Homemade Slow-Cooker Pizza Sauce


Raise your hand if you think pizza is the perfect food.

I see a lot of hands. This might take a while.

I have my hand up. I’d stick both of them in the air and wave them like I used to do when I had the answer in History or English*, but then this would be a very short post.

*Yep. I was that kid. Nicknames? The Curve Breaker, Encyclopaedia Beccy, …

Do you know anyone who doesn’t like pizza? I would wager you that in actuality they just haven’t had the right pizza yet. There’s a lot of nasty stuff sold out there called pizza.  Gummy crusts, plastic cheese, poorly chosen or cooked  toppings, and insipid sauce- it’s no wonder some folks have the wrong idea.

Great pizzas start with great foundations that don’t have to be difficult. In fact, the less complicated your pizza process is, the better your pizza usually ends up tasting. With a little advanced planning, you can have all of the ingredients you need for your favourite pizza on hand for last minute cravings.

This sauce is the lynch pin for almost any pizza you could want. Crusts may vary -wheat, rye, cornmeal, semolina, what have you- and toppings are a matter of preference -pepperoni, sausage, broccoli, bacon, onions, spinach, pineapple and more- but a really good homemade sauce can be nearly universal (with the exception of white pizza, of course, but that’s another post entirely.)

Here, we use a slow-cooker in all it’s magnificent useful glory to whip up a big ole batch of the pizza sauce I love best. It’s perfect for the job because you want a low, slow simmer to fully develop all those lovely, large flavours that make up the best sauces. Our sauce ends up a thick, gorgeous brick red that you’ll want to use for more than just pizza; Dunking bread sticks, licking from spoons and a couple other fun uses* come to mind.

*As in a fun use I’m going to share with you here on Wednesday.

Why not buy a jar or a can? Pfffft. You can do better than that stuff easily and make it much, much less expensively!

The recipe yields a fairly substantial six cups which is sufficient for four or five pretty large pizzas, but is easily doubled, tripled or even quadrupled if you’d like to freeze up several pizzas-worth in individual portions. This is step number one in satisfying last minute pizza cravings. Step two is having pizza dough or pre-baked pizza shells (recipes here and here)  in the freezer. Let’s get sauced, shall we?

Homemade Slow-Cooker Pizza Sauce
Prep time
Total time
Deep, rich red and packed with herbs, garlic, olive oil and Italian cheese, this old-school pizza sauce will knock your socks off. The recipe yields plenty of sauce to freeze for future use. This recipe is gently adapted from 'Not Your Mother's Slow-Cooker Cookbook' by Beth Hensperger.
Serves: About 6 cups.
  • 2 cans (12 ounces each) tomato paste
  • 2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
  • ½ cup (or more) water
  • 1-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1-4 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • 1-2 tablespoons raw sugar or granulated sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, Romano or Asiago cheese (or a blend)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Whisk together the tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, garlic, oregano, basil, parsley flakes, olive oil, the anchovy fillet and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in the crock of your slow-cooker until smooth.
  2. Place the lid on the slow-cooker, turn it to 'LOW' and let simmer for four hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so to prevent scorching, or until brick red and very thick. You may add extra water by the tablespoon full if it begins thickening too quickly.
  3. Stir in the grated cheese and taste.
  4. Adjust seasoning (and sugar content) if necessary.
  5. Cool completely and portion into single use portions and freeze until ready to make pizza.






    • says

      Oh my goodness, Lisa. I’m so glad you said something about anchovies. I also make this with an anchovy but somehow forgot to put my anchovy fillet in the recipe! I had the feeling I forgot something, but just couldn’t think of what it was. THANK YOU! It is now fixed. I, too, am an anchovy queen. Would you believe I have 22 boxes of anchovy fillets on my basement shelves? And as for not telling anyone, your secret is safe with me. It’s the Silent Anchovy Sisterhood.

  1. says

    “Do you know anyone who doesn’t like pizza? I would wager you that in actuality they just haven’t had the right pizza yet.”

    And you would be right! YOU KNOW I KNOW. 😀

    Seriously. This is so great. Bravo.

  2. Kathleen says

    I’ve never cooked with anchovy before. Do you remove the fillet once it’s finished cooking? Do you put the fillet in there whole, or mince it or something?

    Thanks, and love your blog. Found you via Rhee. :)

    • says

      Melissa- I sure do know! I count you among those I’ve converted to the world of pizza fandom!

      Kathleen- The anchovy fillet will disintegrate in the sauce. It’s like a magic trick! If you want insurance that it’ll “disappear” just roughly chop it before adding it in. More often than not, though, I can’t find a trace of it other than adding that certain je ne sais quois, flavourwise! And I’m awfully glad you found me!

  3. says

    Did you know that my first job ever was at a frozen yogurt joint…that lasted 2 months. My second job was at a pizza place…and that lasted 2 years. I used to get scolded by the manager constantly because my sauce had to cover the crust evenly and “just so” which, of course, took more time. See, I was OCD even back then!

  4. Christine says

    Just double checking that the paste to sauce ratio was accurate – I haven’t seen a 12 oz can of tomato paste in my part of Canada (metric issues aside). I look forward to reading the Wednesday installment while my pork shoulder defrosts for Thursday (mmm love that Cuba recipe…)
    PS I now hold the inagural and final title THE MOST POPULAR SWIM CLUB MOM EVER as voted on by THE OTHER MOMS thanks to you and a pioneer woman and some sweet stuff on a stick (clearly I now can only use the recipe that yields 2000 buns). “They like me, they really like me…” (or the buns at least!))
    Thanks for EVERYTHING!

  5. says

    This recipe sounds delightful! I am apprehensive about the anchovy because I keep picturing the small hairy fish atop my pizza. Mommy LOVES them while I’m more of a pepperoni girl. The sauce may be enough to persuade me to become a fan.

  6. says

    I love pizza and make it a couple times a month, using canned sauce then adding to it. Difficult as can’t always find the sauce in the stores (and they’re a few hours away). Our oven has died recently and I am so craving pizza. Thinking of trying it in a slow cooker. Not interested in trying a pizza casserole. I want the real thing.

    I’ve never cooked with anchovies. Do they come in a can? If youonly use one in a recipe what can I do with the rest (on the same day) – no fridge or freezer. Thanks.

    • says

      Hi tominhaiti,
      Wow, you have some serious kitchen challenges going on there! I’d say give it a try in the slow-cooker. It won’t get a crust that’s dead crisp, because the slow cooker traps moisture, but I’d bet it’ll still be good. As for anchovies, you can always lay them over plain dough and cook it that way or stir into a soup or just add extra to the sauce. Anchovies -for all their smelly, weird looking bluster- disappear remarkably subtly into sauces. Let me know how your slow cooker pizza turns out!

  7. Daina says

    Bing! Bang! Wow! Whoop whoop whoop! Yee Haw! Do NOT pass GO, do NOT collect 200$, and do NOT use store bought pizza sauce because this stuff is the BOMB!! Made this today while waiting for The Best Pan Pizza and What To Put On It dough to rise and it is simply amazing! I’ve been making mediocre pizzas for years and could never figure out why. Now I know – it’s the sauce!! #happydance

  8. Kel says

    Made this. Loved this. I left out the parsley… that was my only change.
    I have tried making up recipes for pizza sauce and mine is always too thin. I had no idea it would take this much tomato paste to make it work. thanks so much for the yummy recipe I will make again and again!


  1. […] Easy homemade pizza sauce.  I always feel guilty for buying premade pizza sauce, first because I end up wasting half of the can, and second because it never tastes as good as it should.   Here, the slow-cooker does most of the work to create a wonderful sauce with deep roasted tomato flavor. […]

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