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Best marinara sauce in a jar?

OK, I know how easy it is to make excellent marinara sauce from scratch...but sometimes, I'm either too rushed or too lazy to do so. So far, I guess I've decided that amognst the widely available jarred sauces, I like Classico or Silver Palate the best. What's your favorite?

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  1. I just read this yesterday in the America's Test Kitchen Cookbook. Bertolli Tomato and Basil and Victoria Marinara were top ranked.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ButterYum

      Other tests with different results:





      I tried Giada's traditional marinara and it is extraordinarily good and fresh homemade tasting, and with good body and texture.

        1. re: mcf

          I love Giada's sauce. The garlic one is so amazing.

        2. I really dislike all jarred sauces except Giada De Lauentis'- great fresh, tangy flavor. The only place I've seen it (in MN) is at Target.

          4 Replies
          1. re: SmartCookie

            It's a target exclusive item. All of the Giada food and cooking equipment is made specially for target.

            We like the Kirkland (Costco) brand. No added sugar, nice texture.

            1. re: cheesecake17

              Does the kirkland come in small sizes to make a case?
              I find that the large jars, unless I use them in one or two uses will go bad...and if I am making something requiring a large amount of sauce I would be prepared to make my own for the dish.

              1. re: smilingal

                Being a single parent/empty nester, I too have a hard time using a full jar of sauce before it goes bad. Solution--put the excess sauce into ice cube trays; freeze, then put the cubes into a zip lock bag (squeeze all the excess air out). Defrost/use the cubes as needed.

            2. re: SmartCookie

              I sent Target an email because I couldn't find Giada Tomato Basil at any Target in my town, here's their reply.

              "After reading your e-mail, I checked to see if I could find the Tomato Basil Sauce you’re looking for. I’m sorry for any disappointment, but this has been discontinued and is no longer available."

            3. Rao's. IMHO, tastes the most like a fresh sauce of any canned I've ever tried. If you can't find it in your supermarket, you can buy it online - raos.com.

              2 Replies
              1. re: texmexjerseygirl

                Sadly, it's extremely pricey. I like to buy nice quality san marzano tomatoes so I can make my own.

              2. Trader Joe's marinara is pretty good... I add a drizzle of good olive oil and a few fresh herbs, makes a good quick weeknight meal. It's also much less expensive than some of the supermarket brands.

                1 Reply
                1. re: iluvcookies

                  i've often "cheated" with the Trader Joe's marinara that comes in the can with the green label.

                  i saute fresh garlic slices in olive oil, then add the contents if the green can.

                2. Raos or Victorias both are delish

                  1. My favorite is the Barilla marinara. I'm not calling it the most exciting sauce, but it's solid and it's beautifully changable. I've added sugar, garlic, chilis, veggies, sun dried tomato paste (in teensy quantities), I've used it to simmer meatballs or sausage, mushrooms and a Parmesan rind...It's a wonderfully flexible product, and can easily be turned into just about whatever you need it to be. Straight out of the jar though, it's not high in personality. For how I like to use it, that's part of it's strength.

                    1. recently got turned on to the Rana brand of pre-prepared sauces. really like their pesto and marinara.

                        1. re: janniecooks

                          jan: It is sometimes easier to start a new thread ....

                        2. Rao's is good but pricey. I buy several jars when it's on sale for S3.99. Barilla is pretty decent too and much less expensive.

                          1. On the rare occasion I use one I use to prefer Aunt Millies with meat. In recent years this has become difficult to find however I believe the generic brand Foodtown is the same manufacturer.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: jrvedivici

                              Yes, it is tough to find. Agreed...used to be ubiquitous in the Northeast, at least in my nook of it.

                              I also really into the Pastene canned Spaghetti sauce.

                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                Aunt Millie's makes the best pizza sauce.

