Easy Ways to Make Store-Bought Pasta Sauce Taste Like Homemade

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No need to make pasta sauce from scratch with these easy fixes
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Easy Ways to Make Store-Bought Pasta Sauce Taste Like Homemade

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If you don’t have time to make pasta sauce the old-school way, try these easy tricks for enhancing store-bought varieties.

Add Meat

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If you’re looking to enhance a store-bought tomato sauce, why not turn it into hearty ragù? The quickest and simplest way to do this is to take ground beef (or another meat of your choice) and brown it before adding the jar of tomato sauce to the pan and heating the sauce though. No need to drain the fat from the meat unless it’s really excessive.  Click here for our best ragù recipes.

Deglaze the Pan

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If you’re going to make a ragù and can make time for one extra step, deglaze the pan. After you brown your meat, pour some stock or wine into the pan and scrape up any brown bits that are stuck to the bottom. Then, add the tomato sauce and heat through. Click here for more of our best recipes using wine.

Everyone Loves Cheese

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Freshly grated hard cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano can add an incredible depth of flavor to store-bought sauces. Whether you’re trying to enhance an Alfredo sauce or a pesto, just a little fresh cheese will make it taste like it was made from scratch. Adding a dollop of soft cheese (like ricotta or mascarpone) to jarred tomato sauce is also a great way to make a quick like-homemade cream sauce.  Click here for more recipes using cheese.

Finish With Olive Oil

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Looking for a simple, 10-second fix for store-bought sauce? After mixing your premade sauce with cooked noodles, drizzle a little good quality olive oil on top — you’ll be surprised how much flavor it adds. Click here for more on olive oil.

Incorporate Fresh Herbs

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Whether you roughly chop them and sprinkle them on top of your pasta or add them into the sauce as it simmers, fresh herbs will make even the most shelf-stable sauce taste fresher and more delicious. If you love basil pesto, this is one of the best to freshen up store-bought varieties. Click here for more on herbs.
 

Sauté Some Vegetables

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If you have 5 minutes to spare, make tomato sauce better by adding sautéed vegetables. Put a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a pan and cook diced onion, celery, carrots, or tomatoes with some minced garlic, until soft. Then add your jar of pasta sauce and heat through. Cooking with a different flavor of pasta sauce? Try a simple mix of onions and garlic instead. Click here for more pasta sauce recipes.

Try Some Sugar

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Part of the appeal of homemade pasta sauce, especially tomato sauce, is that it’s cooked slowly, giving the ingredients time to release their natural sugars and lend a subtle sweetness to the sauce. Speed the process by adding a tablespoon or two of granulated sugar to tomato sauce. Be sure to fully dissolve the sugar before serving. Click here for our best tomato sauce recipes.

Use Your Pasta Water

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After you boil your pasta, save a little bit of the cooking water. Adding a scoop or two to premade pasta sauces will help make them rich and creamy. Click here for our best pasta recipes.