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I Blind Taste-Tested The Top 8 Grocery Store Marinara Sauces, And Now I Finally Know The Winner (And The Brands I'll Never Buy Again)

Some of these tasted WAY different than I remembered.

I grew up eating a whole lotta pasta with jarred sauce. Like, straight-up penne doused in jarred Ragú (IYKYK), and I can't lie...there's still something so nostalgic about that very, very specific taste that can only be created with the jarred stuff. Am I right?

Author holding a bowl of pasta with marinara sauce with drawn-on heart eyes

When it comes to The Marinara Wars, I've always had a loose hypothesis: Yeah, the pricier, "homemade" versions definitely taste great, but side-by-side with their budget-friendly counterparts, I can't imagine they're that much better...right? I mean, it's tomatoes. 👀

Ragu and Cucina Antica marinara sauces set on a window sill for comparison, the former with one dollar sign, the latter with three (to indicate price)

To find out once and for all, I decided to conduct a blind taste test of the most popular marinara brands out there — from the Ragú that I grew up with to the proclaimed "holy grails" of jarred sauce. And I gotta say...the results surprised me.

Bowl of steaming pasta with marinara sauce

THE SAUCES

Eight jarred pasta sauces, laid out on a cutting board

THE EXPERIMENT

Package of fusilli pasta next to a pot of water on the stove
Small bowl of sauced pasta on top of a piece of paper with notes: "#1: literally tastes like SpaghettiOs sauce??? kinda bitter aftertaste...there are genuinely no real tomatoes in this lol" and a frown face drawn next to it

I quickly made my way through the eight different sauces...and it didn't take long to realize that, yep, NOT ALL JARRED MARINARAS ARE CREATED EQUALLY. Some tasted like actual tomatoes, others left weird, bitter aftertastes, and some tasted like they contained an entire jar of Italian seasoning.

Handwritten note saying: "sort of sweet? too sweet. honestly this one tasted like Italian herb bread @ subway which feels...wrong for sauce." and a frowning face.

After jotting down every single one of my thoughts, I tried to guess which sauce was which. Ultimately, I got 2/8 correct, which wasn't bad. I mean, it wasn't remarkable, but whatever. I tried.

Piece of paper with numerous handwritten notes and smiley face rankings for all eight pasta sauces, the first two (Ragu and Tuttorosso) have check marks next to them

Before my boyfriend finally revealed the order in which I tasted the sauces, I sorted them. No going back on my initial thoughts in the event that my tastebuds were, like, WAY out of whack or something.

Screenshot of iPhone note with text: "BEST MARINARA SAUCES" listing the order, best to worst, 7, 8, 5, 3, 2, 6, 4, 1

Following the big reveal, the following was my definitive ranking — from the absolute worst, to the inarguable best. (Now, knowing each corresponding brand, I still stand by this.)

8. Ragú Traditional — tasted like SpaghettiOs, but distinctly bitter.

Ragú Traditional

(Back to the trash where you belong, Ragú.)

Author putting Ragú sauce into the trash

7. Prego Traditional — basically syrupy garlic.

Prego Traditional

6. Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Marinara — tasted "like Italian Herb bread at Subway."

Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Marinara

5. Tuttorosso Marinara — for the price, a pretty solid option.

Tuttorosso Marinara

4. Classico Marinara — not the cheapest option, but certainly bold.

Classico Marinara

3. Whole Foods 365 Organic Marinara — as far as your wallet is concerned, this is THE sauce for you.

Whole Foods 365 Organic Marinara

2. Cucina Antica Marinara — a perfect blank-slate sauce at a higher price point.

Cucina Antica Marinara

1. Rao's Homemade Marinara — I don't know how else to say this...this stuff is 🔥.

Rao's homemade Marinara Sauce

Any sauces that you totally disagree with? Or, any of your absolute faves that we left out entirely? Let us know in the comments. Happy pasta-eating! 🍝