Margherita Pizza Sauce

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Margherita pizza sauce from just canned San Marzano plum tomatoes, salt, and a drizzle of oil – this pizza sauce is easy – and incredibly fresh and delicious!

A jar of Margherita tomato sauce with a spoon next to it.
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A Margherita pizza on a pan with a basil leaf and sauce.

Simple San Marzano Tomato Sauce

San Marzano tomato sauce is renowned for its vibrant, deep flavor, characterized by a fine balance of sweetness and acidity that sets it apart from other tomato sauces. Harvested from the volcanic soils near Mount Vesuvius, these plum tomatoes are celebrated for their low seed content and firm flesh, making them less watery and ideal for creating a rich, concentrated sauce. The sauce’s bright, robust taste is a testament to the unique climate and soil conditions of the Sarno River valley, which contribute to the tomatoes’ distinctive qualities. When simmered slowly, San Marzano tomato sauce develops a smooth texture and a complex flavor profile that enhances any dish, from classic pizzas to hearty pastas.

The addition of minimal ingredients like fresh basil, sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil allows the natural flavor of the San Marzano tomatoes to shine through, making the sauce a staple in authentic Italian cooking. Its versatility and exceptional taste make San Marzano tomato sauce a cherished ingredient among chefs and home cooks alike, seeking to bring a touch of Italian elegance to their culinary creations.

I was first introduced to this sauce on a trip to Italy when we did a pizza making class in Milan. Its bright vibrant flavor really captured the beautiful freshness of tomatoes and was perfect for pizza or dipping!

Two slices of Margherita pizza with sauce on a plate.

How to Make Margherita Pizza Sauce

First assemble the following ingredients:

  • San Marzano Tomatoes (28 oz) – The heart of the sauce, San Marzano tomatoes bring a naturally sweet, less acidic flavor with a rich, velvety texture that forms the perfect base for Margherita pizza.
  • Sea salt (1/2 tsp) – A pinch of sea salt enhances the inherent sweetness of the tomatoes and balances the sauce’s overall flavor profile, bringing out the depth of the other ingredients.
  • Extra virgin olive oil (1 tbsp) – Drizzled in just the right amount, extra virgin olive oil adds a hint of fruitiness and a smooth, luxurious mouthfeel to the sauce, tying all the flavors together.
  • Fresh Basil – Fresh basil leaves, torn and stirred in at the end, impart a burst of aromatic freshness that elevates the sauce with its peppery, slightly sweet notes, embodying the essence of Italian cuisine.

Use this Method

Combine. In a food processor blend the tomatoes, salt, and oil till smooth.

Simmer. Pour the sauce into the pan and let simmer 20 – 30 minutes, let cool slightly.

Enjoy. Garnish with minced basil and serve, spread, or dip, enjoy!

Margherita sauce in a jar.

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Margherita Pizza Sauce

Choose High-Quality Tomatoes: Opt for authentic DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) San Marzano tomatoes for their sweet flavor and low acidity, which make a significant difference in taste.

Keep It Simple: Margherita sauce thrives on simplicity; use minimal ingredients like fresh basil, quality olive oil, salt, and garlic to let the tomato flavor shine.

Crush Tomatoes by Hand: For a rustic texture, hand-crush the tomatoes. This method preserves chunks of tomato for a more authentic sauce.

Use Fresh Basil: Add fresh basil leaves towards the end of cooking or even after removing the sauce from heat to maintain their vibrant color and fresh flavor.

Season to Taste: Start with a small amount of salt, taste, and adjust. The sweetness of San Marzano tomatoes can vary, so balance the seasoning to your palate.

Infuse with Garlic: Rather than mincing, gently crush whole garlic cloves and sauté them in olive oil to start. Remove them before adding tomatoes for a subtle garlic flavor.

Consider a Pinch of Sugar: If your tomatoes are particularly acidic, a pinch of sugar can help balance the flavors.

