Kitchn Love Letters

This “Beloved” Jarred Pasta Sauce Tastes Even Better Than Homemade (No, It’s Not Rao’s)

published Jul 9, 2024
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Overhead view of spaghetti on a cream colored plate, topped with cheese and basil.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Brett Regot

This past June, I got the chance to go to my first-ever Fancy Food Show held at the Javits Center in New York City. The convention features food brands from all over the world showcasing the new (and existing) products shoppers can look forward to in the coming year. With thousands of booths, there was no way I could sample every item there. But from what I tried, I can tell you you’re in for a treat. 

Be prepared for delicious snacks, luxurious spreads, fun and fruity beverages (both alcoholic and nonalcoholic), and even more innovations in the plant-based food world. One of the booths, adorned with New Jersey license plates and an old-fashioned red truck, caught my eye: Hoboken Farms. The family-owned business specializes in an array of tomato-based pasta sauces. 

As a Jersey girl (born and raised), I’m well aware the Garden State is known for growing some of the best — and juiciest — tomatoes in the country. So without question I had to try the Hoboken Farms sauce and see what my home state had to offer. 

Credit: Y

What You Should Know About Hoboken Farms Marinara Sauce

Hoboken Farms got its start in 1992, originally selling its jarred sauce at local farmers markets. To this day, you can still spot booths at markets in New York and New Jersey. If you don’t live in the area, don’t worry. The tomato-based sauces, including Marinara, Basil Marinara, Low Sodium Marinara, and Vodka Sauce, are available at several national and regional retailers, including Whole Foods Market, ShopRite, and Stop & Shop, as well as Amazon (sold in packs of two) and Instacart

The sauces are made with minimal ingredients and no preservatives or added sugars. They’re also gluten free, non GMO, vegan, and made in New Jersey. 

The classic Marinara sauce (the one I tasted at the expo) is made with whole tomatoes, olive oil, fresh onion and garlic, sea salt, basil, and spices. Cutting zero corners, the sauce has three times the amount of olive oil than many others on the market, which helps balance out the acidity of the tomatoes and adds a luscious texture. (You may find it pools at the top of the jar, so be sure to shake your sauce before opening). 

They’ve received some pretty high praises, too. Described as “sauce-um” by beloved fans, Hoboken Farms was named best marinara sauce in the country by The Wall Street Journal in a blind taste test. The Cake Boss and fellow New Jerseyan Buddy Valastro says it’s “the absolute no holds barred best sauce ever!” 

Credit: Mara Weinraub

My Honest Review of Hoboken Farms Marinara Sauce

The Marinara is bright and fresh with a slight tang. The flavors of the sweet tomatoes really shine through — like they’ve been stewing on the stove for hours — and I could see whole chunks in the sauce. It just shows what a world of difference fresh, local, seasonal produce makes.

There’s a nice depth of flavor from the garlic, onions, and spices, and the hint of fresh basil gave it some lift. It wasn’t too thick and coated the spoon nicely. I’d say it gives your current favorite jarred sauce a run for its money. 

Mara Weinraub, Senior Groceries Editor, agrees saying, “This sauce is good! It’s bright and well-seasoned and very much reminds me of the sauce my mom made when I was growing up.” I totally get the whole farmers market roots.”

I could totally see this being a great base for pizza, layered in a lasagna, spooned on top of eggplant Parmesan, or in a heaping bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. I’ll certainly be adding a jar to my cart, plus it’s always great to support local farmers. 

Buy: Hoboken Farms Marinara, $9.98 for 25 ounces at Instacart

Have you tried Hoboken Farms Marinara? Tell us about it in the comments below.