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Home ยป How To Thicken Pizza Sauce

How To Thicken Pizza Sauce

Thickening pizza sauce is as simple as simmering it down longer or adding thickening agents. Some recipes and traditions call for cooked pizza sauce, while others prefer to keep pizza sauce fresh and uncooked. When differentiating pizza sauce versus marinara sauce, cooked pizza sauce does have a similar consistency, but marinara is more often used for pasta. 

If you’re wondering how long homemade pizza sauce lasts, the answer is about three to five days in the refrigerator. Because it doesn’t have any of the preservatives that store-bought sauces have, it won’t last as long. Similarly, most homemade pizza dough recipes have a shelf life of up to five days when stored in the refrigerator. 

A bowl filled with pizza sauce.

Making Uncooked Sauce Thicker

For those who swear by the charm of Neapolitan-style pizza, it’s all about that fresh, uncooked sauce. This kind of sauce keeps the tomato flavor front and center, vibrant and uncooked, just like your zest for life.

Usually, it’s a simple affair: whole peeled canned tomatoes get a quick whirl, either by hand or machine, and then they’re strained through a fine mesh sieve to ditch the excess watery juice. Because, let’s face it, no one invited that extra water to the pizza party.

Now, if your sauce still feels more like a thin soup than a hearty sauce, here’s a nifty trick to make it thicker: tomato paste. It’s not just for kindergarten art projects; it’s a recipe for success without cooking the sauce.

A spoonful or two can thicken things up and boost the tomato taste, making your sauce go from “meh” to “wow” with minimal effort. And hey, this isn’t just a one-trick pony; if you’re dabbling with cooked sauce and find yourself in a watery predicament, tomato paste has got your back there, too. It’s like the sauce whisperer, turning your watery woes into thick, flavorful victories.

Thickening Cooked Sauce

When you’re aiming for that perfect Detroit-style or Chicago deep-dish masterpiece, the sauce isn’t just a layer; it’s practically the star of the show. Now, getting that sauce to the right thickness?
That’s where a bit of kitchen patience comes into play.

Tomatoes are notorious for their water content, acting like they own the place. So, if you’re finding your sauce more on the watery side, it’s time to let it simmer down—literally.

Crank up the heat to get things boiling, then dial it back and let the sauce simmer. This isn’t a rush job. We’re talking about letting it bubble away gently, stirring now and then to make sure it doesn’t stick or burn.

The goal here is to coax the water out, leaving you with a thicker sauce that’s got attitude and flavor to match. Yes, it might take up to an hour, but good things come to those who wait, right? So, keep an eye on it, give it a stir, and watch as it transforms into the thick, rich sauce that your pizza deserves.

Adding pizza sauce to a round of freshly stretched pizza dough.

Ways to Thicken Pizza Sauce

Here are some other tricks you can use in a pinch to keep your sauce nice and thick, and these can be used for either cooked or uncooked sauces:

Reduction Method

Thickening pizza sauce through reduction is a straightforward and effective technique that concentrates the flavors, making your sauce richer and more robust. 

  1. To start, pour your sauce into a wide, shallow pan. The larger surface area speeds up evaporation, allowing the sauce to thicken more efficiently. 
  2. Heat the sauce over a low to medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning and ensure even reduction. Keep a watchful eye as the sauce simmers; the goal is to evaporate excess water without losing the depth of flavor. This method doesn’t require any additional thickeners, making it ideal for those who prefer keeping their ingredients list as natural and unprocessed as possible. 
  3. Once the sauce has reached your desired consistency, let it cool slightly before spreading it onto your pizza base. This not only intensifies the tomato flavor but also ensures your pizza has the perfect foundation, rich and full of flavor.

Making a Thicker Sauce with Cheese

Incorporating cheese into your pizza sauce is like enlisting a secret weapon for both texture and taste. It’s a swift move that can thicken your sauce with style. However, it’s worth noting that you’re not just adding thickness; you’re also inviting a new flavor to the party. 

