Do Your Pasta A Favor And Avoid Barilla Jarred Marinara Sauce

We've all been there before; hungry for pasta, but without either the time or the desire to labor over a pot of sauce. So, you head out in search of a jarred sauce only to be bowled over by the crush of options. Which one is the best? That is, of course, subjective, but we can tell you which brand has consistently let us down. Barilla may be a renowned brand in the dried pasta market, but its marinara sauce has garnered poor reviews. Tasting Table recently tried out 15 popular pasta sauce brands and ranked Barilla marinara sauce at the bottom of our list, with our intrepid reviewers citing its cloying sweetness and watery consistency as the major flaws.

Marinara sauce is traditionally known for its balance of tangy tomatoes and savory herbs, but Barilla's version leans heavily on the sweet side. This overpowering sweetness can be off-putting to those expecting a more nuanced flavor profile. Additionally, the sauce's consistency tends to be thin and watery, lacking the rich texture that is characteristic of a well-made marinara.

These flaws proved to be just too much for Barilla's marinara sauce. It should be noted though, that it was up against some heavy-hitters that we naturally suggest you gravitate towards when shopping for jarred pasta sauce. Available at most grocery stores, Carbone and Rao's Homemade took our top two spots, with our reviewers noting the minimal-processing of both sauces and the robust flavors in every jar.

Can this sauce be saved?

Let's say though you find yourself with a jar of Barilla marinara sauce and want to salvage it, there are ways to improve its taste and texture. This may fly in the face of why you purchased a jarred sauce in the first place, but if you want a delicious meal, it's worth it to put in the work.

One method is to counteract the sweetness by adding savory, salty, or acidic ingredients. Incorporating ingredients such as anchovies, lemon juice, capers, or briny olives can help balance out the sweetness and add depth to the sauce. So too can sausage, pork, chicken, or even a bit of stock be added to buffet the onslaught of sweetness in the Barilla sauce.

Reducing the wateriness, on the other hand, is likely going to take some time. Reducing the sauce on the stovetop will thicken its consistency. Simmering the sauce uncovered allows excess liquid to evaporate, resulting in a tighter marinara. Just make sure to reduce the sauce over low heat and stir it regularly to ensure that it doesn't scorch on the bottom. Also, keep in mind this will also concentrate the flavors and sweetness, which makes adding ingredients that counter it all the more important.