Best Pasta Sauces: The best and worst revealed

It's a quick and easy dinner, but is your choice pasta sauce as healthy as you think?

Best pasta sauces
(Image credit: Tesco)

It's a quick and easy dinner, but is your choice pasta sauce as healthy as you think?

Pasta and sauce is a quick and easy meal to make for the whole family, but which shop-bought pasta sauces are best pasta sauces to go for if you're on a calorie-counting diet?

From Loyd Grossman’s Tomato & Chargrilled Vegetables to Sainsbury’s Basic Tomato, we've put together a list of the most popular pasta sauces to the test. With the help of nutritionist Dr Sana Khan, we've rated them for you from worst to best in terms of calories, so you can easily see which ones will keep your calorie intake at its lowest.

Dr Sana Khan says, "Although I am not a fan of preservative rich pasta sauces and would always recommend making a home made one instead, if I had to choose one I would choose the Asda Tomato and Chunky Vegetable sauce.

"From a nutritional perspective, the salt and sugar content isn't as high as some of the others. I would give this sauce a rating of 7/10 for someone who is on a weight loss programme. The good thing is that often with pasta sauces, portion size isn't huge."

Love cooking pasta? We've got loads of delicious pasta recipes right here!

Tesco Finest Tomato & Mascarpone Pasta Sauce

(Image credit: Tesco)

Rating for calorie-counters: 1/10

Cal: 170 *Highest across ALL pasta sauces*

Fat: 13.3g

Saturated fat: 3.9g

Sugar: 8.5g

Salt: 1.2g

Weight: 340g

Price: £1.65 at Tesco

Verdict: With the highest calorie count of all the pasta sauces we've tried, this is not one to buy if you're trying to lose weight. However, for a special occasion or a romantic night in this is a quick and easy choice. Try swapping a side part of garlic bread for green vegetables to claw back calories.

Dr Sana Khan says, " This is a classic example of hidden calories and saturated fat, therefore not ideal for someone wanting to lose weight."

Sacla Italia Tomato & Mascarpone Stir Through Sauce

Best pasta sauces

(Image credit: Ocado)

Rating for calorie-counters: 2/10

Cal: 159

Fat: 14.4g *Highest across ALL pasta sauces*

Saturated fat: 8.5g *Highest across ALL pasta sauces*

Sugar: 4.1g

Salt: 2.7g *Highest across ALL pasta sauces*

Weight: 190g

Price: £1.45 at Tesco

Verdict: As pasta sauces go, this one is certainly tasty although the thick consistency and richness might not be to all of the family's liking. Flavour aside, in terms of healthy eating this is a pasta sauce to avoid eating regularly. While cheese sauces are usually higher on the calorie front than others, we were shocked at the huge levels saturated fat and salt in Sacla's.

Dr Sana Khan says, "The extra salt content in this pasta sauce isn’t great as salt causes water retention and does not help someone who is trying to lose weight and suffers from bloating."

Asda Four Cheese Pasta Sauce

Best pasta sauces

(Image credit: mysupermarket)

Rating for calorie-counters: 5/10

Cal: 121

Fat: 8.2g

Saturated fat: 3.5g

Sugar: 0.8g

Salt: 1.1g

Weight: 310g

Price: £1 at Asda

Verdict: Generally speaking this isn't the healthiest pasta sauce, but in terms of cheese sauces Asda's Four Cheese Pasta Sauce isn't too bad. This is unfortunately reflected in the taste. While it has a creamy texture, it also has a bland flavour and definitely needs extra seasoning. Try adding a clove of garlic and grating some extra cheese on top if you're looking for a treat.

Dr Sana Khan says, "This cheese sauce is not as expensive as others, although the saturated fat intake is 3.5g, in terms of salt and sugar this is not a bad option."

Gefen Mushroom Pasta Sauce

Best pasta sauces

(Image credit: Tesco)

Rating for calorie-counters: 5.5/10

Cal: 80

Fat: 2.5g

Saturated fats: Trace

Sugar: 8g

Salt: less than 0.5g

Weight: 737g

Price: £2.10 at Tesco

Verdict: Gefen is a lesser known brand, but one worth picking up when you see it. Blending tomatoes with sautéed mushrooms is the secret behind its delicious flavour and with low saturated fat and salt levels it's not a bad choice if you're watching your weight either, although it's not one of the cheapest options.

