9 Clever Ways To Use Leftover Pasta Sauce

Pasta is one of the great culinary gifts given to the world. The Italian go-to dish has become a staple in kitchens all over, with different cultures adding their own unique flare, and shows no signs of slowing down. 

The popularity of pasta likely came from a combination of friendly price points, speedy cooking time, and endless versatility. The only hurdle, when it comes to making pasta at home, is the inevitable leftovers to follow. Indulging in the same dish over and over again can get old fast, so the key is reinventing them. Giving pasta sauce a new life by mixing it into a meatloaf or shaking it with vodka is a great way to save time, money — and let your creative juices run wild.

Below are some ways to use leftover pasta sauce that are so clever and tasty they're almost worth planning for. Give them a try, and you might just leave the stigma of "leftovers" behind.


A filling egg pie with the ability to turn any bland breakfast into a special, indulgent event, few would expect that pasta sauce could breathe new life into a frittata. Leftover pasta frittatas (or frittata di pasta) are a novel idea but increasingly common, with substantial help from chefs Jaime Oliver and Mark Bittman in bringing the classic Italian dish back to the masses.

This option is a double win; old pasta in the back of the fridge is key, as is the leftover sauce. Traditionally, frittata di pasta has two different versions, one with noodles tossed in red sauce, and one without any sauce. The frittata sans sauce is bound with egg and produces an extra crunchy bite, whereas the red frittata di pasta stays extra moist in the center without losing the perfect exterior crunch. If you want to stick with a fluffy egg base, leave the pasta out, but don't skimp on that sauce.

Bloody Mary

Transforming last night's dinner into the next morning's libation is some next-level innovation. While Bloody Marys aren't for everyone, those that gravitate towards the tangy hair of the dog rarely veer off that course. Once Sunday rolls around and hibernating at home seems like the superior option, shake up a Bloody Mary with leftover pasta sauce rather than creating a mix from scratch. That lingering jar of pasta sauce that's been occupying shelf space for eons can finally be put to good use.

This little cocktail hack is so genius it might become a first choice as opposed to a mere backup option. Well-known NY-based brand Rao's Homemade agrees, as they recommend using their spicy arrabbiata and marinara sauces as a Bloody Mary base. According to their website, their sauces have "superpowers" in that they double as a savior for pasta and a spicy morning beverage mixer.

Lasagna soup

Lasagna soup may sound like nonsense, but it's a genuine dish. Essentially a deconstructed lasagna, this soup is as decadent as it sounds. Lasagna is a beloved, hearty entrée adored across the globe, but it's no easy feat to put together. Between the meticulous layering steps and the lengthy cook time, lasagna requires hours of prep. However, lasagna soup manages to take all the complex flavors of the baked pasta dish and fit it into one bowl in less than half the time.

Rather than being carefully laid atop the sauce, this warming soup typically calls for lasagna noodles to be cracked into pieces and dropped right into the broth. If an older box of lasagna sheets has seen better days, this is a great way to use up those broken smaller pieces that wouldn't hold up in a traditional baked lasagna. If the specific pasta sheets aren't an available option, any leftover pasta will suffice, and can be dropped right into the soup near the end of cooking. The real flavor is sourced from the vibrant tomato sauce, and everyone knows that good sauce takes time. Using up last night's pasta sauce for this fun take on lasagna gives leftovers a new reputation.

Pasta chips with Marinara

Chips and dip is a common snack; pasta chips and sauce, however, puts a unique spin on some classic finger food. Using leftover pasta sauce to just make more pasta isn't very creative, of course, but when you switch up the way you consume it, that transforms the entire experience.

Like many culinary explorations in recent years, the absurdity of this concept can be attributed to a TikTok that went viral in the summer of 2021. Right around the time when air fryers started to occupy everyone's kitchen counters, BostonFoodGram explored the idea of cooking pasta twice for good measure. They boiled the pasta as usual, but then tossed it in the air fryer to create a crunchy, unique "chip" that gives the pasta a whole new dimension. Much like potatoes, crispy fried pasta itself has a rather mild flavor, acting as a blank canvas for whatever seasonings are added. However, the real star of this snack is the generous side of sauce for dipping. Any leftover sauce will do, but nothing hits quite like a classic marinara.


