Turn diced tomatoes into personalized, homemade, pizza sauce
This recipe uses diced tomatoes, some fresh herbs, and a slow cooker to create a delicious, mostly hands off, pizza sauce. In my opinion, you can’t make fresh pizza without also making fresh sauce. Fresh sauce tastes so much more complex, flavorful, and generally better than cheap store bought pizza sauce. The sauce from this recipe will elevate your homemade pizza to new heights. It’s one of my favorite ways to use diced garden tomatoes.
From garden vines to fresh pizza
Every year I grow a ton of tomatoes and preserve them in jars. By the time the next harvest rolls around, I still have a bunch of jars of last year’s tomatoes. That’s where this recipe comes in! I can take a bunch of last year’s tomatoes and reduce them into some of the best pizza sauce I’ve ever had.
In fact, I used my homemade pizza sauce in my recipe on Naan Pizza.
What kind of tomatoes should I use in my pizza sauce?
This recipe is written using diced tomatoes, but you can really use any tomato prepared in any style. This recipe is designed to slowly condense a large quantity of tomato matter into a thick, rich sauce. Since the tomatoes lose their initial consistency as they turn into sauce, you can use any kind of tomato. Whole, chopped, diced, sauced, grab whatever is cheap or convenient.
Use every part of the tomato for pizza sauce
When I say you can use any kind of tomato, I really mean it. In prior years, I saved all the juice while canning tomatoes and slow cooked that down into pizza sauce. I’m not joking, I turned a literal gallon of tomato juice into pizza sauce.
The only thing I wouldn’t include in this sauce are the leaves and stems.
Drain the water from your canned tomatoes first.
That said, if you’re starting from jars or cans of tomato, you can drain off the extra water from the can first. This will greatly reduce the length of time you have to let the pizza sauce cook. The long initial cook time is intended to remove water and thicken the tomatoes.
If you’re using tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes, don’t worry about this tip, the sauce will still come out great.
Use smoked tomatoes for jaw dropping pizza sauce
This year I used smoked diced tomatoes to make pizza sauce. I’ve been smoking tomatoes for a couple years now, and they’re my favorite way to use tomatoes. A smoky tomato sauce flavor is both savory and wholly unique. You get all of the same acidic tomato goodness, but also a second smokey layer that creates a very dynamic sauce. I can’t say too much more except to stress that you should give it a shot!
You can check out my guide on how to smoke tomatoes for more detail.
What kind of spices should I put in pizza sauce?
Spicing is one of the chief ways you can customize your pizza sauce. I like to use fresh herbs, but if you only have dried herbs, they’ll work well too. The core spices I use also come from my garden:
Other common additions include:
- Garlic powder
- Onion Powder
- Chili Pepper
If you want to make a spicy red sauce like you might find at a Blaze Pizza, add a couple minced hot peppers to the sauce.
If you’re using store bought tomatoes, you might want to create a deeper flavor. For this I would recommend adding a few tablespoons to a quarter cup of paprika.
Do I have to use a slow cooker or crock pot to make pizza sauce?
In short, you should really try to use some sort of slow cooker. Slow cookers are a very safe way to cook for a long time, and very hands off. You could put all of your tomatoes in a stock pot and slowly simmer it. This method would work, but you’ll have to actively manage and stir the tomatoes to keep them from burning. A dutch oven could similarly work, but it would be way less efficient to run an oven all day than it would be to use a crock pot.
One possible alternative is to use a pressure cooker with a slow cooker setting. If you want to use a pressure cooker or instant pot in this way, make sure to leave the lid propped open so that the tomatoes will boil off their excess liquid.
How to speed up making pizza sauce
I recommend starting your slow cooker on the high setting with the lid on for the first couple hours. A slow cooker full of room temperature tomatoes takes a while to heat up, and you can shave a few hours off the total cook time by accelerating the initial heat up. A couple hours on high won’t burn the tomatoes, but will heat them a lot faster then starting on low.
After the tomatoes are hot and steaming, you can reduce the temperature to low and crack the lid open. The slow cooker should continue to cook your tomatoes down without any burning.
How to store homemade pizza sauce from diced tomatoes
I like to freeze my pizza sauce in small bags for easy use. After cooking, let the sauce cool, and then scoop 1 cup of sauce into individual sealable sandwich bags. Squish any air out of the bags, and seal them. That way you can stack the bags and freeze them.
Each 1 cup bag is enough to make two 12 inch pizzas with a bit left over as dipping sauce.
Why you should let your pizza sauce cool first
Even if you don’t bag and freeze your sauce, I still recommend letting your sauce cool overnight before using it. Fresh out of the slow cooker I find the sauce can taste a bit acidic. By letting it cool, the flavors will mellow and meld together and take on a true pizza sauce taste.
Recipe for Pizza Sauce from Diced Tomatoes
Pizza Sauce From Diced Tomatoes
- 1 slow cooker crock pot
- 1 Food processor or blender
- 4 quarts diced tomatoes or any kind of tomato
- 14 grams fresh oregano Estimated, use half if doing dried herbs
- 8 grams fresh basil Estimated, use half if doing dried herbs
- 4 grams thyme Estimated, use half if doing dried herbs
- Start by filling your slow cooker almost to the top with tomatoes. I got four quarts of tomatoes in mine. Set the slow cooker to high heat and close the lid. Let the tomatoes cook for 2 hours.
- Stir and then lower the slow cooker to low. Place the lid over the slow cooker askew, so that it will readily vent steam. Set the slow cooker to run overnight, at least 8 hours.
- After 8-12 hours, check in on the tomatoes. They should be lower in the pot and still actively steaming. Stir them and scrape the sides so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the stock pot.
- Wash and de-stem your herbs. Add the herbs and other spices into the slow cooker and stir together. Pour the tomatoes and herbs into a blender or food processor and blend together. This will break down the herbs and improve the consistency of the sauce. You shouldn’t need to blend more than 1 minute
- Return the tomatoes to the slow cooker. Reset the lid askew and continue cooking on low heat for 2 more hours.
- Check the slow cooker until the consistency of the tomatoes is thick and matches what you would expect for pizza sauce. Depending on the water content of your starting tomatoes, you may need to cook for additional time.
- Once your sauce has reached the right consistency, stir the pizza sauce, turn off the slow cooker, and let it chill to room temperature.Store the sauce in baggies, about 1 cup of sauce per bag. Refrigerate or freeze the sauce as desired. Enjoy 🙂