The Mexican Pizza at Taco Bell is topped with a flavorful red sauce that adds a delicious kick to every bite. This tangy, tomato-based sauce helps make the Mexican Pizza an iconic menu item that Taco Bell fans have come to crave.
The History of the Mexican Pizza
The Mexican Pizza was first introduced by Taco Bell in 1985. It was originally called the “Pizzazz Pizza” and consisted of a fried flour tortilla shell filled with beans, pizza sauce, and taco meat. The name was changed to Mexican Pizza in 1992 when Taco Bell revamped the recipe. The current version features two fried flour tortillas layered with beans, pizza sauce, beef, tomatoes, and a three-cheese blend.
Over the years, the Mexican Pizza has earned a cult following among Taco Bell enthusiasts. Its fusion of Mexican and Italian flavors creates a uniquely craveable taste profile. The interplay between the spicy pizza sauce, smooth beans, savory beef, and melted cheese is hard for fans to resist.
The Mexican Pizza Sauce Ingredients
According to Taco Bell, the sauce used on the Mexican Pizza consists of the following main ingredients:
- Tomato puree – Provides the base flavor, color, and texture
- Water – Thins out and hydrates the sauce
- Food starch – Thickens the sauce so it doesn’t run off the pizza
- Garlic powder – Adds a subtle hit of garlic flavor
- Onion powder – Provides subtle sweet onion notes
- Sugar – Balances out acidity from the tomatoes
- Salt – Enhances overall flavor
- Spices – Likely a blend to add subtle heat
- Citric acid – Boosts tomato flavor and helps preserve the sauce
The full recipe and exact measurements are proprietary information closely guarded by Taco Bell. However, food scientists who have studied the sauce say it clearly contains a calculated blend of tomatoes, thickening agents, sweeteners, and spices designed maximize the Mexican Pizza’s craveability.
The Sauce’s Key Role in the Mexican Pizza
The signature sauce is absolutely vital to making the Mexican Pizza tastes so addictive. It provides the following essential qualities:
- Savory tomato flavor – The sauce is packed with rich, concentrated tomato taste that forms the core of the Mexican Pizza’s appeal.
- Spicy kick – The spices and seasonings in the sauce give it a mild but noticeable heat that plays perfectly against the cooling cheeses and beans.
- Texture and moisture – The sauce’s viscosity allows it to evenly coat components without making the pizza soggy.
- Acidity – A lively acidity balances the other rich flavors and keeps each bite tasting fresh.
- Sweetness – Just a touch of sugar offsets the tomato acidity and spices.
- Mouthfeel – The sauce’s clingy consistency helps unify the layers of textures and flavors.
Taco Bell likely spent significant time in their test kitchen perfecting the Mexican Pizza sauce until it ticked all the right boxes to make the pizza irresistible. The sauce brings everything together into one harmonious composition of tastes and textures.
How the Sauce is Made
Figuring out exactly how Taco Bell makes the Mexican Pizza sauce is difficult since they keep the recipe secret. However, examining similar tomato-based sauces provides clues into the general method Taco Bell likely uses:
- Start by blending canned tomato puree with water and spices in a large kettle. The puree provides the flavor foundation while the water loosens up the consistency.
- Mix in sweeteners, garlic powder, onion powder, citric acid, and other dry seasonings. These ingredients incorporate easier when the sauce is still thin.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer, then let it cook for 15-30 minutes to meld the flavors and soften the spices.
- Thicken the sauce by whisking in food starches like corn starch or potato starch. They add viscosity without dulling flavors.
- Let the sauce simmer for another 10-15 minutes so the starches can fully hydrate and thicken.
- Finish by adjusting acidity, sweetness, and salt to achieve the perfect flavor balance.
The result is a smooth, full-bodied sauce with vibrant tomato flavor and a velvety consistency for evenly coating every component of the Mexican Pizza.
Why the Sauce is So Important to Fans
For many Mexican Pizza aficionados, the sauce is just as crucial as the ingredients it covers. It’s the sauce that binds everything together, unifying the tastes and textures into a singular, irresistible food experience. Some key reasons it’s so important to fans:
- It provides the signature tomato flavor they crave in every bite.
- It delivers the perfect amount of spicy heat.
- It balances the richness of the ingredients underneath.
- It has an addictive mouthfeel and texture.
- It brings acidity and sweetness to offset other flavors.
- It allows flavors to mingle in every bite.
Without the special Mexican Pizza sauce, the pizza simply wouldn’t be the same craveable mash-up of flavors. Taco Bell likely experimented extensively until they formulated the ideal sauce to complement the other ingredients and excite fans’ palates with each bite.
Copycat Mexican Pizza Sauce Recipes
Recreating the Taco Bell Mexican Pizza sauce at home takes some trial and error to get the details just right. But food bloggers and copycat recipe developers have shared some recipes that aim to achieve at least a close proximity to the real deal. Here are a few options to try:
- 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
Whisk together all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat and let sauce thicken for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool and use on your Mexican Pizza.
- 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until thickened slightly. Let cool then pour over your Mexican Pizza components.
- 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
Whisk all ingredients together in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes until slightly thickened. Let cool before using on your Mexican Pizza.
Where to Buy Mexican Pizza Sauce
While making homemade copycat sauce can be fun, sometimes it’s easier to buy one pre-made if you don’t have time to mix up a batch. Fortunately, there are some ready-made options that aim to mimic the Taco Bell Mexican Pizza sauce profile:
- Taco Bell Fire Sauce – This is Taco Bell’s spiciest signature sauce. It has a similar tomato-forward taste and spicy kick as the pizza sauce.
- Taco Bell Mild Sauce – A bit tamer than Fire Sauce but still has that recognizable Taco Bell flavor.