Dr Sana Khan says, "This is not a bad pick for someone on a diet. The price point is a little more expensive, but the sauce has only contains 0.5g salt, 80 calories and 2.5g of sugar."

Bertolli Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce

Best pasta sauces

(Image credit: Bertolli)

Rating for calorie-counters: 6.5/10

Cals: 71

Fat: 5.2g

Saturated fat: 0.6g

Sugar: 5.2g

Salt: 0.5g

Weight: 400g

Price: £1.99 at Waitrose

Verdict: Known for its olive oil, Bertolli has now put its name to a range of pasta sauces. While the price point is higher than the other tomato and Basil sauces we tried, we think it's worth spending the extra money. In fact it's so delicious there's no need for extra seasoning. Plus it's low in saturated fats and isn't bad on the calorie side either. All in all it's a great sauce and a worthy contender - we're hoping there's more flavours to come from Bertolli.

Dr Sana Khan says, "The salt and fat content are on the lower end in this pasta sauce. However, the sugar content is higher than necessary."

Lloyd Grossman Tomato Chargrilled Vegetable Pasta Sauce

Best pasta sauces

(Image credit: Ocado)

Rating for calorie-counters: 7/10

Cals: 65

Fat: 3.2g

Saturated fat: 0.4g

Sugar: 6.0g

Salt: 1.0g

Weight: 350g

Price: £1.80 at Asda

Verdict: There's a lot wrong with this sauce in terms of price and high amounts of fat, sugar and salt, but the taste almost makes up for it. Plus, unlike most of the other vegetable pasta sauces available, this one is jam-packed with chunks of red pepper, yellow pepper, courgette and aubergine. While it's not one that we could afford to buy weekly, it's definitely worth picking up when it's on offer or for a special occasion.

Dolmio Taste of Italy Tomato & Basil Sauce Pasta Sauce

Best pasta sauces

(Image credit: Amazon)

Rating for calorie-counters: 7/10

Cals: 64

Fat: 2.5g

Saturated fat: 0.4g

Sugar: 7.0g

Salt: 0.8g

Weight: 350g

Price: £1.60 at Tesco

Verdict: When you think of pasta the Dolmio advert is usually one of the first things to spring to mind, but we're not convinced that this sauce really does offer the 'taste of Italy' as promised in the name. While the chunks of tomato and basil make it feel more authentic, the overall taste is slightly disappointing. However this range is often on offer and makes a good base for ratatouille (opens in new tab) or spag bol.

Jamie Oliver Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce

Best pasta sauces

(Image credit: Ocado)

Rating for calorie-counters: 7/10

Cals: 60

Fat: 2.4g

Saturated fat: 0.4g

Sugar: 6.0g

Salt: 0.5g

Weight: 350g

Price: £1.71 at Tesco

Verdict: For an advocate of healthy eating, Jamie Oliver's Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce isn't the healthiest sauce we've come across, or the most cost effective, but it does have the taste factor. The rich tomatoey sauce has enough flavour to be used on its own with pasta, but we've found it works great as a Bolognese sauce too.

Sharon Stocker

Best pasta sauces

Rating for calorie-counters: 7.5/10

Cals: 50

Fat: 0.8g

Saturated fat: 0.1g

Sugar: 7.0g

Salt: 0.7g

Weight: 500g

Price: £1.99 at Tesco

Verdict: It's one of the most famous pasta sauces and with tomatoes making up 80% of the recipe, Ragu Traditional Pasta Sauce doesn't disappoint in terms of flavour. It's worth noting the high sugar content though, especially if this is the base ingredient for a regular family meal. To ramp up the nutritional value try adding chunks of fresh vegetables.

Tesco Chunky Vegetable Pasta Sauce

Best pasta sauces

(Image credit: Tesco)

Rating for calorie-counters: 8/10

Cals: 43

Fat: 0.9g

Saturated fat: 0.1g

Sugar: 6.4g

Salt: 0.9g

Weight: 500g

Price: 88p from Tesco

Verdict: Tesco's Chunky Vegetable Pasta Sauce is low in calories, but if you're serving it to the whole family, it's worth noting that it contains a whopping 18% of your recommended daily intake of salt.