Make Your Own Pizza Sauce! No, no … keep reading … it’s really easy!

Make delicious, slightly sweet pizza sauce at home with some tomato sauce and a few spices. It takes about 20 minutes and will be WAY better than any canned sauce you’ve ever tried.

If you want to learn how to make pizza this delicious looking at home (it rivals wood oven pizza – and I can say that because I built my own wood fired pizza oven) then check out this step-by-step guide to making pizza at home. 

I’m about to say something very, very controversial and I want you to prepare yourselves for it.  By prepare yourselves, I mean get ready to gasp and slap the person sitting closest to you.  It’s entirely possible someone is about to take legal action against me for what I’m about to say.  Someone might indeed sue me.  I would like to officially declare that …

Lebanese people make the best pizza in the world.


There. I’ve said it.  And that’s “Lebanese”, not “Lesbians”, although I’m sure there are a few fantastic pizza making lesbians out there.  If they happen to be Lebanese … all the better.   Have I just made a generalization based on race?  Yup.  Yes I have. I have done some racial profiling on my blog here.   I also think Asian babies are the cutest of all babies.  Except for cat babies.  There’s nothing cuter than a kitten.

When my friend Anj and I were super-cool and young and hip and actually left our houses and saw each other, we were always on the hunt for the perfect pizza.  We found that perfect pizza one night in a small Lebanese restaurant that didn’t know enough about pizza to slice the olives they put on top of it.  But they had the best pizza sauce I’ve ever tasted.  It was the sauce that made the pizza.

What distinguished it was a slight sweetness.  Just a bit.  It’s not like we were eating caramelized pizza sauce, it was just … a tad sweet.  If you weren’t a pizza professional like Anj and I you might not even notice it.  Our quest then continued into the grocery stores to find a similar canned pizza sauce.  And believe it or not we did find something fairly similar to the delicious Lebanese pizza sauce, but the company who made the canned sauce quickly went out of business and has never been heard from again.  

When I asked a different friend of mine what the best pizza he’d ever eaten was he cited a place in Ottawa, Canada called The Colonnade.  An establishment run by … wait for it … a Lebanese family.  I know.

I’ve been making my own pizza since I was a kid, and I spent decades trying to find the perfect canned sauce.  God help me, for some reason it never occurred to me to just make my own sauce.  It’s like I had a pizza sauce mental block. When I finally  grabbed a pan, some tomato sauce and a few spices I was stunned at the incredible results.  

I came up with a pizza sauce recipe that would make any Lebanese proud.  An Italian too, I think.  And an Asian baby.  And of course all lesbians.


pizza sauce


Just sautee the garlic in some olive oil for a little bit, then shove in everything else and simmer until reduced to pizza sauce thickness.  Takes about a half an hour or so.  If you don’t happen to have 4 cups of home pressed tomatoes around you can use crushed tomatoes or even tomato juice with a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste added in.  (the tomato juice and tomato paste concoction will take longer to reduce)

Homemade Pizza Sauce

An easy homemade pizza sauce that taste 100% better than anything from a can. Plus it's done in half an hour.
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Author: Karen


  • 1 litre tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp oregano dried
  • 1/4 tsp basil dried
  • 1/4 tsp dried pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch garlic powder
  • 1 pinch onion powder
  • 1 pinch thyme
  • 1 clove garlic


  • Sauté garlic in olive oil over low heat until it starts to smell good.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened. - about 1/2 an hour.


If you don't happen to have 4 cups of home pressed tomatoes around you can use crushed tomatoes, canned tomato sauce or even tomato juice with a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste added in.  (the tomato juice and tomato paste concoction will take longer to reduce)

Now, as happy as I am with the pizza sauce, if you’re interested in a more classic Italian pizza sauce recipe, that’s in the step-by-step guide to pizza post I mentioned earlier.


  1. KEITH LUTZ says:

    I live in a condo, so I have limited space. I do have a garden in a public plot so I have lots of tomatoes. I don’t have room for the tomato sauce so I go right to the pizza sauce stage. I put my tomatoes in the blender and whiz them up. Then I strain the resulting juice. The seeds and skin bits are very dry. I have a recipe that I got years ago for pizza sauce, but I use it for everything. It’s nice and thick. I add the citric acid and salt, and water bath can the product. This has saved me lots of shelf space and I’m not dead yet.

