I Tried 8 Jarred Alfredo Sauces And The Winner Is A True Dairy Queen

I eat a lot of pasta. I like it very much Sophia Loren’s famous quote, “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti”, should be tattooed on my forehead.

However, if I’m being completely honest, my favorite sauce is never a creamy Alfredo. Give me a marinara, a bolognese, an arrabbiata or even a cacio e pepe. But an alfredo? No, not quite…or at least the American jarred varieties that are a far cry from their buttery and Parmesan roots.

I know what you’re probably thinking: Who hates cream, butter, cheese, and salt? I don’t. In fact, I think the combination is *kiss from the chef*. The problem with many alfredos is that they are simply too heavy and cover the noodles like a Canada Goose jacket in the summer. Or they’re just too bland…essentially Elmer’s Glue masquerading as seasoning. No, thanks.

So this week’s taste test is another example of “take one for the team” which will work to your advantage because you were going to be hypercritical. I wanted an alfredo that didn’t feel weighed down by a heavy consistency or marred by a complete lack of flavor. Here’s how eight of the most popular brands compare.

(Sorry, vegans. I didn’t include dairy-free options because they would have been beaten by the dairy-filled competition. Honestly, those jars deserve a separate ranking.)

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Botticelli Alfredo Sauce (Botticelli Food)


I found this jar quite puzzling. It’s the most authentic Italian of all, with ingredients like ricotta coming straight from the homeland, but it was quite bland and had an unpleasant bitter aftertaste. I thought maybe my palate had gotten used to Americanized imitations, but as someone who travels to Italy every year, I can guarantee any chef would be “ma che vuoi?” -ing dramatically if I asked for this to top my pasta.

Newman's Own Alfredo Pasta Sauce.  (Amazon)

Newman’s Own Alfredo Pasta Sauce. (Amazon)

There was a hint of garlic that I welcomed with open arms (and my tongue terrified of the inevitable bad breath), but it was kind of bland and boring. Honestly, I would find myself throwing absurd amounts of spices and herbs like cayenne pepper and oregano into this mix, which would then beg the question: Why am I having an Alfredo in the first place? I will say that I loved the texture, not too thick, not too runny, the Goldilocks of the bunch, if you will.

6. Trader Giotto’s Alfredo Pasta Sauce

Trader Joe's Alfredo Pasta Sauce.  (Amazon)

Trader Joe’s Alfredo Pasta Sauce. (Amazon)

The Good: Hints of black pepper and a very cheesy base make this one of the most palatable flavors on this list. The bad: Needs a bit more salt, which is ironic because I find most Trader Joe’s food to be overly seasoned. The ugly: The mouthfeel. Gritty and borderline sandpaper. He ruined it for me, which is a bummer because he probably would have been a top three pick.

Classic Alfredo Ragu Sauce.  (ragout)

Classic Alfredo Ragu Sauce. (ragout)

This is where things took a turn for the better. The Ragu recipe had a great balance of flavor, so it’s likely that you’ll incorporate it into recipes beyond pasta, like a grilled chicken bake or even a creamy sauce. And while I still wish it had a little more depth when it came to its cheeses, there was no trace of a horrible aftertaste or any kind of artificiality. A win-win.

Classic Creamy Alfredo Sauce.  (Amazon)

Classic Creamy Alfredo Sauce. (Amazon)

This probably knew more different on this list, but different was good… maybe even great! The richness of the egg yolks, cheese, and butter provided a wonderful top that, while not “classic,” was very much Classico (I feel like all of their sauces, hit or miss, are very different from his way). I know it may also be breaking the rules to recommend an iteration beyond the standard (in order to continue judging consistently), but you should go for the brand’s Roasted Garlic flavor for a product that’s even better than the OG.

Bertolli Alfredo sauce.  (Bertolli)

Bertolli Alfredo sauce. (Bertolli)

Aged Parmesan can be a bit polarizing as it has a stronger flavor, but Bertolli did a great job of maintaining the integrity of the cheese without overpowering the sauce. And while it was certainly on the floppier side, I’d much rather have something dripping into the crevices of my macarons than sit on top of the plate like a bed of hot glue.

You're welcome Homemade Alfredo Sauce.  (Please)

You’re welcome Homemade Alfredo Sauce. (Please)

If loving Prego Homestyle Alfredo is wrong, I don’t want to be right. This was surprisingly silky smooth and wrapped around each strand of pasta as if they were meant to be together forever. Like Newman’s Own, it also incorporated that necessary bite of garlic to add a little more complexity to each bite. And at less than $3 a bottle, this product is a real bargain.

Alfredo de Rao sauce.  (from Rao)

Alfredo de Rao sauce. (from Rao)

Unsurprisingly, my top pick for jarred marinara took home top honors, once again, with another boss sauce I’ve already added to my arsenal of beloved Italian ingredients. Rao’s boasted a wonderfully rustic texture and a bold, memorable flavor of real cheese and spices, taking it away from the one-note atrocities I’ve long associated with what should be a deliciously creamy, cheesy concoction. Maybe now I’ve converted and can call myself a certified lover of Alfredo.*

*Not happening. Give me all the tomatoes.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com