We all know a great pizza must have a perfect crust. Chewy with a few crispy bits here and there; delicious flavor all its own.
But an amazing “pie” is just as much about the pizza sauce, too.
(I remember as a kid, making those English muffin pizzas [totally a legit quick dinner!] with – yes – ketchup in place of the sauce. Red sauce is red sauce, right?! Uh, no. Not even close. So gross.)
In my opinion, a great classic pizza sauce has a pronounced tomato flavor (with a pinch of sugar to both highlight tomatoes’ sweetness and also balance the acidity), a good amount of garlic, a nice hit of earthy oregano, a slight bit of heat, and, well, not much else. Simple is better.
This homemade pizza sauce recipe, slightly adapted from Sunset magazine, calls for either fresh or diced tomatoes – fresh can be better, but diced are still absolutely terrific. Just start with good tomatoes and your sauce will be all the better for it. (And, of course, canned whole tomatoes will work too).
The key to the recipe, other than the simple list of meaningful ingredients, is the time it takes to simmer uncovered. It cooks for an hour and a half, allowing the flavors to mellow and meld and the sauce to thicken to the perfect consistency. And then I like to hit it with the immersion blender to make it nice and smooth.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about two or three large cloves)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano (if using fresh, add at the end of the cooking time)
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes (undrained) or 2 pounds diced fresh tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (this makes for a lot of heat, which we love, but I recommend you start out with ¼ teaspoon or even just a generous pinch if you’re unsure)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Black pepper to taste
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm the olive oil.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about a minute. If you’re using dried oregano, add that along with the garlic. If you’re using fresh, add it to the sauce at the end of the cooking time.
- Increase the heat to medium. Add the tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper.
- Leave over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until boiling. Reduce heat to low for a nice simmer.
- Simmer uncovered for 90 minutes.
- Stir in fresh oregano, if using.
- Allow the sauce to cool to a safe temperature and then, using an immersion blender or working in batches with a blender,
- If using fresh oregano, stir that in after the hour and a half cooking time.