Tomatoes on pizza – it doesn’t get much more classic than that! Some people like to put raw tomatoes on pizza which can get soggy, other people use their tomato sauce straight from the can. If you’re wondering how best to use tomatoes on pizza, this article covers the best tips.
So should you cook tomatoes before putting on pizza?
Thinly cut tomatoes can be used raw on a pizza for a fresh taste, but they can also be roasted first to remove moisture and help prevent a soggy crust. Canned tomatoes for sauce do not need cooking unless you want a more concentrated flavor.
There are a few other techniques to help with soggy tomatoes which I cover in this article but cooking them beforehand is definitely one of them.
If you are using canned tomatoes for sauce, cooking them is not necessary as they will cook when the pizza is baked. This also helps to retain a nice fresh taste.
I’m going to mention different techniques to avoid the soggy tomato problem including how to pre-cook them for a more concentrated flavor. Let’s get started.
How Do You Keep Tomatoes From Getting Soggy On A Pizza?
Slice the tomato fairly thin and dry the pieces on kitchen paper, place them as the last topping and add them halfway through cooking or once it’s finished. Alternatively, roasting before removes a lot of moisture.
As you can see, there are several ways to stop your fresh tomatoes from making your pizza soggy.
One way is to slice and cook the tomatoes before you add them to the pizza. This can be done by roasting them in the oven at a high temperature for 30 minutes or a low temperature for longer. Your results will vary depending on the type of tomatoes you start with. I’ve included my favorite method in a section below.
This will help to remove some of the water from the tomatoes and concentrate the flavor which is really delicious.
Either use larger tomatoes cut into pieces, or use cherry tomatoes cut in half. Slightly different flavors but cherry tomato halves form little cups that stop the juice from seeping a bit better.
If you prefer not to pre-cook your tomatoes another method is to dry the tomato pieces with some kitchen paper towels. Slice them and lay the pieces on the paper to absorb excess juice. This lowers the amount of water released during baking by absorbing much of the moisture before it even reaches your pizza.
For really good quality tomatoes that have lots of flavor when fresh, I will often add them just after I take the pizza out of the oven so they retain their shape, taste, and color.
Another way to stop your tomatoes from making your pizza soggy is to simply add them towards the end of cooking time. This way they will have less time to release their water. Simply place them on top of your other toppings and put the pizza back in the oven for a few minutes until everything is cooked.
How To Top A Pizza With Fresh Tomatoes
Slice them thinly and evenly. If you cut them too thick they will hold a lot more moisture and take longer to cook, which will most likely make the pizza soggier.
Drain the tomatoes in a sieve and pat them dry with kitchen towel to remove any excess juice.
Decide if you will top the pizza with tomatoes before cooking, halfway through cooking, or once the pizza has come out of the oven. Each option produces different results – raw tomatoes making a much fresher pizza like a bruschetta, and longer cooking can leech more liquid out.
When placing, arrange the sliced tomatoes on top of the pizza making sure to evenly space them out. Don’t pile them on top of each other! Make sure there is no other toppings on top of the tomatoes as they won’t dry out, and instead will steam and go soggy.
What Is The Best Way To Pre-Cook Tomatoes For A Pizza?
To pre-cook tomatoes for use as a pizza topping, slice or half them depending on size, and roast them in the oven. This will help to remove some of the water content and concentrate the flavor.
First, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, slice the tomatoes thinly or quarter into chunks and spread them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If using cherry tomatoes then just half them.
Sprinkle lightly with a little salt as this will help draw out the moisture. You can add herbs, garlic, and balsamic vinegar if you like. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until they begin to look dried out.
Remove them with a spatula as they will be delicate, especially if you have sliced up tomatoes rather than halved smaller ones.
Once they are done, you can add them to your pizza as normal or store them refrigerated in an airtight container for a couple of days.
Using Canned Tomatoes Vs Fresh Tomatoes On Pizza
Canned tomatoes are usually the best to use for tomato sauce as the tomatoes are high quality and picked when perfectly ripe. Fresh tomatoes vary in quality and can be tasteless if picked off the vine too early.
The tomatoes you can buy that are “on the vine” are usually good quality as they haven’t been picked green and ripened in transit to the store like many commercial varieties.
They can be added to pizza in raw slices, roasted first for better flavor, or de-skinned and blended to make a sauce. It’s generally much easier to just use a good-quality canned tomato.
For canned tomatoes, just blend them and add a large pinch of salt for your sauce. There is no need to cook the tomatoes down as they have a great fresh flavor and will be cooked on the pizza anyway. You can add some paste and some herbs for a heartier sauce if you like.
Canned tomatoes, like quality Italian plum tomatoes, are ripened in perfect sunshine and picked at the last moment before canning for the best flavor. They are processed extremely quickly which often means these amazing fresh tomatoes are canned within 24 hours.
How To Make A Pizza Sauce With Canned Tomatoes
If you can find San Marzano tomatoes in the store I would recommend using those. They are traditionally used for pizza sauce and have an amazing flavor. Other quality Italian plum tomatoes are great too.
Drain the juices from the can into a separate container first and keep them for later. Then tip the tomatoes into a blender or a mixing bowl if you don’t have one.
If you’re hand mixing in a bowl mash the tomatoes with your hand or a potato masher before continuing.
Next, just add a large pinch of salt for an Italian style sauce and optionally add the remaining ingredients for an American style – one tablespoon of tomato paste, one teaspoon of dried oregano, two tablespoons of olive oil, and half a teaspoon of sugar.
The sugar is optional but it does help sweeten a bitter tomato sauce if that’s your thing.
You can also add other flavorings at this point like garlic or basil depending on your own personal tastes of course.
Finally, blend or mix all the ingredients together until you achieve your desired consistency. It’s best to not blend too much otherwise it gets watery. If the sauce seems too thick, add some of the juice you saved earlier.
I find this makes enough for four to six medium-sized pizzas depending on how thick you like to spread the sauce.
You can use this straight away or put it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for a few days.
You can also freeze the sauce in freezer-safe containers or bags in individual portions so you always have some on hand without having to make up a full batch.
Hopefully, you now know whether you should cook tomatoes before putting them on pizza.
Try slicing and drying the tomatoes to avoid the pizza getting soggy, or try roasting them first for a real flavorsome treat.
Tomatoes are a classic part of a pizza – most people will spread a tomato-based sauce before adding all their favorite toppings. Hopefully, you will find my quick and easy recipe just right for that.
So whether you choose to cook your tomatoes before putting them on your pizza, add them fresh at the beginning or the end, just find what works best for you.