Store-Bought Marinara Sauce Ranked Worst To First

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Even the best chefs in the world have likely turned to premade sauces to help them out every once in a while. And for most people, store-bought marinara sauce is all they use. Now, there are some great sauces out there, but there are also some sad ones, too. And if you're having a pasta night at home and need to go store-bought with the sauce, it can be hard to decide what to pick.

So if you want to see all the most popular store-bought marinara sauces ranked worst to first, then you've come to the right place. The truth of the matter is that not all of them are created equally, and if you want something that tastes truly homemade without the hassle of actually making it, you'll need to be informed. Still, there are some truly worthy sauces out there, so keep reading to find out what's what.

18. Hunt's

In terms of terrible store-bought marinara sauces, Hunt's might just top the list. Unlike most other sauces, Hunt's comes in a can and sometimes isn't even shelved with the other marinara sauces — both red flags. But because it's so cheap and cost-efficient, it makes sense people would still grab a can thinking it's just fine for their spaghetti night.

But if you don't believe that Hunt's Traditional Pasta Sauce is just plain bad, take some of the reviews of the product into consideration. One person described the sauce as "watery," while another said they "couldn't eat it because it had a peculiar fish taste." 

But that's not all. Yet another review complained that the sauce lacked flavor and that it would be cheaper to just make your own sauce. None of that sounds especially appealing, no matter how bland you might prefer your food to be. Watery pasta sauce? No thank you.

17. Del Monte

Much like Hunt's marinara sauce, Del Monte's Traditional Pasta Sauce is also much cheaper than its competitors and sold in a can. But there's a reason it's so cheap — this sauce is one of the absolute worst store-bought varieties you can spend your money on.

Just like with Hunt's, one review described the sauce as being "watery," while another ripped into Del Monte for loading their sauce up with high fructose corn syrup. Corn syrup seems unnecessary in marinara sauce, which just bumps this sauce even further down the ratings. Another reviewer also complained about the sugar content of the sauce, calling it "disgusting." Yikes! Yeah, ketchup isn't exactly what you want all over your pasta, now is it? Seriously, just steer clear of this sauce, as it's definitely about as bad as it gets. The only time you'd pick this is if it's a choice between this sad can or Hunt's.

16. Mezzetta Napa Valley Homemade Marinara

Moving on to store-bought marinara sauces that look a little nicer, we have Mezzetta Napa Valley Homemade Sauce. The sauce comes in a good-looking jar with a fancy label, winning points for looks, while even the name of the brand evokes an Italian essence. But that doesn't mean the sauce is good. In fact, it's bland, overly salty, and feels like a rip-off, considering the higher price.

One review of the pasta sauce was precise in its criticism, calling Mezzetta's stuff "flavorless." Another described it as downright "horrible," while quite a few complained about the overwhelming salt content of this jarred marinara sauce. So basically, not only will the Mezzetta Napa Valley Homemade Sauce have a pretty poor flavor, but it will also likely be way too salty for your palate, seriously letting you down. So, next time you're grocery shopping, just skip this purchase.

15. Barilla Marinara

When you see the brand Barilla, you probably automatically think of those popular blue boxes of pasta that line the shelves of grocery stores everywhere. But they also make pasta sauces — yet their classic marinara sauce is not as good as you would hope.

One review of the sauce claimed it had too much of a garlic flavor, but others were pleased with the taste. So clearly this sauce doesn't have a ton of flavor on its own, but could be easy to add some more spice or flavor if you want — though why buy pre-made sauce in the first place if you have to alter it? The only real perk of the Barilla marinara sauce is its price. For some, a happy medium in terms of cost, and though it might not have much flavor, it's not the worst store-bought sauce you can buy for your spaghetti.

14. Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce

Believe it or not, but Trader Joe's Trader Giotto's Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce isn't terrible. And like everything at Trader Joe's, it's priced competitively, so if you're looking to save some money while still getting a decent marinara sauce, then this might just be what you want. While the sauce isn't the healthiest, with added sugar and oil, it's still not the worst sauce out there and has a relatively fresh taste to it.

But, the sauce isn't perfect. One review called it "mediocre," while others complained about the sugar content, to the point where one said it was really more of an "herb-infused ketchup than an actual sauce." If you've never had the Trader Joe's marinara, though, it might be worth it to try. It's not too expensive so generally inoffensive that it will probably appeal to whoever you serve it to.

13. Prego

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably recognize the brand Prego as a well-known maker of pasta sauces. Using the Italian word for "you're welcome" as its name, Prego brands itself as being authentically Italian and full of flavor. But that's not exactly true once you get to the business of tasting it. The Prego Marinara Italian Sauce is pretty decent, but it's still not one of the better store-bought marinara sauces you can buy.

