We have a complicated relationship with jarred pasta sauce. Between the no-cook, quick stovetop, and easy butter-roasted options, making your own tomato sauce is pretty easy. But sometimes, you just can’t bring yourself to make sauce. Your day was horrible. Your week was horrible. Your year was horrible. You don’t need to explain. We get it. In that case, we reach for a jar. But not just any jar. We have a pretty loyal relationship with Rao’s Marinara Sauce and firmly believe that it’s the best jarred pasta sauce around. Everyone that works here has daily Rao’s rituals. Songs. Sayings. Handshakes. It’s a cult.
OK, we’re not really in a cult. But we do think Rao’s is the best. Generally speaking, jarred pasta sauce is pretty terrible. Sometimes that’s because there are added preservatives or coloring. But mostly, it’s because they taste too sweet, too salty, or maybe even a combination of the two.
But Rao’s is none of those things. Rao’s is a pasta sauce that falls in line with the sauces we’d cook, and it starts with the ingredients. Rao’s uses high quality tomatoes and olive oil, without any added preservatives or coloring. The rest of the ingredients won’t surprise you: salt, pepper, onions, garlic, basil, and oregano. You know, the stuff you’d expect to be in tasty marinara. And the biggest omission from that list is added sugar. Which already tells you something about how it tastes.
Rao’s marinara sauce is very well-balanced with sweetness that comes solely from tomatoes, onions, and garlic. There aren’t any other performance enhancing drugs getting in the way of a balanced tomato sauce.
The flavor tastes…homemade. Yeah, we’d be pretty happy if we made this sauce. It’s the kind of sauce we want to spoon over pasta and dip stromboli or calzones in. Compared to other national brands, Rao’s sits on an entirely different plane.
While all of these flavors and ratios are important, there’s one ingredient that sticks out more than the rest. In fact, you can tell it’s there immediately. Rao’s uses a large amount of olive oil. You can see it sitting right on top of the sauce, before you even crack open the jar. We love that commitment to the fatty, olive oil-y side of the sauce. That fat is the key to a fantastic, well-rounded marinara.
But there’s always an exception to the rule, the thing that makes you amend your beliefs. And in this case, that exception is made from tomatoes, hails from New York, and goes by the name of Rao’s.
Buy It on Amazon: 24 oz. of Rao’s Marinara sauce for $8.99