Pizza Sauce Vs. Marinara: What Puts Them Apart in Italian Cuisine

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Pizza Sauce Vs. Marinara – Sauces are among the staple items present in the majority of Italian dishes. If you regularly prepare such dishes, there is a high probability of not having a specific sauce in the kitchen or missing its sufficient quantity.

The pizza sauce and marinara are perhaps among the most widely used sauces in Italian dishes. So, if you are making pizzas, the chances of running out of pizza sauce are high. The same goes for the marinara sauce while preparing pasta almost every alternate day.

It is always wise to prepare for such situations. So, what is the solution? Can you use pizza sauce instead of marinara or vice-versa? Well, the answer to this question is somewhat tricky. This is because many people do compare pizza sauce vs. marinara, while many use them interchangeably.

To make the right selection, let’s comprehend pizza sauce vs. marinara in terms of similarities and differences.

Reasons to Swap the Two Sauces

For many people, it is perfectly fine to use one of the two sauces as an alternative to the other. This is because they mainly believe that both of them are tasty Italian sauces. For those who have not used any of sauces before, using marinara in place of pizza sauce and vice-versa is not instantly acceptable.

marinara vs. pizza sauce

Marinara – Photo Credit: Bill Holsinger-Robinson via Flickr

However, it is a fact that both sauces share a few similarities due to which people believe that they both are interchangeable. Well, the first point of similarity is that they both are made using tomatoes. Second, they go through almost analogous seasoning as well as cooking processes.

Despite these two similarities, there are significant differences between the two. Knowing them can affect your selection. So, it is vital to know the differences to choose the right sauce or the most effective substitute.

pizza sauce vs. marinara

Pizza Sauce

Reasons to Distinguish Pizza Sauce Vs. Marinara

Marinara and pizza sauce are technically not the same. While marinara is a specific sauce, whereas a pizza sauce is typically any sauce applied to the top of pizza base. Yet, the pizza sauce mainly is a tomato-based recipe widely used only on pizzas. Following are some points of distinction:

Cooking Process

There is not much difference in the cooking process but it is also not the same.  For example, marinara is prepared using cooked tomatoes, while pizza sauce is made from raw tomatoes. Further, traditionally, marinara is cooked to a thick paste and pizza sauce to an incompletely cooked paste.

Customarily, the pizza sauce used to be a ground tomato paste with some seasonings, which was then cooked with the pizza in the oven. However, now, several versions of this sauce exist. A few modern pizza sauces are fully cooked as thicker or thinner paste with a few or dozens of spices. However, marina sauces are usually thicker.


This is another major point of differentiation. Although the ingredients are almost similar, the flavor or taste is authentically different. While a pizza sauce contains ingredients such as basil and garlic, the main taste is of tomatoes regardless of the fact that even herbs or spices may be present. On the other hand, marinara contains seasoning herbs or spices such as oregano and garlic.

These ingredients play a major role in giving the taste as well as flavor, which is stronger than pizza sauce. In terms of flavor, the pizza sauce is simpler than marinara. The latter has a stronger flavor to improve the taste of pasta and other dishes. On the other hand, pizza sauce is a bit on the salty side. Shining on the dish when applied, marinara is the dish’s highlight. However, pizza sauce is the base ingredient on the thin or thick crust.


Marinara is more versatile, as it mixes well with a variety of recipes such as dips, kinds of pasta, and even pizzas. However, the pizza sauce is only confined to pizzas.


Marinara is applied to the top portion of pasta usually due to which it must be thicker and chunkier. However, as the pizza sauce acts as a layer between the crust and toppings, it must be a bit thinner for a quick spread.


Pizza sauce vs. marinara gives both similarities and differences. However, they are used interchangeably by many, especially by home cooks. However, they are not the same in terms of cooking process, flavor, and consistency.

See Also: Side Dishes for Lasagna