- Ortega Taco Sauce – A quick shortcut option that provides a zesty tomato and chili pepper flavor.
- Mrs. Renfro’s Taco Sauce – Made with tomatoes, chilies, and spices for an authentic taco taste.
- Santa Barbara Taco Sauce – Features a tomato puree base and has a bit of heat.
- El Pato Tomato-Chili Sauce – A spicy blend of chilies and tomato flavor inspired by authentic Mexican cuisine.
Using one of these ready-made sauces can make whipping up a homemade Mexican Pizza much simpler. Just heat the sauce and pour it over your pizza components for easy Taco Bell-style flavor.
How Long Does Leftover Sauce Last?
Like many tomato-based sauces, the leftover Mexican Pizza sauce will keep for 3-4 days refrigerated if you don’t finish it all. To maximize its shelf life:
- Store the sauce in an airtight container to prevent drying out.
- Ensure the sauce was made with fresh ingredients and cooked to proper temperatures to destroy bacteria.
- Place leftover sauce in the refrigerator within 2 hours of cooking.
- Keep refrigerated Mexican Pizza sauce separate from raw meats to avoid cross-contamination.
- Avoid introducing new germs by double-dipping utensils after the sauce cools.
- Discard any sauce that smells odd or develops mold.
With proper storage and handling, leftover Mexican Pizza sauce can be enjoyed for lunches or dinners throughout the week. Just remember to listen to your senses and toss it if anything seems off.
Does the Sauce Contain Dairy or Eggs?
The Mexican Pizza sauce at Taco Bell does not contain any dairy, eggs, or other animal products according to the ingredients list. It is safe for vegans and people with dairy allergies. The recipe relies on tomatoes, spices, and thickeners like food starch to achieve the right texture and flavor profile. No milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, eggs, butter or other animal-derived ingredients are used.
This makes the Mexican Pizza one of the more vegan-friendly options at Taco Bell. By holding the beef and cheese, the meatless beans and sauce combine for a satisfying plant-based adaptation. The sauce provides plenty of flavor on its own without needing dairy.
People with egg allergies can also rest easy knowing that the sauce does not contain any egg-based ingredients like mayonnaise or certain thickeners. Those with dairy issues like lactose intolerance don’t have to worry about symptoms from enjoying this zesty Taco Bell sauce.
How Many Calories in the Sauce?
The Mexican Pizza sauce is one of the lower-calorie components of the dish. Each packet contains around:
- 25 calories
- 230 mg sodium
- 5g carbohydrates
- 2g sugar
These nutrition facts can vary slightly between different Taco Bell locations. But in general, a single packet of the Mexican Pizza sauce contains minimal fat, protein, and calories. This makes it a flavor-boosting topping you don’t necessarily have to feel too guilty about enjoying.
Pairing Drinks With the Mexican Pizza
The Mexican Pizza’s fusion of zesty tomato sauce, spicy beef, smooth beans, and melted cheese pairs well with a variety of beverages. Here are some ideal options to wash it down:
- Fountain soft drink – Choose a citrusy soda like Sprite to help cut through the richness.
- Iced tea – Tea’s bitterness balances the saltiness nicely.
- Horchata – The sweet cinnamon rice milk beverage complements the spice.
- Jarritos – A fruit-flavored Mexican soda adds a tangy counterpoint.
- Margarita – For adults, a salty, lime-accented Margarita matches the pizza beautifully.
- Mexican beer – The crisp taste of a Corona or Modelo Especial is perfect with a slice.
No matter your beverage choice, follow the slice of Mexican Pizza with a big refreshing drink of your choice to keep your palate primed and ready for the next craveable bite of pizza sauce goodness.
Mexican Pizza Sauce Alternatives
While the signature Mexican Pizza sauce is hard to improve upon, some adventurous eaters enjoy switching it up and trying creative twists. If you feel like experimenting, here are a few ideas for sauces that can stand in for the classic:
- Nacho cheese sauce – For a cheesier, richer sauce.
- Queso dip – Melty cheese sauce adds more Tex-Mex flavor.
- Tomatillo salsa – Bright, tangy green tomatillos make a nice change.
- Mole sauce – An earthy, complex Mexican sauce.
- Jalapeño crema – Cooling sour cream spiked with jalapeños.
- Guacamole – Fresh, cool avocado sauce.
- Refried beans – More beans give a heartier base layer.
Feel free to think outside the bun and experiment with unique Mexican Pizza sauces. Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself craving the classic tomato magic again soon.
Troubleshooting Common Sauce Problems
When made properly, the Mexican Pizza sauce imparts a perfect amount of flavor, moisture, and cohesion. But occasionally, the sauce can have issues like:
- Not enough flavor – Try adding more tomato sauce or paste for richer, bolder taste. Extra spices and garlic can also amplify the flavors.
- Too acidic – Cut the acidity by mixing in a bit of cream, extra tomato paste, or more sugar.
- Too spicy – Reduce the amount of spices or chili powder. Balance it by adding more tomato puree.
- Runny consistency – Simmer the sauce longer to reduce moisture or mix in a little extra starch.
- Grainy texture – Use an immersion blender or pass through a sieve to smooth it out.
With a few minor tweaks and ingredient adjustments, you can customize the Mexican Pizza sauce until it has the perfect flavor, texture, and mouthfeel for your preferences.
The crave-inducing Mexican Pizza sauce from Taco Bell is an integral component in making the dish so uniquely delicious and memorable. Its perfect blend of tomato tang, savory spices, and velvety texture ties everything together into fast food perfection with each bite. While Taco Bell keeps the exact recipe a secret, a tasty copycat version can be whipped up at home for DIY Mexican Pizzas. No matter where you enjoy it, the sauce is sure to satisfy your Mexican Pizza cravings.