One of the staples in everybody’s pantry is a classic jar of marinara sauce. It’s an easy, quick dinner if you want a simple pasta, and it requires next to no culinary skill to prepare. It’s easy to make a delicious, fast pasta dinner by frying up some garlic or bacon and adding your trusted marinara sauce. With so many different sauces on the market, it’s often difficult to decipher what each one has to offer when you’re rushing around a grocery store after a long day.
The trouble is: Which one do you buy?
Well, don’t worry, we did the hard work for you and conducted a taste test with some of the top contenders in the industry. We found that the different brands each had their own quirks and personalities. Some were a little chunkier, a little saltier, or slightly more tangy. Whatever flavors you’re looking for, trust me: There’s a pasta sauce out there for your specific taste
After choosing a nice ciabatta to accompany our quaint Italian tasting, we chose a variety of simple marinara pasta sauces — candidates couldn’t contain any cheese or fancy flavorings, as we wanted to sample the most fundamental sauces we could find. We judged them based on their texture, salt content, herbiness, garlic, and overall experience. Here at The Daily Meal our taste preferences differ, but our expectations are all equally high. Rest assured, there was no flavor left unsavored during this tasting.
Coming in last, with a D-plus, this sauce from the celebrity chef and restaurateur is completely second-rate. It has an unnervingly smooth texture and is exceptionally sweet. Unless you have a kid to feed who has a rampant sweet tooth, or it’s simply within easy reach, this sauce certainly doesn’t deserve top-shelf placement in your pantry.
Lidia’s received a consistent thumbs down in our taste test for its watery consistency. The high level of acidity, watery base, and chunky, salsa-esque texture did not fare well with our tasters, and this sauce scored a low C.
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Surprisingly, this sauce scored a low C on our charts, with many tasters perceiving a strong chemical flavor. There were definitely some hints of olive in all that chunkiness, but not necessarily in a good way. An E for effort, I suppose?
This old faithful did not go over too well with our tasters. Everybody agreed this sauce was way too sweet and had very little flavor, except for a hint of garlic. Overall, pretty disappointing, but perhaps what one should expect from a middle-of-the-road major brand. The mooshy texture earned it a dreary C. Womp-womp.
The Newman’s Own marinara sauce was a disappointment, coming in with a C on our scoreboard and quite a number of complaints. There were a lot of comments on the sweetness and exceptionally smooth consistency of this one, which our tasters deemed worthy of a cheap pizza joint.
Rearing its colorful but familiar head with a score of C-plus in our survey, Rao’s was not all that bad according to our sauce connoisseurs. There was an overall appreciation for the nice texture, balanced sweetness, and decent flavor. We felt it could use a touch more garlic, but that’s an easy fix. Nicely done Rao’s. Always reliable.
Coming in with a B-minus and a pretty consistent nod of approval, the Whole Foods house brand sauce was a solid contender. It has a strong garlicky flavor and a nice balance of acidity. This was definitely a winner in our book, especially if you like a medium-sized chunkiness in your tomato sauce.
Never fear! Guy Fieri is here! This sauce comes in strong with the expected bold flavors Guy is known for. A delicious blend of basil, oregano, garlic, and spice come together to create a mouthwatering bite. This sauce scored a decent B in our book and gained some new fans.
Coming in at number one with a solid A-plus, this sauce was so delicious that some of our testers started eating it like soup! All around this sauce just seemed to hit all the marks, with a nice array of herbs, garlic, and basil along with the right consistency. The downside is that the bottle is a little smaller than your average jar, but well worth it — you’ll just have to buy more!
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