A good jarred pasta sauce is hard to find. Even painstakingly average grocery stores offer dozens of options, ranging from swill to swank, and to say they're all the same is fat lie: fatter than the creamiest alfredo, and don't even get me started about price points. Sauce matters -- it's the only thing keeping us from consuming naked, tasteless noodles just lying there in a limp tangle. So, to help you avoid a surefire bout of depression, we've rounded up a group of the country's top store-bought marinara sauces and ranked the best of the best.
First, we whittled down a lengthy list of 26 simple marinaras to nine standouts by testing them on their own, dunking a simple chunk of Italian bread into the jars, and eating them cold. The brands able to hold their own under this worst-case scenario moved on to the final round, warmed up and served atop spaghetti. We judged them on aroma, flavor balance, and coating ability. Here's how the jars stacked up.