The Big Difference Between Pasta And Pizza Sauce

Maybe you're getting excited about the upcoming pizza-focused season of Chef's Table, or maybe you just forgot to go to the store before pizza night. Regardless, at one time or another, we've all stood in the pantry wondering whether or not we can use that forgotten jar of pasta sauce on our pizza. I mean, how different can the two be?

It's true that pizza and pasta sauces are both different versions of the classic Italian tomato sauce. Tomatoes are a finicky fruit to cook with, though. According to Good Housekeeping, their taste can be ruined in the refrigerator, and they can also easily be burned if left unwatched. Their skins can also ruin the texture of a sauce and make long-term storage more difficult as well. So, it's no wonder that these two tomato sauces can be so different. While they might have the same ingredients, they're being used for different dishes and are prepared with that in mind.

Pizza sauce is uncooked

As Kitchn points out, there is actually a major difference between these two sauces. Pizza sauce is most often uncooked. A good pizza sauce is usually made by simply crushing or pureeing tomatoes. In many cases, that's as far as production goes. There might be some seasonings added or some tomato paste mixed in to thicken the sauce, but normally that's all.

My House of Pizza reports that pasta sauce, on the other hand, usually carries many more ingredients and is almost always cooked. This is because the sauce may be the only ingredient accompanying pasta and will need to be cooked beforehand to help eliminate water and concentrate the flavors (via Webstaurant Stores).

The reason that pizza sauces are left uncooked is that they will have time in the oven to break down. Bodrum says that some wood-fired brick ovens will cook pizzas at 800 degrees Fahrenheit in minutes. It's important then that the tomatoes are left uncooked so they can break down in this intense heat. Using a cooked sauce might lead to overcooking then, which as Thrillist notes, can over-caramelize a tomato sauce due to its high sugar content.