to substitute pizza sauce with pasta sauce, your best bet would be to dilute the flavor a little.

tomatoes and pasta to make pizza and pasta sauce

How To Substitute Sauces

To Season Your Sauce…

Sautéd minced garlic and onion is always great for a pasta sauce but isn’t always best for a pizza sauce. Both, however, are allowed some herbal notes – usually just oregano or basil for pizza, but more for pasta sauce. Depending on what kind of sauce you’d like to make, many pasta recipes go well with basil, oregano, parsley, chives, or thyme. And of course, don’t forget to add salt to your sauce – regardless of whether it’s for pasta or pizza!

To Make it Blander….

It’s always good practice to cut the acidity of the tomatoes if you find your sauce is too acidic. While you can do this to a seasoned sauce too, it goes doubly for milder sauces. The easiest way to achieve a blander sauce is to dilute it – just add some water or some neutral tomato sauce. If you would like to avoid thinning your sauce, blend some canned tomatoes in the food processor before adding.

To Make It Thicker…

If you find that the base sauce isn’t thick enough, you can thicken the tomato sauce a few different ways. When making pasta, the easiest way to do this is to add some starchy pasta water to your sauce. This can also help to keep your spaghetti noodles from sticking together. If you’re making a pizza sauce, the best method is to blend some canned tomatoes into your sauce.

To Make It Thinner…

You make a thin tomato sauce the same way you make a tomato sauce blander – dilute it. Simply add in some water, or milk if your sauce is too acidic, and mix it into your sauce. Make sure to check that you don’t need to adjust the seasoning afterward.

To Texture Your Sauce…

If you’re looking for a more textured sauce, then you should be going for a pasta sauce. In this case, you can roughly chop an onion for sautéing. Add in some chopped canned tomatoes or bell peppers strips and you can call it a day! If you’re interested in using bell peppers as a base for pasta sauce, ‘Not Another Cooking Show’ has a great video on it.

Not So Different After All!

Luckily, you can use pizza sauce for pasta. You can do the inverse too, depending on the sauce you’re working with. It just varies on the seasoning and consistency of your sauce, and whether you can adjust it to fit the dish. Either way, I hope that this guide proves to be useful in helping you make the most of your pantry!

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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