Ever wanted to make the perfect pizza sauce, but find it too thin? Well, you’re in luck! In this article we’ll provide some tips and tricks on how to thicken pizza sauce.
How To Thicken Pizza Sauce?
To thicken pizza sauce, you can either simmer it over low heat to reduce the extra liquid or add a thickening agent. Simmering will concentrate the flavors and thicken the sauce naturally. If you prefer adding a thickener, a paste made from cornstarch and water or tomato paste can do the trick.
Whether you want a thick, rich marinara or something closer to an alfredo-style sauce, there are several ways to achieve your desired consistency. We’ll cover everything from reducing the liquid content of your recipe to using ingredients like cheese and flour as thickeners. So if you’re looking for an easy way to add thickness and flavor to your homemade pizzas, read on for our guide on how to thicken pizza sauce!
Why does pizza sauce consistency matter?
The consistency of pizza sauce matters for both flavor and proper coverage on the pizza. Sauces that are too thin will spread unevenly and make the crust soggy, while sauces that are too thick will form clumps and resist spreading smoothly. The ideal pizza sauce strikes a balance between these extremes.
A properly thickened sauce will coat each ingredient without overflowing the crust or completely soaking into it. This allows the sauce to impart flavor without overwhelming the other components. The sauce acts as a bed for the toppings rather than a topping itself.
Achieving the right consistency requires the proper mix of soluble and insoluble fibers in the sauce. Common thickeners like cornstarch help absorb excess liquid and suspend solid particles, giving the sauce a clingy yet spreadable viscosity. Over stirring can break down fibers and thin the sauce, so care must be taken during preparation.
In recipes, pizza sauce consistency is often described in qualitative terms like “pouring,” “spoonable” or “spreadable.” But quantitatively, a good pizza sauce typically has a Bostwick consistency between 8 and 12 centimeters, meaning it flows 8 to 12 cm in 7 seconds on an inclined plane. Sauces with a Bostwick value under 8 cm are considered too thick while those over 12 cm are too thin.
Fresh or canned tomatoes for pizza sauce?
For making pizza sauce, both fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes have their pros and cons. Here are the main factors to consider:
Taste: In general, sauce made with fresh tomatoes will have a fresher, brighter tomato flavor than sauce made with canned tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes still have their natural juices and acids that add complex flavors. However, some canned tomato varieties, like San Marzano, have their own concentrated flavor.
Consistency: Canned tomatoes are already cooked and crushed, so they are easier to achieve a thicker consistency needed for pizza sauce. With fresh tomatoes, you must peel, seed, and cook them first to get the right texture. This extra prep can affect the final flavor.
Convenience: Canned tomatoes are obviously more convenient since they require no prep work. They are ready to use straight from the can. Fresh tomatoes take time to wash, chop, and cook down into a sauce. So canned tomatoes save time and effort.
Nutrients: Fresh tomatoes still have more nutrients since they are raw. Some vitamins and minerals are lost during the canning process, though canned tomatoes retain most of their lycopene and antioxidant content. The nutrient difference is relatively small.
Cost: In general, canned tomatoes work out to be a more cost-effective option for pizza sauce. This is because fresh tomatoes are seasonal, so you pay a premium for them out of season. Canned tomatoes are available year-round for a lower price.
How to thicken sauce by simmering and reducing?
One of the simplest ways to thicken a sauce naturally is by simmering and reducing it on the stove. This allows the sauce to condense and concentrate as liquid evaporates, leaving a thicker, more intense flavor behind.
To thicken sauce using this method:
- Pour the sauce into a saucepan and place over medium heat. For pizza sauce, I recommend using a deep skillet to allow for more surface evaporation.
- Allow the sauce to come to a simmer, where you see gentle bubbling across the surface. Do not let the sauce boil vigorously. This can cause splattering and uneven thickening.
- Continue simmering the sauce, stirring occasionally, until it reaches your desired consistency. The longer you simmer, the thicker it will become. Start checking the sauce after 10 to 15 minutes of simmering.
- Remove the sauce from the heat once it coats the back of a spoon and falls from the spoon in thick ribbons rather than streams. For pizza sauce, aim for a spooning or pouring consistency.
- Allow the sauce to cool slightly before using. The texture may thicken up a bit more as it sits. You can also pass the sauce through a fine mesh strainer to catch any particles that may have formed during reducing.
