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Best marinara sauce in a jar?

josephnl Jan 13, 2013 12:47 PM

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?

  1. b
    ButterYum Jan 13, 2013 01:12 PM

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

    4 Replies
    1. re: ButterYum
      mcf Jan 13, 2013 02:48 PM

      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
        mcf Jan 13, 2013 05:21 PM

        One more entry in the low price category: http://brokelyn.com/taste-test-cheap-...

        1. re: mcf
          StrandedYankee Jan 13, 2013 05:54 PM

          Another vote for Barilla!

        2. re: mcf
          sisterfunkhaus Feb 2, 2014 12:51 PM

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

      2. s
        SmartCookie Jan 13, 2013 01:16 PM

        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.

        1 Reply
        1. re: SmartCookie
          cheesecake17 Jan 13, 2013 01:28 PM

          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.

        2. t
          texmexjerseygirl Jan 13, 2013 01:31 PM

          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
            ButterYum Jan 13, 2013 03:31 PM

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

            1. re: ButterYum
              mcf Jan 13, 2013 04:28 PM

              To my tastebuds, Giada's is better.

          2. iluvcookies Jan 13, 2013 02:39 PM

            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
              westsidegal Jun 15, 2013 10:20 PM

              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. a
              ariesgirlb78 Jan 13, 2013 03:40 PM

              Raos or Victorias both are delish

              1. s
                StrandedYankee Jan 13, 2013 05:16 PM

                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. m
                  MRS Jan 13, 2013 05:20 PM

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

                  1. j
                    janniecooks Jan 14, 2013 12:47 AM

                    There are numberous threads asking the very same question, with hundreds of responses. Go figure.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: janniecooks
                      hawkeyeui93 Jan 26, 2014 07:31 PM

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

                    2. z
                      zackly Mar 13, 2013 08:49 AM

                      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. jrvedivici Mar 13, 2013 08:52 AM

                        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
                          pinehurst Mar 13, 2013 09:50 AM

                          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
                            BobbieSue Jan 31, 2014 03:02 PM

                            Aunt Millie's makes the best pizza sauce.

                          2. fldhkybnva Mar 13, 2013 09:44 AM

                            I like Cucina Antica and Rao's

                            1. grampart Mar 13, 2013 11:01 AM

                              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. Ruthie789 Mar 13, 2013 03:06 PM

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

                                1. j
                                  josephnl Mar 13, 2013 03:53 PM

                                  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
                                    mcf Mar 13, 2013 04:06 PM

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

                                  2. Bacardi1 Mar 13, 2013 03:53 PM

                                    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. j
                                      Jerseygirl111 Mar 13, 2013 05:52 PM

                                      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. s
                                        shaun11m Mar 29, 2013 03:18 PM


                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: shaun11m
                                          josephnl Mar 29, 2013 08:35 PM

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

                                        2. d
                                          dlee63 Jun 15, 2013 07:33 PM

                                          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
                                            josephnl Jun 15, 2013 08:18 PM

                                            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
                                              dlee63 Jun 15, 2013 10:15 PM

                                              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
                                                josephnl Jun 15, 2013 10:36 PM

                                                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
                                                  dlee63 Jun 16, 2013 12:07 AM

                                                  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
                                                    josephnl Jun 16, 2013 09:40 AM

                                                    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
                                                      dlee63 Jun 16, 2013 09:51 AM

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

                                                2. re: dlee63
                                                  westsidegal Jun 17, 2013 10:25 PM

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

                                                  1. re: westsidegal
                                                    josephnl Jun 18, 2013 07:39 AM

                                                    Sorry. Which is your favorite jarred sauce?

                                                    1. re: josephnl
                                                      westsidegal Jun 18, 2013 09:10 PM

                                                      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
                                                        josephnl Jun 18, 2013 09:48 PM

                                                        Thanks. I'll give it a try.

                                                        1. re: westsidegal
                                                          mcf Jun 19, 2013 06:02 AM

                                                          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.

                                                      2. re: westsidegal
                                                        MRS Jun 18, 2013 03:07 PM

                                                        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
                                                      mcf Jun 16, 2013 11:20 AM

                                                      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
                                                        dlee63 Jun 16, 2013 12:31 PM

                                                        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
                                                          josephnl Jun 16, 2013 03:23 PM

                                                          I like the vegetable marinara quite a bit.

                                                        2. re: mcf
                                                          josephnl Jun 19, 2013 09:53 AM

                                                          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. Njchicaa Jun 16, 2013 05:52 AM

                                                      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
                                                        sisterfunkhaus Jun 16, 2013 12:36 PM

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

                                                      2. Cheese Boy Jun 16, 2013 04:30 PM

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

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Cheese Boy
                                                          dlee63 Jun 16, 2013 08:04 PM

                                                          Good idea. That had never occurred to me.

                                                          1. re: dlee63
                                                            Cheese Boy Jun 16, 2013 08:57 PM

                                                            ... 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. m
                                                          maliheh Dec 18, 2013 01:02 PM

                                                          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. z
                                                            zackly Dec 18, 2013 02:29 PM

                                                            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. grampart Jan 26, 2014 12:04 PM

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

                                                              1. Atomic76 Jan 26, 2014 04:32 PM

                                                                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.

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: Atomic76
                                                                  JoeBabbitt Jan 26, 2014 07:10 PM

                                                                  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: Atomic76
                                                                    josephnl Jan 26, 2014 07:22 PM

                                                                    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
                                                                      Ttrockwood Jan 26, 2014 11:05 PM

                                                                      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
                                                                        mcf Jan 27, 2014 07:35 AM

                                                                        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
                                                                      grampart Jan 27, 2014 08:15 AM

                                                                      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
                                                                        pamf Feb 1, 2014 04:07 PM

                                                                        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.

                                                                      2. t
                                                                        truman Jan 27, 2014 08:20 AM

                                                                        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.

                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                        1. re: truman
                                                                          ludmilasdaughter Jan 28, 2014 12:39 PM

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

                                                                          1. re: ludmilasdaughter
                                                                            josephnl Jan 28, 2014 01:02 PM

                                                                            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
                                                                              Raffles Jan 28, 2014 01:22 PM

                                                                              Better than Macys at Christmas time !

                                                                              1. re: Raffles
                                                                                josephnl Jan 28, 2014 01:46 PM

                                                                                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
                                                                            Raffles Jan 28, 2014 01:01 PM

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

                                                                            1. re: Raffles
                                                                              josephnl Jan 28, 2014 02:03 PM

                                                                              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?

                                                                            2. re: truman
                                                                              SaraAshley Jan 28, 2014 01:51 PM

                                                                              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
                                                                                truman Feb 3, 2014 09:56 AM

                                                                                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.

                                                                              2. fldhkybnva Jan 28, 2014 01:04 PM

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

                                                                                1. l
                                                                                  laraffinee Jan 31, 2014 03:11 PM

                                                                                  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. g
                                                                                    GH1618 Jan 31, 2014 04:43 PM

                                                                                    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. t
                                                                                      toddrhodes Feb 2, 2014 02:37 PM

                                                                                      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.

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