15 Popular Pasta Sauce Brands Ranked

If you're making a quick, painless, and delicious pasta dish at home, your first step is to pick the type of pasta you're going to eat. The second step, though, is the most important one. That's when you either pick the brand of pasta sauce to use or make your own from scratch. If you pick the proper brand, you're destined for a scrumptious meal that doesn't necessitate a lot of effort to make.

While Italians are known for their mastery of pasta, it can be argued that Americans adore it just as much. Share the Pasta has worked out that each year in the United States, nearly 6 billion pounds of pasta is gobbled up. Covering a lot of that pasta is store-bought pasta sauce.

Although there are a lot of tasty pasta sauce brands, there are also a few duds. To help you separate the yummy brands from the brands that should be skipped, we've listed pasta sauce brands in order from worst to best, judging by flavor and aroma, consistency (thickness), variety, and price point. While not every possible option available in America is in this ranking, we've made sure to include some of the most popular pasta sauce brands.

15. Barilla

When you're purchasing pasta, Barilla is a trustworthy name. Its pasta comes in an iconic blue box and in more than 35 shapes. From delicate angel hair pasta to jumbo shells, you can find the pasta you're looking for from this brand. While you shouldn't think twice about buying Barilla's pasta, the pasta sauce is a completely different story. Your best bet is to avoid it completely.

Despite Barilla's proud statement of "no sugar added," the overriding problem with Barilla pasta sauce is a sickening sweetness that is impossible to ignore. It's so sweet that it'll be the first and the last thing you'll taste while trying to eat your pasta. Even if you have a demanding sweet tooth, you still won't enjoy the taste after a few mouthfuls. To make matters worse, the consistency of Barilla's sauces is watery. Save yourself the heartache and pick any of the other brands of pasta sauce on this list.

14. Ragú

The Ragu brand has a long and storied history that can be traced back to a pair of married Italian immigrants who came to the United States in 1914 with a family recipe for pasta sauce. In 1937, Assunta and Giovanni started selling their beloved pasta sauce from their home. By the 1950s, sales flourished and Ragu upgraded its packaging, adding the now iconic Venice-inspired gondola to the jars.

At one point in time, there's a good chance that you really liked Ragu pasta sauce. Tragically, the quality has gone downhill over the years. Originally, Ragu pasta sauces had authentic Italian flavoring. But these days, it tastes over-processed and has lost most of its former magic. If Ragu is the only brand you buy because that's what you've always done, spread your wings and try other brands. You're bound to find another brand of pasta sauce you like better.

13. Bertolli

Bertolli pasta sauce is the perfect example of why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Many of the Bertolli jars have a fancy shape, the labels look dignified, and the descriptions are enough to make your mouth water. It's difficult not to fall in love with what you see. Unfortunately, once you open the jar, you'll soon realize that your expectations are much too high. By the end of the jar, you'll be wanting your money back.

Simply put, the red Bertolli pasta sauces taste like watered-down ketchup and the white ones have a faint milk-like taste. While the white sauces are subpar, it's the red pasta sauces that are especially yawn-inducing and tasteless. Unless your idea of good pasta sauce is light tomato paste, you'll be completely underwhelmed. For example, Tomato & Basil is one of its most popular sauces but the basil flavor is barely present.

12. Prego

Prego is another big name in the universe of commercial pasta sauces that doesn't deserve a spot at the top of this ranking. According to Insider Monkey, Prego is the fourth-largest seller of tomato sauces in the entire world. But we advise you not to purchase anything this brand offers, even if it's the only jar on the shelf. The good news is that its sauces don't taste processed, which is often a problem for the worse brands. The bad news, though, is that buying these pasta sauces is a waste of money.

Instead of tasting authentically Italian, Prego's pasta sauces taste Americanized and lack character. The tomato flavor is muted and Prego has a bad habit of including way too much garlic in its sauces. It's almost as if there's hope that the garlic will camouflage all the shortcomings. Picking this brand when better brands are available would be like going to Italy and ignoring the country's legendary pizza and instead opting for a Big Mac from McDonald's.

11. Newman's Own

From yummy salad dressing to delectable cookies, Newman's Own is a reliable brand that does a lot of good in the world. This brand donates 100% of the company's net profits and royalties to charity, which, per its website, has generated more than $600 million since 1982. When it comes to its pasta sauces, Newman's Own has many varieties to pick from.

If you're in the market for an Alfredo pasta sauce, Newman's Own has you covered. The Alfredo sauce is outstanding, especially when you factor in the reasonable price. It has a deep, rich flavor and an enjoyable texture. On the other hand, Newman's Own marinara sauce is only average. It has a pleasant taste but its consistency is so lackluster that it almost ruins the entire experience. If you already have a jar of this marinara sauce, be sure that you boil the pasta in the sauce or reduce it down by simmering. That's the only way you'll end up with a sauce thick enough to enjoy.

