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Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like honest-to-goodness homemade pasta sauce. But, sometimes, life gets way too chaotic, and you just don’t have the time (or, more importantly, the desire) to chop tomatoes, sauté onions, and simmer ingredients on the stove for hours. There are days when you need simplicity in the kitchen—some cooked pasta noodles and jarred sauce, salad from a bag, and presto, dinner is served!
When you want to prepare an easy dinner with pre-made pasta sauce, it’s helpful to know which jarred pasta sauces are better than others. We’ve selected our all-time favorites here, to help you save even more time on kitchen prep. Here are the best jarred pasta sauces to keep on hand for pasta night.
For the all-time best-jarred marinara sauce, look no further than this option from Rao’s, a recipe straight from the exclusive New York City restaurant of the same name. This sauce's ingredient list includes high-quality olive oil, imported Italian tomatoes, basil, garlic, onions, and a variety of fresh seasonings. And, since there’s no added sugar or preservatives, its sweet, delicate flavor comes solely from the tomatoes and other ingredients making it perfect to pair with pasta and salad or even use as a dipping sauce.
Thrive Market’s Organic Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce tastes just as delicious (if not more so) than traditional tomato sauce. Featuring 100 percent certified organic ingredients like onions, olive oil, San Marzano tomatoes, and roasted garlic, this sauce is both tasty and healthy.
Reviewers like that this sauce contains simple, clean ingredients with no added sugar, and that it “tastes homemade.” A few reviewers also noted that they loved the freshness of the tomatoes and the chunks of garlic. Throw this sauce on spaghetti for an easy weeknight dinner, drizzle it over vegan lasagna, or use it as a dipping sauce for toasted garlic bread.
Finding a fresh and delicious vodka sauce that comes from a jar can be tricky, but the Thrive Market Organic Vodka Pasta Sauce tastes like it’s been slow-cooked on the stove for days. This all-natural vodka sauce is chock-full of fresh ingredients like Italian tomatoes, organic olive oil, and fresh cream, in addition to fresh garlic, onion, and basil.
The subtle vodka flavor gives the sauce a certain depth that sets it apart from regular tomato sauces. While some customers wish the vodka flavor was even more apparent, it's still a delicious and well-balanced option for nights when you don't have time to make it from scratch. Incorporate it into a meaty one-pot pasta dish or use it for penne alla vodka.
Bursting with flavor, Williams Sonoma's Truffle Alfredo Pasta Sauce is worth its slightly higher price tag. A rich and delicious mix of black summer truffles and light cream is rounded out with a blend of Pecorino and Grana Padano cheese, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and black pepper.
This hearty sauce can work with any type of pasta, but a few online reviewers said that it was particularly scrumptious when paired with cheese ravioli. It can also be used as the base for a chicken alfredo pasta dish. If you're looking for an extra-special and indulgent sauce to serve on pasta night, this option is worth considering.
If you love spice, the Jar Goods Classic Spicy Tomato Sauce is the sauce for you. Vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh onions, olive oil, garlic, and basil hold down the ingredient list, but it’s the red and black pepper that really gives this sauce its tasty, tangy kick. Plus, it doesn't contain added sugars, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, so you can rest assured that you’re getting an all-natural product. Some tasters have noted that this sauce definitely ranks on the hotter side to please spicy food lovers, but it’s not too off-putting for milder palates, either.
When you’re looking for a great basic spaghetti sauce, this option from Classico does the trick. This sauce is made from ripe tomatoes, aromatic basil, garlic, onions, and a hint of a few other spices. Since it’s simple yet flavorful, it’s the perfect base for meat sauce or adding even more flavorful ingredients—like grilled onions, extra garlic, or fresh herbs—into the mix. It’s also gluten-free and contains no synthetic flavors, colors, or preservatives. Plus, at just 70 calories per serving size, it’s on the lighter end of the spaghetti sauce spectrum.
If you don't have time to make a batch of homemade tomato sauce from scratch, don't settle for something that's watery and tasteless. If you want your jarred sauce to taste like it came from the stovetop, this version from La San Marzano is your best bet for just-like-homemade taste.
This brand, which was founded more than 40 years ago, is imported from Italy and makes their marinara sauce from 100 percent Italian ingredients, including whole peeled tomatoes, olive oil, sea salt, sliced garlic, oregano, basil, and black pepper. Do note that the texture is on the thinner side, but the flavor is fresh and authentic.
If you're vegan, try Primal Kitchen No Dairy Alfredo Sauce, which tastes just as delicious (if not more so) than traditional alfredo sauce. It's made from a cashew butter and avocado oil base and seasoned with sea salt, roasted garlic, onion powder, black pepper, lemon juice concentrate, and nutritional yeast. Tasters are pleased to find this sauce is surprisingly thick and creamy-tasting, considering there are no dairy-based products in it.
Throw this sauce on spaghetti for a luxuriously yummy plant-based dinner, drizzle it over roasted veggies for a tasty side dish, or use it as a dipping sauce for toasted garlic bread. A few reviewers commented that fresh, sauteed mushrooms and onions are a great addition to the sauce, as well. There's also a no dairy garlic alfredo sauce that packs extra roasted garlic flavor–yum!
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Justine Harrington is a freelance writer for The Spruce Eats. From beers to tacos to takeout, the travel journalist has discovered and sampled a wide variety of food and drink in her travels. In addition to compiling this list of the best jarred pasta sauces for us, Justine has also written roundups on the best maple syrups and canned soups of the year.
This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, a home cook, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and freelance writer for The Spruce Eats, where she specializes in small kitchen appliance reviews. She's written several roundups for us, including the best pancake mixes and crackers of the year. There are always a few jars of Rao's or Victoria's pasta sauce in her pantry to save major time–without sacrificing flavor or nutrition–for her family's favorite Italian recipes.