It’s true that many of us are just very much used to kneading and rolling with the tried-and-true tomato sauce. So I asked myself today; why not stir the pot a bit?
What can I use instead of pizza sauce? Truthfully, as the best pizza sauce alternatives, from the olive oil-kissed shores of Italy’s Liguria to the BBQ-loving heartlands of America, non-tomato pizza sauces can steal the show whenever you feel influenced by “experimental” hormones in your kitchen.
Factually, trying different flavored sauces can add a zesty twist to your pie and can transport your taste buds to different American and European regions. That’s why, due to similar emotions and purpose, I have tried many different flavorful sauces other than the basic tangy and acidic tomato base sauce.
So, why not come to my kitchen and see what different base you can find from my array of pizza sauces
9 Best Pizza Sauce Alternatives to Use Instead of Pizza Sauce
So as always, maintaining the practicality and versatility in our crafting, I am placing here nine substitutes for pizza sauce, divided into three categories based on their flavor complexity.
I have distributed these different sauces for pizza into these categories;
- Easy and Simple Flavor
- Medium Complexity and Multi-Tone Flavor
- Fancy and Complex Flavor
Easy and Simple Flavor Pizza Sauces
Placing here some of the best easy-to-make flavor with straight and simplified flavor profile
1. Olive Oil & Garlic
- Flavor tones: Delicately aromatic, hints of spiciness from the garlic, earthy undertones from the olive oil.
- Complexity to make: Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy!
- Who’s it for: Minimalists, garlic enthusiasts, and those seeking a light and fragrant pizza base.
- Who should avoid it: The vampire or spice hunters. Also, folks with a strong aversion to garlic.
- Variations: Infuse with rosemary or chili flakes for an added kick.
You talk about pizza sauce alternatives, and this sauce is by-default the number 1 for many of the chefs. So, have you ever thought about turning the classic pizza narrative on its head. Considering its flavor dynamics, it’s richly aromatic and a teasing hint of spice from the garlic; which is so obvious from its name.
Plus, crafting this sauce is also a breeze. With its straightforward approach and simplicity, it can be a darling for novices and aficionados alike. And when you ask what it does to your pizzas, it serves as a fragrant base, particularly enhancing pizzas graced with fresh veggies, diverse cheeses, or delicate seafood.
But remember my saying, its magic isn’t confined to pizzas alone. Imagine using it with bruschettas or grilled dishes taking a dip in it as a finishing touch, heaven! And if you are searching for the ideal ambiance to pair with, a balmy summer evening, a gentle breeze, a laid-back gathering, and dishes drizzled with this golden concoction, you can’t get a better scenario to utilize this sauce.
2. Ricotta Cheese Spread Pizza Sauce
- Flavor tones: Creamy with mild tanginess; a gentle Italian embrace for your taste buds.
- Complexity to make: Almost laughably simple.
- Who’s it for: Lovers of creamy textures and subtle flavors, those looking for a decadent yet mild base, ricotta cheese lovers.
- Who Should Avoid it: Lactose-intolerant folks and those not into creamy bases.
- Variations: Mix with herbs like basil or chives; zest it up with lemon, or add a dash of honey for sweetness.
To be honest, in the vast spectrum of sauces, ricotta shines with its creamy texture and subtle tanginess. The soft, fresh cheese adds a lovely richness without overwhelming the other flavors, pairing exceptionally with vegetables, white meats like chicken, and seafood. For anyone seeking a lighter and less acidic non-tomato pizza sauce, Ricotta cheese is the perfect answer to your struggle.
That said, I often use it myself on white veggie pies or with prosciutto and fig. The subtle sweetness also complements fruit toppings beautifully, amplifying the toppings rather than competing with them.
And if you want to go farther, its superb versatility also makes a deadly combo with Crostinis, pasta fillings, or even dolloped on a salad. So, imagine a sophisticated cousin at the family reunion or a relaxed Sunday brunch; with this perfect substitute for pizza sauce, it’s simplicity meets sophistication.
- Flavor tones: Earthy and nutty, with a tantalizing tang from lemon and tahini.
- Complexity to make: Middle of the road!
- Who’s it for: Adventurous palates and lovers of Mediterranean flair, tang and complex flavor lovers.
- Who should avoid it: Those who aren’t fans of chickpea-based delights.
- Variations: Spice it up with roasted red pepper, swirl in some beetroot, or kick it up a notch with spicy jalapeños.
