Iron Mike's Sweet Tomato Pizza Sauce - the Spirit of Cincinnati

"So I grew up in Cincinnati. 18 years of Cincy Chili, Ribs, Ice Cream, and, of course, LaRosa's Pizza, whose sauce is flavorful and SWEET. Now that I've been away, I find you can't get any pizza remotely close ANYwhere else. Now this is no copycat recipe, but it captures the spirit of Buddy L's pizza sauce. It complements vegetable toppings as well as meats... My wife and I have not ordered pizza out since this sauce was concocted... I HIGHLY recommend using caetb's pizza dough with this sauce. (Recipe #38512 - the one with the wine...) I put the ingredients in the bread machine and it turns out great every time. I cook the finished pizza between 400 and 425 degrees fahrenheit for 9-12 minutes on a normal cookie sheet, or 11-15 minutes on an "air cookie sheet." (My wife and I prefer the normal cookie sheet, so the crust cooks and the cheese doesn't burn...) I'd love to hear feedback from others, especially misplaced Cincinnati Folks - let me know your thoughts! Mike's Notes: Since I concocted and posted this recipe, I have been back to Cincinnati... Needless to say, when I had the "real thing," I was mildly disappointed! Doh! I'm thinking about decreasing the "sweet" contents by 1/2 tbsp each on the honey and brown sugar - it IS awfully sweet! Okay - enough already - enjoy!"
photo by Mr-Mom photo by Mr-Mom
photo by Mr-Mom
photo by bevington8 photo by bevington8
photo by Mr-Mom photo by Mr-Mom
Ready In:
4-6 pizza saucings




  • In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.
  • Add the Tomato Puree; watch out for splatterage!
  • Add everything else and simmer uncovered on low, stirring frequently, for 30-60 minutes, until desired consistency.
  • Tips:

  • Freeze leftover sauce until ready to use; When using on pizza dough, thaw to room temperature; Thaws nicely in the microwave.
  • Don't use too much pepper.
  • You can mince a baby carrot in the garlic press after microwaving it for 5-10 seconds- just cut it in half before putting it through the press- and that equals about 1/2 Tablespoon.
  • Either Light or Dark Brown Sugar is fine, but the dark brown sugar makes the sauce DEEP red- almost maroon.
  • If you want the sauce even sweeter, just add more Honey next time.

Questions & Replies

  1. What kind of cheese do you use when you make the pizza?
  2. Has anyone tried hot-water bath canning this sauce? I’m cooking down a load of garden tomatoes right now and would love to make and can some sweet Cinci sauce!
  3. Did you post the recipe before or after you doubled the sugar, honey and spices?


  1. This is pretty close to Buddy's. I worked for LaRosa's for 7 years and this is on the money. I will know for sure once it cools down and I put it on a Pie :-)! After cooling it was a little weak compared to the real thing so, I "kicked it up a notch". I almost doubled the sugar and honey (3 TBS each) but I also doubled all of the spices. Simmered it a while longer and this time when it cooled it was dead on. I had some thin crusts bought from either Sam's or GFS in the freezer so I pulled one out and made a 12" 4 item pie. I haven’t eaten an entire 12" 4 item pie since I quit LaRosa's 14 years ago but I swear I couldn't stop till it was all gone!!!!! I grow and can my own tomatoes every year so instead of the puree I used 2 pints of Roma's drained and ran through a blender. I was out of fresh garlic so I used 3 tsp. dried garlic powder. For the carrots...I used Gerber baby food :-0.
  2. Hats off to Iron Mike! I made this and this is the best tasting pizza/pasta sauce I have tasted in so very long. I know make it in big batches and freeze the extra. I use it for both pizza & pasta. I get rave reviews every time. I made a egg plant parm with this. And it was the best egg plant parm I've tasted in my life. So again thank you so very much Mike. I'll be making this for many many years to come.
  3. I Grew Up in Ohio, we moved to Florida and This Sauce is Excellent! It does remind me of LaRosa's Pizza. I did Tweak just a bit by adding 2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste and 1 Tablespoon of Butter and Doubled the Spices. Thank you!
  4. I had never had anything like this, and I made it to a "T". I did pay attention to some reviews about adding some saltier cheeses and used a 45% MOZZ/45%PROV/10%grated Romano to offset the sweet. It was very good.
  5. I found this recipe a few years ago looking for either a Papa John's reproduction or just a general sweet pizza sauce. Most of the recipes I've found online have been a huge disappointment, aside from anything from Alton Brown. This, on the other hand, is the only sauce recipe I ever bother with. I've actually come back to this website at least 3 times to recopy it. I think one of the things that was intriguing was the minced carrot. I don't know if this is based on a particular restaurant's sauce, I only know it's great.


  1. I didn’t have tomato purée so I made do with a 15 oz can of tomato sauce and a 12 oz can of tomato paste. I used both of those and followed everything else exactly. Came out great. Added a couple of tablespoons of water toward the end to get perfect thick consistency for spreading on pizza dough.
  2. This is my go-to sauce..but I like a bit of spice. So Bobby Flay recently put piquillo peppers in his sauce for a eggplant Parmesan for a bit of I added a fairly large slice (think about 2 tablespoons to a 1.5 amount version of this recipe) to my sauce. It's AWESOME. Tip: piquillo peppers are usually in the Latino section of your market, Walmart carries them.
  3. Made this the other night for dinner. I know we found a new pizza sauce. It was fantastic, quick and easy. I subbed 1T of light corn syrup for the honey as I had none on hand. These are the things that I refuse to buy at the store as they are so easy to make at home and this recipe is a great example!


Hello!<table align=right bgcolor=#ffa573 cellspacing=1 cellpadding=0 margin=200 width=306><tr><td><table bgcolor=white cellpadding=2><tr><td><img src= width=300></td></tr></table></td></tr></table>I am the husband to my wife and father to my boy and girl, singer, songwriter, and enjoy cooking as a hobby (and even a stress release). Although I'm not formally trained, I can do more than boil water. Going out to eat becomes less and less pleasurable, the more I learn...I find myself thinking, "I can make this...And it won't cost $18.95!" SO - I learn to make it through trial and error, and maybe get some help from the folks at 'zaar! :) My wife and I make our own pizza, our own espresso drinks, and bake our own bread, thanks to recipezaar! I love this site - there's so many new things I'd like to try!
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