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Can You Use Pizza Sauce for Pasta? (Simple Tips to Make it Work)

Can You Use Pizza Sauce for Pasta? (Simple Tips to Make it Work)

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Pasta makes a quick, delicious, and nutritious meal, especially if you’re using a ready-made sauce from a jar or making a simple tomato sauce.

But what happens if you’ve run out of pasta sauce, and all you have in the pantry is pizza sauce? Can you use pizza sauce for pasta?

You can use pizza sauce for pasta. Pizza sauce and pasta sauce are both tomato-based sauces. However, pizza sauce is usually uncooked and less seasoned, while pasta sauce is ready cooked and flavored. You need to cook pizza sauce and add other ingredients to get it to taste like pasta sauce.

Substituting pizza sauce for pasta sauce seems like an obvious swap as the ingredients of both are similar: tomatoes, herbs, and spices. However, there are differences between pizzas and pasta sauces, so you need to make some additions to use pizza sauce for all your pasta recipes.

How to Use Pizza Sauce for Pasta

You can use pizza sauce as a pasta sauce, but because there are differences between the two, you will need to adapt your recipe a little. Let’s first look at these saucy differences and then how you can use pizza sauce to make tasty pasta dishes that your family will enjoy.

What Is the Difference Between Pizza Sauce and Pasta Sauce?

There are three main differences between pizza sauce and pasta sauce: their ingredients, how they are prepared, and their consistency. Each of these will influence how you use the pizza sauce instead of pasta sauce.


Pureed Tomato Sauce

Because pizza sauce forms the basis of a pizza, traditional Italian pizza sauce is made only of pureed tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper. This kind of pizza sauce is rather like tomato paste or tomato puree, so it can easily be used as a pasta sauce or as a basis for a tomato sauce.

However, most jarred pizza sauces that you find in the United States are made from tomatoes, but also include tomato paste, seasonings, herbs (oregano or basil), garlic, balsamic, or red wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, and often preservatives (and other additives). These sauces can be very sweet, which makes them unsuitable for pasta sauce.

Pasta sauces vary much more in their ingredients, depending on the style of sauce. A simple marinara sauce will include tomatoes, seasoning, and herbs, but a Bolognese sauce has ground beef or sausage. Some ready-made pasta sauces also have cheese and pesto in them.

Why is this important?

The difference in ingredients between the two sauces means adding more elements to pizza sauce to get the same flavor as a pasta sauce.

First, taste your pizza sauce to see what it needs – it may be pretty bland as much of the interest in a pizza comes from the toppings.

If you are using a plain pizza sauce, first fry some garlic and onions, and add some fresh herbs to add zip to the sauce.

However, if you’re using a very flavorful pizza sauce, you won’t have to add much to it – in fact, some pizza sauce is so sweet that you’ll want to tone it down by adding crushed or diced tomatoes.

Cooking Method

Fresh Tomatoes

Pizza sauce is usually made from uncooked tomatoes, which cook as the pizza bakes in the oven. Using fresh tomatoes gives pizza its characteristic bright tomato flavor that goes so well with the rich cheese.

Many jarred pizza sauces are cooked and are more like a thick tomato sauce than the classic raw Italian pizza sauce.

Pasta sauce is always ready cooked, probably long-simmered, and only needs to be heated up and poured over cooked pasta to make a complete meal. Slow cooking means pasta sauce has a more savory and robust flavor than pizza sauce.

Why is this important?

The difference in preparation means that you will have to cook a sauce made from pizza sauce longer than if you were heating pasta sauce. Simmer your sauce for 10 minutes or so to get a deeper tomato flavor.


Pizza sauce is much thicker than pasta sauce, as it can range from a puree to a paste in consistency. A thin sauce would run off the pizza crust and make it soggy in the oven.

Pasta sauce is often a thinner sauce, meant to be poured over and coat the pasta. Ready-made pasta sauce may also be chunky in texture, with bits of tomato and other vegetables, as well as beef, sausage, or chicken.

Why is this important?

Because pizza sauce is thicker and smoother, you will have to add more liquid to make the sauce the appropriate consistency for a pasta sauce. The best is to add a jar or can of crushed tomatoes, but you could also add water, red wine, or bouillon.

How to Use Pizza Sauce to Make Instant Pasta Sauce

Pasta Sauce In A Pan

Was your plan for dinner to cook some pasta, heat a jar of pasta sauce, and pour it over? If you’ve only got a jar of pizza sauce, then look no further. This recipe shows how to make an almost instant pasta sauce out of pizza sauce.


  • Olive oil
  • 1 jar of pizza sauce
  • Water from cooking pasta
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated cheese


  1. Cook your pasta.
  2. Just before the pasta is ready, heat a little olive oil in a heavy pan.
  3. Add your pizza sauce to the pan.
  4. Stir in about a quarter to half a cup of pasta water into the sauce to thin it out.
  5. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for five minutes.
  6. Season the sauce, if necessary.
  7. Serve over pasta with some grated cheese.

How to Use Pizza Sauce to Make Pizza Pasta Bake

Pasta Bake

You can also use your pizza sauce to make a pasta sauce for a tasty, cheesy pasta bake.


