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How to Make Homemade Pizza Sauce Like Papa John's - Papa John's Copycat Recipe

Updated on November 23, 2012

I love pizza, and I especially love Papa John’s pizza.  To me, what makes their pizza so much better than the other pizza chains is the sauce.  Papa John’s pizza sauce has a flavor that is incomparable.  I always wished I could take Papa John’s sauce and use it on my own homemade pizza and pasta or use it as a dipping sauce for mozzarella cheese sticks or bread sticks. 

Well, one day I got adventurous and decided I would search the internet and see if I could find a good copycat recipe for Papa John’s pizza sauce.  I tried three different recipes, but I unfortunately didn’t feel any of them were exactly like the sauce that I loved so much.

So, I decided I would have to create my own version of this sauce if I wanted it to taste just right.  I’m not one to invent recipes out of thin air, in fact I usually only cook if I have easy quick to make recipes.  So, I thought back to my experiences making the Papa John’s sauce recipes I found online and tried to pinpoint what was wrong with them.

I wound up combining the three separate recipes into this one to create what I feel is the closest copycat of Papa John’s pizza sauce that is available.  I use this sauce on my own homemade pizza, in Stromboli, and also as a light pasta sauce.  Hopefully, your family will enjoy this recipe as much as mine has.


  • 1 (10 ¾ -ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 ½ tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon basil
  • pinch of salt (to taste as it varies on the tomato brand used.)


Add all ingredients to small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for an hour, stirring frequently and further crushing tomatoes each time you stir.  The sauce should have a fairly smooth consistency by the time the hour is up.

Mix-ins and Other Uses

You can get creative with this sauce by mixing in various ingredients to make excellent, unique pasta sauces.  Some of my favorite things to mix in include:

  • Mushrooms
  • Onion
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Spinach
  • Black Olives
  • Sausage
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Peppers

The possibilities are endless!  You will soon be enjoying your homemade pizza or pasta dishes with Papa John’s pizza sauce as the backbone to a great meal.  If you need a recipe to try your new pizza sauce recipe with, may I recommend this recipe for Homemade Stromboli.


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