* If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

17 BEST Pizza Sauce Substitutes + 2 to Avoid  

I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of pizza sauce substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.

Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured that I’ve got you covered.

Marinara sauce or jarred pasta sauce are great substitutes for pizza sauce. And if you don’t like tomatoes, try roasted red pepper sauce instead. Want to whip up a decadent pizza? Use ricotta cheese or Alfredo sauce!

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

The experiment

I baked threw a pizza party to try out all the different pizza sauce substitutes I could think of (it was such a fun night!).

Classic pizza sauce is often made with tomatoes and boasts a simple sweet-acidic flavor that serves as the base for different tasty toppings. But there are loads of different things you can use.

Here’s are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:

SubstitutesHow to SubstituteVerdict
Homemade Pizza SauceReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Marinara SauceReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Jarred Spaghetti SauceReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Roasted Red Pepper SauceReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
PestoReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Ricotta CheeseReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
BBQ SauceReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10

Homemade pizza sauce

Making homemade pizza sauce is a breeze to make thanks to Chef John’s classic recipe

The recipe uses whole canned tomatoes crushed by hand, creating a fresh, vibrant sauce. Passata works well too.

There’s some fresh oregano in there – an iconic herb that lends an authentic Italian touch to the sauce. 

But the true secret ingredient here? Anchovy filets.

The anchovies break down during cooking and enhance the sauce with a dash of saltiness and a rich umami kick. YUM! 

How to substitute: Replace pizza sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with this homemade pizza sauce.

Marinara sauce

Let’s talk about marinara, another crowd favorite. It shares a similar tomato base to the traditional pizza sauce but it has a more robust flavor profile. 

This is because marinara typically contains additional ingredients like garlic and onions, enhancing the overall taste.

Marinara is also thinner than pizza sauce, so you might want to reduce it over the stove to avoid a watery pizza.

Pssst… if you think marinara is a bit boring, you can explore other tomato-based sauces like arrabbiata, or even vodka sauce

How to substitute: Replace pizza sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with marinara sauce.

Jarred pasta sauce

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Pasta sauce? On pizza?” Trust me, it gets the job done! 

It’s still tomato-based, so you’ll still get to enjoy that sweet-acidic goodness. 

And there’s so much choice in terms of flavor. You can keep it simple with a basil sauce. Or go all out and find a meaty option for your pizza.

Like marinara sauce, pasta sauces tend to be on the thinner side, so I recommend cooking them down a bit to thicken.

How to substitute: Replace pizza sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with jarred pasta sauce.

Roasted red pepper sauce

Roasted red pepper sauce is a delightful replacement for pizza sauce if you’re not a fan of tomato-based sauces. 

It still gives your pizza that appealing pop of red, but it’s slightly sweeter than your typical pizza sauce.

Plus, it has a hint of smokiness that’ll add depth to your pizza.

And if you’re up for a culinary adventure, why not give spicy muhammara a shot? 

It’s a red pepper and walnut spread hailing from the Middle East. I love it.

How to substitute: Replace pizza sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with roasted red pepper sauce.


Pesto is a complete departure from classic pizza sauce, but it’s a tasty alternative. 

This Italian paste is bright and herby – the perfect contrast to cheese and salty meat toppings (or vegetables for my veggie friends).

Regular green pesto is made with basil, but if you want to keep things tomato-based you can go with a sun-dried tomato pesto.

Or go crazy and try aubergine pesto!

One downside to this sub is that it will be more expensive than pizza sauce.

How to substitute: Replace pizza sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with pesto.

Ricotta cheese

Who says pizza has to have a sauce? 

Take inspiration from classic pizza Bianca and load your pizza dough straight with ricotta cheese.

This creates a luscious, creamy base for your toppings. YUM!

The catch is ricotta has a milder flavor than pizza sauce, so I like mixing in a pinch of Italian seasoning for a tastier base. 

And one of my guests even mixed in a dollop of ketchup for that tomato-ey tang.

How to substitute: Replace pizza sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with ricotta cheese.

Alfredo sauce

Not a fan of ricotta cheese but craving that creamy bite? Try swapping pizza sauce for Alfredo sauce instead.

It’s made with butter, heavy cream, and copious amounts of Parmesan cheese, giving you a rich, cheesy sauce. 

You can buy ready-to-use jars of this sauce for a quick fix or whip up a homemade batch if you have more time to spare. 

Check out my go-to recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen. I always get rave reviews when using this! 

And just like pizza sauce, alfredo is super versatile – pair it with grilled chicken, fresh spinach, or even simple sauteed mushrooms for a meatless treat. 

