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What is your favorite spaghetti sauce ina jar?

  • j

I'm always trying new jarred sauces looking for a flavor that I remember from my childhood. The sauce is on the spicy side and has a meaty flavor (but no meat in the sauce). I haven't been able to recreate this memorable flavor making homemade sauce and don't mind buying jarred sauce from the store. Do you have a favorite jarred sauce that doesn't cost $8.00 a jar?

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  1. Turco's used to sell a jarred vodka sauce that had chopped proscuitto in it that was amazing. Better than most restaurant sauces. The closest thing I've found, which isn't really that close, but in a pinch is ok, is Newman's Own sauces. Much better than the Rao's, Bertolli, or other supermarket jarred sauces.

    1. I like Newman's own too. They have lots of interesting flavors--Sockarooni is my current favorite.

      Incidentally, I hear that there is a suspicion that Newman's own is a fraud! A random check by a consumer group showed no trace of Paul was found in any of the tested jars.

      2 Replies
      1. re: DonShirer

        That's my #1 pick and I've tried at least a dozen.

        1. re: DonShirer

          Another vote for Newman's Own. Sockarooni is my personal favorite as well. Although—I first tried Newman's Own sauce years ago while cooking dinner for a small get-together. I don't remember whether I added any extras to the sauce (I think it was the Sockarooni flavor), but I do remember it was absolutely delicious. So I eagerly bought more NO sauce a few weeks later, but to my dismay it was never quite as good as it was that first night. Hmm. Still decent for a jarred sauce though.

        2. FWIW, Cook's Illustrated ranked Bertolli Marinara as their test kitchen favorite.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bob Brooks

            Well, I was about to add to this thread with that very sauce. I like Bertolli, and their marinara doesn't overdo the fat. I think their sauce is just sweet enough, nor is it too salty. I like to buy it on sale, several jars at a time.

            1. There are lots of threads on this (when you search the archives, delete the limitation on the search that makes it only go back 1 year).

              Key things: the first ingredient should be tomatoes, *not* tomato puree (tomato puree should not be a significant ingredient in good jarred sauces). And there should be no corn syrup or sugar in the ingredient list. These two rules eliminate a helluva lot of options. A third trick - but it's not infallible - is to look at the fiber content per 1/2 cup serving - higher fiber means more tomato solids.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Karl S

                Good guidelines, and while I would never buy a sauce with corn syrup, I do use a tiny amount of sugar in my homemade spaghetti sauce, so I might not eliminate a jarred sauce because it contains sugar (as long as it is low on the ingredient list).

                1. re: chicgail

                  Understood. Growing conditions are variable enough that growers cannot ensure that all tomatoes have the perfect acid-fruit balance. But, as you note, the sugar needs to be handled so that it is not noticeable.

                2. re: Karl S

                  Along with your list to check out, add the sodium content in each jarred sauce.

                  1. re: mcel215

                    Fairway Markets Tomato Basil Sauce -- tomatoes, onions, basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano. 4 grams of fiber and 170 mg. of sodium per serving. And only 2.99 a jar. If i cannot make my own sauce, i can't imagine using anything other than this. It has everything i would put in and nothing that i wouldn't..

                    1. re: mshpook

                      That sounds like a geat alternative.

                      We don't have Fairway Markets in Boston though. I just always find Citric Acid in jarred sauce, which to me has an after taste. So, making a quick marinara isn't really a big deal to me, it cooks in 1/2 hr.

                3. Casa Visco marinara. Ingredients: Whole Tomatoes, Ground Tomatoes, 100% Olive Oil, Fresh Garlic, Onions, Spices. For sauce in a jar, always read the indgredient list to be sure that tomatoes are the 1st listed indgredient.

                  1. We lived on Long Island for a few years, years ago. A local introduced us to "Aunt Millies", best jarred sauce I ever had. I've never seen it anywhere else.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                      I've seen them in Boston area supermarkets (depends on shelf space). They were bought by Heinz in 2001. Check with Heinz to see if they are distributed anywhere in your area.

                    2. Jfood is a big fan of Rao's but as the price approached $8-10 for the 32oz jar he just thought it was silly. (BTW - be aware of prices on Raos as there is a 24 and a 32 oz jar).

                      So jfood did the appropriate thing. He took the Raos recipe and made a huge vat of it one Sunday. The he canned them in jars and now keeps at least six in the pantry. Net cost per 32oz is probably in the $3-3.50 range. And he absolutly knows the ingredients.