                              2. I like Cucina Antica and Rao's

                                1. I usually make my own, but we bought a jar of Mario Batali's Cherry Tomato Marinara "crafted with Imported Cherry Tomatoes & San Marzano Tomatoes from Italy". It was tasty enough to buy another jar. Also, have used Trader Joe's and Mid's pasta sauce.

                                  1. I like the White Linen mark which you can purchase at Costco but I do find it high in salt.

                                    1. Responding to my own op...I've just tried the Giada Brand which is only sold at Target. The simple tomato & basil sauce for about 3 bucks is surprisingly delish! I'm going back to buy more, and try some others.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: josephnl

                                        The marinara is superb... only reason I go to Target, aside from Smucker's organic pb in glass jars.

                                      2. Barilla & - believe it or not - Safeway supermarket's own brand, & Costco's own Kirkland brand of sauces are my favorites.

                                        And while not Marinara - Safeway's own brand of "Arabbiatta" is wonderfully uber-spicy. Doesn't need any tweaking.

                                        I never bother buying the pricey upscale jarred sauces because for those prices I could make my own for less, which would inevitably be better. ;)

                                        1. Bertolli Olive Oil & Garlic. It has chunks of tomatoes, perfectly seasoned. I have a recipe for a Vodka sauce that calls for 3 cups of a marinara sauce and I always use that sauce. With some red pepper flakes, wow, wow, wow.


                                            1. re: shaun11m

                                              Try Giada's at Target. Surprisingly good for ~3 bucks!

                                            2. The best I've ever tasted is World Classics Marinara Sauce. It tastes just like the kind I make from scratch using tomatoes fresh from the garden. It absolutely makes my eggplant parmesan!

                                              16 Replies
                                              1. re: dlee63

                                                Have you tried Giada's Tomato Basil sauce from Target? It's really very, very good and a bargain at ~3 bucks a jar. Consumer Reports (the well known food authority ;) !) top-rated it.

                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                  I can't believe you asked! I can't find my favorite right now so I picked up a jar of Giada's Tomato Basil at Target today. I had it over spaghetti for supper and was disappointed. Sorry.

                                                  1. re: dlee63

                                                    Mmm...really sorry! I've never heard of World Classics, but it must be great. Where do you get it? Perhaps it's regional...we're in southern CA.

                                                    1. re: josephnl

                                                      I'm in the midwest but I know it's also sold in the south. World Classics has a web site listing 14 supermarket chains, many I am not familiar with so I couldn't say where they're located. Here in Iowa it's sold at Hy Vee.

                                                      1. re: dlee63

                                                        Discovered one chain in southern CA that may carry it. There are apparently 2 different marinara sauces they have, one in a jar and one in a plastic tub. Which is the one you like?

                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                          The one I like is in the jar. I've not tried the other.

                                                    2. re: dlee63

                                                      i just tried the Giada Tomato and Basil
                                                      sorry, found it to be watery and not very flavorful.

                                                      1. re: westsidegal

                                                        Sorry. Which is your favorite jarred sauce?

                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                          the silver palate low sodium marinara sauce.
                                                          gelsons carries it all the time, but about 4 times a year they have it on sale at a substantial discount.

                                                          the first time i bought the low sodium variety it was an accident. i thought i was buying the regular marinara. after i tasted the low sodium version i started buying that one exclusively.

                                                          also, UNLIKE the Giada's, it doesn't have a dairy/butterfat smell. it smells like tomatos.

                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                              Are you referring to Giada's traditional marinara, or her tomato basil? I got a very fresh vegetable taste and smell from the marinara of hers I tried. The reports on it (can't find the ingredients yet) say it's finished with butter, but that was tomato basil.

                                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                                            Rao's. Very delicious. I buy a bunch at a time when it's on sale, or keep 1 or 2 jars in the pantry. It's such good quality that i really use it for anything.

                                                        2. re: josephnl

                                                          I thought her traditional marinara was very good, I believe that's the one that won the taste test over Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and Vincent's Clam bar, right?

                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                            That could be. Maybe I'll give it a try. The only one of hers I've tried is the Tomato Basil.

