A Detailed Guide on the Common Types of Pizza Sauce

June 19, 2021
4 mins read

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Standing in front of the display case at a pizza restaurant can be an overwhelming ordeal. Should you choose based on the colorful, sizzling toppings or the gleaming cheese?

There is one more component to consider when making your choice. Below, sandwiched between crust and cheese, is a flavorful layer that can make or break your meal. 

The secret’s in the sauce! Do you know what’s on your favorite slice? 

There are many types of pizza sauce out there, and their differences are as subtle as the seasoning! Not sure what to order the next time you get delivery? Learning more about this essential ingredient can make your choice much easier.

Read on to learn about the many types of pizza sauce that you can find in the average pizzeria! 

Types of Pizza Sauce: Reds

Eating pizza can be an odyssey for your taste buds, and so much of that flavor comes from the sauce. Tomato sauce may be the default, but not every “red sauce” is equal. Here are a few of the most common types of red pizza sauce and where you can expect to find them. 

Sweet Tomato Sauce

On your average New York-style pizza, a sweet red tomato sauce is often the default. These sauces are delicious because they contain more than sweet tomatoes. Much of that sweetness comes from sugar!

Chefs use sugar to sweeten sauce during preparation to create that iconic flavor. More often than not, the sweet flavor comes from brown sugar, but recipes do vary. Seasonings can add a tangy taste, so you may not notice how sweet the sauce is without them!

The type of tomatoes used in your average tomato pizza sauce can vary. Plum tomato sauce is popular on a New York slice. If you know where to look, you may find a fancier slice with a sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes. 

Arrabbiata Sauce

Spicy tomato sauce, also called Arrabbiata, adds a nice kick to your pizza. The heat comes from combining both tomatoes and peppers to enrich the flavor. The kind of peppers can vary, but it’s the heat that’s important when you’re building spicy flavors.

A spicy sauce might also have other forms of pepper in the seasoning. Black pepper, cayenne pepper, and hot red pepper flakes can add some heat, too!

Marinara Sauce

The difference between pizza sauce and marinara sauce starts in the pot. Italian chefs cook the marinara sauce in advance. In contrast, a typical tomato-based pizza sauce cooks in the oven with the crust.

This extra time gives marinara a thinner consistency but a richer flavor. You will also taste the flavors of basil and cheese, as they are key ingredients!

Vodka Sauce

Vodka sauce tends to be more pink or orange, but it falls into the category of ‘red sauce’ because of its tomato base. It is rich and creamy and gets its flavor from both vodka and heavy cream.

It may be one of the more uncommon pizza sauce options, but almost every New York pizzeria has a vodka slice on the menu. In fact, you can often find a Penne a la Vodka slice, which has pasta baked right onto the crust! While you should avoid this slice on a diet, it is a wonderful feast for the vodka sauce fan!

Types of Pizza Sauce: Whites

The kinds of pizza sauce available go beyond the red, tomato-based options. If you’re avoiding acid for dietary reasons, there is often a delicious white sauce option on hand. 

Alfredo Sauce

Alfredo sauce is heavier than your average tomato sauce. That is because Alfredo (also known as Bianco in Italy), is cream and cheese-based! While rich, it is a decadent choice for a daring pizza fan.

The sauce arrived in America in 1920 and has been a favorite ever since. You’ve most likely had it on fettuccine! Alfredo pizza is not uncommon as a tomato-free option in pizzerias across the country.

One of the more popular pizza styles in New York is the ‘white slice.’ This is a pizza with alfredo sauce, mozzarella, and ricotta cheese on top. It can be heavy, but it is a cheese lover’s dream! 

Garlic and Oil Sauce

Who doesn’t love garlic bread? If you have ever wanted to combine garlic bread and cheesy pizza, then try a garlic and oil-based pizza sauce. 

Wiseguypizzapie.com has a pizza on their menu called ‘Metro Guy.’ It’s a slice topped with chicken, lemon, and feta cheese, and is slathered with this more unique sauce option. 

Types of Pizza Sauce: Specialty Sauces

One of the benefits of pizza is its versatility! If you are open to something unique, there are sauce options out there that go beyond red and white. If you think a green pizza might be part of your next culinary adventure, you’re in luck!

Pesto Sauce

Pesto sauce is green because of olive oil and basil, which are the sauce’s main ingredients. It’s cheesy and flavorful, and might even have a bit of crunch from pine nuts or walnuts!

Barbeque Sauce

Barbeque sauce pizza is a popular favorite among those who crave that tangy taste! The kind of barbeque sauce used varies by pizza shop, but you can expect a distinctive, smoky flavor. It pairs well with mozzarella cheese and grilled chicken.

Buffalo Sauce

Buffalo sauce isn’t only for wings, but it’s a great option for wings fans on pizza night! Buffalo sauce pizza is often paired with chicken, ranch dressing, and even celery. It may be an acquired taste, but it is very popular among buffalo chicken lovers all over!

There’s a Sauce for Everybody

There are many types of pizza sauce out there waiting for you whether you’re fond of red, white, or another color!  If you’re ready for a little adventure, get out there and try something different on your next slice! If you’d rather stay traditional, sweet tomato sauce will never let you down.

Did this article make you hungry? Check out the rest of the blog for more delectable culinary breakdowns!


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