As a nation, we can thank Italy for one of our top comfort foods: pasta with sauce. And whether tomato-based, alfredo or pesto, a quality sauce can take a pasta dish from passable to spectacular. Unfortunately, many available sauces harbor less-than-healthy ingredients: high doses of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, inferior oils and the like. Instead, reach for these smarter-choice sauces, containing little to no sugar and ingredients that let you rest easy. Buon appetito!
Our pick: The Silver Palate San Marzano Marinara
Why we like it: Made with heirloom whole tomatoes (versus tomato paste); fresh garlic, onions and carrots; and extra-virgin olive oil, this marinara tastes as if you plucked the ingredients from the garden yourself. Lightly sweetened with pear concentrate.
Our tasters say: “The texture has just the right amount of ‘chunk.’”
Bonus points for: No added sugar, Extra-virgin olive oil, Fresh produce
Also try: Barilla Marinara
Our pick: Bertolli Rustic Cut Roasted Garlic Marinara with Garden Vegetables
Why we like it: Roasted garlic lends a depth of flavor to this hearty sauce that achieves a superb taste with zero added sweeteners. Chunky vegetables add dimension to this garlic-laden, thick-texture sauce.
Our tasters say: “The veggies complement the garlic.”
Bonus points for: No added sugar, Extra-virgin olive oil
Also try: Barilla Roasted Garlic
Our pick: Muir Glen Organic Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce
Why we like it: This well-textured sauce delivers a pleasant explosion of flavors and textures, thanks to big tomato chunks, five organic herbs and five organic vegetables (zucchini, onion, spinach, bell pepper and carrot). No added sweeteners—and you won’t miss them!
Our tasters say: “I love that it’s not overly sweet.”
Bonus points for: Organic, No sugar added, Extra-virgin olive oil
Also try: Newman’s Own Sockarooni
Our pick: Prego Farmers’ Market Four Cheese
Why we like it: Tomato, cheese, fresh cream and oregano appear in perfect proportions in this smooth and tasty sauce that’s free of oils and added sweeteners. Asiago serves as the primary cheese; Romano, Parmesan and Fontina play supporting roles.
Our tasters say: “Cheesy without being heavy.”
Bonus points for: No added sugar, No oil
Also try: Hunt’s Four Cheese Pasta Sauce
Our pick: Newman’s Own Alfredo
Why we like it: It’s rare to find an alfredo without lots of questionable oils and other unwelcome ingredients, but Newman’s fits the bill. And it does so without sacrificing the rich, creamy taste you want in an alfredo.
Our tasters say: “Fuller flavor than most alfredos.”
Bonus points for: Profits to charity
Also try: Bertolli Creamy Basil Alfredo
Traditionally made from basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and grated, hard cheese, pesto is a delightful way to mix up your pasta routine. A little goes a long way in flavoring the dish, so you won’t need as much. For an added twist, try a sun-dried tomato variety.