  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 jar of pizza sauce
  • 1 tin of sliced mushrooms
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, grated
  • Pepperoni, sliced


  1. Preheat your oven – 350⁰F (180⁰C) is hot enough, but you may want to turn on the grill to brown the bake at the end.
  2. Cook and drain whatever pasta you want to use – a short pasta, like penne, rigatoni, or macaroni, works well.
  3. Heat the olive oil gently in a heavy pan.
  4. Add the onion and fry for a couple of minutes until it begins to brown.
  5. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
  6. Add the ground beef. Cook until it has browned.
  7. Mix the water, drained mushrooms, and pizza sauce in a large bowl.
  8. Add the ground beef mixture, the cooked pasta, half the cheese, and half the pepperoni.
  9. Spread the mixture into a greased ovenproof dish.
  10. Cover with the remaining cheese and pepperoni slices.
  11. Cover with aluminum foil.
  12. Bake for 20 minutes.
  13. Remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is gooey and delicious.


This pasta bake is simple enough to transform, depending on your mood and other ingredients.

  • Layer the pasta, pizza sauce, ground beef, cheese, and pepperoni like a lasagna. Top with cheese and pepperoni.
  • Add the pizza sauce, water, and mushrooms to the ground beef if you don’t want to make a noodle bake. Chop up the pepperoni and add it to the sauce. Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes and serve over pasta, with mozzarella on top.
  • Use chopped Italian sausage, turkey sausage, or leftover shredded chicken instead of ground beef.
  • Add other favorite pizza toppings, like olives or artichokes, to get a complete pizza-pasta mash-up.
  • Add diced bell peppers and carrots for a veggie punch.

How to Use Pizza Sauce to Make Marinara or Napolitana Sauce

Marinara Sauce In A Bowl

If all you have is a jar of pizza sauce and you want to make a rich tomato sauce for your pasta, consider transforming it into Marina or Napolitana sauce.

These are similar tomato-based sauces served on all kinds of pasta, regular and filled pasta, like ravioli or tortellini. You could also use this sauce as a layer in lasagna or over meatballs.

Here’s what you need to do to upscale your pizza sauce.


  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 jar of pizza sauce
  • Fresh herbs, chopped (basil, oregano)
  • Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat the olive oil to medium heat in a heavy pan.
  2. Fry the onion for a couple of minutes until it begins to brown.
  3. Add the garlic. Cook for a further minute.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes and pizza sauce.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Stir the sauce and let it come to a boil.
  7. Simmer the sauce for 8-10 minutes until it has reduced and thickened.
  8. Take the sauce off the heat and add the fresh herbs.
  9. If you prefer a smoother sauce, put the sauce in a blender.
  10. Serve over pasta, with grated Parmesan cheese.


You can use this basic tomato sauce and add different ingredients to it to make various sauces.

  • For a thinner sauce, add some chicken stock or bouillon.
  • Add olives, capers, and anchovies, to make an authentic Marinara sauce. Add the anchovies with the garlic and the olives and capers with the tomatoes.
  • Add grated zucchini, sliced mushrooms, bell peppers, and diced celery along with the garlic if you want some more veggies.
  • Add a dash of red wine to the sauce before you bring it to a boil and simmer.
  • Stir through some cream or sour cream once the sauce has thickened for a more decadent sauce. This sauce is delicious over gnocchi.

How to Use Pizza Sauce to Make Arrabbiata Sauce

Arrabbiata Pasta

If you have pizza sauce and want a spicy tomato pasta sauce with a bite, then make Arrabbiata sauce, a chili-based sauce.

Penne Arrabbiata is a popular and typical pasta dish, as the penne pasta is the perfect shape for the sauce to cling to and cover.

To make Arrabbiata sauce, follow the recipe for Marinara sauce with these changes.

Additional Ingredients

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Fresh parsley, chopped


  • Step 3: When you add the garlic to the pan, also add ¼ teaspoon of crushed red chili. (Increase the amount of chili to your fiery taste.)
  • Step 8: Add parsley along with the other fresh herbs.

How to Use Pizza Sauce to Make Bolognese Sauce

If you have pizza sauce, you can also make a Bolognese sauce – or at least a simpler version of the classic.

Spaghetti Bolognese is a famous pasta dish, made with a tomato sauce cooked with ground beef or pork. Authentic Italian ragu or meat sauce simmers for hours, but this is a quick version.


  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 jar of pizza sauce
  • 1 cup of beef bouillon
  • Fresh herbs, chopped (basil, parsley)
  • Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat your olive oil gently in a heavy pan.
  2. Fry the onion gently for a couple of minutes until it begins to brown.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
  4. Add the ground beef and cook until it has browned.
  5. Add the crushed tomatoes, pizza sauce, and bouillon.
  6. Season your sauce with salt and pepper and add the oregano.
  7. Stir the sauce and let it come to a simmer.
  8. Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes until it has reduced and thickened.
  9. Take the sauce off the heat to add the fresh herbs.
  10. Serve over pasta, with grated Parmesan cheese.

Final Thoughts

You can use pizza sauce as the basis for pasta sauce. However, because the two sauces have different ingredients and consistency, and because pizza sauce is uncooked, you must make changes and additions for a successful pasta sauce.

Adding some fried onions, garlic, and fresh herbs, and some crushed tomatoes and bouillon will create a delicious pasta sauce from a pizza sauce.

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