I asked the chefs to choose the best pasta sauce and they all chose this brand

There was a big winner.

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When the weather permits, we’re all for a good Sunday sauce. Not only can we customize flavors when we’re DIYing, but also who needs an air freshener when you have a big pot of pasta sauce simmering on the stove?

Still, we don’t always have time to make a sauce from scratch, and many AllRecipes readers tell us that you, too, consider jarred pasta sauce one of the staples in your pantry. eat. And there’s no shame in that, especially when many supermarkets have an entire aisle filled with solid options. Even the man who wrote the book on pasta, Dan Pashman, said, “Why make your own tomato sauce when there are so many high-quality jarred varieties available today?”

We couldn’t agree more, so we asked Pashman and two other chefs and cookbook authors to help us narrow down all the options. Although we technically spoke to three brilliant food experts for this article, five food professionals actually declared it their marinara MVP. That’s because these chefs selected the same pasta sauce that is Kristin Cavallari’s favorite and Ina Garten’s favorite!

There are dozens, sometimes more than 100, of pasta sauce options in a single supermarket. We tend to find tomato sauces to be the most versatile, so that’s what we’re focusing on here. With that in mind, here’s what our culinary panel looks for on the label to determine if a sauce deserves a spot in their cart.

“The first ingredient should be tomatoes, not tomato puree,” Pashman says, adding that it shouldn’t be revolutionary, but that’s not always the case. Any of these synonyms for real tomatoes are A-OK in this first slot, he continues:

  • Whole peeled tomatoes

  • Crushed tomatoes

  • Italian plum tomatoes

  • San Marzano tomatoes

  • Oven Roasted Tomatoes

On the other hand, “tomato puree is usually tomato paste mixed with water and often preservatives; it’s the sauce equivalent of juice made from concentrate instead of freshly squeezed,” says Pashman. “It’s okay if tomato puree is included, but I want a sauce that starts with real tomatoes.”

It’s not necessarily for health reasons, although eating fewer added sugars is generally a wise strategy for overall well-being. The real reason Pashman, Jawad and Hill are looking for sauces with no added sugar is that “if you have ripe tomatoes, good seasoning and herbs, there is absolutely no need to add sugar in pasta sauce in a pot,” explains Jawad. “After all, it’s not something you normally find in authentic pasta sauces in Italy!”

Only five or ten years ago, when low-fat diets reigned supreme and sugar sometimes replaced subtracted fats, “sugar-free pasta sauces were hard to find or extremely expensive, but they are now widely available and even popular,” according to the hill. “Many families consume too much sugar as is, including mine, and it’s an easy ingredient to avoid. No one misses it! »

Similar to our best marinara sauce yet, which simply calls for tomatoes, herbs, onion, garlic, white wine and olive oil, Hill looks for store-bought sauces that include ingredients she knows on the label. She checks the list to make sure it doesn’t include “fillers or other random ingredients,” she tells us.

Jawad confirms this, adding that she especially watches out for preservatives: “Due to the acidity of tomatoes and the sterilization process during canning, jarred pasta sauce should not need preservatives in my opinion. “

Above all, you should look for a sauce that suits you best, says Pashman. Each individual’s answer may vary a little, however, our experts generally gravitate towards sauces with:

<p>Dotdash Meredith / Janet Maples</p>
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Dotdash Meredith / Janet Maples

Considering these factors, as well as overall flavor, texture, and versatility, which brand wins the MVP award?

The Pasta Queen, Carbone, and Victoria are all worthy contenders and deserve hat tips as solid options from our panel, but the unanimous winner is the pasta sauce that you, our readers, selected as the winner of our Community Choice Awards. It’s also one of five brands you think are “worth it” at the grocery store.

And our chefs agree: The best store-bought pasta sauce is Rao’s. Jawad loves that the ingredient list is simple and only includes items “that I can easily recognize and pronounce.”

Rao’s actually offers more than two dozen different red sauces, but if we look at the homemade marinara pasta sauce Ina recommends, the ingredient list is simplified: whole peeled plum tomatoes, olive oil, onions, salt, garlic, basil, black pepper and oregano. .

Hill adds, “All Rao sauces are delicious and ready to use on their own. They don’t need any processing or additional ingredients,” she explains. “They have a great consistency – pleasantly thick without being too watery – and excellent flavor. It’s like it’s homemade, like I made it myself. The fact that it does not contain sugar is a plus! Most other popular store-bought brands do this.

If you prefer to go beyond the classic marinara, Rao’s just released two new flavors. It’s also the brand behind the best jarred pizza sauce, according to our taste tests. Hill and her family actually prefer to use pizza sauce as their pasta sauce because it’s the perfect size for their little crew. (For reference, Rao’s Homemade Pizza Sauce is sold in 12.3 ounce jars. Pasta sauces are available in 24 ounce jars and opened jars of pasta sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 5 to 6 Can’t get through the whole jar before it goes bad? You can always freeze it.)

Rao’s line of red sauces also includes options from tomato-basil to bolognese and spicy arrabbiata to a sensible marinara without garlic or onion.

No matter which Rao Red Sauce you choose, options abound to celebrate the chef-approved sauce in this pot.

  • Mix it up with these premium pasta cuts. Pashman admits he’s biased, but especially loves Rao’s pasta sauce with his own carefully crafted noodles, cascatelli. “I invented this pasta shape specifically to hold a ton of sauce! » As for Jawad, she loves all flat ribbon-shaped pastas, like fettuccine or pappardelle, because “the surface holds the sauce very well without it falling to the bottom of the plate”. When Hill feeds her family, she loves swirly cavatappi noodles “because the bits of onion and tomato in the sauce can get lodged in the swirls – I love that!”

  • Make it yours. While Rao’s pasta sauce base is certainly flavorful enough to use on its own, it can be just the beginning of your taste buds’ adventure, if you so choose. Giada de Laurentiis, for one, likes to use it for a shortened vodka sauce. For a variation on this theme that Kendall Jenner loves, try Pasta alla Tequila. Or customize it to your personal preferences following Pashman’s example. Her cookbook includes a “jarred tomato sauce decision tree” that examines what readers crave, whether it’s spice, crunch, comfort, meatiness or texture. “Follow the instructions and you’ll get one of more than a dozen options for jazzing up a basic pot of sauce, from mashing up a can of beans to taking inspiration from the Indian dish matar paneer, or add a roasted eggplant or tablespoon of miso,” he explains.

  • Add meat. Both Hill and Jawad want to increase protein. Jawad frequently cooks ground beef and onions to mix with Rao’s red sauce, while Hill swears that incorporating cooked ground beef and Italian sausage “really makes a meal special.” It’s hearty, hearty and tastes like the sauce my grandmother used to make. After mixing this tangy, meaty Rao’s sauce with pasta, “I finish it with a sprinkling of parmesan, always the one from the green shaker box. This is what food memories are made of.

  • Try it in a recipe without pasta. Who says you need noodles? Tomato sauce is an excellent ally for a wide variety of other savory recipes. Try it in a tavern pizza or pizza fondue, or pour it over simple lasagna burgers, air-fried chicken calzones, or panko-breaded parmesan pork. Or let the sauce really shine by presenting it as a dip for cheese curds or mozzarella sticks or as the sauce component that brings it all together for these mini meatball subs to get the party started.

Read the original article on All Recipes.

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