                                                            1. re: dlee63

                                                              I like the vegetable marinara quite a bit.

                                                            2. re: mcf

                                                              This is the article from Consumer's Report:


                                                              Giada's was also top-rated by another publication that I can't bring to mind...perhaps, the NY Times.

                                                              I rather like most of her sauces that I've tasted, but truth be told, I always doctor store-bought sauces with additional fresh herbs from my garden.

                                                        3. I haven't bought jarred sauce regularly in years. When I did, I used Emeril's Kicked Up Tomato Sauce.

                                                          I did buy a jar of Rao's Marinara @$7.99 a couple of weeks ago after reading such raves about it. It wasn't awful but I wasn't impressed.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Njchicaa

                                                            We weren't impressed either. I like Barilla Marinara best. So tasty. I'm going to Try Giada's sauces soon.

                                                          2. I look for jars whose label says NO added sugar in it.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                              Good idea. That had never occurred to me.

                                                              1. re: dlee63

                                                                ... or if it has sugar or HFCS in the ingredients list, I put it back on the shelf. I don't like sweet tasting sauces (like Barilla, Ragu, Prego, etc). Blech.

                                                            2. Mid's is best by far, and What a joy to finally find a bottled sauce I don’t have to adjust. Mids meat sauce was the BEST I have ever tried. Just the right blend of herbs, not too salty or acidic. I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen that Mid’s is worth every cent to get that delicious taste. Bravo!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: maliheh

                                                                I agree that Mid's is good stuff across their product line. I'd call it mid-priced (hey, a pun!), relative to Rao's. Either of those brands, I'll stock up when on sale.

                                                              2. There have been many new high end jarred sauces entering the market here in suburban NYC. Rao's is still the best I've tasted but most of the better ones have ingredients similar to what you'd use to make homemade:
                                                                whole peeled plum tomatoes (not tomato puree or paste)
                                                                olive oil
                                                                fresh basil
                                                                dry oregano
                                                                salt & pepper
                                                                If the tomatoes are ripe there is no need to add sugar
                                                                Should be low in sodium and sugars

                                                                1. Lately, I've been using Bertolli Vidalia Onion and Roasted Garlic. We like it a lot.

                                                                  1. I can't bring myself to spend upwards of $7 or more for many of these premium jarred tomato sauces. I know you can get Prego or Ragu or some store brand for less, but anything remotely better and the price jumps dramatically.

                                                                    I can stock my pantry with 10 cans of crushed tomatoes for $10, or spend over $60-$70 for 10 jars of a somewhat decent pre-made sauce. It adds up quick.

                                                                    You can make a much better tasting sauce in minutes with just a can of crushed tomatoes and a few fresh ingredients. I don't really see the point personally.

                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Atomic76

                                                                      2 #10 cans of crushed/diced/puree/sauce plus your own blend of onions, garlic & spices will yield about 7 quarts of sauce. Takes about 4 hours to make for about $1.50 per jar. Plus - no artificial ingredients, stabilizers, preservatives, ingredients with long unpronounceable names, etc etc.

                                                                      You can freeze it or can it.

                                                                      1. re: JoeBabbitt

                                                                        That "4 hours" part of your response indicates the problem. Homemade is not alway on hand, and having more like 25 minutes till dinner is often the case.

                                                                      2. re: Atomic76

                                                                        I am the op. You are, of course, absolutely correct...nevertheless, there are some times when I want to put a meal on the table with as little effort as possible. Thus my query. Yes, it's true that 99% of the time I'll open a can of San M. tomatoes, put them in a pan with sautéing onions, garlic, oregano in terrific olive oil...add a bit of Parmesan and basil in at the end and with a grind of salt and pepper, have a sauce better than any jarred stuff. But sometimes, I just don't want to bother!

                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                          I'm with you!
                                                                          No one mentioned Newman's Own....i've bought and loved the organic marinara for years, its about $4 or so near me. Nice texture, not too smooth.

