The Easiest Way to Make a Jar of Pasta Sauce Taste Homemade

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Some nights or, let’s be honest, most weeknights, a complicated dinner isn’t an option. But that doesn’t mean you have to order takeout. The beauty of a jar of pasta sauce is that it really is an instant meal (so long as you have a box of pasta handy, of course).

A simple dinner of spaghetti tossed in jarred marinara is something I grew up on when nights were busy and from-scratch sauce wasn’t an option. And while there’s nothing wrong with this dump-and-stir dinner, there’s actually a ridiculously easy way to make that jarred sauce taste a little more homemade.

The best part? There are no extra ingredients required — no chopping of onions or mincing of garlic or raiding your spice cabinet.

The Secret to Making Jarred Pasta Sauce Taste Homemade

All you need to do to improve the flavor of a jar of pasta sauce is simmer it on the stove for a bit until it reduces slightly. This allows the flavors to concentrate and deepen, which is exactly what makes homemade tomato sauce taste so good — it has the time to develop a rich, more rounded profile. Give jarred sauce a little time to do the same and it can taste a whole lot closer to homemade.

Simply pour the sauce into a small saucepan while you’re going about boiling your pasta. Let it come to a boil, then reduce the heat so that the sauce gently bubbles. Keep the simmer going for about 10 minutes or so, until you’ve noticed that the sauce has reduced and thickened a little, but is still saucy. Then go ahead and toss it with your pasta (and a bit of reserved pasta water) and twirl away.

Do you have any tricks to improving jarred pasta sauce?