Olive Oil Quality Matters: Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil for sautéing and a final drizzle before serving for an aromatic boost.

Let It Rest: After cooking, let the sauce rest for a few minutes off the heat. This allows the flavors to meld together more harmoniously.


What makes San Marzano tomatoes special for pizza sauce?

San Marzano tomatoes are prized for their balanced flavor, which is sweet, less acidic, and less watery than other varieties, making them ideal for a concentrated and flavorful pizza sauce.

Do I need to peel San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce?

It’s not necessary to peel San Marzano tomatoes for pizza sauce. Their skin is thin and blends well when crushed or blended, contributing to the sauce’s rustic texture.

Can I use canned San Marzano tomatoes?

Yes, canned San Marzano tomatoes are a great alternative to fresh ones, especially when they’re out of season. Look for cans labeled “DOP” to ensure authenticity and quality.

Is it necessary to add sugar to the sauce?

Adding sugar is optional and depends on the natural sweetness of the tomatoes. Taste your sauce and add a pinch of sugar if it’s too acidic.

Can I freeze the pizza sauce?

Yes, San Marzano tomato pizza sauce freezes well. Cool it completely, then store it in an airtight container or freezer bag. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.

How can I make my sauce more flavorful?

Infuse the olive oil with garlic and red pepper flakes before adding the tomatoes to add depth. A splash of good quality extra virgin olive oil before serving can also enhance the flavors.

What’s the best way to store leftover sauce?

Store leftover sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Ensure it’s cooled to room temperature before refrigerating.

A jar of tomato soup with a spoon next to it, perfect for a comforting meal.

How to Use Margherita Pizza Sauce

Fresh Basil Leaves: Their vibrant green color and fresh aroma enhance the pizza’s freshness, contrasting beautifully with the sweet and tangy San Marzano sauce.

Buffalo Mozzarella: This cheese adds creamy, milky textures that melt perfectly, complementing the acidity of the tomatoes with its subtle sweetness.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: A drizzle before serving adds a fruity, peppery note that elevates the tomato flavor and adds a luxurious mouthfeel.

Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano: These hard cheeses introduce a salty, nutty depth that balances the sweetness of the tomatoes and enriches the overall flavor profile.

Chilli Flakes: For those who enjoy a bit of heat, chilli flakes can introduce a spicy dimension that cuts through the richness and enlivens the palate.

Arugula Salad: Its peppery bite and crisp texture provide a refreshing contrast to the soft and savory aspects of the pizza, making each bite more dynamic. Try this salad recipe!

Chianti or Sangiovese Wine: These Italian wines, with their balanced acidity and fruity notes, harmonize with the San Marzano tomatoes, enhancing the Mediterranean character of the meal.

Grilled Vegetables: Vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers, when grilled, offer smoky nuances that complement the sweetness of the sauce and add complexity to the pizza.

Garlic-Infused Breadsticks: The aromatic garlic pairs well with the rich tomato sauce, adding a pungent layer that excites the taste buds and rounds out the meal. Try these garlic knots!

Gelato: Ending with a scoop of creamy gelato, particularly in a contrasting flavor like lemon or basil, provides a sweet and refreshing finale that cleanses the palate after the savory meal.

Try these recipes next:

A jar of tomato sauce for pizza on a yellow background.

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Margherita pizza sauce made from scratch.

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A bowl of tomato soup with Margherita pizza sauce and a spoon next to a jar.

Margherita Pizza Sauce

This simple delicious sauce is perfect for pizza, bread dip, or pasta!
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Keyword margherita, marinara, no cook tomato sauce, san marzano tomatoes, tomato, tomato sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 28 oz
Calories 33kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell



  • 28 oz San Marzano Tomatoes
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh Basil to garnish


  • In a food processor blend the tomatoes, salt, and oil till smooth.
  • Add the sauce to a saucepan and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  • Garnish with minced basil and serve, spread, or dip, enjoy!


Serving: 1g | Calories: 33kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 150mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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