The most favorite pizza sauce replacement in the Gulf and Middle East region is one that pairs beautifully with Naan bread, rice, tortilla, grilled beef, or lamb. And if you’re wondering what it’s all about, the earthy, nutty chickpea flavor provides a lovely creamy base with plenty of protein. It works great if you want something a little lighter than a heavy cheese or red sauce.
While it can be sweetly spread on pizza bases, let’s blend it well with sandwiches, dive in with veggies, or swirl it into salads. I also recommend hummus sauce for veggie pizzas or Mediterranean-inspired pies with artichoke, olive, roasted red pepper, and feta.
So when you’re on the path to avoid meaty or acidic sauces, it’s especially great for a unique, healthy twist for a creamy, protein-packed pizza night. Also, on a laid-back summer evening, have some cold brews and a hummus-slathered feast to enjoy a mini Mediterranean vacation, minus the sunburn.
Medium Complexity and Multi-Tone Flavor
Placing here some of the best alternatives for pizza sauces with medium difficulty craft and multi-tone flavor profile. If you want to step up from the very basic tomato sauces and try different sauces for pizza other than tomatoes, this is the perfect genre for you.
1. Pesto Pizza Sauce
- Flavor tones: Herbaceous and nutty, kissed with the tang of Parmesan and the richness of olive oil.
- Complexity to make: Cinchy
- Who’s it for: Herb enthusiasts, Italian cuisine aficionados, and those craving a zingy, fresh touch.
- Who should avoid it: Anyone allergic to nuts or not a fan of bold basil notes.
- Variations: Switch out basil for arugula or spinach; swap pine nuts for almonds or walnuts
Let me introduce you to this sauce straight up! It’s bright, herbaceous, with a nutty backbone, pairing up superbly with pizzas featuring fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, or even grilled chicken. With minimal effort, the basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil blend for a fresh, aromatic sauce.
Considering its ingredients and flavor profile, I recommend this pizza sauce alternative for vegetable pizzas or those with chicken, shrimp, or prosciutto toppings. The reason behind this recommendation is the brightness of the basil and garlic, which complement the veggies and cut through the richness of the meat nicely.
So when you want to go beyond pizza while remaining in the niche, it’s quite stellar on pasta, acts as a sandwich spread, or drizzled over salads. With that said, I see it as perfection for those impromptu garden parties or a vibrant family dinner.
2. Salsa Pizza Sauce
- Flavor tones: Zesty and vibrant, a riot of tomatoes, onions, and peppers with a touch of citrus.
- Complexity to make: Easy
- Who’s it for: Lovers of a spicy kick, and those yearning for a fiesta on their plates.
- Who Should Avoid it: Those with a low spice tolerance or a preference for milder flavors.
- Variations: Fruity with mango or pineapple; roasted for depth; or green with tomatillos.
So when you want to step up from the typical base, here’s the zippy substitute for pizza sauce. What does this sauce mean? It means a burst of zesty tones that make your pizza dough lively. The tomato, onion, garlic, and chili flavors give it a tangy, savory taste that pairs great with Mexican-style pies.
With this sort of composition, it’s quick, packed with flavor, and sure to be a hit, especially during the summer grilling months. So, that said, grilled chicken, corn, or even some zesty beef are hot menus to pair it with. But if you want to stay within the pizza niche, use this pizza sauce alternative with tacos, nachos, or just as a side dip.
Whether it’s a party or a fun sauce to play with, a backyard BBQ bash or a vibrant game night is the right ambiance to try this out with your family and buds. And definitely, don’t forget, it’s always party time with salsa!
3. BBQ Sauce
- Flavor tones: Sweet, smoky, tangy—a harmonious blend of molasses, vinegar, and spices.
- Complexity to make: Moderate.
- Who’s it for: Those seeking a bold, smoky-sweet flavor ride.
- Who should avoid it: Palates that shy away from sweetness on savory dishes.
- Variations: Spicy with extra chili; bourbon-infused for depth; honey-sweetened for a milder touch.
For those smoke lovers or sweet n sour enthusiasts, this is the perfect substitute for pizza sauce. BBQ sauce gives you that signature summertime cookout taste and works well for a fun pizza twist. I mean, look at its ingredients, it’s a dance of sweet molasses, tangy vinegar, and spices that warm the soul and pair well with meat toppings.
Use grilled chicken, red onions, or even some smoky pulled pork as a dream topping for this sauce. And when clouds of experimentation hover in your kitchen, let’s think about ribs, sandwiches, or as a glaze for grilled goodies beyond pizza. And what about veggies? I don’t recommend it as it tends to overpower delicate toppings, so avoid using it with veggies, seafood, or cheese-centric pizzas.