Some tips to keep in mind while reducing sauce are to use a wide pan, stir only occasionally, watch the temperature closely and test the consistency regularly. Be patient – proper thickening through reduction takes time. But the results will be a rich, vibrantly-flavored sauce with the perfect clingy texture for your pizza.
Can tomato paste thicken pizza sauce?
Yes, tomato paste can be an effective way to thicken pizza sauce and enrich its flavor. Here are the basics:
• Tomato paste is a highly concentrated form of tomato. It’s made by cooking fresh tomatoes down until most of the liquid has evaporated, leaving a thick, dense paste.
• Because of its high tomato concentration, tomato paste packs a lot of flavor into a small amount. Just a few tablespoons can enhance the taste of an entire sauce.
• Tomato paste is also relatively thick and sticky due to its high soluble fiber content. When stirred into a sauce, it absorbs liquid and coats the other ingredients, giving the sauce a clingy texture.
• To use tomato paste to thicken pizza sauce, start by first preparing the base sauce using crushed tomatoes, tomato juice or tomato puree.
• Then simply stir in 1 to 3 tablespoons of tomato paste for every 1 cup of base sauce, depending on how thick you want the final consistency. Use the lower amount for a lighter sauce and the higher amount for a heavier, pizza-style sauce.
• The tomato paste will disperse throughout the sauce as you stir, absorbing excess liquid and thickening the sauce to a spreadable or spoonable texture.
• Keep in mind tomato paste is higher in sodium and less nutritious than fresh tomatoes. So use it in moderation, especially if following a reduced-sodium diet.
In summary, tomato paste is a convenient, flavor-packed ingredient that can help instantly thicken and intensify the taste of a pizza sauce. A few well-placed tablespoons stirred into your base crushed tomato sauce can transform it into the perfect clingy topping for your handcrafted pizza pie.
Which starches can thicken pizza sauce?
Several types of starches can be used to thicken pizza sauce and achieve the ideal clingy, spreadable consistency. Here are some of the best options:
Cornstarch: This is likely the most common thickener for pizza sauce. It’s inexpensive, readily available and very effective at reducing excess liquid. To use, simply mix 2 to 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with a bit of cold water to form a slurry. Stir the slurry into the simmering sauce and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce reaches your desired thickness. Be careful not to over-thicken.
Flour: All-purpose flour or bread flour can also be used to thicken pizza sauce. The process is similar to using cornstarch – make a flour slurry by mixing the flour with cold water, then stir it into the simmering sauce. In general, you’ll need about 2 to 3 tablespoons of flour for every 1 cup of sauce. Keep stirring to avoid lumps from forming.
Rice flour: This starch from ground rice grains works well for Asian-inspired pizza sauce recipes. Use about 2 tablespoons of rice flour for every 1 cup of sauce. Also stir in as a slurry to avoid lumps.
Arrowroot starch: This smooth, fine powder readily absorbs excess liquid to thicken sauces. It produces a glossy sheen and less starchy flavor compared to other starches. Use around 2 tablespoons of arrowroot starch per 1 cup of sauce.
Potato starch: Made from peeled, cooked potatoes, this gluten-free starch produces a very clingy, gel-like texture when heated with liquid. Use about 1 to 2 tablespoons per 1 cup of sauce for thickening. Stir in as a slurry and cook until the desired thickness is reached.
Hope this overview of starches for thickening pizza sauce helps!
Can vegetable purees thicken pizza sauce?
Yes! Vegetable purees can make an excellent natural thickener for pizza sauce – and they also add flavor and nutrition. Here are some of the best options:
• Carrot puree: Blending cooked carrots into a smooth paste creates a thickening agent that will enrich your sauce with beta carotene and a hint of natural sweetness. Start with 1/4 cup of blended carrots for each cup of sauce.
• Potato puree: Mashed potatoes thicken sauces through their starch content while providing potassium and Vitamin C. Use around 1/4 to 1/3 cup of blended potato for each cup of sauce.
• Sweet potato puree: Like regular potatoes, sweet potato puree can have a noticeable effect on sauce consistency with just a few tablespoons. The natural sugars also caramelize during cooking to intensify flavor. Start with 1/4 cup per cup of sauce.
• Pumpkin puree: If you have extra canned pumpkin, stir a few heaping spoonfuls into your sauce for a thicker, fiber-rich topping. The naturally sweet, earthy notes pair well with robust pizza flavors.