So, choose your guests wisely. Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano are excellent choices. They don’t just barge in; they blend seamlessly, complementing whatever cheese or toppings you plan to layer on top. Think of it as adding a layer of complexity to your sauce that whispers, “There’s more to me than meets the eye.” Just a little sprinkle can transform your sauce from good to gourmet without overshadowing the ensemble of flavors on your pizza.

Slurry Method (Cornstarch Slurry)

When it comes to making thicker pizza sauce, reaching for cornstarch is like finding that ace up your sleeve—effective, yet understated. Here’s the lowdown: a cornstarch slurry is your go-to method for a quick, no-fuss thickening agent. 

  1. Start by mixing equal parts cornstarch and cold water. This is crucial; cold water ensures the cornstarch dissolves smoothly, avoiding any unwelcome lumps. 
  2. Once you’ve got a smooth mixture, whisk a small amount into your simmering sauce.
  3. Let it simmer for 1 to 2 minutes while stirring.
  4. Repeat the above steps if you want the sauce thicker.

The magic happens as the sauce returns to a simmer; the cornstarch activates and begins to thicken the sauce. But here’s where you need to channel your inner alchemist—precision is key. Too much, and you risk a sauce that’s too thick, veering towards gloopy rather than glossy. 

And remember, cornstarch does its best work without stealing the spotlight, it will thicken your sauce while letting the original flavors shine through. It’s like the sauce suddenly found its backbone, standing tall and proud, ready to support a cascade of toppings on your pizza without turning soggy. A little slurry can go a long way in achieving that perfect pizza sauce consistency.

How to Use Flour and Water to Thicken Sauce

Now, let’s talk about thickening your pizza sauce with a bit of flour and water. It’s simple, reliable, and gets the job done without making a big fuss. 

  1. You just mix equal parts of flour and cold water until smooth. This is your slurry, kind of like your secret sauce thickening agent. Make sure that the water’s cold to avoid lumpy surprises.
  2. Next, stir this mix into your simmering sauce. Keep stirring; you want everything nice and smooth.
  3. Let it continue cooking for 1 to 3 minutes to thicken then repeat if you want the sauce thicker.  

This method is a bit old-school, but it works wonders, giving your sauce that lush, thick texture that won’t run off your dough or make it soggy.

Just remember, it’s all about balance. Too much flour and you’re heading towards gravy territory, which, let’s be honest, isn’t the vibe we’re going for with pizza sauce. But just the right amount? You’ll have a sauce that’s ready to take on all the cheese, pepperoni, or veggies you plan to throw at it. It’s all about making your sauce the perfect backdrop for your toppings masterpiece.

Thicken Pizza Sauce with a Beurre Manié

If you want to thicken pizza sauce with a bit of flair, let’s talk about using a Beurre Manié. It’s basically a fancy French trick, but don’t let that scare you off. It’s just butter and flour mashed together to form a paste. Think of it as roux’s cool, no-cook cousin.

This is my favorite way to make just about any sauce thicker.

  1. Start by mixing equal parts of soft, room-temperature butter and flour. You’re aiming for a smooth paste that you can easily blend into your sauce. The beauty of this methhod is its simplicity and efficiency. 
  2. Once your pizza sauce is bubbling away on the stove, add small dollops of this paste, stirring constantly.
  3. Let the sauce cook for a couple of minutes before determining if you need more.

As the buttery paste melts, the flour evenly disperses throughout the sauce, thickening it without creating lumps. It’s a bit like magic—suddenly, you’ve got a thicker, richer sauce without any fuss. Plus, the butterfat adds an extra layer of richness and flavor that just makes everything taste better.

Remember, the key here is moderation. You don’t want to go overboard and end up with a sauce that’s too thick or too buttery. Just a little bit of the paste can make your pizza sauce hug the dough just right, creating the perfect base for whatever toppings your heart desires. It’s an easy, elegant way to get your sauce exactly how you like it.

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