Huffpost Taste

The Best Jarred Tomato Sauce: Our Taste Test Results

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When you just don't have the time to cook tomato sauce from scratch The Godfather-style, jarred marinara sauce is a godsend. But if you've fallen into a rut and buy the same brand every time you're at the market (probably because it's on sale, right?), you may want to change things up. We've tasted 30 brands of marinara sauce to find the very best, saving you time and money (and sparing you from tasting some clunkers).

We conducted a blind tasting of brands that range in price from $1.29 to $10.99, judging texture, flavor and the general level of quality. Some were oily, some were pleasantly tomatoey, and others were ... fishy. Yes, fishy. Frankly, we were surprised at the winner (it's from Target!?), and shocked at the poor ratings we gave sauces with very high expectations.

How does your favorite sauce rank? Is it time to switch things up? (Several of our taste testers have discovered new favorites.) Check out the slideshow below to find out the results.

As always, our taste tests are in no way influenced by or sponsored by the brands included.

  • #1: Giada de Laurentiis for Target -- Vegetable Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    target.com $2.99 Comments: "The hands-down winner. Fresh, full flavor." "Very rich and complex flavor. Love it!" "Good base, but way too much red pepper." "Very veggie-flavored, but nicely balanced." "Good if you like red pepper."
  • #2: Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    raos.com $8.99 Comments: "Good chunkiness and thickness." "Pretty good, I would buy this." "I like the softness of the tomatoes." "Full flavor!"
  • #3: Barilla Traditional Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    barillaus.com $3.25 Comments: "This tastes so classic and comfortable." "This is great because I love garlic." "Yum. Basil-y and nicely pureed." "Fine for dorm rooms."
  • #4: Prego Traditional
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    prego.com $3.99 Comments: "Good base, but this doesn't stand out." "Lots of herbal flavor." "This kind of tastes like Domino's pizza sauce." "This sets a decent standard."
  • #5: Gia Russa Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    giarussa.elsstore.com $7.39 Comments: "Comforting." "More complex than the others." "Too oily." "Tastes like real tomatoes, and also oddly meaty." "Very nice."
  • #6: Francesco Rinaldi Traditional Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    francescorinaldi.com $3.25 Comments: "A good basic sauce. I could easily doctor this up." "Subpar." "Very smooth texture."
  • #7: Newman's Own Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    newmansown.com $4.99 Comments: "Is there sausage in this?" "Nice and thick, and very spicy." "The texture is too much like tomato paste." "Decent hit of herbs, but too thick." "Serviceable."
  • #8: 365 Organic -- Classic
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    wholefoodsmarket.com $2.29 Comments: "Very sugary." "Like nonna's!" "Too sweet for me." "No one would complain about this, but no one would praise it, either."
  • #9: Trader Joe's Organic Marinara Sauce
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    traderjoes.com $2.29 Comments: "Surprisingly rich flavor for how watery the texture is." "Why does this taste cheesy?" "Is there corn in this? It tastes Southwestern." "Strangely oily, but not altogether unpleasant."
  • #10: Amy's Premium Organic Pasta Sauce -- Family Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    amys.com $10.99 Comments: "Doesn't taste like tomatoes." "Good tomato flavor, but not a lot else." "Tastes metallic and bitter." "Nice and garlicky." "A little too cafeteria-ish and overly pureed."
  • #11: Tutto Rosso Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    redgold.com/tuttorosso $2.99 Comments: "Boring." "This would be better if it were thicker." "Very good, I would buy this." "Tastes like industrial, school cafeteria sauce." "Standard."
  • #12: San Marzano Marinara Sauce
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    $7.99 Comments: "Tastes old." "Too sweet, but I've had worse." "Bitter and very seedy." "Yummy." "Bland."
  • #13: Good Housekeeping -- Good Food Marinara Pasta Sauce
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    $7.95 Comments: "Nice and thick, just the texture I'm looking for." "Love the thickness and rustic taste." "Bitter and too thick." "Seems more like pizza sauce." "Industrial."