                                                                          Honestly i've taken a jar, a big can of tomatoes and some white beans all together for soup in five minutes! It was pretty good!

                                                                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                            If you like a sugar bomb in your pasta (or anything else) then Newman's Own is for you! I'd love to support charity with my $$ as soon as they cut the sugars they dump into everything, including tomatoes.

                                                                        2. re: Atomic76

                                                                          The Bertolli sauce I mentioned above is about $3 for a 24 oz. jar at Publix and, on occasion, it goes on a 2 for 1 special. Mostly I make my own, but this is great for those times when I don't.

                                                                          1. re: Atomic76

                                                                            Wish I could find crushed tomatoes for $1/can. I needed some yesterday and the Safeway store brand was $3.09. They also had Cento for $3.29, so I went with those because I have always liked their quality.

                                                                            1. re: Atomic76

                                                                              plus, garlic changes flavor dramatically when it is canned/jarred (imho, not for the better).
                                                                              when you use fresh garlic at home, the flavor doesn't get degraded.

                                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                What do you think of the Dorot frozen garlic? I think it's not bad, and use it in a pinch when I'm lazy. It's obviously not as good as fresh, but it's very handy!

                                                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                                                  once i learned how to easily peel a whole bulb of fresh, local, garlic at once, there was no need to compromise with a product like dorot.

                                                                                  put the whole bulb of garlic in a small steel saucepan WITH a tight-fitting steel top. hold the top on firmly and vigorously shake the whole thing like a bartender shakes a martini for about 10 minutes. the paper-like peel will be completely off.

                                                                                  1) dorot cannot compete with this.
                                                                                  2) the upper body workout will be good for your arms, your pecs, your shoulders (you get the picture)

                                                                            2. I'm surprised nobody has suggested the Wegman's store brand - that is now my go-to sauce. I think it's called "Grandma's pomodoro" or something like that. $1.99 all the time, not too runny, not too sweet, just enough chunks of tomato.

                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                              1. re: truman

                                                                                I was surprised as well. I like all of the Wegman's brand sauces.

                                                                                1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                                                                                  Sure wish we had Wegman's in California. I drool when we visit Rochester (NY) twice a year and look into the Pittsford Super Wegman's!

                                                                                  1. re: josephnl

                                                                                    Better than Macys at Christmas time !

                                                                                    1. re: Raffles

                                                                                      I don't know what the other Wegman's Markets look like, but the Pittsford, NY (Rochester) store is truly amazing. I could live there for a week (and gain ~ 100 lbs!).

                                                                                2. re: truman

                                                                                  Wegmans isn't across the country...yet....I met Danny last year in Geneva, the employees were going nuts!

                                                                                  1. re: Raffles

                                                                                    When you say that Wegman's isn't across the country "yet"...have you heard anything that would make you think that cross country expansion is in their plans?

                                                                                    1. re: josephnl

                                                                                      They list future locations on their webpage. I keep checking back hoping to see one slated to open near me, but no dice so far.

                                                                                      1. re: josephnl

                                                                                        I wouldn't expect to see them in California. From their website:
                                                                                        "Today, we have stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts. You’ll see from our list of future projects that our new store growth is concentrated in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, though we will continue to upgrade or replace older stores in our more mature markets, like New York. There are other sites we are working on, but are not at liberty to disclose as yet."
                                                                                        Some of the planned stores have TBD opening dates, and when you see that, it's a long wait. They only open 2-3 new stores a year, and set their construction schedule about 14 months in advance. I'm still waiting for the Hanover Township store that was first announced in July 2012, and which has TBD on it.

                                                                                    2. re: truman

                                                                                      I buy the Wegmans Tomato Basil sauce pretty frequently. I think it's 99 cents a jar, so you can't beat the price!

                                                                                      Edited to add, not marinara, but Wegmans brand pesto sauce is also fabulous, at $4 a jar.