10. Cucina Antica

The first pasta sauce brand on this list that can be classified as average is Cucina Antica. If you use this brand, you'll be pleased with your meal. Cucina Antica uses imported tomatoes from Southern Italy, which is a difference your taste buds will surely notice. That fact alone gives these sauces an authentic Italian flavor. The brand also uses no added sugar and artificial ingredients in the recipes.

When we reviewed this sauce before, Cucina Antica was much more expensive (about $25 per jar). At the time of publication, it can be found at a third of the price, clocking in at $25.38 for pack of three 25-ounce jars on Cucina Antica's Amazon store. This pasta sauce isn't bad, and now that it's cheaper, it deserves a bump up in line from where it used to be. All that said, Cucina Antica pasta sauce has a rather limited flavor profile compared to the competition. You'll love the tomato flavor — but that's about it.

9. Cento

Cento's yellow cans of peeled San Marzano tomatoes are iconic amongst home cooks and chefs alike, so much so that acclaimed cookbook author Samin Nosrat modeled her podcast's logo after them. But how does Cento's tomato sauce compare to its canned tomatoes? Cento makes an all-purpose pasta sauce that, in the grand scheme of marinara, isn't bad for about $6. But really, it's just okay. We found the sauce to be a bit loose — something we were only able to fix by tossing the pasta in the sauce extra-aggressively to leach out more starch, or by simmering it for 20 minutes or so out of the jar. The flavor of herbs and fresh tomato comes through, but it's not nearly as aromatic or sweet as the cans of San Marzanos.

That said, Cento does deserve its flowers for its vodka pasta sauce, of which it makes an admirable version. For a few bucks more than the marinara, this sauce packs a ton of flavor in its little jar with its use of Romano cheese, cream, and whole peeled Italian tomatoes. This is a sauce that doesn't need much fixing, and for that Cento gets a bit of slack.

8. Classico

Want a super simple solution to all your pasta sauce needs? Classico Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce is a selection you practically can't go wrong with. First of all, it's widely available, appearing at major retailers like Target and Kroger. Secondly, its price tag is usually one of the lowest you'll see on the shelf (at the time of publication, Target featured it at $2.99 for a 24-ounce jar). Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it tastes delicious. This sauce has the optimal balance between the tomato and basil flavors. Specifically, the tomato has a satisfying tanginess, while the basil has an unmistakable kick.

As a brand, Classico doesn't have an exciting origin story and there's nothing particularly eye-catching about its jars. However, if you want really good pasta sauce at a really good price, they can deliver exactly what you want again and again. This brand also has a lot of other pasta sauce flavors but just know that none of them hold a candle to its marvelous tomato and basil version.

7. Trader Joe's

For those willing to do research prior to their trip to the grocery store, Trader Joe's is a great place to go for pasta sauce. You can stick to the store brand sauces and you'll be overjoyed with what you receive. But not all the offerings are created equal. Trader Joe's has some great pasta sauces — but this grocery store chain also has a few that can ruin your meal in an instant.

Looking for something different? Try Trader Joe's Organic Vodka Sauce. Don't worry, you can't get drunk by eating too much of this pasta sauce because a lot of the alcohol burns off during the cooking process. What's left behind is a tomato sauce that is amazingly creamy and the perfect thing to put on your favorite pasta dish. The Trader Joe's version is not only certified USADA organic, it also tastes as good as any vodka sauce you can find in the culinary world.

6. Whole Foods 365

Whole Foods is a place you can go to for incredible store brand pasta sauce. This grocery chain specializes in organic food and boasts of having more than 20,000 organic products, so its best pasta sauce shouldn't surprise you. Whole Foods 365 Organic Pasta Sauce is healthier for you, yet somehow no flavor was sacrificed. Not only is it completely organic, the sauce is vegetarian-friendly, vegan-friendly, paleo-friendly, dairy-free, and low-fat. It also has no added sugar, making this pasta sauce a good choice if you're following a keto diet. Whole Foods' organic sauce line also features a variety of flavors from classic marinara, to plant-based Bolognese.

Whole Foods also sells a store brand of pasta sauce that isn't organic. While you can save a few pennies going with this other version, stick with the organic pasta sauce. It tastes better and eating organic has real, tangible health benefits. In fact, if eating healthy is your No. 1 concern when picking a pasta sauce, this is the brand you should stick with.

5. The Meatball Shop

The next time you're in New York City, be sure to head to The Meatball Shop. The first restaurant opened its doors in 2010 (in the Lower East Side), and it became a big-time success ─ at it's peak there were several locations throughout the city, though it's now down to one in Hell's Kitchen. After your visit, you'll love the pasta sauce so much that you may be tempted to ask for more of the sauce to go. Thankfully, you don't need to do that. Instead, you can easily order the pasta sauce online. Pick the variety pack and you'll receive the Spicy-ish Arrabbiata and Creamy Tomato Basil flavors.

