Mama Mia

Whether you're making lasagna, baked ziti, or spaghetti and meatballs, having the perfect pasta sauce is key. Use the right one and it'll seem like you slaved over a pot for hours. Pop open a bad jar, however, and you might as well be eating 99-cent spaghetti from a can. How do you know which is which? That's what we're here for. We tried the "traditional" styles from all the top brands to find out just which sauce is boss. Our rankings follow, with the brands ordered from best to worst.

Barilla Marinara

CALORIES: 70
CARBS: 11 g
PROTEIN: 2 g
FIBER: 3 g
SODIUM: 500 mg

The top of the jarred brands, Barilla Marinara has an old-world, Godfather-worthy blend of onions, basil, and chunky tomatoes that taste as if they might have been ripened on the vine. If you're searching for a superhearty sauce with an authentic, homemade taste, look no further.

Prego Traditional

CALORIES: 120
CARBS: 19 g
PROTEIN: 2 g
FIBER: 3 g
SODIUM: 580 mg

The second-best brand out there, Prego Traditional is chock-full of tomatoes, oregano, and garlic. It's a tad sweet compared with other sauces, but its incredible thickness (as opposed to a watery consistency) more than makes up for it. It's ideal for ziti or rigatoni dishes.

Classico Traditional Sweet Basil

CALORIES: 80
CARBS: 15 g
PROTEIN: 2 g
FIBER: 3 g
SODIUM: 500 mg

True to its name, Classico Traditional is loaded with herbs and large tomato chunks-and, for that added old-world element, it even comes in a mason jar. Use the potent blend of garlic, onion, and basil to cook with, or sub it in as a mild salsa alternative for chips or other snacks.

Newman's Own Marinara Sauce

CALORIES: 70
CARBS: 12 g
PROTEIN: 2 g
FIBER: 1 g
SODIUM: 510 mg

Although it's not god-awful, Newman's Own might give you disturbing flashbacks to the runny pasta served in your school cafeteria. The sauce tastes like it was made with under-ripe tomatoes, and it has an odd hint of licorice flavor that turns mouth-numbing after the first few bites.

Ragú Organic Traditional

CALORIES: 80
CARBS: 11 g
PROTEIN: 2 g
FIBER: 2 g
SODIUM: 510 mg

Who knew the word organic meant free of chemicals, preservatives, and flavor? Ragú Organic Traditional is incredibly bland with nary a sign of spices at all. Think generic tomato soup or a blend of the cheapo sauce used in SpaghettiOs with just a hint of V-8.

Healthy Choice Traditional

CALORIES: 60
CARBS: 13 g
PROTEIN: 2 g
FIBER: 3 g
SODIUM: 400 mg

Healthy Choice just can't win. Although we admire the effort, this is yet another product in a long line of options we've tried that goes completely bust. This time, the problem is the taste - or complete lack thereof. You'd get more kick by dumping tomato paste on your plate.

* Nutritional breakdown per 1/2 cup.

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