                                                                                      1. re: truman

                                                                                        Edit: what I meant is the "Italian Classics" line, $1.99/jar with white and green labels. I haven't tried the store-brand stuff with red labels.

                                                                                        1. re: truman

                                                                                          There are a number of sauces all bearing the Italian Classics label.;
                                                                                          Grandma's (seasoned with onions, garlic & basil)
                                                                                          Grandpa's (sausage, peppers & wine added)
                                                                                          Chunky Marinara

                                                                                          I've been pleased with the Chunky Marinara as a nice base for adding my own ingredients.

                                                                                        2. I really liked Trader Joe's Organic Tomato Basil Sauce but the sodium is a killer at least for me.

                                                                                          1. YELLOW BARN! I sampled it at a trade show and was blown away by the balance of flavor! It is very pricey but worth every penny. Whole Foods has it , but I buy it by the case in the winter from my local health food store that gives a case discount. They make several versions, but my favorite the the simple Tomato Basil one.

                                                                                            1. Campagnola is often available at Grocery Outlet. Italian, no added sugar, no ingredients you wouldn't use at home, and less expensive than the cost of homemade. I don't have the price handy, but once it was about $3 for a 24 oz jar.

                                                                                              1. If we buy it in a jar, we buy Rao's. $8 a jar is up there but for the taste and convenience, I'm fine with it. I should add, we do that maybe once a year. In fact I don't remember now the last time we bought it in a jar since I started making triple and quad batches to freeze.

                                                                                                1. The best is not in a jar, it's a can of Trader Joe's Marinara Sauce. I've always loved it, and after experimenting with many others, have come back to that as a clear winner. You can easily do anything you want with it since it is so pure and simple, but it is the perfect essence of tomato just by itself.

                                                                                                  1. Steve Schirripa, AKA BobbbY Bacala of the Sopranos, has a new sauce out. Haven't tried it yet but the ingredients are as they should be: Organic Imported Italian Whole Peeled Tomatoes, Organic Fresh Onions, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Organic Fresh Garlic, Sea Salt, Organic Fresh Basil, Organic Black Pepper.


                                                                                                    1. I'm a huge fan of Michael's of Brooklyn sauces. They are available pretty much throughout the country. I love that it is not full of chemicals and preservatives. My favorites are the Fresh Tomato & Basil, and the Marinara. Naturally sweet, so no added sugar or HFCS, because it is made with DOP San Marzano tomatoes. Although I usually make my own sauce from scratch, when time is an issue, Michael's is my go to.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: PuniceaRana

                                                                                                        I second Michael's. Like Rao's it's on the thin side but fresh and flavorful and delicious.

                                                                                                      2. I'll just add that looking at ingredients is my main go-to when judging whether to try a new sauce. If fructose or sugar are at all high on the list, or if anything barely pronounceable is on the list, I pass.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                                          I'm with you on that Bada....I love that Michael's ingredient list reads "Imported Italian tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, olive oil, oregano, spices, NOTHING ELSE!"

                                                                                                        2. I'm making a rare trip to Target in the near future. I'm thinking I'll buy a case of the Giada De Lauentis jarred tomato sauce that is highly recommended here. I have never tasted it. My sauce of choice has been Rao's but that costs twice as much even when on sale. Has anyone eaten both? Do the compare favorably? Thanks!

                                                                                                          12 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: zackly

                                                                                                            Yes, to my palate, the Giada DL sauce is very good, and is clearly a bargain when compared to Rao's which I find pretty much equivalent and double the price. Unfortunately, I don't think you'll be finding a case of the Giada sauce at your local Target!

                                                                                                            1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                              Thanks, but why do you think they wont have a case?

                                                                                                            2. re: zackly

                                                                                                              zackly: taste it first before you buy a case.
                                                                                                              to my palate, it tastes and smells revolting
                                                                                                              i don't care what consumers union panels said.. . . .

