Our Test Kitchen Put 11 Spaghetti Sauces to the Test. See Our Favorites.
Want the best brands for your pantry? The Taste of Home Test Kitchen put them to the test—this time trying 11 pasta sauces. Find out which brands are best.
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Claire Krieger/Taste of Home
When it comes to pasta sauce, we all enjoy the homemade stuff just like Mom used to make, but we don’t always have the time. That’s why knowing a good store-bought brand is so crucial. A good jar of marinara can make weeknight dinners easy and delicious. Our culinary and editorial teams wanted to find this perfect jarred sauce, so we tested 11 brands—some standards and a few that were totally new to us.
What We Looked for in Best Spaghetti Sauce
Each pasta sauce was tested blindly and judged according to these criteria:
- Flavor: The right combination of tomato, garlic, herbs and olive oil is what makes a marinara sauce so satisfying. The best sauce should have all these ingredients in perfect harmony.
- Texture: What was the texture like? Rustic and a bit chunky? Thin and smooth? Our Test Kitchen wanted a sauce somewhere in the middle.
- Appearance: A good sauce should be a rich red color with visible herbs and even garlic. It should look great heaped over a pile of spaghetti with meatballs or spooned into a casserole for an easy lasagna.
Test Kitchen-Preferred Spaghetti Sauce
After testing 11 brands, our team can confidently say that we’ve found our best-loved brand, the one that’ll make that spaghetti bake (and your lasagna, manicotti, chicken parmesan and more) really come to life. Check out our picks for what to stock in your pantry.
Most Authentic: Rao’s Marinara
The marinara that we most wanted topping our plate of spaghetti and meatballs came from Rao’s. This sauce gave us great tomato flavor—very fresh and bright. Combined with the right balance of onion, garlic, pepper, basil and oregano, it gave this sauce an authentic Italian taste. What made this sauce our top pick, though, was its spot-on texture—absolutely perfect for coating any pasta.
Best for Garlic Lovers: Frescorti Marinara
Garlic-lovers, this is the sauce for you. Frescorti offered a garlic-packed sauce with a good helping of onion and black pepper as well. The thicker texture was also notable—great for spooning over your favorite chicken parmesan (we break down a recipe step-by-step here).
Best Budget Brand: Francesco Rinaldi Marinara
For folks looking for an herb-filled sauce, be sure to grab a jar of Francesco Rinaldi sauce (and it’s less than $2 a jar!). This sauce had good basil and oregano flavor. Plus, the good texture—not too thick or thin—make it a good all-purpose sauce perfect for keeping in the pantry for quick dinners.
What to Make with Spaghetti Sauce
When it comes to a jar of pasta sauce, the options are vast. Want a quick dinner? Just stir in your favorite pasta and add a sprinkle of cheese. Want something a bit more substantial? Use it in baked ziti or manicotti. Marinara is for more than just spaghetti after all! Just check out all these amazing takes.
Whether you choose to go simple or elevated with your Italian dishes, we’re confident in recommending any of these sauces. Want to see them in action? Check out this amazing Florentine spaghetti bake in the making.