The Spicy-ish Arrabbiata sauce is unique because it has a little bit of heat thanks to the inclusion of dried red pepper flakes. Creamy Tomato Basil has parmesan cheese mixed in with the tomato and basil to create a sauce that can bless virtually any pasta dish.

4. Seggiano

Seggiano Foods has been around since the mid-1990s and prides itself on its dedication to collaborating with specialty, artisanal Italian producers. The brand's commitment to using natural, premium ingredients from Italy sets it apart from a number of competitors. The absence of artificial preservatives and additives in its pasta sauces not only contributes to the sauce's authentic taste, but also positions it as a healthier option for those conscious of their food choices.

If you're looking for a solid sauce that you won't have to doctor up too much, look to Seggiano. The flavors in the marinara are subtle and delicate, but bursting with aromas of fresh tomatoes, herbs and just enough garlic. Seggiano's thick but velvety consistency ensures a seamless coating on the pasta for even distribution and body. You also have a number of varieties to choose from, from basil to puttanesca and melanzane. Plus, it's a thrifty staple at Whole Foods; at the time of publication, a 24-ounce jar of Seggiano marinara was $9.29.

3. Victoria

Because most pasta sauces don't contain many ingredients, it's especially important that high-quality ingredients are used in the recipe. If a brand takes shortcuts and opts for cheap ingredients, it's instantly noticeable. Victoria is a brand that obviously understands this truth and that's why the company is so picky about what is in its pasta sauces. The tomatoes and the olive oil used are imported straight from Italy, while the basil is locally sourced to ensure freshness.

Victoria pasta sauces have an unrivaled fresh taste. In addition to the pristine ingredients that are used, this brand also kettle-cooks its sauces for hours, giving the finished product more of a homemade taste compared to other major sauce brands. Add up all the care and effort put into its products and you'll fall in love with Victoria pasta sauces the moment they touch your tongue. It'll remind you of the sauce your Italian grandmother used to make.

2. Rao's Homemade

From the moment you lay eyes on pasta sauces made by Rao's Homemade, you can tell something is different. As its brand name suggests, these sauces look homemade. Most pasta sauces are uniform in color and consistency. Conversely, Rao's Homemade pasta sauces are thick, chunky, and colorful. When you open a jar, the aroma is otherworldly. Once you dip your finger to give it a taste, you'll be 100% convinced that this is the best pasta sauce on the market.

Like Victoria, Rao's Homemade uses imported tomatoes and olive oil from Italy. Its sauces are also simmered in small batches over a long period of time. By the time it reaches your kitchen, it's unquestionably the best of the best. Rao's Homemade is slightly more expensive than most brands in this list ($9.99 at the time of publication), but not prohibitively so, and not without reason. Buy it once and you'll be thoroughly convinced that it was money well spent. At the end of the day, you can't put a value on heavenly pasta sauce.

1. Carbone

The myth, the legend, the impossible reservation to get: Carbone. This Manhattan-based restaurant by chef Mario Carbone has finally, like Rao's, reached peak New York Italian restaurant Nirvana: It has its own line of pasta sauces. As it turns out, they're as good as the restaurant itself, and they take the number one spot on this saucy list.

We reviewed Carbone's eponymous pasta sauces in 2022 when they dropped, and they're still just as impressive now as they were then. Made by Carbone Fine Foods, the sauces come in a number of different varieties, including arrabbiata, marinara, tomato basil, and roasted garlic. They're competitively priced, around the same as the other sauce near the top of the list: about $10 per 24-ounce jar.

One notable trait about Carbone sauces is that a layer of olive oil separates at the top of the jar, which is a good indication that this sauce is minimally processed, and falls out of emulsion like any normal, homemade sauce does. We have different nuanced opinions about each variety of this line of sauces, but as a whole, they're high-quality, consistent, and aromatic and tasty, melding with the starch of the pasta to bring out their full transformation of body and flavor. Carbone, while not cheap in restaurant or jar, makes a pasta sauce worth its salt. This is worth a splurge.

Methodology

We selected some of the most popular and widely available contemporary pasta sauces on the United States market. Drawing from our collective experience, research, and review of each pasta sauce, we used the following criteria to judge each brand on the list: The flavor and aroma, consistency (thickness), variety, and a rough price point. A successful sauce was one that wowed our mouths and noses and stuck to our pasta without needing much out-of-jar doctoring or breaking the bank.

We've updated the previous version of this list, and you'll notice we added a few new brands: Cento, Seggiano, and Carbone. We also moved a few brands from the original list up and down a few notches, as well as updated price listings.

The sauces we enjoyed the most were the ones that had the fewest ingredients on the backside of the label, tasted as close to homemade as possible, and felt worth their price. Generally speaking, most of those sauces were the pricier ones on the list, but that's not to say there weren't some decently average sauces for a budget cost. This is all to say: If you're looking for quality, it's worth spending a few bucks extra to get yourself a pasta sauce you won't regret smothering tonight's dinner in.

Alb Media owns and operates Tasting Corner and Mashed.