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

I’d rather change what we’re having for dinner if I don’t have this one brand handy.

Stephanie A Ganz

Simply Recipes / Getty Images

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

The best marinara can convince us that it never saw the inside of a jar, boasting a fresh tomato flavor and hints of garden-picked basil with plenty of garlic. But with approximately a bazillion jarred marinara sauces on the market, it’s not always easy to find a winner.

So, which one is beloved by the folks who write about food and edit recipes all day long? I’m delighted to report it’s the same one I keep in my pantry. Hello, validation!

The Panel of Marinara Lovers

  • Yasmine Maggio: Voracious home cook and Associate Editor at Serious Eats
  • Lucy Simon: Food & Wine Assistant Editor and wine, spirits, and food writer
  • Samantha Leffler: REAL SIMPLE Senior Food Editor, covering all things food and nutrition-related
  • Myo Quinn: Simply Recipes Associate Editorial Director, who also worked as a line cook at the Michelin-starred Gramercy Tavern and Untitled at the Whitney Museum

Simply Recipes / Rao’s Specialty Foods

The Best Jarred Marinara, According to Food Editors

The editors I surveyed were crystal clear about their favorite marinara: It’s Rao’s or bust for this panel of red sauce hogs.

Simply Recipes Associate Editor Myo Quinn said she won’t buy any other brand. “I’d rather change what we’re having for dinner if I don’t have Rao’s handy,” she notes. She stocks up on the jarred sauce at Costco, which she says has the best deal on the premium pasta sauce.

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

What Food Editors Love About Rao’s

The unadulterated, tomato-forward flavor sets Rao’s apart for these food editors.

“Rao’s is the platonic ideal of a marinara,” says Food & Wine Assistant Editor Lucy Simon. “It has a perfect balance of sweet, savory, salty, and acidic and a rich texture that isn’t overly oily.”

For REAL SIMPLE Senior Food Editor Samantha Leffler, the ingredient list makes all the difference. “I love Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce because it has a rich, tomato-y flavor and is made with only a handful of ingredients that I can actually pronounce. My favorite thing about this tomato sauce is that it’s made without any added sugar, giving it a much more authentic taste 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 also use it for chicken Parmesan or as a dip for mozzarella sticks. It’s one ingredient that I always have in my pantry.”

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