Consumer report: Store-bought pasta sauce that tastes homemade

Nothing compares to homemade tomato sauce, but few of us have the time to make our own.

The choices in the store seem endless — but are there sauces that really taste like homemade? Consumer Reports just tested 20 to find out. They included big names like Barilla, Bertolli, Francesco Rinaldi, Prego, and Ragu, plus two celebrity chef sauces from Giada De Laurentiis and Mario Batali. Also in the taste tests were two store brands from Walmart and Whole Foods.

An excellent sauce should have the flavor of ripe tomatoes. It should have a freshly prepared impression, and the flavors should be balanced.

Test results were mixed. Hunt's Traditional, the least expensive sauce, was the least tasty. It had a sourness to it as well as a soapy, perfumey off-note.

And Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value Classic Marinara Pasta Sauce wasn't much better. But don't despair!

The top sauces tasted freshly prepared and could pass for homemade. One of the best at a good price was Giada De Laurentiis' Tomato Basil Sauce from Target. It's excellent. It's well balanced, tastes very fresh, and has a buttery richness.

If you don't have a Target near you, two other marinara sauces rated excellent from Victoria and Mario Batali.

Consumer Reports says don't assume that all sauces by a particular manufacturer will taste just as good … or bad. Bertolli's tomato and basil sauce is very good, but its marinara sauce rated lower, with a somewhat sour taste.

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