Kitchn Love Letters

I Tried Rao’s Homemade’s Newest Jarred Pasta Sauce (and It’s Even Better than the Original)

published Jun 5, 2022
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Credit: Rochelle Bilow

I live in a household of Rao’s Homemade fans. Sure, it’s just my boyfriend and me. But I like to think my dogs would also go to bat for the iconic red sauce joint and their line of jarred sauces and condiments. I always keep a few jars of Rao’s Homemade original marinara on hand for pasta emergencies (regular occurrences around these parts), and I truly live for their Limited Reserve releases. After trying their latest spin on marinara, I’m pretty sure it’s their best one yet.

Credit: Rochelle Bilow

Rao’s Homemade’s newest sauce is Cardoncelli Mushroom Marinara. Although the ingredient list is simple — tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, white wine, carrots, garlic, basil, and spices — this is so much better than your average mushroom sauce. The reason? It’s all about the type of mushrooms used. 

Cardoncelli mushrooms, as I have learned since practically inhaling two jars of this sauce, are from the Mediterranean region (around Puglia), and are prized for their savory, umami-heavy flavor and texture. Too often, mushrooms fade into the background of pasta sauces and end up being nothing more than an unidentified chewy bit. But these meaty mushrooms are stunningly flavorful — and aromatic. You can smell them as soon as you crack open the jar. At least, I could.

Credit: Rochelle Bilow

I first cooked with this sauce on a rainy weeknight when I didn’t feel up for a complicated cooking adventure. The beauty of the Cardoncelli Mushroom Marinara is that it’s simple and hearty. With just a package of dried pasta, a grating of Parm, and a few pieces of basil, dinner was done. One pot. One very happy cook.

The 19-ounce jar retails for $13, and I think it’s worth every penny. In fact, halfway through our meal, I observed that I liked it even better than Rao’s Homemade’s original. Those may have been fighting words for my boyfriend, an original Rao’s Homemade devotee. Instead, he agreed: Everything about this jar was superior.

Buy: Rao’s Homemade Cardoncelli Mushroom Marinara, $13.00 for 19 ounces at Rao’s Homemade

Of course, the flavor is worthy of the “chef’s kiss” emoji. But what sealed the deal for me was the texture. Silky, with satisfying big hunks of roma tomato and mushroom, this is a sauce that can stand up to plenty of different pasta shapes. I’m thinking it’d be brilliant in a baked penne situation. I also have plans to make pizza with it. And quite possibly poached eggs. In other words? It’s perfect.

The sauce, along with two other pantry items (white balsamic and balsamic onion compote), hits shelves on Labor Day. But you can buy the trio of releases online right now. (Rao’s Homemade subscribers got to try it a week early. It pays to be a nerdy fan.) Don’t wait too long to order yours. Like all of Rao’s Homemade Limited Reserve items, the Mushroom Marinara is made in small batches, and is only available until it sells out. And you’re going to have to beat me to the checkout.

What’s your favorite Rao’s Homemade sauce? Tell us in the comments below.