Last Updated on 23rd April 2022 by
Pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce are the same thing, right? You can use them interchangeably if you wanted to, but there are some subtle differences that chefs can pick out easily, as can anyone who knows what to look for.
Pizza and spaghetti are two major comfort foods for college students, large families, and couples trying to find a cheap meal they can agree on together. You would think that most people could tell the difference between the two sauces. That’s not often true, though, especially since those who make their own pizza at home will often use spaghetti sauce as quick and easy pizza sauce.
It is usually cheaper to buy a big can of spaghetti sauce than a medium-sized jar of pizza sauce, so it makes sense that people on a budget would use spaghetti sauce on homemade pizza.
Are they missing out on anything, though? Are they simply making pizza the wrong way? Some of this comes down to personal preference and what people are used to, of course, but there is a specific kind of sauce designed for pizzas and known as pizza sauce, just as there is a specific kind of sauce known as spaghetti sauce. The two terms are not interchangeable, even if they are often used that way.
Let us look at what differentiates these two kinds of common sauces.
What’s the Difference?
A comparison of spaghetti sauce vs pizza sauce reveals a key difference between them. They may share a lot of similarities, which is why it is understandable that the two would be mixed up or conflated for one another, but there is a distinguishing feature between them.
What would that feature be, you may wonder? Well, pizza sauce is uncooked and pasta sauce, or spaghetti sauce, is cooked. That is really all that separates these two, and any debate over pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce boils down to that simple answer. If it is cooked, it’s pasta sauce, and if it is uncooked, it is pizza sauce.
Of course, they both need to be made from tomatoes, and they are both typically seasoned. If there is no seasoning, then you are just eating tomato paste. It’s the cooking that really matters, though, and if you are wondering about how you can tell the difference between pizza vs spaghetti sauce, that’s all there is to it.
What Happens When You Use the Wrong One?
You may be interested to know if the difference can be tasted. If you have never thought of pizza sauce vs marinara vs spaghetti sauce, and you always thought they were the same thing, then you may not have noticed there is anything different about them.
Once you realise that they are different foods, though, then you may notice a taste difference. Pizza sauce needs to be uncooked when it is placed on the pizza, because that gives it some extra zing and zip. This is true even after it has been baked in the oven- you can still taste that zippier, zestier flavour.
That is important since the sauce is going on top of a bread. You need some extra flavour to counter the blandness and thickness of the bread. Pizza bread tends to be a bit dull, and if your sauce is dull too, it won’t be a very good pizza.
Pasta sauce may have some spices and other ingredients to give it some added flavour. It may have meat or veggies to help the pasta feel more like a meal. That’s not necessary with pizza sauce, since your toppings accomplish the same thing.
Chunky Vs Smooth
Sometimes, pasta sauce is chunky, packed with chopped tomatoes and peppers, making it almost a salsa, but not quite that thick. Pizza sauce is almost never made like that, and you can immediately tell when someone used chunky spaghetti sauce on a pizza.
Some people like that kind of sauce for their pizza, though, giving it some extra variety and saving them from having to put on so many of their own toppings. Some of the toppings are already in the sauce, so that saves some prep time. If the sauce contains meat as well, then they don’t have to add meat to their pizza either.
For a lot of people, though, chunky pasta sauce will seem out of place on a pizza. It just won’t be the same as traditional pizza sauce, and even if they don’t know the difference between spaghetti sauce vs pizza sauce, they will know that something is different about the sauce that was used.
Pizza Sauce vs Marinara vs Spaghetti Sauce
Did you know that marinara sauce is different from spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce? It is typically used as a pasta sauce, almost interchangeably with spaghetti sauce, but there are some slight differences you should know about.
Marinara sauce is cooked, like spaghetti sauce, but it tends to be thinner and runnier than spaghetti sauce. Nobody who knows the difference would mistake marinara sauce for pizza sauce, but it may be easy to confuse it with spaghetti sauce.
Marinara sauce will not usually contain anything chunky in it, like meat or vegetables, so that definitely puts it in contrast to spaghetti sauce. It is a kind of pasta sauce but is often used on chicken and fish as well.
Comparing pizza vs spaghetti sauce, you can often tell a difference in what kind of seasonings are used in them. Pizza sauce is often made from pureed uncooked tomatoes that contain a few herbs and spices. These may include garlic, balsamic vinegar, some salt, and oregano. Spaghetti sauce can have way more spices than that, and of course chunky bits as well that you normally would not see in pizza sauce.
Spaghetti sauce, like most pasta sauces, tends to have lots of seasoning in it. That’s because the seasoning needs to provide most of the flavour for the dish, whereas pizza sauce can work with the toppings on the pizza to provide the dish with plenty of flavour.
The next time you and your friends are debating pizza sauce vs spaghetti sauce, you will be able to tell them why you may want to use one rather than the other. You will know that they are not the same and know which one to use when you are cooking.
I'm Pauline, a retired patisserie chef, mother of four and now a full time food blogger! When i'm not cooking i love long walks, reading thriller novels and spending time with my grandkids. Head to my about me page to learn more about the woman behind the food! You can find my Facebook here