San Marzano Tomato Sauce for Neapolitan Pizzas


Simple tomato sauce used for Neapolitan style pizzas. Although traditionally San Marzano tomatoes are used, you can substitute fresh plum tomatoes that have been blanched and peeled. The ideal tomato will have bright acidity and high mineral content for a more complex flavor.


1 cn
San Marzano Tomatoes (Drained)
Salt (0.5%)
Black Pepper (To Taste)
Fish Sauce (To Taste)
Sugar (If Necessary)
Red Wine Vinegar (If Necessary)


  1. Make sure tomatoes are well drained.
  2. Grind with either an immersion blender or the large die of a food mill, or pulse in a food processor. Do not over blend; you want the tomato sauce to be somewhat course. Also, don't blend using a stanard blender; the speed of the blade will incorporate an excessive amount of air, turing the sauce pink.
  3. Drain any excess liquid from ground tomatoes.
  4. Season ground tomatoes to taste with remaining ingredients. The fish sauce should not make the tomato sauce perceptibly fishy, but should enhance the overall savoriness of the sauce. The sugar and vinegar should be used sparingly as subtle seasonings to enhance the overall balance of the sauce.


The whole idea behind a Neapolitan pizza sauce is that it's fresh in flavor and subtle in taste. The hot temperature of the oven will reduce and concentrate the tomato sauce as the pizza cooks, giving it a bright, intense flavor.

When I first started experimenting with pizza, back before I even cooked professionally, I would make these complex marinara sauces with tomes of herbs and spices, simmering for hours, and use that for my pizza. This is still the approach in a lot of American pizza shops; maybe not the hours of simmering, but definitely heavily flavored with garlic, onion, and dry herbs like basil, oregano and parsley.

As I dove deeper into the world of Neapolitan pizzas, I discovered that a much simpler sauce was used. The tomatoes are never cooked before they're put on the pizza (except for maybe a light blanching to remove the skins), and they are minimally flavored and seasoned. When cooked in the intense heat of a wood fire pizza oven, something special happens. The tomato flavor concentrates and develops complexity.

In my sauce I take the liberty of adding a small amount of fish sauce, since it has a synergistic relationship with glutamates contained in the tomatoes. And since the perfect tomato can be found year 'round, I'll sometimes add a pinch of sugar to counter balance acidity or a dash of red wine vinegar to add some acidity.

In the accompanying video I demonstrate this sauce using caned San Marzanos which is what most Neapolitan pizza places will use. When plum tomatoes are at the peak of their season, you can score, blanch, and peel the tomatoes just like when you make concasse (see linked video below).

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There is 1 Comment

Chris Klindt's picture

Hi Chef Jacob,

Your note section above says a lot about the sauce!

I have always simmered and canned my tomatoes.

I had a bag of mixed season end plum and other mixed season end tomatoes in the freezer that I used for your method. Excellent!

Thank you.