How do you thicken pizza sauce? (3 methods)
In this article, we will answer the following question: “How do you thicken pizza sauce?” and discuss what are the possible methods to have a thick pizza sauce, what can you add to pizza sauce to improve its consistency and what are the benefits and drawbacks of each of these strategies.
How do you thicken pizza sauce?
There are mainly three main strategies to thicken pizza sauce. The first one is to reduce the amount of water in the pizza sauce by evaporating the water (3).
The second is to add ingredients to the pizza sauce that can improve its consistency (1, 2) and the third is to make your homemade pizza sauce with a high concentration of solids (3).
Pizza sauce is usually made with tomatoes, water, salt, sugar and other ingredients therefore its consistency can vary depending on the manufacturer.
To have a thick pizza sauce, you may choose one of the possible strategies mentioned, which will be discussed in detail in the following sections of this article.
First strategy: reducing the water from the pizza sauce
To remove the water from the pizza sauce and make the sauce more viscous, you can simply evaporate the water from the pizza sauce by simmering the sauce at low temperatures.
This is how concentrated tomato products are produced industrially. The longer the tomato juice is processed, the greater is the amount of water removed from the juice and the higher the concentration of solids in the tomato product (3).
Therefore, tomato paste and tomato puree, which are more concentrated in tomato solids, have a thicker consistency than tomato juice and tomato sauce.
To evaporate the water from the pizza sauce, bring the sauce to a cooking pan on the stovetop and simmer the sauce at a low temperature. High temperatures can destroy the nutrients and the flavour of the sauce (3).
The benefit of this strategy is that you will not need any other ingredient to thicken the pizza sauce. The drawback of this strategy is that you will need some extra time to prepare the pizza sauce till it thickens.
Second strategy: add thickener ingredients to the pizza sauce
The addition of thickeners to food products is a regular practice in the food industry to increase the viscosity of food, including tomato products (1, 2). For instance, tomato ketchup is commonly added with modified starches or other ingredients.
Starch is a complex carbohydrate compound that can bind water molecules and reduce the free water from the medium. Other compounds different from starches are also used and are called hydrocolloids. In this way, the medium becomes less watery.
You can use cornstarch, potato starch, cassava starch and other hydrocolloids, such as gum guar and xanthan gum. To thicken the pizza sauce, follow the instructions (4):
- Dilute 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or potato starch in two tablespoons of cool water
- Add to the cooking pizza sauce while stirring
- Do not add the starch directly to the hot sauce or hot water
The benefit of this strategy is that it is a fast method to thicken the pizza sauce. With a small amount of cornstarch or potato starch, the consistency of the pizza sauce can be significantly increased.
The drawback of this strategy is that cornstarch or other starch may interfere with the colour and flavour of the sauce, reducing its intensity. Adjustments to the flavour may be necessary.
Third strategy: make your homemade pizza sauce
The third strategy to have a thick pizza sauce is to make a thick homemade pizza sauce by using a high amount of tomatoes, onions and other solid ingredients and less water.
The viscosity of the pizza sauce depends on the concentration of tomato solids and solids from the other ingredients.
Tomatoes, Onions, garlic, celery, shallots and other vegetables contain, as part of their vegetable tissue, pectin, cellulose and hemicellulose, which are insoluble fibres that bind to water molecules and increase the viscosity of the medium (1, 2, 3).
You can also add tomato puree or tomato paste to substitute fresh tomatoes.
The benefit of this strategy is that you will have a flavourful and healthy homemade pizza sauce, instead of an industrialised one. The drawback of this strategy is that you will need some extra time to make the pizza sauce and prepare all the ingredients safely.
In this article, we answered the question “How do you thicken pizza sauce?” and discussed what are the possible methods to have a thick pizza sauce, what can you add to pizza sauce to improve its consistency and what are the benefits and drawbacks of each of these strategies.
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Subroto E, Indiarto R, Marta H, Shalihah S. Application of heat-moisture treatment potato starch to improve the heat stability of tomato sauce. InIOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science 2020 Feb 1 (Vol. 443, No. 1, p. 012076). IOP Publishing.
Juszczak L, Oczadły Z, Gałkowska D. Effect of modified starches on rheological properties of ketchup. Food and Bioprocess Technology. 2013 May;6:1251-60.
ANTHON GE, DIAZ JV, BARRETT DM. Changes in Pectins and Product Consistency during the Concentration of Tomato Juice to Paste. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2008;56:7100-5.
Dinner Tonight. Thickening your sauces [Internet]. Dinner Tonight. 2018 [cited 2023 Sep 20]. Available from: https://dinnertonight.tamu.edu/thickening-your-sauces/