The Number One Tip For Choosing The Best Store-Bought Tomato Sauce

Pasta is one of the simplest — and most delicious — meals that you can make at home. It's brilliantly versatile, allowing you to add as few or as many extra ingredients as you want, and it's very convenient, thanks to the ease of boxed pasta. Besides choosing the type of pasta you want, there's one other key ingredient to think about: the pasta sauce. If you're going the most traditional route, you'll likely go with a tomato sauce.

So how do you go about choosing the best store-bought tomato sauce? Well, there's one key tip: Choose the tomato sauce that has whole tomatoes listed as the first ingredient. That way, you know you're getting a natural sauce that will be full of real tomato flavor, as the ingredient with the greatest quantity is always listed first. Lower quality sauces might have the tomatoes halfway down the ingredient list — and you can imagine how different the two can taste from one another.

So what are some examples of the best store-bought tomato sauces?

There are plenty of high quality store-bought tomato sauces to choose from

Firstly, let's start with some of the store-brand sauces you may find at your local grocery stores. Trader Joe's, for one, boasts a well-made tomato sauce — take its Bolognese Style Tomato and Beef sauce or Spicy Chunky Tomato & Pepper sauce, both of which have whole peeled tomatoes as the top ingredient. Meanwhile, Whole Foods' 365 brand also has an organic Tomato Basil pasta sauce that lists diced tomatoes as the first ingredient.

Here at Tasting Table, we have even ranked the pasta sauce brands you can buy in store. The sauces which made the top two spots offer two more great options for you. At number two is Victoria, which is a brand that is dedicated to quality ingredients; they never add preservatives, water, or sugar to their premium sauces. Each jar has so few ingredients that the company puts them right on the front of the jar — the classic marinara, for example, consists of just imported Italian tomatoes, imported olive oil, fresh garlic, basil, onion, sea salt, and spices.

And the number one spot went to Rao's Homemade sauces, which have an ingredient list quite similar to Victoria's — with tomatoes right at the top. Each jar of marinara sauce contains only Italian whole peeled tomatoes, olive oil, onion, salt, garlic, basil, black pepper, and oregano.