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15 Grocery Store Pasta Sauces Put To The Taste Test. Which Is Best?

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

TESTED: PASTA SAUCE

We tested 15 top pasta sauces to see which is the best, not only in flavor, but ingredients and nutrition. Which sauce reins supreme?

skip the bla bla bla and give me the results!




Picking out a pasta sauce at the store can be really overwhelming. When searching my local grocery store online, 180 results pop up just for tomato based pasta sauce. I did some research before hand to make sure the best of the best would be in this list. The consistent top sauce was Rao's. Other top rated sauces were 365 Whole Foods, & Newman's.

Flavor, nutrition, and ingredients all play a role in the buying process. I present you with all the information so that you can make the best decision for you based on what's important to you. Now, I try to describe what the flavor is (as best I can) so that you can get an idea of what the flavor profile is, but sometimes words are lacking (both for good and bad) and descriptions may be short and sweet. Also, if you notice vegetable (canola, soybean) oil is highlighted in some of the ingredient lists and not others (good job!), that is because it is listed within the first 3 ingredients, which isn't ideal. (I talk about this in detail on my additives post. Go ahead and read about vegetable oils while you're there and see if that is a deal breaker or not for you.)



 

DETAILS

  • Taste, nutrition and price are all factored into the score I give

  • EWG score is present (and linked) if available for further info

  • Concerning ingredients (doesn't necessarily mean they are all bad, but you should be aware of them) are highlighted and linked to the additives page for further info.

  • All serving sizes are 0.5 cup


 

For me, I was able to find it all on this one: flavor, nutrition, & ingredients-no sacrificing.

Here were our top picks:



#1: Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce

#2: Bertolli Marinara Sauce

#3: Primal Kitchen Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce

#4: Kroger Marinara Pasta Sauce

#5: Yo Mama's Marinara

#6: HEB Marinara Pasta Sauce

#7: Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce

#8: Classico Fire Roasted Tomato & Garlic Pasta Sauce

#9: Central Market Marinara Sauce

#10: 365 Whole Foods Organic Marinara Pasta Sauce

#11: Great Value Tomato Basil Garlic Pasta Sauce

#12: Ragu Traditional

#13: Private Selection Marinara

#14: Cucina Antica Marinara

#15: Newman's Own Organic Marinara


 

Marinara Pasta Sauce



#15: Newman's Own Organic Marinara: $3.49 (23.5oz: $0.15/oz)



Ingredients: Organic Tomato Puree (Water, Organic Tomato Paste, Citric Acid), Organic Diced Tomatoes, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Organic Carrot Puree, Organic Basil, Sea Salt, Organic Garlic, Organic Onion*, Organic Black Pepper*, Organic Fennel


Review

Our Score: 2

EWG Score: 3.0 (organic option not available)

Overall Impression: Awful. Very bland, chemical aftertaste, bug spray. Texture is very gritty and unpleasant.

Pros: Organic, good ingredient list, no added sugar

Cons: Taste

Would I buy? No-flavor


#14: Cucina Antica Marinara: $5.39 (25oz: $0.22/oz

Lowest Sodium (230mg)



Ingredients: Imported Italian San Marzano Tomatoes, Tomatoes (Tomatoes, Tomato Puree, Salt), Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt, Basil, White Pepper, Black Pepper.


Review

Our Score: 2

EWG Score: 4.0

Overall Impression: Terrible taste, strong citrus flavor that clashes really hard. Very off putting.

Pros: Lowest sodium (230mg), great ingredient list, no added sugar

Cons: Taste

Will I buy? No-flavor


#13: Private Selection Marinara: $2.69 (24oz: $0.11/oz)



Ingredients: Tomatoes (Whole Peeled Tomatoes [Tomatoes, Tomato Juice], Crushed Tomatoes), Water, Sugar, Salt, Olive Oil, Garlic, Onion Powder, Basil, Onions Puree, Parsley, Spice


Review

Our Score: 2

EWG Score: -

Overall Impression: Very sweet, low acidity, bland. Flavor is not balanced.

Pros: Great ingredient list

Cons: Taste

Will I buy? No-flavor


#12: Ragu Traditional: $2.82 (24oz: $0.07/oz)



Ingredients: Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Salt, Olive Oil, Sugar, Dehydrated Onions, Dehydrated Garlic, Spices, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder.



Review

Our Score: 3

EWG Score: 4.0

Overall Impression: Bland, good to use as a sauce base. Has an artificial aftertaste.

Pros: Great ingredient list

Cons: Taste

Will I buy? No-flavor


#11: Great Value Tomato Basil Garlic Pasta Sauce: $0.88 (24oz: $0.03/oz)



Ingredients: Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Diced Tomatoes In Tomato Juice, Vegetable Oil (Cottonseed And/Or Canola Oil And/Or Soybean Oil) Contains Less Than 1% Of: Sugar, Salt, Dehydrated Garlic, Dehydrated Parsley Spices (Basil Spice), Citric Acid, Natural Flavor.


Review

Our Score: 4

EWG Score: 4.5

Overall Impression: Zesty, reminiscent of the sauce that comes in the pizza lunchables, heavy garlic, artificial aftertaste.

Pros: Cheap, flavorful

Cons: Vegetable oil #3 ingredient.