So when it’s a chill weekend gathering where casual meets delectable, this pizza sauce alternative spices up the party.
Fancy and Complex Flavor
Placing here some of the fanciest pizza sauce alternatives, which might have a deep and complex flavor profile to enjoy and can be a little complex to craft.
1. Bechamel Sauce for Pizza
- Flavor tones: Creamy and mellow, with a subtle hint of nutmeg.
- Complexity to make: Intermediate
- Who’s it for: Lovers of rich, velvety bases that balance bold toppings.
- Who should avoid it: Those watching their calorie intake or who prefer tangier bases.
- Variations: Cheese-infused for added zest; herb-laden for an aromatic touch; spiced up with a dash of mustard or pepper.
So have you ever tried a French creamy or velvety touch infused with dairy products? Here it is, Bechamel, which is a creamy white sauce substitute other than tomato. It has milk, butter, and flour as its core ingredients, which make an ultra-rich pizza base with a mild flavor profile that helps in highlighting the toppings instead of overpowering them.
I also use it as a flavor binder that provides a rich foundation for pairing it with toppings like sautéed mushrooms, spinach, or even prosciutto. Mostly, it goes with veggie pizzas or those with bold meats like sausage or pepperoni due to its creaminess that pairs exceptionally well with mushrooms, broccoli, or chicken.
However, it’s a big no for tang lovers or those who love hearty sauce like Alfredo. But you can have a flavorful experimentation with lasagna, baked veggies, and a spicy pasta. Now those cozy winter nights, or an exotic dinner date or a sophisticated potluck, it stands up well with your standard. Just drizzle on some truffle oil to make it fancier.
2. Olive Tapenade
- Flavor tones: Bold and briny, with a mix of olives, capers, and anchovies.
- Complexity to make: Easy.
- Who’s it for: Fans of bold, Mediterranean flavors and olive aficionados.
- Who Should Avoid it: The olive-averse or those who lean away from strong, salty profiles.
- Variations: Lemon zested for a citrusy punch; herbed with rosemary or thyme; or spiced up with red pepper flakes.
Who wants to explore a culinary Mediterranean love? Olive Tapenade brings you a blend of olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, and olive oil that makes a bold, briny sauce with a nice bite. Another super-duper pizza sauce without tomato content to step up from that classic tangy and acidic flavor.
With its complex array of ingredients, the concentrated olive flavor of this pizza sauce replacement gives a lovely Italian taste and works well with other Mediterranean flavors like artichoke, roasted red pepper, feta, or prosciutto.
The perfect better half of this sauce is the goat cheese, roasted red peppers, or even some thinly sliced cured meats on pizzas. And apart from that, you can spread it on crostinis, swirl it in pasta, or use it as a zesty sandwich spread. So if you’re into alfresco dinners or wine nights with your loved one, it’s the perfect cuisine to elevate the ambiance.
3. Fig & Balsamic Spread
- Flavor tones: Sweet and tangy with the richness of figs and the sharp elegance of balsamic.
- Complexity to Make: Moderate
- Who’s it for: Adventurous palates, lovers of sweet-savory combinations.
- Who Should Avoid It: Those not into mixing sweet with their savory.
- Variations: Add some roasted garlic for depth; sprinkle in rosemary for an earthy note; or incorporate some chili flakes for a sweet-spicy kick.
You know fig is one of the most powerful dry fruits on this planet. So, why not squeeze its powers into a sauce? This fig and balsamic combo stands on a sweet and tangy blend that makes a lovely fruit-based sauce. Concerning taste? It’s sheer sophistication when the jammy fig flavor is paired with the zing of acidity from the vinegar.
That said, this fruity pizza sauce alternative enjoys a partnership with prosciutto, arugula, or even blue cheese. And when you want to take it to the next level, further mash it up with Crostinis or use it as a glaze for roasted meats.
And for sugar-conscious folks out there; the figs provide natural sweetness replicating the processed sugar for a healthier cause. So, simply blend up some roasted figs with balsamic vinegar and oil for a gorgeous pink sauce that will be sure to impress your royal dinner dates and special guests.
The Bottom Line
So, when your mind boggles whenever you hit the deck in your kitchen and think, “Hey, what can I use instead of pizza sauce?” do remember this list of the best pizza sauce alternatives to add flavor and uniqueness to your day. While there are tons of substitutes for pizza sauce on the internet, I have categorized these according to their nature for your ease. So, enjoy a hearty pizza day.