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Before you reach for the jar of marinara sauce in your cabinet on pizza night, there’s something you should know: Pizza sauce and pasta sauce are not the same thing. Sure, they’re close—and interchangeable in a pinch—but there is an inherent difference. Pizza sauce is essentially an uncooked tomato sauce; pasta sauce is typically low-simmered to develop a deeper flavor. The lack of precooking ensures pizza sauce has a bright, tomato-forward taste. That said, you don't need to rely on garden-fresh tomatoes for a killer pizza sauce. Today, there are plenty of no-fuss store-bought options that taste just as good.
Here are the best of the best pizza sauces you can buy.
Best Overall: Don Pepino Pizza Sauce
The sauce, which has a total of just five ingredients—tomatoes, corn oil, salt, spices, and garlic powder—is free from all of the icky stuff you sometimes find in store-bought products, including preservatives, starches, artificial sugar, added color, gums, and citric acid. And because the product is made with corn oil, rather than olive oil, it’s considered cholesterol free, making it a good option for any health-conscious individuals concerned about their heart health.
Finally, the sauce is packaged in a fun, retro-looking can that’s easier to store than big, bulky glass jars.
Best Budget: RAGÚ Homemade Style Pizza Sauce
Just because you’re looking to keep your grocery bill in check, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality. Look no further than Ragú’s Homemade Style Pizza Sauce. Each 14-ounce jar in this four-pack yields plenty of sauce for more than a handful of pies yet rings in at less than a couple of dollars per bottle.
Still, the flavor and the consistency is comparable to other pizza sauces. This is mostly thanks to the fact that, like other great pizza sauces, the formula hinges on vine-ripened tomatoes, olive oil, and spices—not much else. There are no artificial flavors, colors, or high fructose corn syrup, so you can feel good about what you’re eating and serving to your family.
Best Chunky: Williams-Sonoma San Marzano Pizza Sauce
This pizza sauce is unique because it gets its sweet and delightful flavor from the world-renowned San Marzano tomatoes—a variety of plum tomato known to be well-balanced and nuanced in flavor. Beyond the tomatoes, the ingredient list is abbreviated—extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt, basil, black pepper, and citric acid—to let that natural flavor shine through.
The consistency is spot-on, too. The sauce is thick and slightly chunky, but consistent. You won’t get large chunks in some spots and a thin sauce in others. Instead, it spreads beautifully, so each bite is just right.
Best for Kids: Contadina Pizza Squeeze Original Pizza Sauce
Making pizza is one of the most fun family activities you can do in the kitchen, but there’s a price to pay: It can be a very, very messy endeavor. This pizza sauce really shines because it comes in an easy-to-use squeeze bottle. Rather than fiddle with spoons that inevitably lead to spills, kids can get a good grip on the packaging and squeeze sauce right where it needs to be (less work for you later).
It’s not all about convenience, though. The budget-friendly sauce tastes great, has a desirable consistency, is packaged in the USA, and is non-GMO.
Best Keto: Rao's Homemade Pizza Sauce
Though you will spend a bit more for each jar of this pizza sauce, it’s worth the expense. Rao’s Homemade Pizza Sauce is a premium product that’s a better fit than most for the health-minded consumer.
Despite being low carb and gluten free, the slow-simmered, all-natural sauce is bursting with flavors, thanks to a combination of whole peeled tomatoes and Italian cherry tomatoes, as well as olive oil, Italian spices, and a medley of fresh vegetables like carrots and onions. And, like other great sauces, the consistency is nice and thick so it spreads evenly and plentifully atop pizza dough.
Best Jarred: Paesana Classic Pizza Sauce
Once you taste this classic pizza sauce, it’s pretty clear that the product is manufactured by a family-owned company. Each batch in the single-serve jar is made with plenty of care, using a fairly short list of all-natural ingredients—just imported Italian plum tomatoes, fresh onions, olive oil, tomato paste, fresh garlic, salt, sugar, spices, citric acid, and fresh basil.
Though the jar is smaller than some other comparable products, it’s actually a positive attribute—each jar contains just the right amount for a large sheet pan pizza. You won’t be scrounging for more, and you won’t have a small leftover amount that you don’t know what to do with.
Best Canned: Muir Glen Organic Pizza Sauce
Just because you’re opting for a canned pizza sauce doesn’t mean you can’t get a quality, organic product—and this pizza sauce is proof. It’s made with vine-ripened tomatoes that lend a sweet, balanced flavor, plus it has a nice, thick texture that spreads over dough like butter.
The USDA-certified organic and non-GMO sauce doesn’t have additives, like sugar, either—just a handful of simple ingredients, including extra-virgin olive oil, onions, sea salt, basil, oregano, black pepper, and garlic.
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This roundup was written by Brigitt Earley, who has written and edited food content for various publications over the course of the last 10 years. She also holds a culinary degree from the French Culinary Institute.