The Best And The Worst Pasta Sauce

August 29, 2013   62 Comments

Have you ever tried to go down the aisle in your supermarket and there is some strange woman with her cart in the center blocking everything?

Best and Worst Pasta Sauce

Yes, that was me for about 30 minutes as I waded through the liquid jungle of pasta sauce. Wow. There are so many choices!!

I went back in 2017 and wrote this post - Low Sugar Tomato Sauce - check it out for a review of the latest brands.

(I also could be found in the pasta aisle when I compared whole wheat versus regular pasta.)

A few things about my picks:

  1. I compared jars (not cans and not the fresher products in the coolers).
  2. I tried to pick ones that are available nationwide.
  3. I aimed for a low price point ($2-$3.50 per jar).

Now for the best sauce that I could find in my very scientific search:

Why did I like this? I hate sugar in pasta sauce. It makes it taste like ketchup. When you don’t add sugar, it tastes better AND it makes it lower in calories. This one was lower in fat as well and the amount of sodium was a good 50-100 mg per serving less than many of the other brands.

For ½ cup:

60 calories, 1 g fat, 10 g carbohydrates, 6 g sugar, 2 g protein, 2 g fiber, 320 mg sodium, 1 Points+


I wish they used actual garlic instead of garlic powder, but what can you do? This tasted good to me and I am glad that I found it (because I will use it).

Now for the worst sauce. My criteria was too many calories, grams of saturated fat, and milligrams of sodium. We could all use less of these, no?

Paul, I know you are dead, but what is going on? Your philanthropic food company just made Snack Girl’s worst list. Check this out:

The serving size here is ¼ cup. Get out your ¼ cup measure and ask yourself if this is how much alfredo sauce you would eat. I HATE comparing stuff like this because I have to do math in my head.

Here are the nutrition facts for ½ cup:

180 calories, 16 g fat, 6 g carbohydrates, 2 g sugar, 2 g protein, 0 g fiber, 820 mg sodium, 5 Points+

Obviously, comparing a tomato based sauce to cream based sauce wasn’t really fair (sorry, Paul). Newman’s Own was the worst of the alfredo sauces.

Perhaps, I will stand there again and find the worst tomato sauce (too many grams of sugar, fat, and sodium). I definitely will not wear heels because it will take a while.

Check out my Pasta and Zucchini Recipe if you want to skip bottled sauce all together and create a fast, delicious option.

What is your favorite pasta sauce?

Other posts you might like:

Whole Wheat vs Regular Pasta

Whole Wheat vs Regular Pasta

Super Easy Homemade Spaghetti O’s

Snack Girl rarely eats her pasta from a can. Pasta is one of those foods that is ridiculously easy to cook....

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 62 )

Your too funny! Poor Paul!! I didn't know they made a Light Ragu pasta sauce. I'll have to look for it at the store.

Wow! I haven't bought sauce in a while, we make our own tomato sauce. But I do buy alfredo. I'm thinking I should add that to my list of things to try to make from scratch.

I actually am a big fan of Francesco Rinaldi No Salt Added Traditional sauce. It's got 70 calories for a serving plus a gram or two more of carbs and fat -- but only 40 mg of sodium. I'd say its another healthy choice -- comparable to your Ragu choice, but a better option for those watching their sodium

Really in all fairness you are comparing tomatoes to cheese.

I've recently discovered Muir Glen pasta sauces, and while I do make my own I really like these. They taste great. How healthy they are? Well, for the one I have right now, Garlic Roasted Garlic, the ingredients are pretty good and the numbers look good too. Try them, at least it is organic.

Making your own sauce is the way to go. It tastes way better and freezes well. We make big batches of it and store it in wide mouth mason jars or bags in the freezer. I admit though if I'm in a pinch on a week night and don't have any I reach for store bought, but what a difference in taste!

I have used the Ragu light for years and we love it.

You forgot a rather important criterion: taste. Ragu tastes like sh__.

I have used the Ragu No Sugar Tomato and Basil since it came to our shelves a few years back. I LOVE it. Great choice.

First, I like you reviews and recipes. In regard to pastas sauces. I found that no matter what sauce brand I bought, I would get them home and doctor them up with my own spices and veggies so now I just buy canned tomatoes and -make it from scratch. Just healthier I think, and no appreciable time difference to prepare

First I need to say I love getting your emails.

Now for sauce. I make my own. I start with 28 oz of tomato puree and go from there. It's 1 pointsplus for 1/2 cup and tastes just like my grandfathers.

I agree that Ragu isn't the best tasting sauce. We use Prego Marinara (NOT PREGO TRADITIONAL which is more widely available). Ingredients: Tomato Puree, Diced tomatoes in tomato juice, canola oil, salt, dehydrated onions, dehydrated garlic, spice, citric acid. Nutrition: Calories 80, Fat 3g, Sodium 480mg, Fiber 3g, Sugars 7g, Protein 2g. It tastes delicious, the kids love it and it is reasonably healthy. I urge everyone to give it a try.

Another vote for Ragu Light. When I buy sauce it's my go to brand.

I don't really like Ragu so much because the consistancy is too thin,like watered down tomato juice with Italian season. I like thicker or chunkier kinds like Prego. If I make my own I just use low sodium or no salt added canned diced tomatoes in juice,tomato paste,fresh basil,roasted garlic,roasted red pepper in the jars(not packed in oil,red pepper flake& Italian seasoning and puree it slighly. I then cut up some onions finely & simmer over low heat. It's not hard to come up with your own sauce

When I don't make my own I use Francesco Rinaldi/Tomato and Basil. I like it's fresh tomato taste.

Bwahahahaha Pamela, I thought the same thing to myself. No matter what the numbers on the label say, I will have to pass.

We used to favor Francisco Rinaldi - no salt added, but since we don't eat cheese anymore (and it contains Romano), we've taken to making our own sauce.

My favorite is the Emeril line- my #1 is his tomato and basil! So delicious!

Often, natural flavor is a cover name for MSG.

Nice review of sauces. I usually keep a jar of Ragu Light as an emergency meal ingredient (sudden arrival of guests at meal time.) For planned meals, I make my own. I grow tomatoes and make large batches, and freeze meal-sized quantities in Ziploc bags. Almost no sodium, and very little fat (only the amount used to saute the onions and garlic)

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