The Store-Bought Alfredo Sauce You Should Always Have On Your Shopping List

Most store-bought Alfredo sauces lack the authenticity of homemade versions, making you wish you'd whipped out your saucepan and spatula instead. Except for Giovanni Rana's, which we ranked first after trying 14 different jarred Alfredo sauce brands. Right out of the gate, this store-bought jar sets itself apart with an impressive ingredient list. It begins with heavy cream, followed by water then Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, a welcome contrast from sauces that list water first. Any pasta fan knows that Alfredo sauce is all about delivering that dairy taste and mouthfeel — yes, even if it's a vegan sauce. It's why vegan varieties use buttery nuts (such as cashews) as a base to achieve the original, fatty experience. 

With heavy cream as the principal ingredient, Giovanni Rana's sauce is a richer, creamier pasta sauce, so a little will go a long way. That said, the sauce's taste is ultimately where the money is at. It expertly combines Parmigiano Reggiano and pecorino Romano cheeses to push tangy flavors made subtle by heavy cream's sweet tinge. You can pick up a pungent, saline punch seasoned with garlic aromas in every bite, delivering the ultimate savory experience. Those who have tasted this premium sauce would likely agree that it measures up to homemade versions, trailing behind only by a few inches.

Exactly what a store-bought Alfredo sauce should be

Giovanni Rana Alfredo sauce sets the bar for what a store-bought version should be: flavorful, rich, and outright delicious. Anything less will require that you tweak it with additional ingredients or cooking techniques, and at that point, you might as well make your own from scratch. But if you don't have the time, a quick scan of the ingredient list should set you in the right direction to land the perfect store-bought Alfredo sauce. A sauce that begins with dairy ingredients is likely to finish strong in both texture and taste. Heavy cream ensures a thick, full-bodied sauce (plus the mixture won't separate into a gelatinous mess).

Other qualities to look out for in a store-bought sauce include its ability to cling to pasta and whether it has an aftertaste. Unfortunately, you can't tell a sauce's "clingability" by merely looking through its jar, but you will eventually see it once the sauce encounters your pasta. As for being saddled with a sauce with a chemical aftertaste, we think it might be among the most unsalvageable types. Even our advice of adding a drizzle of infused oil won't work here, since such a sauce overbears pasta with a harsh flavor that'll make you rue the day you bought it.