Bottled, ready-made pasta sauces exist for one purpose: to cut down on every home cook’s prep time while delivering on the same flavors you look for in a homemade tomato-based pasta sauce. The reheating steps are simple, too. All you have to do is heat the sauce on the stovetop (you can reduce it until it gets as thick as you want it to be), and toss cooked noodles into the pot to coat.
This month, our Yummy.ph Taste Test takes us on a mission to find the bottle of pasta sauce that not only tastes like our mom’s classic tomato-based pasta, but also delivers on good consistency and is worth its price. Every bottle of sauce we used in the test has the same basic ingredients: diced tomatoes or tomato pulp, tomato puree, onions, garlic, salt, and sugar. You will also be able to shop for each jar in any major supermarket.
Our tips for using bottled pasta sauces at home? Add your own twist! Toss in a few fresh basil leaves to make your dish extra fragrant, toast your favorite garlic bread to serve on the side, and sprinkle a handful or two of Parmesan cheese on top. What’s great about these sauces are that they still give you the freedom to tweak them as you like!
Prego is easily one of the most recognizable brands out there, mostly because they’ve come up with a pasta sauce to suit many different tastes: they have smooth sauces, chunky sauces, herby sauces, and more.
We picked up their traditional Italian sauce, which uses Italian tomatoes (diced, puree, and juice!) and additional flavorings of roasted garlic and parsley. The sauce was very light, simple, and balanced in the sense that it wasn’t too acidic or too sweet. This is the perfect template sauce to use as a base for dressing up a pasta dish at home—you can start off with a quick sauté of onions and garlic to make it more chunky, then add a fat pinch of salt and Parmesan for extra flavor! If you prefer thick pasta sauces, heat Prego’s sauce over the stove top and let it reduce until it thickens.
Prego’s traditional Italian sauce is available in all major supermarkets for P104.50 per 14-ounce jar.
We picked up Ragu’s Sauteed Onion and Garlic tomato sauce, labeled “extra flavorful and chunky,” too! Did it disappoint? Absolutely not! Chunky pasta lovers will enjoy large bits of onion and diced tomatoes here and there. Plus, it coats pasta beautifully—the sauce clings to the noodles after only a couple of tosses in the pan. Because this sauce is a little heavy on the onion chunks, expect it to be a little sweet. Thankfully, Ragu’s sauce also has a hint of acidity to combat its sweetness. Toss in a few basil leaves to freshen up your pasta dish.
Ragu’s Sauteed Onion and Garlic tomato sauce is available in all major supermarkets for P161.50 per 26-ounce jar.
Bertolli’s Olive Oil and Garlic tomato sauce is as simple as it gets. Those who love the earthy taste of extra virgin olive oil will enjoy this light, watery sauce over their noodles. This jar also had large, delicious chunks of tomatoes! Just prepare yourself for a strong toasted garlic flavor! You can let this sauce reduce over low heat to get it to thicken, and add lots of cheese and herbs to pair with this sauce’s strong hit of garlic.
Bertolli’s Olive Oil and Garlic tomato sauce is available in all major supermarkets for P205 per 26-ounce jar.
Barilla’s Napoletana tomato sauce is for those who love herby sauces over their pasta. Barilla’s sauce contains a mix of Italian tomatoes, onion, garlic, and a mix of Mediterranean herbs. It doesn’t exactly taste homemade, but its consistency is excellent. The vegetables and herbs are noticeably cooked over long periods of time over low heat—you can tell by the way the sauce hugs the noodles and the sauce’s overall uniformity. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over your pasta dish right before serving!
Barilla’s Napoletana tomato sauce is available in all major supermarkets for P139.50 per 400-gram jar.
We saved this for last for a reason—Contadina’s Aglio Arrostito pasta sauce won the flavor game big time! Its main ingredients include large chunks of ripe tomatoes, buttery roasted garlic, extra virgin olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, sugar, and black pepper—everything you need to make a base tomato sauce. Everything is mixed together in good balance: the acidity from the tomatoes and lemon juice lift the sauce and make it lively, there is enough salt to give the sauce good flavor, the garlic is not overpowering, and there are enough juicy tomato chunks for everyone to munch on. The sauce clings on the noodles well when tossed and reduced over the stovetop, and a 420-gram jar is a steal for only P120.50!
Contadina’s Aglio Arrostito, for us, tasted like a homemade pasta sauce the most. Keep it in your pantry for quick, comforting dinners.
Contadina’s Aglio Arrostito pasta sauce is available in all major supermarkets for P120.50 per 420-gram jar.