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Jarred Pasta Sauce: Fancy or Mass Market?


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Worth the money? I've tried most of the fancy stuff, Rao's, Batali, etc. Not too impressed, certainly didn't think they're worth $9 per jar.

I agree. I think once they add preservatives and put sauce in a jar, it just doesn't taste as good as fresh. The fancy brands don't taste any better than my go-to brands, Newman's Own and Barilla.

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I love Rao's, but know it doesn't appeal to many. There's something about the taste that reminds me of the spaghetti house ragu that I grew up eating. I like to use it sparingly and add a jar to cheap sauce I make myself.

I stock up on it when it's on sale.

Recently, I've found Victoria's at Costco and really like it. It's a worthy jarred sauce.

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I love Rao's, but know it doesn't appeal to many. There's something about the taste that reminds me of the spaghetti house ragu that I grew up eating. I like to use it sparingly and add a jar to cheap sauce I make myself.

I stock up on it when it's on sale.

Recently, I've found Victoria's at Costco and really like it. It's a worthy jarred sauce.

Rao's is the only one I like--but I will buy some only when Rodman's has it on sale, because it is ridiculously expensive. It's good to have some in the pantry for quick pasta meals when I don't feel like cooking and can't face take-out Chinese again. My favorite Rao's variety is Puttanesca, which has capers and red pepper and lots of flavor. It really irks me to pay that much for marinara, which I can make in my sleep.

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Having tried all of them including Rao's and Dean & Deluca's $12 a jar Puttanesca, my favorite is now Trader Joe's organic marinara. The flavor is clean and makes a nice background to the meat and vegetables that I add. $1.99.

I agree, Mark--plus, it's amazingly low-sodium: only 25 mg per serving, and low calorie: 50.

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Whole Foods has a brand of Puttanesca in their refrigerated case whose name escapes me. It's label is white with red print... It sells for about $6.00 for something like 15 or 16 ounces and is actually quite good by any definition. While I also like Rao's Puttanesca I believe this is better. Note that Rao's is about 25 ounces having shrunk from their once 32 ounces as have the others.

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Rao's is the only one I like--but I will buy some only when Rodman's has it on sale, because it is ridiculously expensive. It's good to have some in the pantry for quick pasta meals when I don't feel like cooking and can't face take-out Chinese again. My favorite Rao's variety is Puttanesca, which has capers and red pepper and lots of flavor. It really irks me to pay that much for marinara, which I can make in my sleep.

I hear you, but there's something about Rao's that I just can't put my finger on to replicate. I only buy it on sale as well.

You might want to give Victoria's a try (Costco). It has that something something that Rao's does.

I used a jar just yesterday for my meatballs. I also added a large can of crushed tomatoes and it stretched the sauce to cover my 3 dozen meatballs.

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Personally, I like Trader Joe's tomato basil sauce the best of the jarred sauces. For the Rao's fans, they have posted on their website their marinara recipe: My link I found this recipe 10 years ago, when Rao's came out with a cookbook and have tweaked it and used it to make my own sauce. I skip the salt pork, so it comes out very fresh, light tasting. Also, I don't use the Rao's olive oil or tomatos, they didn't even have those products when I started using this recipe - just good quality ingredents will do. Not sure if the Puttanesca recipe that folks like is also available.

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Not sure if the Puttanesca recipe that folks like is also available.

I found it by using "search inside the book" at Amazon in the Rao's Recipes from the Neighborhood book.

ETA: The marinara sauce recipe in the book is different than the one on the website, so the puttanesca may be a different recipe too.

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Call me a bit of an outlier, but I'm a Heinz in-the-can Traditional Pasta Sauce kind of guy. About a buck a can....

I start with a sautee of diced onions and garlic, add some pepper and herbs, whatever I feel like that day, and then in goes the Heinz and a healthy dollop of tomato paste. I adjust seasonings along the way and cook for a good half-hour to get everything to come together. My pasta of choice is Barilla Pasta Plus. I occasionally make meatballs of beef-turkey-pork, or beef-chicken-turkey (2 parts beef to one part each of the other two) with herbs and spices.

I feed my kids this way, where quantity and value are important, with a little bit of healthy thrown in.

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Call me a bit of an outlier, but I'm a Heinz in-the-can Traditional Pasta Sauce kind of guy. About a buck a can....

I start with a sautee of diced onions and garlic, add some pepper and herbs, whatever I feel like that day, and then in goes the Heinz and a healthy dollop of tomato paste. I adjust seasonings along the way and cook for a good half-hour to get everything to come together. My pasta of choice is Barilla Pasta Plus. I occasionally make meatballs of beef-turkey-pork, or beef-chicken-turkey (2 parts beef to one part each of the other two) with herbs and spices.

I feed my kids this way, where quantity and value are important, with a little bit of healthy thrown in.

Good for you, KN, but I think you missed the jistt of this discussion. Most of us who cook make our own sauce from scratch most of the time. But there are times when even the most diligent and frugal cooks don't have the time or energy, and so turn to sauce from a jar.

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Good for you, KN, but I think you missed the jistt of this discussion. Most of us who cook make our own sauce from scratch most of the time. But there are times when even the most diligent and frugal cooks don't have the time or energy, and so turn to sauce from a jar.

Which reminds me, has anyone found a decent clam sauce from a can? I've tried Pregresso and Cento (prefer Cento) but I don't think they're anything special. I can make my own but sometimes it's easier to just open a can. :mellow:

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Good for you, KN, but I think you missed the jistt of this discussion. Most of us who cook make our own sauce from scratch most of the time. But there are times when even the most diligent and frugal cooks don't have the time or energy, and so turn to sauce from a jar.

Like when I open up a jar and pour over frozen canneloni and let it cook for about an hour while I muster up the motivation to make a salad. Been having a lot of those days lately :mellow:

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Once in a while I get Copper Pot's smoky bacon and parmesan at the market.

^^^ this. We don't use jarred sauces all that much, but we do buy Stefano's occasionally and love them. Sure, it's a splurge but unlike Rao's and the like we actually see a large difference from the mass market varieties.

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