What Can I use instead of tomato sauce on pizza (5 Substitutes)

In the article, we will be discussing what can be used instead of tomato sauce on pizza. We will walk you through the top replacements. We will also explore which is the best substitute when it comes to tomato sauce on pizza.

What can I use instead of tomato sauce on pizza? 

You can use many other sauces instead of tomato sauce on pizza. To be honest, this depends on your personal preferences as well. The most common one would be ketchup. While the two may sound similar, they are different in the sense that tomato sauce does not contain vinegar and is more a paste. 

Ketchup, on the other hand, contains superior spices and does include vinegar. Similarly, you can use any other tomato based sauce, this will keep your recipe as close as possible to the traditional one that utilizes tomato sauce as base.

Nevertheless, we will be discussing the best possible substitutes for tomato sauce on pizza. Our top picks for the same are:

  • Pesto 
  • Barbecue Sauce 
  • Caramelized Onions 
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • Tapenade 

Why is tomato sauce on pizza important?

Made from plain tomatoes or pureed tomatoes and tomato paste, pizza sauce has a very thick consistency. This is needed to keep the dough from becoming soggy when the pizza cooks. Therefore, it is an important element while making pizzas. When we don’t have tomato sauce we go for the alternatives to ensure our pizzas remain intact and edible. 

The Alternatives for tomato sauce on pizza

There are several alternatives and this entirely depends on your thirst for adventure when it comes to cooking. Without a doubt, any sauce that you use other than pizza sauce will not get you the same flavor, but you can be as close to it as possible. 

Or maybe you just want to stir up the flavors and get creative. Below is a brief description of each sauce so you know what alternatives to use and what kind of flavor to expect if using a certain sauce.

Tomato based sauces

Like mentioned earlier, it is probably best if you resort to adding other tomato based sauces in your pizza. The tomato sauce for pizza, or simply pizza sauce is made using canned tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, onion, with some herbs like basil and oregano. 

You can choose some of the already available pasta sauces available in your nearest grocery store. For starters, you can opt for Authentica Sicilina that is slightly sweeter than the traditional pasta sauce. 

For pizza flavors that require bolder sauces like creamy mozzarella, you can use sauces like Arrabiata and Puttanesca. 


Pesto is one of the best and safest options that one can use in their pizza sauces. If you are using pesto as a replacement for tomato sauce, it is recommended to use feta cheese, tomatoes, bell pepper, and olives as toppings. You can also experiment with different kinds of pestos and toppings, and see which one works best for your recipe. 

Barbecue Sauce 

A great replacement for the tomato sauce on your pizza is barbecue sauce. The sweet and tangy flavor makes it all the more delicious. The rich smoky texture with the bite of hot spice is what every food lover aspires for. If you do not have a bottle of barbecue sauce handy, you can create this sauce from scratch. Add some garlic, red pepper flake, brown sugar, onion, honey, and tomato paste together. Then cook it in olive oil. The end result would be homemade barbecue pizza sauce. 

Caramelized Onions 

Caramelized onions make for an amazing pizza base. When the onion is caramelized, it comes sweet and savory, and is a mouth-watering substitute for tomato sauce on pizza. Pairing this with mushrooms, spinach, and feta cheese adds more flavors and makes the pizza tastier and delightful. 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

An unconventional substitute. But brushing the vegetables on the pizza with olive oil and letting it be is a good idea. Eventually, the oil will get soaked into the crust. It would make it extremely savory and crispy – just like pizzas are supposed to be. 


Originally from France, Tapenade consists of finely-chopped olives, anchovies, and capers. It pairs quite well with fresh flavored toppings. As a replacement, it’s savory and richer. However, it does make for a good pizza sauce if the toppings are finely chopped basil and thin-sliced zucchini. A little out there, but definitely a spread that needs to be explored with pizza. 


In this brief article, we discussed the alternatives one can use instead of tomato sauce on pizza. Depending on the kind of pizza you would like to create, there are five different substitutes to choose from. 



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.