Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up Options

How to Choose Your Store-Bought Pasta Sauce

With so many options to choose from, we give you a few tips on shopping for jarred pasta sauce at your local grocery store.

Shopping for a good tomato sauce is not easy, simply because everyone's definition of "a good sauce" is different. There are those who like large pieces of tomatoes and those who prefer a more pureed sauce. Vegetables, whole garlic cloves, fresh herbs? We are all looking for that homemade taste, but trying to find the one that tastes just like Grandma's, or Mom's, or your own. But no matter what your sauce preference is, the best way to buy the best quality is to keep the following information in mind when browsing the supermarket aisles:

Tomatoes: Tomatoes are either imported (from Italy) or are domestic (usually from California). Premium sauces are made from Italian plum tomatoes which have a bittersweet taste and low acidity. While there are plenty of good sauces made from domestic tomatoes too, the resulting flavor is often a bit sweeter than an imported variety.

Seasonings: Look for sauces whose ingredients list fresh herbs (as opposed to dried), fresh vegetables like garlic and onions (not dehydrated), and authentic cheeses like Pecorino-Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano (as opposed to "romano" or "parmesan" cheese). A sauce made with extra-virgin olive oil is also a good indication that it is a premium product.

Sweeteners: Many sauces also add sugar (either as "sugar" or any ingredient ending in –ose) and in some cases even high-fructose corn syrup. Avoid all these sauces, which indicates that the sauce began with inferior tomatoes. It is better to choose a sauce that is naturally sweetened with fresh vegetables, like carrots.