Reddit Has Some Surprising Ideas About Secret Ingredients In Pasta Sauce

Many people consider pasta tossed in tomato sauce to be one of the easiest dinners to put together when you're in a rush or feeling uninspired to cook something fancier. It's even better if you already have a batch of homemade tomato sauce sitting in the refrigerator. While it's more difficult to change the flavor of store-bought tomato sauce, you can alter homemade sauce to make it exactly to your liking.

For example, Kitchn recommends adding a splash of red or white wine for a richer tomato sauce. Roasting tomatoes will give the sauce some depth, according to the article, and swirling in a dollop of butter does wonders to create a smoother texture. Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that the type of tomatoes and onions you use makes a world of difference and also vouches for adding herbs and aromatics to the sauce.

One Redditor even admits to using caramelized tomato paste in their pasta sauce as well as a little bit of anchovy paste at times. Feeling the need to shake things up a bit, however, they asked fellow users for more ideas to amp up a tomato sauce. As usual, Reddit users did not disappoint.

Carrots in tomato sauce may be the next big thing

Several Reddit commenters say that adding carrots is the secret to a good tomato sauce. Blending them into a smooth puree in a sauce can cut through the tomatoes' acidity, they say, as well as add a touch of sweetness without sugar. "Carrots are magic in tomato sauces," writes one user. "I discovered this on accident, and its really changed my cooking," confesses another. If you don't want to puree them, some commenters suggest letting an entire carrot simmer in the sauce and simply remove it before serving.

One of the trickiest parts about making homemade tomato sauce can be balancing the acidic flavor of the tomatoes. To do this, some Redditors suggest adding balsamic vinegar, turmeric powder, baking powder, or even just a pinch of salt. Marmite, a food paste made out of yeast, is another popular ingredient suggestion to give sauces a deeper umami flavor similar to what chicken stock would add, but without using an animal product that goes bad quickly. Other secret ingredient suggestions include dried and powdered shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ground fennel seeds, bell peppers, or just a whole array of spices. 

One Redditor, however, suggests that the key to their tomato sauce is not a secret ingredient. Rather, it's in nailing the few main ingredients that go into a sauce — such as using homegrown tomatoes and giving them the right amount of time to cook.