  2. Cynthia Armstrong says:

    Thanks so much for your recipe. This tomato sauce is so good I’m fighting the temptation to put a straw into the pot and drink it!

  3. That Guy says:

    Duck babies and llama babies have Asians and kittens beat, but the All-Time, Grand Champeen of Cuteness is goat babies.
    Kittens take to long to get to the goofy, silly, drop the lifestyle of the moderately wealthy and kinda famous, to start blogging stage.
    On another tangent, dug the pond out this year, so the forge and pizza oven are coming out of the clay(and cow goat and chicken poop) that is drying on the hill.
    The first pizza is going to the neighbour, gotta let that bake out a bit.

  4. Karen says:

    Well, Mel, then lucky for you the recipe is actually printed right on the photo. (there was never a link to the recipe because of that, lol) ~ karen!

  5. Mel Robicheau says:

    Nooooo the photo with the recipe is broken! I should have printed it, I’m making pizza tonight!

  6. Nancy S in Winnipeg says:

    I also like just a hint of cinnamon in the sauce. Just like I used to get at the old Tropicana Pizza in Calgary 30 years ago. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. Tracey says:

    You’re super sweet to reply, knowing how busy you are! Thanks!
    Oh and, I just have to tell you that my husband keeps pestering me to tell you that he’s had a crush on you since we first saw you on TV, I’m thinking it was when we first started dating…18-20 years ago?! he still thinks you are super hot. He was all excited when THE Karen Bertelsen said he was correct about the Chili recipe. LOL
    There, I said it…now he can stop bugging me. Actually, I should sign him up for your newsletter. I’m always sharing your tips anyway…then he can do his own commenting. and we can sign up for your new video classes (which I’m super excited for) and he can watch you. I hope that doesn’t sound creepy. Really…he’s a relatively normal guy LOL

  8. Tracey says:

    Hi Karen, I’m obviously WAY late to this post…but I’m excited to try the recipe. You had me at “the Colonnade in Ottawa). My fave pizze is absolutely The Colonnade in Ottawa. The pizza sauce recipe is a pretty well guarded secret. In fact, I think a couple of family members broke off and started another “colonnade”, but thank goodness the sauce tastes the same. It is the key ingredient for sure. I’ve been trying to analyze it. We always get a side order of sauce with our pizza and I’m sure there is Parmesan cheese cooked into the sauce. It is sweet too. My spaghetti sauce recipe (handed down from my grandmother) calls for the addition of some grated Parmesan. Just the stuff you buy already grated. The texture and look of the little white bits that never totally dissolve look the same as Colonnade Sauce. Have a great day (if you’ve even had time to read this way to long comment) :-)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tracey – I have to tell you my sauce is really good. It definitely isn’t a replica of the Colonnade, but it’ll be a good starting point for you. Just adjust the sugar and add parmesan if you want. Just keep stirring and tasting near the end of the simmering and you should do A Okay. ~ karen!

  9. Samantha Turner says:

    absolutely love this!! finally PIZZA SAUCE not marinara sauce ( which happens to be every frekin recipe i find. if I wanted marinara sauce I would have pasta, not pizza) I add cayenne to it to give a little kick, I get complements every time i make pizza. Thank you for sharing this treasure.

    • Karen says:

      You’re welcome Samantha! I’m having it tonight as a matter of fact. Might add a touch more sugar. I like an extra sweet sauce the odd time. ~ karen!

      • That Guy Again says:

        Sundried tomatoes add a huge tomato flavour and the perfect bit of sweet to pizza sauce.
        Reconstitute like normal, then add them and the cooking liquid to your pizza sauce, buzz with the blender.

  10. Julie says:

    I just tried this recipe for the first time although I’ve been wanting to try it for a while. I used sauce that was seasoned with garlic so I skipped the first sauce. My husband couldn’t believe it was homemade. He asked if there was some secret pizza seasoning in it. I said yes and showed him your recipe. Needless to say it was a huge hit! I will eventually post about it on my blog and tell everyone they need to find the recipe here!

