Marinara sauce simmering in a pot. Wood spoon seen stirring the sauce. There are fresh uncut tomatoes on the table beside the pot of marinara sauce.

Great marinara sauce is made with just a few ingredients, and lots of love. I’m sure you have a parent or grandparent who makes the best homemade marinara sauce. However, when you’re in a hurry and you want to make a quick meal, what do you do? Which grocery store brand is your favorite?

Making Great Marinara Sauce Starts With These Ingredients

Regardless of whether you have a family marinara sauce recipe, making great sauce is pretty easy. The most important ingredient is the tomato you choose. Most recipes you find for pasta sauce, or gravy as it’s called in some locales, recommend San Marzano tomatoes. That’s because they’re sweet, flavorful, and not as acidic as Roma tomatoes. But, in a pinch, Roma tomatoes will do just fine.

Generally, most marinara sauce recipes call for finely diced onions and garlic. However, it’s all up to you and what you enjoy eating. So, if you don’t like one or both of those ingredients, don’t use them. But if you do use them, it’s best to make sure the onions are finely chopped, and the garlic is minced or pressed. On the whole, most people do not prefer big chunks of onion in their sauce. Once again, it’s all up to your taste.

In essence, the other ingredients you’ll want for a classic marinara sauce are fresh basil, dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and freshly crushed black pepper. Just in case you don’t have a family recipe to refer to, here’s a simple one for a great sauce from

Which Brands Of Jarred Sauce Do 96.3 KKLZ Listeners Prefer?

Basically, marinara sauce tastes great with a lot of different meals. Heck, you can just buy a loaf of French or Italian bread and dip it in a bowl of sauce. Of course, you can drench your pasta or lasagna with it. Furthermore, it’s great to pour over a bowl of meatballs or on a meatball sub. Are you planning on making chicken parmigiana? Then you’ll need to smother it in that rich tomato gravy.

Of course, there are occasions when you don’t have the time or the ingredients on hand to cook up some homemade sauce. Therefore, it’s always good to have a few jars of your favorite brand of marinara sauce in the cupboard.

We posted a Facebook question to find out which brands our 96.3 KKLZ listeners prefer, and here are the results. Mangia!


  • 6) Hunt's® Tomato Sauce...Or Whatever's On Sale

    Quite a few of our respondents noted that they prefer a cheaper brand like Hunt’s® Tomato Sauce, or whatever is on sale. They keep that in the cupboard, and then add their own special mix of spices, herbs, and ingredients to “doctor it up” and make it taste the way they like their sauce. Hey, with the outrageous prices at the grocery stores nowadays, that seems like a very good, and tasty, plan.

    Cans of Hunt's® Traditional Pasta Sauce on a grocery store shelf.

    Cans of Hunt’s® Traditional Pasta Sauce on a grocery store shelf.

  • 5) Prego®

    Next on the list of local store-bought sauces is Prego®. In Italian, that word basically means: “You’re welcome!” This sauce was introduced by the Campbell’s Soup Company in 1981 according to Incredibly, it captured 28% of the tomato sauce market in its first year on the shelves! Of course, those grocery store shelves now show many more brands of jarred and canned pasta sauces than they did back in 1981. But, Prego® is still a local fave.

    Glass jars of Prego® Marinara Sauce and Spicy Marinara Sauce on a grocery store shelf.

    Glass jars of Prego® Marinara Sauce and Spicy Marinara Sauce on a grocery store shelf.

  • 4) Newman's Own®

    One of our favorite actors from the golden age of Hollywood. Paul Newman got into the food business in 1982 with his “Newman’s Own®” line of products. This Connecticut based company donates all of its after-tax products to charities. According to, they started with salad dressing. Subsequently, they added a line of “pasta sauce, frozen pizza, lemonade, fruit cocktail juices, popcorn, salsa, grape juice,” and a whole list of other food products. Their marinara sauce placed fourth in our un-scientific poll.

    Jars of Newman's Own® Marinara Sauce on a grocery store shelf.

    Jars of Newman’s Own® Marinara Sauce on a grocery store shelf.

  • 3) Carbone®

    Carbone® pasta sauces are relatively new to the grocery store shelves. Carbone Restaurant is a very popular spot for Italian fare in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan in New York City. I haven’t tasted their sauces yet, but I sure will in the not-too-distant future based on our listeners’ recommendations. This brand is one of the pricier brands on the grocery store shelves, so don’t be shocked if you want to give it a try.

    Glass jars of Carbone® Marinara Sauce on a grocery store shelf.

    Glass jars of Carbone® Marinara Sauce on a grocery store shelf.

  • 2) Ragú®

    This is the brand of tomato sauce most of us grew up with. Ragú® Traditional Sauce has been around since 1937. Ownership has changed hands down through the years, but it remains one of the best-selling brands of jarred tomato sauce in the United States. When my Mom or Dad didn’t feel like making homemade sauce, they would make us spaghetti and meatballs covered in this famous American brand. As you can see, it is still a favorite in our little survey.

    Glass jars of Ragú Traditional Sauce on a grocery store shelf.

    Glass jars of Ragú Traditional Sauce on a grocery store shelf.

  • 1) Rao's®

    This has been our family’s go-to brand of jarred marinara sauce since we first tried it. I must say, I think it’s better than my sauce. Of course, Rao’s Restaurant is a very famous Italian eatery in East Harlem, New York City. It was established way back in 1896. They began selling their delicious sauces outside of the restaurant in 1992. At first, you could only find Rao’s® in specialty stores and boutique grocery stores. However, now it’s found on shelves just about everywhere you go. It has quickly become one of the most popular brands of jarred tomato sauce in America.

    Glass jars of Rao's® Marinara Sauce on a grocery store shelf.

    Glass jars of Rao’s® Marinara Sauce on a grocery store shelf.

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