  • #14: Lidia's Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    shopping.lidiasitaly.com $4.99 Comments: "Too salty." "Nice and basil-y." "Garlic powder taste, but nice color and consistency." "Heavy garlic flavor ... tasty."
  • #15: De Cecco Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    dececcousa.com $4.99 Comments: "Medicinal." "Sweeter than most, but pleasant." "Strange texture." "Whatever." "Good, and a little fruity."
  • #16: Organicville Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    organicvillefoods.com $4.00 Comments: "Acidic, and not in a good way." "Boring, needs more spices." "Strange un-tomatoey taste." "Would work well with spinach ravioli."
  • #17: Victoria All Natural Marinara Sauce
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    victoriapacking.com $7.99 Comments: "Tasted like fresh tomatoes." "Thin but good savoriness." "Watery, tasteless and oily." "A bit watery." "A little too thin." "Kind of fishy?"
  • #18: Mario Batali Pasta Sauce -- Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    mariobatali.com $8.99 Comments: "Watery." "Tastes like mediocre olive oil." "Boring. The flavor melts away too quickly." "Are there any seasonings in this at all?" "Mild-tasting." "Bland."
  • #19: Greenway Organic -- Marinara Pasta Sauce
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    $5.99 Comments: "Way too much sugar." "Chunky and flavorful, yum." "Not much tomato flavor." "Tastes like dried basil." "Soupy, and a little sweet."
  • #20: Trader Joe's Traditional Marinara Sauce, Recipe #99
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    traderjoes.com $1.29 Comments: "The texture is too much like salsa." "Too salty, not a fan." "Too thin and watery." "Too thin, and there's no flavor." "Dominated by oregano." "Tastes of bad dried herbs."
  • #21: ShopRite Marinara Spaghetti Sauce
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    $1.99 shoprite.com Comments: "This tastes fake." "Too paste-like and sweet." "Very basil-y but too thin." "Tasted like my mom's." "Ketchup-y and sweet." "Looks like ketchup, tastes like ketchup."
  • #22: Bertolli Vineyard Marinara with Burgundy Wine
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    bertolli.us $4.59 Comments: "Am I tasting citrus? A weird acid? Almonds?" "Very metallic." "Just gross." "Awful."
  • #23: Ragu Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    ragu.com $3.99 Comments: "So sweet and watery, it's almost pizza sauce." "More like canned tomatoes than sauce." "Simple, basic taste. A tad too sweet." "Good, but it looks like pizza sauce." "Metallic, tomato soup-y flavor." "Tastes like Chef Boyardee."
  • #24: Pomi Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    $5.39 Comments: "Tastes the way iodine smells." "Tastes fresher than the others." "Decent, but a little watery." "Foul. Can I rate this a zero?" "A little too garlicky." "Tastes rotten."
  • #25: Classico Marinara with Plum Tomatoes and Olive Oil
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    classico.com $4.39 Comments: "There's a very unpleasant bitter rosemary flavor." "Tastes like fall." "No. Strange." "Very chunky." "Weird chemical taste. Or maybe dirt." "Harsh basil flavor."
  • #26: Colavita Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    colavita.com $3.99 Comments: "Fresh and pure tomato taste." "Overcooked?" "Yuck, sour and bitter." "Too fruity and meaty." "Pathetic."
  • #27: Don Bruno Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    $6.99 Comments: "Looks like it has pieces of ground meat in it, and it tastes sour." "Tastes fishy." "I want a lot of mozzarella with this." "Way too oily." "Almost exactly like TGI Friday's mozzarella stick dipping sauce." "Tastes fishy and bad."
  • #28: Two Guys Jersey Tomato Sauce -- Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    twoguysfoodgroup.com $7.99 Comments: "This tasted like it had shell fish in it." "Totally flat." "Sour, sour, sour. No taste and lots of seeds." "Bland, like tomato soup."
  • #29: Emeril's Home Style Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    emerils.com $5.99 Comments: "So, so sugary. Too sweet." "Way too sweet." "Sweet and weirdly meaty." "Tastes like ketchup." "Very, very bizarre brown sugar taste." "One of the worst."
  • #30: Muir Glen Organic -- Cabernet Marinara
    Joseph Erdos/The Huffington Post
    muirglen.com $5.99 Comments: "This tastes like a glass of very bad red wine." "Very metallic." "Worst I've tasted. Is this burned?" "Yuck. Bitter and weirdly dark-colored." "Blech. The very worst." "Absolutely foul."

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