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5 Quick & Easy Ideas to Boost Your Jarred Sauce

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There’s nothing more quintessential to your pantry than a jar of pasta sauce.

When you find a great one (like DeLallo -😉-), it should be able to stand alone with no additions. Just one jar of sauce, one package of pasta and dinner is done. But sometimes you want to put your own spin on it and create a semi-homemade dinner, where you can get some of the kudos.

From Parmesan-style dinners, pizzas and meatloaves to the traditional Spaghetti and Meatballs dish for pasta night, a jar of pasta sauce goes a long way in the kitchen.

We love a great from-scratch tomato sauce, but sometimes, it’s all we can do to get dinner on the table. Jarred pasta sauce is a lifesaver on busy weeknights like these. Some nights, however, may feel inspired to add your own flair to that trusty cupboard-kept pasta sauce and we hear you. That’s why we want to share a few ways that you can transform one jar of sauce into a few tasty variations with just a couple of quick add-ins.

These pasta sauce inspirations are here to blur the line between store-bought sauce and homemade. With a great jar of tomato sauce as your foundation, the sky is the limit. So let’s layer on the flavor and get to work!

Quick Ideas to Upgrade Your Pasta Sauce

  • Add Parmesan or Pecorino rind while the sauce simmers to make it more creamy and rich.
  • Sauté smashed cloves of garlic with olive oil  in the saucepan before adding your tomato sauce. 
  • Toss in some sautéed vegetables to make things interesting. We love sautéed sweet red peppers and onions.
  • Add some last-minute zing with capers, chopped green olives or lemon zest.
  • Keep it fresh with basil, but don’t overcook the herb. Wait until the end of cook time to add it to the sauce.
  • Bring on the butter and cream to create more rich and luxurious sauces. Try a pat of butter, a splash of cream, a spoonful of yogurt, crème fraiche, ricotta, sour cream or mascarpone.
  • Save your pasta water! Just a ¼ cup or a generous splash of that hot and starchy pasta-cooking water will give your sauce a consistency ready to stick gloriously to your noodles.
  • Drizzle like you mean it. Take it to another level with your favorite flavored extra virgin olive oil. Heat with the sauce or drizzle as a finish.
  • Everything’s better with bacon! Sauté diced bacon or pancetta in a sauce pan. Add the pasta sauce straight to the pan to incorporate those tasty drippings and all that flavor. Adding sautéed Italian sausage is another easy way to make a mock Bolognese!
  • Make a splash with wine. Add red or white wine or marsala to your pasta sauce to enhance its lush tomato flavor.

Not Quite Homemade Jarred Pasta Sauce Inspiration

Get a load of these pasta sauce add-ins. We wanted to share some of our favorite ingredient combinations to take your store-bought pasta sauce from good to crazy-good.

Spicy Vodka Sauce

Need some more inspiration? Check our gallery of recipes!