The Secret Ingredient That Gives Jarred Pasta Sauce An Umami Upgrade

Sometimes, depending on what jarred pasta sauce you buy, out of the jar, the sauce can be, admittedly, a little too tarty, sweet, or a tad too bland. Luckily, there's a secret ingredient that gives jarred pasta sauce an umami upgrade, and it's none other than monosodium glutamate, or MSG. 

Like table salt, MSG is a flavor enhancer and food additive. Historically, myths, misconceptions, and stigma have surrounded MSG, making it an ingredient people were afraid to use; however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed MSG generally safe for consumption. Researchers have not found a conclusive link between MSG consumption and developing "Chinese restaurant syndrome" or negative reactions such as headaches and numbness. And unlike table salt, MSG contains less sodium. By replacing half the salt you use with MSG, you can reduce your sodium intake by 40%. Perhaps it's time we stop guarding MSG as a secret ingredient. After all, we've uncovered how MSG is also the not-so-secret ingredient to upgrade fried chicken batter. Additionally, MSG adds an instant umami punch to your cocktails and mocktails. Thus, adding MSG to jarred pasta sauce will elevate its savoriness and flavors.

Ready to add MSG to elevate your jarred pasta sauce? If you usually season your sauce with a teaspoon of salt, instead of using the full amount, use 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of MSG. If the sauce tastes salty enough, omit the salt and just add 1/2 a teaspoon MSG to enhance the savoriness.

Add MSG to jarred and made-from-scratch pasta sauces to enhance flavors

Now you know what MSG is and how it is not bad for you. However, since MSG does contain sodium, it's good to enjoy it in moderation, as you would enjoy other seasonings, like salt, pepper, and sugar. Some people may still experience mild short-term reactions when eating MSG. Likewise, with salt, too much sodium consumption can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and dehydration. 

MSG also works perfectly in jarred pasta sauce, especially when the sauce is tomato, cheese (like Parmesan), or mushroom-based. The reason is these foods all have naturally occurring glutamates or their own organic form of MSG. The addition of MSG enhances and amplifies the umami flavors of tomatoes, cheeses, and mushrooms in your jarred pasta sauce. If you need a recommendation for the best-jarred pasta sauce to add MSG to, we've ranked 15 popular pasta sauce brands.

Note that you don't have to reserve adding MSG to only your jarred pasta sauces. If you're making a pasta sauce from scratch, like our quick tomato sauce recipe, incorporate MSG to enhance the sauce's flavors. Additionally, we've covered the 11 absolute best ways to use MSG, so MSG can be your secret ingredient to give almost any dish an umami upgrade. Don't save it just for just for pasta night.