How to substitute: Replace pizza sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with Alfredo sauce.

BBQ sauce

BBQ sauce is another fantastic option for a pizza sauce substitute.

It boasts a thick, spreadable consistency similar to pizza sauce, making it easy to work with.

But where BBQ sauce truly stands out is in its flavor profile. 

It offers a perfect balance of savory and sweet, with a subtle hint of smokiness that can take your pizza from everyday dinner to a special treat.

This flavorful sauce works best with toppings like grilled chicken, red onions, and cilantro, creating a pizza reminiscent of a hearty BBQ meal. 

And don’t forget the cheese, of course – you can never go wrong with classic mozzarella, but I used smoked gouda and it was a hit! 

How to substitute: Replace pizza sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with BBQ sauce.

Other substitutes to consider

The suggestions above are my top picks for pizza sauce substitutes, but there are lots of other sauces you can try if you want to switch things up:

  • Salsa – this is an excellent alternative if you still want something tomato-based but with a zesty twist – Mexican inspired pizzas anyone? I’d blend the salsa to make it smooth then simmer the sauce to thicken it.
  • Ranch dressing – this has a thinner consistency than pizza sauce, but you can still spread it over your dough. It’s rich and oh-so-creamy but will give you a tangy, herby flavor profile. 
  • Tapenade – this is a spread made of olives often served with crostinis, so why not try it with your pizzas? It’ll bring pure umami goodness to every bite and pairs superbly with mushrooms. 
  • Sweet chili sauce – this will bring a highly addictive sweet-spicy kick to your classic pizzas. You can use a regular bottle of sweet chili sauce or make your own from scratch, like with Pinch of Yum’s recipe.
  • Hoisin sauce – this is another unconventional option as a pizza sauce alternative, but this condiment has been often dubbed as “Chinese BBQ sauce” for its salty-sweet flavor profile. Give it a try for a fusion pizza.
  • Bechamel sauce this is another option if you want a creamy alternative, but you’ll need to make a roux. It’s also the perfect canvas if you want to jazz up your pizza – spruce this up with your favorite chili paste like harissa or a few drops of buffalo hot sauce. 
  • Chimichurri sauce – this is another non-tomato alternative to pizza sauce. Chimichurri packs a zesty punch with subtle heat and will bring a refreshing pop of green to your pizza. 
  • Hummus – this is a great alternative to pizza sauce if you want something creamy but still healthy. Pair it with artichokes, olives, and spinach for a Mediterranean flair. 
  • Fig jam – this is an excellent gourmet alternative to pizza sauce. It’s fantastic when paired with salty cold cuts. 

Substitutes to avoid

I encountered these suggestions during my research, so I tried them. But I don’t recommend.

  • Olive oil  – most websites recommend infusing the olive oil with garlic, but this just doesn’t work as a pizza base. all the topping will side off! Save it to use for dipping the crusts in.
  • Ketchup – this accessible condiment is made with tomatoes, but I think it’s a travesty to use on pizza, especially when you have a whole host of other sauces to explore. It’s way too sweet for my liking as well.

What’s the difference between pizza and pasta sauce?

 In terms of flavor, pizza sauce often has a simpler taste since you’ll be pairing it with other toppings like cheese and meat. 

And as previously mentioned, pizza sauce has a thicker consistency because it typically has tomato paste as an ingredient.

This consistency allows you to easily spread it over your dough. 

But at the end of the day, these sauces are both tomato-based, and you can definitely use one for the other, with only a few adjustments needed! 

17 Best Pizza Sauce Substitutes + 2 to Avoid  

I tested loads of pizza sauce substitutes to find the best one. I also provided a homemade version if you want to give it a try.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: pizza sauce substitutes, substitutes for pizza sauce
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 136kcal


  • 1 can whole peeled san marzano tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes, adjust to taste
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • small pinch of baking soda


  • Over medium-low heat in a large sauce pan, cook the anchovy fillets with olive oil. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  • Add the fresh oregano and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the oregano has wilted.
  • Add in the tomatoes, pepper flakes, and dried oregano. Bring to a simmer then season with sugar, pepper , and salt. Leave to simmer while occasionally stirring until the oil rises to the top. Add baking soda until well-incorporated.
  • Use immediately or store in a lidded jar inside your fridge.


other options: marinara sauce, jarred spaghetti sauce, roasted red pepper sauce, pesto, ricotta cheese, alfredo sauce, BBQ sauce, salsa, ranch dressing, tapenade, sweet chili sauce, balsamic glaze, bechamel sauce. chimichurri sauce, hummus, fig jam, 


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 136kcal

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating