Alternative Pizza Sauce Recipes

Three Sauce Alternatives to Tomatoes

By Jenny Adams

Listen, we love tomatoes. There’s no more versatile vegetable. Sorry, yes, it’s a fruit (but is it really?)

That iconic red sauce on a pizza is known the world over, and with good reason. However, sometimes you just want to switch it up a little. We’ve got you, and your homemade dough, covered.

From ground nuts to arugula to garlic, a plethora of potential exists right in the produce aisle.

Pancetta Cream Sauce

At the new Laura, in Summerville, South Carolina, Chef Nico Romo is showcasing the best of rustic, family recipes from Italy. The Low country is famed for southern dishes, but southern Italy is now making a real splash.

His recipes often feature small twists and the Blanca is bestseller, featuring a decadent white sauce made with cream, pancetta and parmesan, topped with pecorino, mozzarella and ricotta. When you’re not in the mood for tomatoes, make this easy swap for sauceYield 1.5 Quarts

1/2 lb. Pancetta, chopped
5 cups Heavy Cream
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 Garlic cloves, finely dice
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated


In sauté pan, cook pancetta. Once cooked through, strain out grease and reserve cooked pancetta for topping.

Deglaze the pan with wine. Cook over medium heat until wine has reduced by half, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until translucent but not browned.

Add heavy cream and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stir in parmesan until thickened. Remove from heat and cool completely. Store in the fridge until ready to build the pizza. When it’s time to build, rewarm sauce to just above room temperature, on low heat.

My Grandmother’s Peppers and Eggplants Sauce Recipe

Courtesy of Alon Shaya Chef-Partner of Pomegranate Hospitality, which owns and operates New Orleans’ restaurants Saba, Miss River and Chandelier Bar at Four Seasons Hotel, as well as Safta in Denver. Serving Size: About 2 cups, serves 4

For Shaya, a chef of global renown, who has taken the New Orleans dining scene by storm, it all comes back to the recipes he learned from family. He was kind enough to divulge his grandmother’s smoky, vegetable-heavy sauce that makes a homemade pizza something both rustic and extraordinary.

Ingredients for Sauce

4 red bell peppers1 large (1-to-1 ½-pound) eggplant
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. Morton kosher salt
3/4 cup canned whole tomatoes with their juice
2 Tbsp. lightly packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped


Set the peppers on their sides over high heat on a gas stovetop or grill, so they’re exposed directly to the flame. Cook, rotating, until completely blackened and charred all over, about 3 minutes on each side. 

Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Use a fork to prick the eggplant all over. It gives off a fair amount of liquid as it cooks, so if you like, line your burner with foil for easy cleanup.

Lay the eggplant on its side over the burner as you did with the peppers and cook over medium-high heat, until the bottom is blistered and blackened. Rotate and keep cooking until the whole thing is uniformly charred. Depending on your stove, this usually takes about 45 minutes.

“It’ll be ugly, and you’ll think you overcooked it,” says Shaya, “but you didn’t. This is what gives it a ton of flavor and a creamy texture. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.”

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, use wet fingers to rub off papery, charred skin. Resist the urge to run them under the sink; although that lets you peel them faster, it also rinses away the smoky flavor you just built.

Once the skins are removed, pull or cut out the stems, cut into the peppers lengthwise, and scrape out all the seeds and any pith.

Chop the peppers and set them aside; you should have about 1.5 cups.

Halve the eggplant lengthwise and cut off the top. The inside should be creamy all the way to the center, but if it’s not, you can finish the job by placing the halved eggplant in a 375F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

Use a spoon to gently scoop out the flesh, taking care not to bring too much charred skin with it, and set it aside with the peppers. You should have about three-fourths of a cup.

Set a large sauté pan over medium heat and add 2 Tbsp. of oil. Once it’s warm, add the tomato paste and use a wooden spoon or spatula to break it up as much as you can.

Once the olive oil is orange and the tomato paste is incorporated, add garlic and cook until just softened and fragrant. Add the roasted peppers, eggplant, and salt. Stir to incorporate. Roughly crush the canned tomatoes by hand or chop them, then add them to the pan with their juice.Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour.

“You want the mixture to really dry out, thicken, and kind of slump into itself,” Shaya says. “Stir it occasionally to scrape up the brown bits and prevent the bottom of the pan from burning. It’s done when it tastes sweet and deeply caramelized. Set it aside and cool to room temperature.”

Build your pizza as you prefer.

Pistachio Pesto Sauce

Courtesy of Baker & Brewer, in Charleston, South Carolina
Yields sauce for 1 large pizza


Nuts make an incredible base for sauces, full of rich flavor (especially when toasted), packed with protein and thick enough to fill in for cheese even, if you’re going for vegan.

At Baker & Brewer––a beloved spot for cold craft beers and wood-fired piesblitzed pistachios and oil create a fantastic pairing with gooey mozzarella and the salty umami of Parmesan.


For Sauce

6 Tbsp. Pistachios (divided: 5 Tbsp.for sauce; 1 Tbsp.for dusting finished pizza)
3/4 cup olive oil
1 pinch of salt


Add all pistachios to a hot skillet and stir continually until lightly toasted.

Remove from heat, let cool blitz in a food processor. Remove 1 Tbsp. of pistachio dust and set aside.

Add olive oil and salt to the food processor and blend till smooth.

 For Pizza

1 store-bought pizza dough
5-7 dollops of Fromage blanc
5-7 slices Mozzarella 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
Pistachio pesto sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste


Heat oven to 400 degrees. 
Spread pistachio pesto base on raw pizza dough, leaving 1 inch from crust edge. Add cheeses.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake until golden brown and cheese is melted. Finish with a dusting of the  remaining toasted pistachios.

 Glasshouse Kitchen Green Sauce

Courtesy of Chef Savannah Miller, Glasshouse Kitchen, Durham, NC
Makes sauce for 2 large pizzas


Arugula has deep pepper notes, an earthy, vegetal quality and tons of vitamins. Throwing it in a blender is Savannah Miller’s pro chef move at her beautiful venue in North Carolina. This one is perfect for entertaining, if you want a flavorful pie that allow brings bright, bold color to the table.

For Sauce
cups packed arugula
cup packed basil leaves
3/4 cup pepitas, toasted 1 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
cloves garlic, peeled
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Splash of water, to blend
Salt, to taste


Add all ingredients to a blender, except salt. Blend till smooth. Taste and add salt if desired.