  11. Evalyn says:

    To make tomato paste have a sweet taste and also intensify the tomato flavor, allow the sauce to scortch just a bit. No major sticking to the pan, just a little sizzle – carmelizing, if you will. I use commercial tomato paste, and after browning the onion and garlic, I make an open space it the pan, dump in the paste and stir to prevent sticking, but let it brown a bit on the bottom, then proceed with the other ingredients.

  12. Amy says:

    I just made your pizza sauce tonight for the first time and it was WONDERFUL! So good. So perfect. Thank you! I just started with canned tomato sauce & it was super easy.

    I made it on this pizza crust that I also tried for the first time: I know, we don’t eat wheat, though, so I experiment with strange crusts and it was surprisingly good.

    Also, I pinned your recipe to Pinterest. I try to pin your posts as much as possible because I feel like I should really share with others the wonderfulness that is your blog. So as long as you have a picture with your post, I can pin it, and I often do. :)

    • Karen says:

      THanks Amy! I appreciate when people give back. :) I really do. Glad you liked the sauce! I’ve been thinking of making pizza lately. Like … right this very minute. ~ karen!

  13. Anj says:

    Ahh memories of Lebanese Pizza, you made me smile. Funny since way back when when we had that fantastic pizza I have always souped up my pizza sauce to make it more like the Lebanese sauce. I usually do it by the lazy girl method of spread the sauce on the pizza and shake a bit of sugar on and shake on some dried basil and dried oregano. Then leave it sit for 2 – 3 minutes while it melds and then proceed with dressing the pizza. It’s not perfect but better than out of the can.
    My perfect pizza is always a light layer of cheese (either Sargento Italiano or hand grated Mozarella, Parmesan Reggiano and Provolone) then all my toppings Pepperoni, Green Peppers, Black Olives, Sundried Tomatoes, Then more cheese to mostly cover the toppings. Mushrooms I fry in a pan and add on top halfway through cooking so they don’t make the pizza too wet.
    The perfect slightly chunky, slightly sweet canned “Lebanese substitute” pizza sauce was from Gatusso. Excitingly it is still from Gatusso and every once in a while I find it at Walmart. Next time I find it I will pick you up some. Anj

  14. Cheri says:

    Hi Karen- just catching up on your blog posts! This one really gave me a chuckle,actually, they all do. This one made me laugh out loud. In the Hudson Valley of NY where I’m from, we have ALOT of good pizza(being only an hour and a half north of the city). But, the absolute best pizza in the area is made by two guys that are Lebanese! The second best pizza I’ve ever had is made by my lesbian sister’s girlfriend! Three cheers for Lebonese and lesbians!

  15. Erika says:

    I was just wondering if this recipie freezes well. I’m thinking about making a double or triple batch to freeze. So that I can have pizza night with my family once a week and eliminate one step. Also I’m thinking I want to cook the sauce in my slow cooker. Have you tried this?

    • Karen says:

      Erika – No, I haven’t tried to do it in the slow cooker. It doesn’t take very long to cook the sauce down … maybe a half an hour or so. And yes, it freezes perfectly! Sometimes it’ll thicken up a bit, in which case just add a tiny bit of water to thin it down if you want. I always make extra sauce whenever I make any kind of red sauce and freeze it for later use. And I’m always really excited when I realize I have sauce already made and frozen in the freezer. ‘Cause I’m easily excited. ~ karen

      • Erika says:

        I was just wondering if this recipie freezes well. I’m thinking about making a double or triple batch to freeze. So that I can have pizza night with my family once a week and eliminate one step. Also I’m thinking I want to cook the sauce in my slow cooker. Have you tried this?This recipie sounds similar to the spegetti and meatball sauce that you have posted before. I have 2children under 3 so I had the idea to slow cook the sauce and use it for pizza and spegetti. I had the idea to slow cook it because it would be less effort. ( I’ m not lazy just tired ) so really I’m just trying to malty task with the hopes of it turning out good. Yes when I do sleep I spell better. Ha ah ha

  16. Candace says:

    Any recipe for a white pizza??? <~~in super "i hope you do" look, because all this pizza talk is making me crave pizze white or not :)

  17. Jane says:

    Just found your blog this week through Pinterest and love it! You are a great writer: you make me laugh while being informed about interesting “stuff.” I was wondering if there is a recipe or method for the home pressed tomatoes. Thanks!