In all cases, simply whisk the vegetable puree into your sauce and simmer, stirring frequently, until the desired thickness is reached. The vegetable fibers absorb liquid and suspend other ingredients while lending nutritional benefits.
Can Beurre Manié be used to thicken pizza sauces?
Yes! Beurre manié, which is equal parts butter and flour kneaded together into a paste, can be an effective thickener for pizza sauce. Here are the basics:
• Beurre manié, or “kneaded butter” in French, is a simple culinary thickener made by working flour and butter together into a paste. It forms roux-like particles that absorb excess liquid when heated.
• To make beurre manié for thickening pizza sauce, mix around 1 tablespoon each of softened butter and all-purpose flour on a plate until combined. The paste should be smooth and malleable.
• Add small chunks of the beurre manié directly to the simmering pizza sauce, stirring constantly. The butter will melt into the sauce while the flour thickens and binds with the liquid.
• Continue adding beurre manié, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. The process may take 3 to 4 tablespoons total, depending on the initial sauce volume and thickness needed.
• Beurre manié thickens sauces quickly and evenly without forming lumps like flour or cornstarch added directly. However, it also adds fat and calories from the butter.
• For a healthier version, you can substitute the butter with plain yogurt or spreadable trans fat-free margarine to reduce the saturated fat content. The sauce may not thicken quite as quickly though.
How do cheese and dairy affect sauce consistency?
The addition of cheese and other dairy products can have a noticeable impact on the consistency of pizza sauce and other sauces. Here are the main ways:
• Fat Content: The fat in cheeses like mozzarella, Parmesan and cheddar coats sauce ingredients and absorbs some liquid. This helps thicken the sauce and gives it a creamy mouthfeel.
• Protein Binding: The proteins in dairy, especially caseins in cheese, bind with water molecules in the sauce through a process called hydryophobic interaction. This hydration of the protein particles draws out liquid, densifying the sauce.
• Emulsification: The fats and proteins in dairy form an emulsion that suspends water within the sauce mixture. This creates small liquid droplets that increase viscosity and overall thickness.
• Sauce Reduction: As cheese melts and incorporates into the sauce during cooking, it reduces the total sauce volume slightly through absorption. This further concentrates flavors and thickens the consistency.
Techniques to evaporate excess liquid in sauce?
For any sauce with excess liquid, two main techniques can help evaporate moisture to achieve the perfect thicker consistency:
Simmer over low heat: Simply pour the sauce into a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring often, until it reaches the desired thickness. As liquid boils and vaporizes from the surface, the sauce condenses and reduces naturally. This technique requires patience but yields the best flavor.
Broil in the oven: Pour the sauce into an oven-safe dish and broil on medium heat, stirring every 5 minutes. The direct, targeted heat from above evaporates moisture quickly, thickening the sauce in less time but with more risk of burning. Use an oven mitt and watch the oven closely.
For pizza sauce specifically, simmering works best to allow flavors to develop properly while reducing excess juice from crushed tomatoes. As the sauce thickens, test the consistency by dragging a spoon through it. When the “trail” sits on the surface a few seconds, remove from heat.
How to balance seasoning and sauce consistency?
Proper seasoning and flavoring of a sauce impacts its texture and thickness. Here are the main points to balance the two:
Add seasonings early: Salt, herbs, spices and other flavorings often draw liquid out of ingredients through osmosis. Add these near the start of cooking so they have time to extract flavor and slowly thicken the sauce.
Season to taste as it reduces: As the sauce condenses, seasonings may need adjusting. Taste and add more salt, pepper or other flavors as the sauce reduces so the intensity matches the thickened consistency.
Go lightly: Because reducing the sauce concentrates flavors, use seasonings sparingly. What tastes balanced at the start may taste overwhelming once the sauce thickens. Start with less and season to taste as it cooks down.
Match seasoning depth: Stronger seasonings like garlic and aged cheeses work best with richer, thicker sauces. Lighter seasonings pair well with thinner, fresher sauces. Choose flavors that complement the consistency.
With these principles in mind, you can achieve seasoning and sauces in harmonious balance. Enjoy tinkering with different combinations to perfect your own personal pizza pie.
Tips for storing and using thickened sauce?
• Cool before storing: Allow thickened sauces to come to room temperature fully before covering and refrigerating. This prevents condensation that can waterlog the sauce.
•Use airtight containers: Transfer cooled sauce to sealed plastic containers or zipper bags. Minimize contact with air to limit smells and reduce oxidation. Glass jars work too with a tight-fitting lid.
