I Asked 4 Food Editors To Name the Best Jarred Marinara—They All Said the Same Brand

I Asked 4 Food Editors To Name the Best Jarred Marinara—They All Said the Same Brand

When it comes to staples, a good jar of marinara sauce is the equivalent of a little black dress in your closet. With it, you can create something timeless, tasteful, and seemingly effortless.

The best marinara sauce can convince us it's never seen the inside of a jar, with its fresh tomato flavor and notes of garden-picked basil and plenty of garlic. But with about a billion jarred marinara sauces on the market, it's not always easy to find a winner.

So which one is the favorite of people who write about food and review recipes all day long? I’m happy to report that it’s the same one I keep in my pantry. Hello, validation!

The Marinara Lovers Panel

  • Yasmine Maggio:Voracious cook and assistant editor at Serious Eats
  • Lucy Simon: Deputy Editor of Food & Wine and writer specializing in wine, spirits and gastronomy
  • Samantha Leffler:Editor-in-Chief of REAL SIMPLE, covering all things food and nutrition
  • Myo Quinn:Associate Editorial Director of Simply Recipes, who has also worked as a chef at the Michelin-starred Gramercy Tavern and Untitled at the Whitney Museum

Simple Recipes / Rao's Specialty Foods

The Best Jarred Marinara Sauce, According to Food Editors

The editors I interviewed were very clear about their favorite marinara: It's Rao or bust for this panel of pigs in red sauce.

Myo Quinn, associate editor of Simply Recipes, says she wouldn't buy any other brand. “I'd rather change up what we're having for dinner if I don't have Rao's on hand,” she notes. She buys the sauce in jars at Costco, which she says has the best deal on premium pasta sauce.

For Yasmine Maggio, associate editor of Serious Eats, it’s all about Nonna-style flavor. “I always feel like other marinara sauces are missing something that I can never quite put my finger on,” she says. “But this one is well-balanced and perfectly seasoned,” adding that for her, Rao’s is a go-to substitute for homemade marinara any day of the week.

What Food Writers Love About Rao's

The pure, tomatoey flavor sets Rao's apart for these food writers.

“Rao’s is the platonic ideal of a marinara,” says Lucy Simon, Food & Wine’s associate editor. “It has the perfect balance of sweet, salty, savory, and acidic, as well as a rich texture that’s not too greasy.”

For Samantha Leffler, editor-in-chief of REAL SIMPLE, the ingredient list makes all the difference. “I love Rao’s homemade marinara sauce because it has a rich tomato flavor and is made with only a handful of ingredients I can actually pronounce. My favorite part about this tomato sauce is that it’s made without added sugar, which makes it taste much more authentic than many other jarred tomato sauces.”

She also notes that she appreciates the sauce's versatility: “I use it almost every time I make pasta, and I also use it for chicken parmesan or as a dip for mozzarella sticks. It's an ingredient I always have in my pantry.”


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