This sauce is the boss: Try this 1-ingredient upgrade for better store-bought tomato sauce

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Store-bought tomato sauce is a popular pantry staple in many households, and it comes in handy when you’re making pasta dishes, soups, or even homemade pizzas. I always have some on hand to season with oregano and ladle over my baked pizza-stuffed bell peppers, which are capped with melty mozzarella and crisped-up pepperoni. These have become a regular in my work-from-home lunch rotation.

The store-bought stuff isn’t going to be as flavorful as a homemade sauce that slowly simmers, with garlic and basil flavors adding depth and homegrown tomatoes amping up the flavor. But grabbing for a jar works in a pinch when you’ve got to make a quick meal.

So, it piqued my attention when I saw a one-ingredient addition that promises to level up jars of regular old tomato sauce. Even better, it’s something many of us already have around. Dietitian Sara Haas shared on Simply Recipes that she adds a little bit of butter to jarred tomato sauce to elevate it.

a block of butter

Add a tablespoon or two of butter when you’re simmering store-bought pasta sauce, recommends dietitian Sara Haas. The butter adds to the flavor.

“Butter works because it adds body to the sauce, making it feel more luxurious and creamy,” she wrote. “The flavor is subtle and balances the natural acidity of the tomatoes. Butter can turn any store-bought pasta sauce into something a little more special.”

You don’t want to go too overboard with the butter. Haas explains that just a tablespoon or two will do for a 24-ounce jar of tomato sauce, such as Rao’s popular marinara. If you’re keeping tabs on sodium, unsalted butter is the way to go.

Family makes pasta dish with Rao's sauce


$20 for 3-pack at Walmart

When you’re heating up your sauce on the stove, just add in your pats of butter. Let them melt and stir the butter into your sauce.

I love the idea of a richer tomato sauce with butter! But there are other tricks to make jarred sauce tastier, too.

One of my other tricks for fancifying store-bought sauce or soup is to add a tablespoon or two of sour cream. It thickens everything up and adds a nice tang and some extra flavor. Tasting Table agrees, noting that the fact that sour cream is fermented with lactic acid helps balance out the sweetness of a tomato sauce while imparting sharpness and creaminess.

a pot of sour cream with a spoon held by someone


If the store-bought sauce I have on hand is a little bland, I also like to dial up the acidity with a splash of red wine vinegar.

Looking for some more tips for elevating your pasta sauce? Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Mix in some freshly minced or roasted garlic. I also like to take a piece of roasted garlic and rub it on the bottom of my pan.
  • Sauté finely chopped onions and mix them into the sauce.
  • Add some heat with red pepper flakes or a Calabrian chili paste.

What are some of your tricks for making jarred tomato sauce your own?

This article originally appeared on SimpleMost and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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