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: jfood

                        Btw, if you want a very smooth sauce, use the Pomi strained tomatoes. They are ready to use, and not marred by salt or puree or weird juice flavors. Just perfect in all dimensions.

                        For 3 cups of Pomi ($3), 1 stick of butter ($.50) and one large onion ($.40) you can likewise make Marcella Hazan's immortal Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion for about 28 ounces of sauce for under $4. And it freezes superlatively, for months, of course....

                        1. re: Karl S

                          sounds good, but no garlic in the recipe? not even a wee bit?

                          1. re: michele cindy

                            Well, if you add garlic or basil, just don't call it Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion (the recipe for which is addressed in other thread on this board - it's very simple but precise - and you discard the onion). The sauce is entirely about the balance of sweetness of tomato, butter and onion - it's all about subtlety, with no strong flavors. Try the original first, the Marcella way - it's an immortal sauce recipe. Then you have a basis for considering adaptations your way, which may not be quite as immortal albeit tasty....

                            1. re: Karl S

                              I love this sauce. Had been making Batali's basic tomato sauce but this is great and easier. AND I always have the ingredients on hand which for me is always a big plus. I honestly don't have jarred sauce on hand anymore because I can make this so easily.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                And, as Marcella admits, it's good enough to eat on its own. I treat it as a special tomato soup at times (and I normally hate tomato soup).

                                1. re: Karl S

                                  ok - I really need to try this now.. do you like it on spaghetti, ravioli, penne what works best?

                                  1. re: michele cindy

                                    Marcella says gnocchi and long pastas. Marcella says....

                                  2. re: Karl S

                                    Oh wow. Do you add some liquid? I feeling this, KS aka Scrambled Egg Man :)

                            2. re: Karl S

                              Immersion blender for smooth.

                              50-cents for a stick of butter? Onion - $0.40. You have some inexpensive stores in beantown

                              1. re: jfood

                                I can get butter for $2/lb in local supermarkets.

                                1. re: Karl S

                                  you know your right. Jfood always buys two boxes for ~$5. he forgot to divide by 2. :-))

                          2. Bertolli's makes pretty good sauce. And, dont laugh....Safeway Select brand sauces. Not too many ingrediants.

                            1. For marinara for baking lasagna, Enrico's Traditional style is my favorite. Which sauce I like best depends on the use I'm putting it to. Brands I think are better than a lot of the $8 jars are Bertolli and Barilla.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mcf

                                Safeway's store brand Organic Roasted Garlic.

                              2. The best store bought sauce I have ever had was Scarpetta. They have a few different kinds of sauce and I believe they are out of the Boston area. They are packaged in these really awesome microwave and dishwasher safe plastic containers that I have been reusing for well over 5 years now.

                                1. Rao's Marinara. Nothing else compares. However, I generally only buy it when it is on sale and then I stock up. A store near me sometimes has it for $5.99 or sometimes 2 jars for $10.

                                  I recently bought Barilla with roasted garlic and it was pretty good. I think it was $3.19 for the jar. Rao's is still my true love, but I now keep some of this Barilla on hand as well.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: valerie

                                    Well we won't be dining together anytime soon. It's so funny, while reading this, I was thinking of all the ones I truly found almost unedible, and Rao's Marinara was probably public enemy #1. I used it one night, and threw out all the leftovers because I couldn't take the sauce. Now I will add I don't love marinara sauce, but this I felt this was awful/

                                    1. Bertolis. I was amazed how many olives were in its black and green olive sauce. Plus it has sugar listed not that awful corn syrup

                                      1. I don't have the room in my freezer, the ambition to can, or the inclination to make my own pasta in my tiny kitchen but I do love pasta so jarred sauce and dried pasta is what is used in my home. We'll get Gia Russa (I think that's how it's spelled anyway) when there is a sale, but other than that we use Bertolli. Publix (local grocery chain) just had a BOGO sale on them and dried pastas and we stocked up. I will doctor what I have with added vegetables and such, but pasta typically means I don't feel like making a meal into a project.

                                        1. i adore bertolli five brothers summer tomato basil pasta sauce, i can't eat pasta anymore (celiac) so i eat it on top of eggplant and zuchini that have been cooked in the microwave until tender its addictive, my mother always wants me to eat it on rice because i'm small and need beefing up but i just love it over the veggies so i do half and half so we are both happy.