What is Pasta Sauce?  

Pasta sauce is an amazing way to add complex flavor and texture to a dish without adding a lot of unhealthy ingredients. It also provides a way to get sauces in every imaginable flavor from smooth and creamy to chunky and flavorful. Essentially, pasta sauce is an Italian style combination of tomatoes and other vegetables or ingredients such as garlic, onions, basil, and oregano. If you’re looking to take your next pasta dish to the next level, read on to discover the ultimate guide to pasta sauces.

Types of Pasta Sauce  

Pasta sauce comes in a wide variety of flavors and textures that all provide deliciousness in their own unique way. The three most common types of pasta sauce include marinara, alfredo, and pesto.

Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is typically made by combining tomatoes, garlic, onions, and herbs to create a robust and flavorful sauce. Marinara sauce typically has a bright, acidic flavor and can range from smooth to chunky depending on the cook’s preference.

Alfredo Sauce

Alfredo sauce is a rich and creamy pasta sauce that is typically made by combining butter, cream, and cheese. Alfredo sauce has a savory, cheesy flavor and is perfect for any pasta dish.

Pesto Sauce

Pesto sauce is a unique and flavorful sauce made from blending herbs, garlic, nuts, and oil. Pesto is typically bright green in color and has a zesty, creamy flavor.

Health Benefits of Pasta Sauce  

One of the best things about pasta sauce is that it is incredibly healthy. While traditional pasta sauces are made with fresh ingredients, most store-bought sauces have added sugar and unhealthy fats.


Tomatoes are a great source of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that can help fight off free radicals and reduce inflammation. Even store-bought sauces typically have tomatoes which adds some nutritional value.


Garlic is rich in allicin and other antioxidants which can lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation. It is a great way to add flavor and health benefits to any pasta dish.


Fresh herbs like basil, oregano, and parsley are loaded with nutrients such as Vitamin A, C and E, as well as antioxidants. They are an excellent way to add flavor and nutrition to any pasta sauce.

Healthy Ways to Enjoy Pasta Sauce  

When making your pasta, there are plenty of ways to add in extra health benefits without sacrificing flavor. Here are some of the best ways to maintain a healthy diet while still enjoying delicious pasta sauce.

Making Your Own

If you’re concerned about added sugar or unhealthy fats in store-bought sauce, then making your own pasta sauce is the perfect way to control what goes into the dish. You can make a simple sauce by blending crushed tomatoes, garlic, herbs and a pinch of salt.

Adding Protein

Adding extra protein such as chicken, turkey, or even tofu, is a great way to make your pasta even more nutritious. It also makes the dish more filling and helps prevent overeating.

Using Whole Grain Pasta

Whole grain pasta is full of fiber and other essential vitamins and minerals, as well as more complex carbohydrates than traditional pasta. Aim to use whole grain pasta when possible to help get in even more nutrients.

Swapping Creamy Sauces

If you like creamy sauces like Alfredo, try swapping them for lighter, healthier options like Greek yogurt or a pureed vegetable based sauce. This will add flavor and nutrition without all the unhealthy calories.

Best Ingredients to Make the Perfect Pasta Sauce  

Making the perfect pasta sauce involves more than just a few simple ingredients. Here are some of the best ingredients to use when making your next pasta sauce.


Garlic is a must for any good pasta sauce. It adds complex flavor as well as health benefits. Use fresh garlic to ensure the best flavor.


Tomatoes are an essential part of any pasta sauce. Aim to use fresh tomatoes if possible, but canned tomatoes also work in a pinch.


Onions add sweetness and a great depth of flavor to pasta sauce. Use a sweet onion or Vidalia onion for the best flavor.


Don’t forget herbs! They are the perfect way to round out the flavor of the sauce. Try basil, oregano, or parsley for best results.


Using a good quality olive oil adds a punch of flavor to the sauce, as well as healthy fats.


Cheese is a great way to make a store-bought sauce more flavorful. Grate a little Parmigiano Reggiano or Asiago over the top of a simple store-bought sauce to add amazing flavor.


Vegetables are an excellent way to add nutrition and flavor to a sauce. Try adding bell peppers, mushrooms, or spinach to your next sauce.

Best Ways to Cook with Pasta Sauce  

For more than just a basic pasta dinner, there are plenty of creative and delicious ways to cook with pasta sauce.

On Pizza

Try using pasta sauce instead of traditional tomato or pizza sauce for an amazing personal pizza.

As a Dip

Another delicious option is to use pasta sauce as a dip. Use it with chips or vegetables for an amazing, healthy snack.

As a Garnish

Add pasta sauce as a garnish for a delicious and flavorful way to add complexity to any dish.

In Casseroles
Pasta sauce is an amazing way to add flavor to any casserole. Try a combination of vegetables, whole grain pasta, and pasta sauce for a nutritious dinner.

On Sandwiches

Swap traditional condiments for pasta sauce on sandwiches and wraps to add a delicious and complex flavor.

Pasta sauce is the perfect way to add complexity and flavor to any pasta dish. There are three main types of pasta sauce—marinara, alfredo, and pesto—as well as a huge variety of flavors and textures when making your own pasta sauce. Making a hearty marinara sauce with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and herbs is a great way to add nutrition and flavor.

Using whole grain pasta, as well as adding extra protein, are great ways to help make healthier pasta dishes. There are plenty of creative ways to cook with pasta sauce as well, such as using it as a dip, a garnish, in casseroles, and even on sandwiches. Whatever way you choose to prepare it, pasta sauce is an amazing way to elevate any pasta dish.