According to one review of the sauce, it's pretty bland and needs a lot of help in order to taste like something even remotely Italian. But others added that it wasn't really all that bad, though many still admitted that it needed help from added herbs and spices. Basically, the Prego marinara sauce isn't terrible, has a pretty nice texture, and isn't too expensive. Yet it still need some help from your spice cabinet.

12. Ragu

You've probably seen plenty of Ragu sauces at your local grocery store. While the brand has pretty much always advertised itself as the best of the best, when it comes to their marinara, it's just mediocre. While there are worse sauces out there, this one won't impress anyone and is kind of a waste of time.

While the sauce does come in a jar, it's typically a plastic jar which should already tell you not to expect too much from the sauce. And the reviews of it cement that fact. "This is ketchup. Think Spaghettios. Not a sophisticated flavor," one reviewer wrote. "You're going to have to add some sugar, wine maybe, salt, garlic powder, anything that'll make it better," said another. Using a store-bought marinara sauce is supposed to make dinner easier on you, but having to add so many more elements to it kind of defeats the purpose. Again, Ragu marinara is simply just okay.

11. Good & Gather Marinara

Believe it or not, but some store-brand pasta sauces are actually pretty good. For instance, the Target store brand pasta sauce isn't anything super memorable, but if you're already on a Target run and realized you need some marinara for dinner and don't want to spend an arm and a leg, then the Good & Gather Marinara Pasta Sauce is a decent call. The sauce is pretty generic but doesn't have any added sugar which is obviously an added bonus for a lot of people and is also super inexpensive.

While one reviewer called Target's marinara "extremely sour and watery," while another said it tasted "really authentic." And yet another reviewer found it be somewhere in the middle. "Price is great, but the taste is just meh," they said. So, if you want a simple sauce that won't break the bank but still tastes pretty good, you may want to give this one a try.

10. Classico Cabernet Marinara

Moving on up in the ranks of store-bought marinara sauces is the Classico Pasta Sauce Cabernet Marinara. The sauce is definitely the best red sauce that the Classico brand has to offer, and it's also sold at a reasonable price point as well. The ingredients in the sauce are also impressive, containing tomato puree, diced tomatoes, and even a dose of cabernet wine for a bit of complexity.

Because of the richness of the ingredients and seasonings in the sauce, the Classico Cabernet Marinara is truly impressive. One review of the sauce raved that it had a great flavor profile, without being overly intense, saying that it had "just the right balance of tomato without too much 'real' tomato/acidic flavor." This sauce isn't too expensive but offers a great option to add to really any pasta. And while it's not anything magical, it's certainly a pretty good option for your next pasta night.

9. Primal Kitchen Marinara Sauce

Another healthy option for anyone needing a store-bought sauce is the Primal Kitchen Marinara Sauce. If you're unfamiliar with the Primal Kitchen brand, they pride themselves on being one of the healthiest brands out there. And their marinara sauce is no exception. According to their description of this marinara sauce, it has no added sugars or artificial ingredients and is vegan, doesn't use GMO ingredients, and fits with the paleo and Whole30 diets. Whatever food restrictions you might have, you can probably eat this sauce.

Along with the health factor, Primal Kitchen's marinara is also pretty tasty. "It's got such fresh flavors. It reminded me of tomato sauces I used to make when I actually had a garden," one reviewer claimed. "Definitely tasted a lot fresher than other brands," another said, though they noted it was a little sweet for their taste. Yet, while this marinara sauce is seriously good, but it's not the best out there. And, at almost $9 for just one jar, it's pretty expensive.

8. 365 Organic Marinara

If making healthy choices is a priority for you, then you might want to find a quality store-bought marinara sauce that's organic. And the 365 Organic Marinara is a decent option for that reason. The brand is from the notoriously expensive Whole Foods grocery, but it's actually reasonably priced and the ingredients could impress you. The sauce is made with only organic tomatoes, garlic, onions, and spices, and no added sugar — definitely a big deal for anyone watching their sugar intake.

But, all the health perks to the sauce don't automatically mean that it's super tasty. "It is just a basic marina sauce," one reviewer noted, while quite a few said that the basic sauce needed doctoring up with additional seasonings. Still, this is probably the healthiest sauce you can get for the best price. If that's important to you, then the 365 Organic Marinara works pretty well for that purpose.

7. Bertolli Olive Oil & Garlic Pasta Sauce

Bertolli is another popular pasta and sauce brand that, considering the taste and price, is a pretty decent option for a lot of people. Now, keep in mind that this sauce isn't gourmet. Neither is it organic, nor is it super healthy, and it certainly won't blow you away with flavor. But it's a safe bet to satisfy just about anyone, so don't be afraid to try it.

While one reviewer described it as "Just about perfection," another added that it was "Standard grocery level great, not Italian gourmet shop great." Again, Bertolli is a fine option cost-wise, not to mention that it's pretty much available everywhere you shop for groceries, so it's convenient, too. While it's not the greatest store-bought marinara sauce available to you, it's also a lot better than some other options, so don't rule it out the next time you need a quick solution for dinner.

