I’d love to be the kind of person who always whips up a homemade pasta sauce to accompany a bowl of penne or linguine noodles, but life gets busy and sometimes it just isn’t in the cards. I used to grab whatever store-bought sauce was on sale and sounded appetizing. Then, I heard a podcast where a nutritionist talked about how pasta sauces are one of the worst culprits for added sugar, and I began to look more closely at the labels on my favorite sauces.
I was shocked to learn that some products had 12 grams per serving, the equivalent of three teaspoons of sugar and almost as much as a Pop-Tart. To be fair, some sugar is a natural byproduct of the tomatoes and other wholesome ingredients, but it’s the added sugars that are worrisome and, frankly, unnecessary. I embarked on a quest to find a healthier alternative that was both hearty and heart-friendly. Here are some tried-and-true favorites, all with 6 grams of sugar or less, that are available at most grocery stores or online.
This sauce is about as good as it gets with just 1 gram of sugar, but don’t assume that less sugar equals less flavor. The tomatoes are grown in Southern Italy, where a volcanic soil gives them a natural sweetness. The same brand also makes a puttanesca sauce, a spicy arrabbiata, and a spinach marinara.
This sauce has a loyal following, particularly among those with special dietary needs. Even their chianti- and burgundy-infused blends boast only 2 grams of sugar.
This sauce—with 3 grams of sugar—hails from the Bronx and is beloved by celebrity chefs.
California farms yield these organic tomatoes “picked at the peak of flavor.” Fans praise the tart flavor, texture, and the fact that it only has 4 grams of sugar.
This company is owned by an Italian-American family from New York and it shows thanks to the heaping chunks of tomatoes and garlic and the inclusion of fresh basil. Each serving has only 5 grams of sugar.
This veggie-forward sauce is a medley of two different types of tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and carrots. It’s also available in a straightforward, yet equally delicious, plain marinara. Both varieties have 5 grams of sugar.
With 6 grams of sugar, this jar comes in a little higher than the others, but is still a solid option in a pinch. Priced at around $4, it’s also one of the more affordable sauces.