  18. Gayla T says:

    I don’t care for pasta in sweeter sauces so I’m wondering about on a pizza but I’m going to try it for the simple reason that I have never made a sauce that really tasted great. I used to have a darling neighbor who called to tell me that she had met the woman who had bought the house between us. She said she was kind of worried because she thought the woman was a Lisbon. So I’m thinking Portugal and asked her if she was first generation and she said that she didn’t think it ran in families. I said, no I mean is she the first to live in this country and she said no, don’t you know that San Francisco is full of them. Then it dawned on my that she was a lesbian. I never hear or read the word Lesbian w/o thinking, Oh, the ladies from Lisbon. We used to have a pizza place that only made deep sish that was baked and served in a round cake pan. They greased the pan so the crust was crispy and my mouth is watering to think of it. For some reason mom and pop places never stay for long here in KS so one of the chain pizza places is it! I make good crust but I usually open a jar of sauce and then spice it up a bit. Dang it, now I’m hungry for pizza and it 2 am.

  19. Leslie Zuroski says:

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! Do you happen to know of a great thin crust pizza dough recipe?

    • JD says:

      Any basic pizza dough recipe will work. The key is to knead the dough (I recommend by mixer or food processor – I tried by hand and it takes forever!) until you can pinch off a small piece and pull it until it is ‘window-pane’ thin without it tearing. Watch Good Eats ‘Flat is Beautiful’ episode for a good demonstration. Then you can roll/stretch it as thin as you want. I cook my thin crusts on unglazed quarry tiles I got for $3 at Home Depot & it creates a more clay oven-like effect.

  20. Shauna says:

    My husband makes the best pizza crust that’s who;) Actually, we make fried pizza and it’s so easy and soooo delicious! You first fry the dough in a bunch of olive oil and then you add your cheese & toppings and then heat it in your pizza oven on your pizza stone at a really high temperature. Sooooo yummy!

  21. Amy Schmucker says:

    Another day of giggles and more. Love it.

  22. Chau says:

    Please explain the term “An Asian Baby”.

  23. Nancy says:

    Your are so right that the sauce makes the pizza..I always like to add a little sugar to anything with tomato sauce or just taste better to me with a little sweetness..never thought of using brown sugar though..Will give it a try..I will be looking for the crust recipe tomorrow..Thanks once again Karen!!

  24. Tricia Rose says:

    You have me so fired up I am going to make pasta puttanesca tonight. We had pizza the other day.

    After my husband killed the microwave we bought one with a pizza drawer (feeling like college kids) and you wouldn’t believe how useful that thing is!

  25. Liz S. says:

    Giggle. My morning amusement and learning a new recipe at the same time.

  26. Gettinby says:

    This is crazy. [i]I[/i] did a post on pizza dough today. Let me know what you think!

  27. Scouty says:

    Colonnade Pizza use to be the best in Ottawa, not so sure it still is….
    The neighbourhood pizza place run by the ladies (and yes that would be Lebanese ladies) is pretty darn good.

  28. Annie says:

    Yum, Colonnade Pizza. It was a Friday night tradition for us for years. Thanks for reminding me. What about New York pizza is there a Lebanese link there? My favourite is from John’s on Bleeker Street. Just sauce, cheese and slivered garlic. Heaven.

  29. Debbie Neal says:

    Can you post this so we can copy and paste into our recipe files? I can not copt it!

  30. sauceangeles says:

    As a lesbian (who is not Lebanese, not that there’s anything wrong with that), I will have to try this sauce!

  31. V. says:

    @Marti Neapolitian? would that be napolitan pizza? or made by a new polititian? :) I agree napolitan pizza is the best! I get to visit Napoli around 8 or 9 times a year, but I prefer pizza alla romana, that is tomato sauce, mozzarella and cooked prosciutto.

  32. Emily says:

    I was just thinking last night, I bet I could make this myself! And voila! Recipe for exactly that!