•Refrigerate promptly: Place sealed sauce containers in the refrigerator within 2 hours of removing from heat. Cold temps slow bacterial growth.
•Consume within 3-5 days: Properly stored sauce typically lasts 3 to 5 days in the fridge before consuming or freezing. Check for signs of spoilage like slime or foul odors before using.
•Freeze for longer use: For storage beyond 5 days, transfer sauce to freezer containers or freezer bags, pressing out excess air. Label and date the containers. Frozen sauce keeps for 3 to 6 months.
•Thaw and reheat thoroughly: Completely thaw frozen sauce in the refrigerator before reheating over low heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 additional minute to kill any bacteria.
What types of ingredients should I use to thicken the pizza sauce?
You can use dairy products, cheese or Beurre Manié as you like, but in order to retain flavor qualities it is best to add them sparingly.
How do I properly store thickened sauces?
After cooking down the sauce and reaching desired thickness, make sure it is completely cooled before storing in an air-tight container or plastic baggie and place it either in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze it for extended storage.
Is there a safe way to reheat sauces from refrigerator?
Yes! Start by heating them on low heat until they reach desired temperature then slowly bring up to medium (but not higher) as needed – this helps preserve any delicate ingredients that may have gone into making your sauce while bringing out flavors fully without losing texture or taste of the sauce.
What if my stored sauces are frozen solid when taken out?
If pulled frozen sauces from storage make sure to thaw overnight safely in your refrigerator before attempting to use them – this will also help retain flavor qualities as much as possible since reheating quickly can have adverse affects on sauce integrity if done improperly!
Is there a way to reduce the time required for thickening pizza sauce?
Yes, you can use a higher heat while cooking and also reduce the amount of liquid in your recipe to speed up the process. However, high heat will affect the texture and flavor of your results so be sure to adjust seasonings accordingly. Alternatively, Beurre Manié provides an quick and easy way to thicken sauces without compromising too much on taste or texture though cheese is not an option when using this method.
What is Beurre Manié?
Beurre Manié (also known as butter-flour paste) is a combination of equal parts softened butter and white flour that’s been kneaded together until it forms a smooth paste. This paste can then be added directly into boiling liquids such as soups or sauces to quickly thicken them without changing their flavors drastically or affecting their textures negatively like some other methods may do – it also helps keep large particles from forming which helps maintain clarity in clear soups or broths!
Can I make my own Beurre Manié if I don’t have any on hand?
Yes! You can easily make your own Beurre Manié by combining equal parts softened butter and white flour until it forms a smooth paste. Make sure to knead the mixture thoroughly before adding directly into boiling liquid. Additionally, you’ll want to add small amounts of Beurre Manié at a time in order to avoid over thickening the sauce or broth.
How can I adjust the consistency of my thicker pizza sauce?
Depending on how thick or thin you want your sauce to be, you can add a little more liquid, cheese, or dairy product for an even smoother consistency. You will want to make sure that all the ingredients are fully incorporated and heated through before adjusting the thickness level – just remember to keep it at low heat so that delicate flavors are not lost in translation!
Can I use other thickeners aside from Beurre Manié?
Yes! Other starches such as cornstarch or arrowroot powder work well in creating a thicker texture though they require more dilution when using them directly in cooking because they tend to break down quicker than Beurre Manié does. Additionally potato flakes, mashed potatoes, tomato paste and evaporated milk (which is especially good for cream-based sauces) all provide great thickening options but be careful not to overdo it with each as too much of any single ingredient may throw off your desired flavor profile which defeats the purpose altogether!
What should I avoid doing when trying to thicken pizza sauce?
To retain flavor and texture of your pizza sauce, avoid boiling the sauce too quickly or adding too much cheese, which can make the sauce overly thick and rubbery. Additionally, be sure not to add any thickeners directly into a hot liquid as this could lead to lumps forming – instead, always dissolve them in cold liquids before introducing them into the hot mixture. Finally, don’t forget that you may need to adjust seasonings after thickening your sauce as some ingredients can become more pronounced with added thickness.
Since a young age, my love for pizza has only grown stronger. As a writer, I am dedicated my career to exploring the art behind a perfect pie. From the crisp crunch of the crust to the perfect blend of savory sauce and gooey cheese, I dedicated to captures the essence of what makes pizza so beloved. With each article, I hopes to inspire others to share in my passion for this timeless dish.