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What is your favorite tomato/marinara sauce in a jar?

If you're not making it from scratch, and whether or not you add something to it, what is the best brand (and flavor/style) of sauce in a jar?

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  1. I like most of the Trader Joe's sauces because they are usually lacking in extra sugar, gums, preservatives, etc. They seem to be lacking that weird chemically taste that's in Ragu and some of the cheapie supermarket brands. I tried Rao's once and it was delicious, but I can't bring myself to pay $8 for a jar of spaghetti sauce! :-)

    12 Replies
    1. re: strawberryfrog

      You can make Rao's sauce at home, and it's really very easy.

      I have yet to find a jarred sauce I really like, but I'll use Barilla and doctor it up with fresh basil, some garlic and red wine.

      For how much it costs, it's much more effective for me to make a large batch of homemade occasionally and freeze it in smaller portions.

      1. re: QueenB

        DITTO queenb
        the only thing i have ever used the jarred junk is for pizza

        1. re: foodperv

          Trader Joe's pizza sauce is excellent!

        2. re: QueenB

          Try Moretti's Organic Marinara its the best

        3. re: strawberryfrog

          2nd the TJ's recommendation...we love their organic vokda sauce. It is very good.

          1. re: IndyGirl

            I, too, LOVE the organic vodka sauce! I think it's the best jarred sauce out there.

          2. re: strawberryfrog

            Rao's. Arrabbiata or Marinara. I often add my own onions, capers,
            Calamata olives if I am out of the Arribbiata, as Marinara is easier to find. Worth every penny, in my opinion. I have tried many, many sauces. I cannot say I like supporting a restaurant who would never allow me to dine there, but in this case I do. I have been buying their products since they were introduced, and never disappointed.

            1. re: Jesdamala

              Tried the Rao brand recently and used the Arrabbiata, which is supposed to be hot. NOT!
              It seemed to be good ingredients, but I had to add pepper flakes. It was pretty plain and wimpy by itself. I cooked onions and garlic and mixed it in to simmer with browned chicken thighs.
              Is there anything more substantial in their line of sauces?
              And my second thought is that it was not at all mind-blowing for $8.

                1. re: Scargod

                  Watch for sales. I just bought 4 bottles at shop rite on sale 3.99 each. I'd never buy it at full price. Victorria brand is good too. I usually look at the ingredients, if it has what I make in my own sauce I buy it.

              1. re: strawberryfrog

                Yeah I have a hard time paying $8 a jar. I have been into making my own sauce these days - a can of diced tomatoes and tomato paste is pretty cheap and then I can have as much garlic, onions and mushrooms that I want!

                1. re: strawberryfrog

                  I second Trader Joe's Organic Marinara. It has an incredibly low amount of sodium---I think it's 25 mg per serving compared with around 600 in big name brands so that seems closer to something I'd make myself. I've been using it to make Tortellini Soup--- cook beef bones with onion and celery to make stock, strain through a colander, cook in it two packages of frozen tortellini, then add the jar of marinara sauce, a big can of crushed tomatoes or tomato puree, a can of diced tomatoes, salt, and garlic powder and basil to taste (a lot, in other words). This makes a substantial, tasty soup.

                2. Barilla is the only jarred sauce I like- the others are too sweet. But agree,none compares to homemade.

                  1. I have recently found that I like the Barilla Tomato Basil sauce in a jar. I tried the Marinara once but did not care for it. I used to be a Classico fan but now I can't touch the stuff, I don't now if they changed or I did..It's just sickly sweet. I normally just make my own though and just use the jar when I have to..

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: King of Northern Blvd

                      I like the Classico 4 Cheese if I'm too lazy to make my own. I doctor it up. I love having the nice jars when it runs out. I use them for everything. They're a great glass for a Bloody Mary.

                      1. re: King of Northern Blvd

                        I also like Barilla the best. I enjoy the roasted garlic variety. I bought a Bertoli once by accident, and it wasn't bad, but not as good as the Barilla.

                        1. re: pollymerase

                          I lke Barilla tomato basil, and also the Meijer brand organic tomato basil sauce. I would imagine that the Meijer sauce is packaged under other brand names.

                      2. Newman's Own Sockarooni when we're feeling lazy.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: OCAnn

                          What's in the Sockarooni? I asked my mom the other day if she keeps a jar of sauce on hand and she mentioned this one from Newman's Own. We got sidetracked and I forgot to ask her about the name.

                          1. re: SarahEats

                            don't get your hopes up sarah, it is really terrible. thick, sweet and just overall blah!!!

                            1. re: SarahEats

                              I don't know what's in the Sockarooni. DH brought it home one day and I enjoyed it (surprisingly, since DH usu makes his own sauce).

                              1. re: SarahEats

                                We like newman's tomato & basil. Always have a couple of jars on the shelf. Doctor it up with an additional (small) can of straight tomato sauce and a handful of oregano and fresh parsley. I also "rinse" out the jar with about a 1/4 cup of red wine and throw that in too.

                                I also like the Barilla brand. They have one with olives that makes a good quick pizza sauce. I see Rao's around and although Im tempted to treat myself once in a while, I really do wonder what makes an $8 jar better than a $3 jar. Knowing the restaurant and its clientele as I do, I feel like they are making me "an offer I can't refuse".

                              2. re: OCAnn

                                Yes! But our local store doesn't carry it.

                                1. re: OCAnn

                                  I LOVE that sauce also! Actually I like all the Newman's Own sauces. And the salad dressings.

                                2. Rao's is really excellent and worth the $ in my opinion.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: emilief

                                    Trader Joe's organic marinara sauce works for me in pinch. Can even pass it off as my own to my Italian parents. Just have to remember to hide the empty jars.

                                    1. re: MKS

                                      I like it too. It doesn't have a lot of mystery ingredients. My own frozen sauce is good, but I'm starting to run out and it's only January.

                                      1. re: Glencora

                                        A third for TJ's marinara. The other sauce that I adore is Cento brand Arabiatta. It's perfect and, of course, spicy.

                                        1. re: Steve

                                          i just tried Centos "chefs cut" canned tomatoes and they were very good.

                                    2. re: emilief

                                      As I mentioned in a post above, I fully agree. Worth every penny.

                                      1. re: emilief

                                        Ditto. I especially like the one with eggplant - can't remember the actual name. Considering the price of pasta, it still makes a pretty inexpensive meal even if Rao's is $8.