Will I buy? No-flavor


#10: 365 Whole Foods Organic Marinara Pasta Sauce: $2.29 (25oz: $0.09/oz)



Ingredients: Organic Diced Tomatoes (Organic Tomatoes, Organic Tomato Juice), Organic Tomato Purée (Water, Organic Tomato Paste), Organic Garlic Purée (Organic Garlic, Water), Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Organic Onions, Salt, Organic Garlic, Organic Basil, Organic Oregano, Organic Black Pepper


Review

Our Score: 5

EWG Score: -

Overall Impression: Disappointing. Very plain, heavy basil-ish flavor. The basil tastes as if it was freezer burned maybe? Strange taste.

Pros: Great ingredient list

Cons: Taste

Will I buy? No-flavor


#9: Central Market Marinara Sauce: $5.13 (24oz: $0.21/oz)



Ingredients: Tomato Pulp, Tomato Puree, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Onions, Garlic, Salt, Basil, Oregano, Citric Acid (Acidifier)


Review

Our Score: 5

EWG Score: 3.5

Overall Impression: Strong metallic taste, spoiled, or really old.

Pros: Great ingredient list

Cons: Taste

Will I buy? No-flavor


#8: Classico Fire Roasted Tomato & Garlic Pasta Sauce: $2.18 (24oz: $0.09/oz)




Ingredients: Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Diced Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Fire Roasted Tomatoes, Contains Less Than 2% Of The Following: Onions, Salt, Spices, Olive Oil, Sugar, Garlic, Granulated Roasted Garlic, Granulated Garlic, Citric Acid, Calcium Chloride.


Review

Our Score: 5

EWG Score: 4.0

Overall Impression: Flavors are not balanced. There is a really strong burnt garlic flavor that is really sharp.

Pros: Good ingredient list

Cons: Taste is a little off putting

Will I buy? No-flavor



#7: Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce: $1.83 (24oz: $0.08/oz)

Highest Sugar (9g)



Ingredients: Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Diced Tomatoes In Tomato Juice, Sugar, Canola Oil, Contains Less Than 1% Of: Salt, Dehydrated Onions, Spices, Citric Acid, Dehydrated Garlic, Onion Extract, Garlic Extract.


Review

Our Score: 5

EWG Score: 4.0

Overall Impression: Caramelized, candied tomato flavor with a lot of spices. Very flavorful.

Pros: Flavor, price

Cons: Sugar #3 ingredient, highest sugar (9g total, 4g added)

Will I buy? No-better options available


#6: HEB Marinara Pasta Sauce: $1.77 (24oz: $0.08/oz)



Ingredients: Tomatoes (Tomatoes, Tomato Juice), Crushed Tomatoes (Water, Concentrated Crushed Tomatoes), Contains Less Than 2% Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt, Garlic Puree, Sugar, Spices, Roasted Dehydrated Garlic, Citric Acid


Review

Our Score: 6

EWG Score: -

Overall Impression: Very artificial tasting. Heavy on the garlic

Pros: Good ingredient list

Cons: Taste

Will I buy? No-flavor


#5: Yo Mama's Marinara: $14.93 (2, 25oz bottles: $0.30/oz)

Lowest Sodium (130mg) & Sugar (2g)


Ingredients: Fresh non-GMO tomatoes, Fresh onions, Fresh garlic, White wine, Organic chicken stock (Organic Vegetable Stock, Organic Tumeric), Olive Oil, Fresh Basil, Salt, Oregano, Black Pepper


Review

Our Score: 6

EWG Score: -

Overall Impression: Good. Flavors are pretty balanced, the only one that stands out is an oniony flavor. It is similar to Classico, but better.

Pros: Great ingredient list, lowest sodium (130mg) & sugar (2g)

Cons: -

Will I buy? No-better options


#4: Kroger Marinara Pasta Sauce: $1.49 (24oz: $0.06)

Highest Sodium (570mg) & Sugar (9g)



Ingredients: Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Diced Tomatoes In Tomato Juice, Sugar, Soybean Oil, Salt, Dried Onions, Dried Garlic, Spices, Citric Acid, Romano Cheese (Cultured Part-Skim Milk, Salt, Enzymes).


Review

Our Score: 6.5

EWG Score: -

Overall Impression: Smooth taste, well rounded flavors, very surprising. It is on the sweeter side though.

Pros: Taste, price

Cons: Highest sodium (570mg) & sugar (9g)

Will I buy? Not unless I was cooking for a large crowd and needed to be more cost effective.


#3: Primal Kitchen Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce: $7.99 (24oz: $0.33/oz)


Ingredients: Organic Diced Tomatoes, Organic Tomato Puree (Water, Organic Tomato Paste), Organic Basil, Avocado Oil, Sea Salt, Organic Onions, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Oregano, Citric Acid, Organic Garlic 


Review

Our Score: 7

EWG Score: 4.0

Overall Impression: Very fresh tasting, mild in spices. This sauce is a safe bet to please a lot of people

Pros: Taste, great ingredients,

Cons: Price

Will I buy? Yes, if I am looking for a light & fresh flavor profile.


#2: Bertolli Traditional Marinara: $1.99 (24oz: $0.08/oz)

Highest Sugar (9g)



Ingredients: Diced Tomatoes, Water, Tomato Paste, Onions, Olive Oil, Sugar, Salt, Garlic, Parsley, Basil, Oregano, Spices, Calcium Chloride, Citric Acid.


Review

Our Score: 8

EWG Score: 4.0

Overall Impression: Really good. Surprisingly good. Flavors are very balanced, roasty notes. Delicious.

Pros: Taste, price, ingredients

Cons: Highest sugar (9g, 2 added)

Will I buy? Yes-flavor and price