6. Aldi Specially Selected Premium Marinara

In terms of money-saving groceries, Aldi is a pretty great store to shop at. Nothing is too expensive, and there are a ton of options. The store brand of marinara sauce there, too, is pretty impressive. Aldi's Specially Selected Premium Marinara isn't the absolute best premade sauce on the market, to be fair, but it might just surprise you anyway.

According to one review of Aldi's sauce, it's decent overall, though "a little on the bland side." But there's also a bit of a culinary conspiracy theory that says the Aldi sauce is actually the same as Rao's Marinara sauce, meaning you'd be getting an especially good deal on an amazing store-bought sauce if you buy the Aldi brand. Whether or not the two sauces are the same, it's hard to deny that the Aldi's sauce is a lot better than you might have thought.

5. Kirkland Signature Organic Marinara Sauce

As any Costco member knows, finding a new good product in-store can be almost exhilarating. And if you haven't tried the Kirkland Signature Organic Marinara Sauce, then you're definitely missing out. Consider giving it a whirl on your next grocery shopping trip.

As one review of the sauce explained, it's a pretty basic yet tasty sauce that "tastes like fresh tomatoes with a few spices and does not have any extra flavoring such as cheese, spinach, or spicy red pepper." Another review practically raved about the marinara, calling it "the best pasta sauce I've found at any price." So, if you're a Costco member, you really should give this sauce a try at least once and determine for yourself if it really lives up to some of the hype. You'll get plenty for your money while you're at it, too, and the organic marinara sauce is also pretty darn exceptional as far as taste goes.

4. Newman's Own Organic Marinara

For another healthy and organic sauce option, Newman's Own Organic Marinara is a pretty good store-bought marinara sauce. The sauce is also made with all organic ingredients, with your marinara basics like tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices, but has some other additions to differentiate it from other store-bought sauces. Newman's Own Organic Marinara also has organic extra virgin olive oil and carrots added in, which help the flavor stand out.

This sauce is also cost-efficient, while a majority of the reviews are pretty positive. While one person did complain that it was "bland and boring," most people loved the stuff. "Best marinara sauce. Everyone notices the difference in marinara if I have to get a different brand," one noted. As if that wasn't enough to love, the Newman's Own brand also donates its profits to charity, so your purchase would be doing some good in the world beyond your kitchen, too. Really, this sauce isn't anything too special as far as taste goes, but it's pretty darn good.

3. Cucina Antica Marinara

If you're looking for something a little fancier to put on your pasta, the Cucina Antica marinara might be perfect for you. It's a little more expensive but made with premium ingredients and absolutely loaded with flavor that's hard to find elsewhere on grocery store shelves. As an added bonus, the Cucina Antica marinara doesn't have any added sugar, something that can be hard to come by in many store-bought, premade pasta sauces.

And according to the reviews of the sauce, it's honestly a pretty great option, especially as far as store-bought sauces go. "Heck, I think I could eat it as a soup, it's that good," said one. And while you might have to order it online, the Cucina Antica marinara sauce might just make that little bit of extra wait worth it. It's not the absolute best sauce out there, it's pretty close and it might just surprise you.

2. Lidia's Marinara Sauce

One of the best store-bought marinara sauces out there surely has to be Lidia's Marinara Sauce, featuring the visage of chef and television personality Lidia Bastianich. You might not have heard of it, to be sure, but it's actually very good. And if you can get your hands on it, it's a great pre-made sauce option for your next pasta night. But, because Lidia's is so expensive and hard to find in stores, it's still not the best, at least in terms of accessibility. But there's no denying that it has great flavor.

Aside from the high cost of the sauce, though, there aren't many issues with its taste and texture. One person said that the sauce was as good as it gets. "We use this sauce when we just can't make homemade," they wrote. But another reviewer got real with their opinion on the sauce. "It was very good, but still Rao's seems to rule this marinara market," they admitted.

1. Rao's Homemade Marinara

The absolute best store-bought marinara sauce out there is without a doubt Rao's Homemade Marinara. Don't believe us? Would you believe the recommendation of a culinary luminary like Ina Garten instead? The sauce is a bit more expensive than some other brands, but there's a reason for that. When you serve it for dinner, people will think you spent hours making it yourself. And isn't that what makes a pre-made sauce the best?

There's just something about Rao's Marinara sauce that makes it stand out from the rest of the store-bought sauce crowd. The sauce has simple ingredients: tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, onions, and spices. Yes, that's it, meaning that those ingredients must be pretty good to stand so strongly on their own. And what really helps Rao's sauce shine is that it tastes like it's been simmering on the stove in an authentic Italian kitchen for hours. To that end, Rao's marinara sauce doesn't need anything extra from you. It's incredibly easy to add to your favorite pasta and really elevates the entire meal.