How To Majorly Upgrade Your Pasta Sauce

Consisting of a few simple ingredients, spaghetti with marinara sauce is arguably one of the easiest meals to cook, but that doesn't mean it has to be boring. Of course, you can make your own pasta and add meat or veggies; however, the sauce is what really brings everything together. Marinara is one of the most popular pasta sauces and has quite the history. According to pasta sauce brand Paesana, Italian chef Antonio Latini first mentioned tomato sauce in his cookbook "Lo Scalco alla Moderna" (The Modern Steward).

Making homemade marinara sauce is actually simple, and you only need a few ingredients. However, not everyone has the time or patience in this ever-bustling world, so that's where jarred pasta sauce comes in. It's convenient, delicious, and does the job, but if you still find yourself wanting to upgrade your pasta sauce, there are a few additions that will do the trick.

Bouillon cubes

While The Pioneer Woman recommends adding meat to level up your pasta sauce, this could potentially add more fat and liquid rather than just flavor (per Suggest). So, how can you add meaty flavor without extra fat? The answer lies within little, magical blocks known as bouillon cubes. These pantry staples are made of concentrated beef, chicken, or vegetable stock that has been dehydrated and packed into a small cube (The Spruce Eats).

Bouillon cubes are an easy way to add chicken, beef, or vegetable flavor to any dish, but the sodium levels are very high. Healthline says that one cup of chicken bouillon has about 42% of the recommended daily value, depending on the bouillon brand. So, if you choose to enhance your pasta sauce with bouillon cubes, look for reduced sodium or sodium-free options. You can also add more water than the bouillon cube instructions recommend if you feel your sauce is too salty and thick.

Herbs and spices

Another way to boost your pasta sauce can be found right in your kitchen—in the spice rack, to be exact. Adding spices and herbs is the easiest way to avoid serving a bland pasta sauce, whether fresh or dried. While many jarred pasta sauces are already seasoned with spices and herbs, the flavor of jarred pasta sauce diminishes the longer it stays in the jar, so adding extra spices and herbs once the sauce is warmed can awaken those flavors (via Premio Foods).

Ideal spices and herbs are garlic, basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Of course, you can add anything else your heart desires. If you are using dried herbs and spices, add them to your sauce first, so they have time to rehydrate and infuse with the sauce, and be sure to add fresh herbs right before serving so they don't wilt from the heat (per Southern Living).