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Should You Add Sugar To Pizza Sauce ? No, And Here’s Why

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If you’re making your own pizza at home then you’re likely also making the pizza sauce. A commendable endeavor, but you’ve probably noticed it’s not so easy to get right. You’d think something based on tomatoes would be pretty simple, right ?

Well, that’s probably where most people go wrong. Underestimating the complexity of a good pizza sauce. The underlying notes, the depth of flavor. And the vague sweetness. But should you add sugar to pizza sauce ? Does the sweetness come from something else ?

Great pizza sauce is not in-you-face sweet, which you risk when adding pure sugar. Let’s talk about this, okay ?

sugar pizza sauce

Should you add sugar to pizza sauce ?

No, you should not add sugar to pizza sauce because all it does is add sweetness and disrupt the flavor balance. A good pizza sauce is cooked, simmered for at least 30 minutes. Time in which the flavors meld and the raw, sour edge off tomato sauce will wear off.

There is no need to add sugar to a pizza sauce. You may be wondering why your mother or aunt, or grandpa always added some sugar then. It’s partly because we do a lot of things out elders did without thinking about it. And it’s because no one really want to try a recipe that varies from what they usually know. What fi they don’t add sugar and the sauce turns out wrong ?

Okay so if you don’t add sugar what do you do to get a good pizza sauce ?

Take the raw, sour edge off by simmering

You simmer it, at least half am hour after it started boiling. We’re not looking for an active, roiling boil. A simmer will slowly draw out the sweetness, mix the flavors, all without crushing the delicate notes from each ingredient. If you think this sounds all fancy, try testing a quick, 10 minute active boil vs a 30 minute simmer sauce.

Read also: Should Pizza Sauce Be Cooked ? 

The one on high heat will end up tasting a little wrong, while the simmered one will be closer to what a good pizza place offers. By simmering you’re also taking off the raw flavor from the tomato sauce, especially if it’s reconstituted form tomato paste.

Simmering will bring out the natural sweetness in the ingredients you have, so count on that. Tomato sauce can burn if you don’t use a thick-bottom pan and/or a non-stick pan.

Better choices for sweetness

If you really can’t be persuaded to not add extra sweetness to your pizza sauce you should at least try adding something other than sugar. Not only is sugar a flat kind of sweet, it also brings nothing to the table except extra calories.

You can get a sweeter pizza sauce by adding some of the following ingredients.


Never skimp on the onions. The house will smell, yes, and they’re a pain to chop. but you can cook a large batch of pizza sauce and can it for later. or you can store it in small containers in the freezer.

Not only do the onions sweeten the sauce once simmered, they also provide the base for the sauce ! You need almost as much onion as you need tomato. Actually a 1:2 onions to tomato ratio is best.

To get the sweetest result use sweet, yellow or white onions.


Carrots are some of the sweetest vegetables, and you will definitely notice when you add them. If you won’t want to see them in the sauce, you can chop them finely or grate a couple of carrots. By the time the sauce is done simmering the carrots will have disintegrated.

The sweetness will be there though, with a nice flavor to boost.

Butternut squash

Yet another option is butternut squash, especially if it’s been roasted before. Roasted butternut squash (or pumpkin) actually has its natural sugars caramelized. This means they will have a better, more delicious note than plan pumpkin or squash.

You can use it raw, of course, but we really recommend you roast one, use some of it for the sauce, and freeze the rest for pumpkin pie !

Sweet potato

If butternut squash isn’t your thing then maybe sweet potato would be better. Again, it tastes better if it’s been roasted and then mashed and added to the sauce. This one will have the added benefit of slightly thickening the sauce while it’s cooking, Not as much as regular potato, but there will be a difference.

What to add to pizza sauce to make it taste better

Aside from the sweet vegetables, there are a few other things you should add to your pizza sauce to make sure it tastes great. In truth most home cooks think that pizza sauce is just tomato sauce and salt, slathered on top of pizza.

Well, it’s not. It’s a delicious sauce that needs several ingredients. And there no no better way to get a pizza sauce than adding the following.

Fresh basil

Fresh basil simply adds that fresh herb flavor that gets to everyone. You can either add it in the beginning and see how the flavor transforms as it cooks. Or you may add it in the last minute and simply stir it a couple of times.

If you’ve been cooing with dried basil until now, know that the taste is a little flat and that’s a big reason the sauce isn’t coming out right. Do not underestimate the power of fresh basil !



Adding a few cloves of garlic to your simmered sauce really makes all the difference. They work best if they’re crushed in a garlic crusher. This way you release all the juices in the cloves and get maximum flavor.

Don’t worry, the taste won’t be overly garlicy, but it will have a subtle background note. Once you cook without the garlic you’ll notice it’s missing.

And one more thing, if you’re worried about the garlic turning blue, you’re probably going to be fine. That usually happens for garlic that’s only been blanched, and not actively simmered for 30 minutes.

Don’t skimp on the onions

Yes, we really need to remind everyone of adding onions to their tomato sauces, no matter what they’re for. Whether they’re pasta sauces, pizza sauces, or simply making a stew.

Freshly chopped onions are the base of most foods. If you’re thinking you can get the same thing with onion powder or onion flakes, don’t. There’s something in the onion juice that simply evaporates once the onion is dried and powdered. Oh it’s still better than nothing, but it’s never as good as fresh.

Read Also: Does Marinara Sauce Have Meat ?

So you should cook pizza sauce ?

Yes, always cook your pizza sauce. This way you get the raw, sour note out of the sauce and you don’t really need to add any extra ingredients. If you use raw sauce and think it will cook just find in the oven, it won’t. It needs more time than that, plus the subsequent cook in the oven.

So in short, there’s no real need to add sugar to your pizza sauce if you cook it right. Or if you bother to cook it in the first place.

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