                                                                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                I'm being told it's a discontinued item so I guess I won't be buying any. it's funny how there is so much difference of opinion on jarred tomato sauce. I think Rao's is great & I just had one (Victoria, I think, that was also very good). Most of the stuff in jars is nasty & overly sweet to me including Kirkland and I thought Costco could do no wrong.

                                                                                                                1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                  my girlfriend who likes the Rao's comes from louisiana where, to hear her tell it, folks don't like any bright taste in their sauce.
                                                                                                                  all tomatoey things are cooked and cooked until the bright/acidic flavor that I personally like gets destroyed. . . .

                                                                                                                  even the lemon meringue pie that her mom makes, that the whole town loves, to me tastes flat and not at all tart.

                                                                                                                  1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                    Someone on this topic recommended Victoria I think - not sure


                                                                                                                    1. re: madeliner

                                                                                                                      Funny...I came back here to share...DH stopped at store on way home from work to pick up a bottle of Victoria's for dinner last night. He turned up with a bottle of Victor's!!!! Happened to be very good albeit with the added sugar.

                                                                                                                  2. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                    westsidegal - I remember from another thread that we both like the Silver Palate sauces. Unfortunately it hasn't been on sale in my area for a while so it's $6+, but you might be interested in these http://www.ebay.com/itm/10-0-55-1-Jar...

                                                                                                                    1. re: gmm

                                                                                                                      thank you so much for thinking of me, but i stocked up on it about a month ago when GELSON'S had it on sale for ~$3/jar (it's $6/jar today).
                                                                                                                      (if had had those coupons when i bought them at $3/jar, it would have cost me only $2/jar including the price of the coupon!)

                                                                                                                2. Victoria marinara is the best jarred sauce imho, plus it is less expensive than Rao's (which is overpriced big time)

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: madeliner

                                                                                                                    I was hooked on Silver Palate, but unless it's on sale, it's around $7 a jar around here, which I refuse to pay. I tried Victoria based on the recs on this thread and tasting them side by side, I actually think I prefer the Victoria. It's less acidic than the Silver Palate marinara. And it's less than $4 at Walmart, so gotta love that.

                                                                                                                    1. re: gmm

                                                                                                                      I didn't know they carried it at walmart

                                                                                                                      The smaller jar here is about $5 the larger is $8

                                                                                                                      I have picked up the large size (in quantity) for $5.99 when it goes on sale

                                                                                                                      Rao's small jar which is the same size is also $5 lately here, so Victoria isn't really a bargain after all at this point

                                                                                                                      They seem to be reinventing themselves - the labels on the new jars are a little more slick, hopefully the price doesn't rise (but it probably will)

                                                                                                                      1. re: madeliner

                                                                                                                        Walmart doesn't have the larger jars, but the smaller jars are $3.88 here in Washington. And they are the jars with the new labels. I don't like grocery shopping at Walmart, but I checked the prices at one of our local stores and it was $6.49 there. Rao's never seems to go on sale here and it's around $8.

                                                                                                                  2. I find it strange that Muir Glen is conspicuously absent from this thread and all of the links that I clicked on.

                                                                                                                    It is fresh-tasting, mid-priced, and lower in sodium and sugar (by about half when compared to Barilla).

                                                                                                                    This is our go-to sauce when we buy it.

                                                                                                                    1. Aside of the fancy brand, I like Classico, Barilla and Paul Newmans.

                                                                                                                      1. No takers on Muir Glen yet? (scratching my head in puzzlement)

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                          I see tons of Muir Glen tomatoes in my super, but I've never seen MG pasta sauce...and I've now been looking. Is it regional? I'm in southern CA.

                                                                                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                            I don't think it's regional - owned by General Mills.

                                                                                                                        2. Rao's. I don't know how widely it's sold because its made after a restaurant in Harlem but it is amazing for a jar sauce

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: AjCafe

                                                                                                                            It's very widely available, at least in southern CA. I'm sure it's made in a factory, not in the restaurant (but hopefully at least with the restaurant's recipe and QC).