True pizza lovers would say that pasta and pizza sauces are not interchangeable. While that might be technically correct, both can be delicious on either vessel. Pasta sauce is typically cooked down to help develop the flavors, while real Italian pizza sauce is thicker and made with fresh ingredients right before being tossed in the oven. Less is more when it comes to a true Italian sauce, as it's typically just puréed tomatoes. Seasonings may vary slightly here and there, but the leading flavors stay aligned for the most part.

As perhaps the other most popular Italian American dish, there is no question that homemade pizza would be a solid option for using up leftover pasta sauce, but don't let the type of sauce limit your imagination. Of course, there are endless types of pizza; some have a creamy white sauce, others with a pesto base, the traditional has a simple tomato sauce. While other pasta sauces, such as alfredo or vodka sauce, might not be considered ideal to slather on top of pizza dough, feel free to experiment with anything. A pizza makes an ideal cleaning-out-the-fridge vehicle for experimentation.


Once seen as a budget-friendly dinner option, meatloaf can easily be elevated and reimagined into a lavish meal. It's kind of a smorgasbord of ingredients, making it a fantastic recipe for using up leftovers in your fridge. There are dozens of meatloaf recipes; many with assorted peppers, some with mushrooms, others thickened with gooey cheese. One constant in meatloaf is a concentrated tomato paste, or ketchup for those in a bind. Swapping tomato paste for a bold pasta sauce achieves double duty by offering both that tomato essence and robust seasoning.

One obstacle in baking the perfect meatloaf is guaranteeing that it stays nice and juicy. Many chefs have many different hacks, including adding a milk-soaked slice of bread to the mix, but the secret to succulent meatloaf is to not be shy with liquid ingredients. Pasta sauce can work overtime as a moistening agent in this regard, delivering an array of flavors and textures.

Sloppy Joe

Sloppy Joes are a nostalgic favorite that remind some folks of carefree summers and others of lunchtime in the school cafeteria. They can be prepared without anyone sweltering in the kitchen for hours on end — and from the Olsen twins stuffing their faces in "It Takes Two" to Adam Sandler serenading the lunch lady, the dish has been around for ages.

Another recipe that was born out of frugality, Sloppy Joes make a little bit go a long way. With only one core ingredient (ground beef), the sandwich filling has ample room for innovation. Chef Trevor Higgins even sweetens his with apple juice. The acidity of tomato helps give the recipe its distinct taste, but ketchup is typically used to achieve that tangy bite. Reaching for an open jar of pasta sauce rather than ketchup saves a step since plenty of seasoning will be added, but don't skip the Worcestershire.


Elegant seafood feasts often star things like lobster bisque, crab cakes, and shrimp cocktail, but cioppino doesn't always get the attention it deserves. A tomato-based stew, this pot of goodness is piled high with assorted seafood that complements its unmistakable stock. It's that rich, powerful broth that gives the soup its distinctive flavor, but it can take time to lock down that delicate, briny taste. By using pasta sauce in place of tomato sauce, you'll get a head start on a flavor that tastes like it has been simmering all day.

Considering this fisherman's stew tends to have a little kick to it, the dregs of a jar of arrabbiata or other spicy pasta sauce make for the perfect thickening option. While it's known as an Italian dish, the original recipe came from San Francisco via Italian-American immigrants looking to utilize cheap seafood from the bay. Such dishes originating from necessity often need to be versatile and prone to improvisation, and cioppino is no exception.


Nothing says comfort food quite like a steaming bowl of chili. The best part about this timeless dish is that everyone has a different recipe that they swear by, and each style has its own set of dedicated fans. There's tex-mex-style chili, chile verde, Hoosier chili, and dozens of other unique takes on the beefy, bean stew. In order to be placed in the chili category, there's really only one requirement and that's an abundance of large flavor profiles that tickle the tongue.

Unexpected seasonings such as cocoa powder can amp up a pot of chili, but so can sauces. A standard chili has a thick, tomato base that requires some slow cooking to capture, which is part of what has pushed the dish to become a crockpot classic. Subbing a jar of tomatoes for whatever pasta sauce is on hand will instantly enhance the dish, further cementing it as a go-to household favorite.