  33. Barbie says:

    Perhaps I should go into the pizza business…and perhaps this is why my sister “has”….we are Lebanese…..well….part Lebanese… grandfather on my fathers side is from Lebanon….full Lebanese. However I never learned any Lebanese dishes and so this gives me great hope that perhaps I can now make a great pizza sauce! My sister’s Italian husband may want to take the credit for the sauce so I am going to have to correct him on that! This could get ugly.

    PS: I couldn’t agree with you more about the asian babies!

  34. Beverly says:

    I dated a Lebanese guy way back when and his mom was the best cook I have ever met hands down. She didn’t make pizza, but she did make this “pasta” (not to be confused with Italian pasta) that had noodles and tomato sauce and the sauce was sweet! Oh, I miss his mom.

  35. Nicole2 says:

    Hmmm, my first boss was a Lebanese lesbian. No lies. Now I wonder if she made good pizza.

    And come to think of it, the little hole in the wall where we buy our pizza is definitely not run by Italians. Now I’m wondering if they’re Lebanese. Because they make the best darn pizza pie in town.

  36. Jen says:

    I tried to cobble together some sort of pizza sauce just like week. I’ll bookmark this one, and try it! FYI: One day I read your new post….and then also read the comments, on your last post. Alost as good as the original….but there’s no one like you Karen. :) (Just finished reading all the comments on throwing away 50 things…..Rick Mercer=National Treasure…pretty obvious over how many of us were concerned over that bookmark…LOL!

  37. Alissa S says:

    I made your “best pesto sauce in the world” recipe…. stuck it in the freezer and later used that on homemade whole wheat pizza crust…. amazing! By the way, I’m in Madagascar and there’s no Lebanese here but all the other nationalities in this country… well that can’t make a good pizza to save their lives.

  38. Colin Wheeler says:

    Just a point though, the Lebanese people are not a separate race. They are just a different nationality. Let’s not get confused about race and nationality.

  39. Karen, what consistency are we after? My pizza sauce always seems to be too runny or too dry!

  40. arlene says:

    I beg to differ. Try this…buy 3 pints grape tomatoes. Throw them in a heavy frying pan with a couple glugs of olive oil, start the fire under it and cook on lowish till they are popping the skins. Add a few cloves of peeled, rough chopped garlic and a pinch of good salt. Cook on. When it’s all soft, whir it with the immersion blender and get it smooth. Throw in some fresh chopped basil. You will think Lebanon is an imaginary land of childhood fantasy. With no colour. Or lesbians.

  41. Robyn says:

    When I au-paired in Paris many many many years ago, it was for a Lebanese family. And she really did make the best pizza. I might ask her for her recipe and see how that compares to yours ;-)

  42. Micol says:

    What!!! Excuse me!!!! You must be kidding!!
    Karen, I really love you… But you can’t say that. You must get here in italy and taste pizza in Naples and in Rome.
    That’s all… Now I’m gonna go on and pretend this post doesn’t exist.

  43. Add a vanilla bean and a star anise to this sauce, strain the water out instead of cooking it down, put it on the pizza raw, and you have the best Italian pizza sauce in the world. Assuming that you don’t use crap tomatoes, of course.

    • missnicoleo says:

      I had pizza a few times when I was in Rome, and meh. perhaps my expectations were too high.

      • JD says:

        No – the Italians really don’t put any spices in their pizza sauce. None. They take pure tomato puree and chuck it on. Oregano & garlic are separate toppings – seriously. You have to request them if you want them. They sure as heck wouldn’t be using vanilla beans and star anise. Which is fine by me and I would not care for those things in a tomato sauce. They also don’t cover the pizza in cheese but dot it around which means it will never really be ‘dripping’ w/ cheese. The best pizza I’ve had is in New York, but that’s just me. I have yet to try Lebanese pizza.

  44. Leslie Zuroski says:

    Hmmm, interesting, but I already have the very best pizza sauce ever.

  45. Marti says:

    I’m gonna call “Canookian” on you. Which isn’t a problem. Different is good… as long as I can have the Neapolitian-Style Pizza (chunkier tomatos, better cheese, thin crust, cooked at very high temperature) and you eat your Lebanese-Lesbian style.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just eat with the Other Team.

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