Best tomato pasta sauce for bolognese
In October 2020, we pitted big-brand tomato bolognese pasta sauces from Dolmio and Loyd Grossman against cheaper supermarket alternatives, from the likes of Aldi, Asda and Tesco.
Just one pasta sauce impressed enough to be named a Best Buy, and the favoured sauce wasn't one of the branded options.
A branded sauce wasn't far behind, but our top pick will both taste great and make pasta night significantly cheaper, as it's less than half the price.
One supermarket own-brand might disappoint loyal shoppers - its pasta sauce was considered too sharp and lacking balanced flavour, earning it the lowest score overall.
Best tomato pasta sauce
Only Which? members can view our full results and tasting notes below, and discover which pasta sauces we rated highest. If you're not yet a member, you can see which pasta sauces we tested below, listed in alphabetical order.
All prices correct as of December 2020.
Aldi Cucina Bolognese Pasta Sauce
49p for 500g
Aldi’s Cucina Bolognese Sauce is the cheapest on test at only 10p per ml. Find out if its a bargain worth stocking up on, or if you’re better off shopping for a more expensive alternative.
Asda Bolognese Pasta Sauce
59p for 500g
Is Asda’s cheap pasta sauce ideal as a base for your bolognese? Read our review to find out whether it impressed our tasters enough to become the family favourite.
Co-op Italian Bolognese Pasta Sauce
85p for 500g
Co-op labels its Bolognese Pasta Sauce as Italian, but how authentic is the taste? See what our tasters thought.
Want to buy without reading our results? Available from Co-op.
Dolmio Original Bolognese Pasta Sauce
£1.99 for 750g
Dolmio is passionate about food and the nation is passionate about this sauce - it’s one of the best-selling brands across the UK. So does this make it the best or does your local supermarket offer the same, if not better, taste for less?
Loyd Grossman Bolognese Pasta Sauce
£2 for 660g
Loyd Grossman promises that with his Bolognese Original sauce ‘you always get vibrant flavour’. Read our results to see how the flavour compares with supermarket offerings.
M&S Made in Italy Italian Tomato Pasta Sauce
£1.80 for 550g
This M&S tomato pasta sauce is made in Italy, so find out if this gives it an authentic edge or if it's all style and no substance.
Morrisons Bolognese Sauce
85p for 725g
The Morrisons tomato pasta sauce is one of the cheapest we’ve tested. Can you save on your supermarket spending without compromising on taste?
Sainsbury’s Tomato & Herb Bolognese Pasta Sauce
90p for 700g
The Sainsbury’s sauce is one of the lowest in fat, but does this mean it’s lacking flavour? Log in and find out.
Seeds of Change Organic Classic Bolognese
£2.40 for 500g
Seeds of Change’s sauce is organic, but does this mean fresher, fuller flavours? Find out how it scored in our taste tests.
Tesco Bolognese Sauce
64p for 500g
Tesco’s Bolognese Sauce is made in Italy, using ‘rich, chunky tomatoes, just how you’d make it at home’. Find out if this is the perfect sauce for a quick ‘homemade’ meal.
Waitrose Bolognese Pasta Sauce
£2.50 for 500g
Waitrose’s Bolognese Pasta Sauce is the most expensive, per ml, on test and five times more expensive than the cheapest option, which is from Aldi. So, is it worth splashing out or can the cheaper alternatives outdo it?
How healthy are ready-made pasta sauces?
None of the pasta sauces we tested are particularly high in salt, fat or sugar, although some have slightly more salt or sugar than others. They won't push you into the red, but it's worth knowing that more sugar/salt doesn't always make for a tastier sauce.
While none of the sauces are high in salt, the M&S sauce has more than double the amount of salt of the Co-op and Waitrose versions per 100g.
Per recommended portion, the M&S sauce contains a quarter of the maximum daily recommended amount for adults.
Much of the sugar in tomato pasta sauce comes from the tomatoes, but some sauces do have more added sugar in them than others.
None of the sauces are high in sugar, so you don’t need to worry about this adding to your sugar intake for the day. The Waitrose and Co-op sauces contain less than 5g of sugar per 100g, which means they’re low in sugar. The others are medium.
All sauces on test are low or medium in fat and all are low in saturated fat. Adding mince to make bolognese will increase the fat content, but you can opt for a lower-fat beef or lamb mince.
If you want an even lower-fat option, use turkey or a soy mince. Or you can try a vegetable bolognese, using ingredients such as cauliflower, carrots and mushrooms.
The table below compares salt, sugar, fat and saturated fat per 100g for the pasta sauces we tested. Products listed alphabetically.
|Salt (g/100g)||Sugars (g/100g)||Fat (g/100g)||Saturates (g/100g)|
|Aldi Cucina Bolognese Pasta Sauce||0.58||5.4||<0.5||<0.1|
|Asda Bolognese Pasta Sauce||0.69||5.3||0.6||<0.1|
|Co-op Italian Bolognese Pasta Sauce||0.50||4.9||<0.5||<0.1|
|Dolmio Original Bolognese Sauce||0.69||5.4||0.6||0.1|
|Loyd Grossman Bolognese Pasta Sauce||0.79||6.4||2.2||0.2|
|M&S Made in Italy Italian Tomato Pasta Sauce||1.08||3.5||4.6||0.7|
|Morrisons Bolognese Sauce||0.62||5.6||0.7||0.1|
|Sainsbury's Tomato & Herb Bolognese Pasta Sauce||0.65||5.1||<0.5||
|Seeds of Change Organic Classic Bolognese Sauce||0.66||7.1||1.0||
|Tesco Bolognese Sauce||0.60||5.4||0.7||0.1|
|Waitrose Bolognese Pasta Sauce||0.44||3.8||4.2||0.6|
Is ready-made tomato bolognese pasta sauce vegetarian / vegan?
All of the pasta sauces we tested are suitable for vegetarians. The sauces from Aldi, Co-op, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose are vegan.
Some sauces aren’t vegan due to the manufacturing or supply chain process. These include the Asda, Loyd Grossman and the M&S sauces.
Dolmio and Seeds of Change sauces aren’t officially certified for vegans, but you can find the ingredients on the pack and decide if you want to include them as part of a vegan diet.
How we tested pasta sauces
We chose a selection of ready-made tomato pasta sauces deemed suitable for making bolognese - whether you like just the sauce, or to add your own veg, plant-based proteins or meat to the mix.
The pasta sauces were blind-tasted by a large panel of consumers who regularly buy and consume tomato pasta sauce.
The make-up of the panel broadly represents the demographic profile of adults in the UK.
Each tomato pasta sauce was assessed by 63 people. We served the pasta sauce alongside Napolina fusilli pasta.
The panellists rated the taste, texture, aroma and appearance of each product and told us what they liked and disliked about each one.
The taste test was blind, so the panellists didn’t know which brand they were trying. The order they sampled the tomato pasta sauce in was fully rotated to avoid any bias.
Each panellist had a private booth so they couldn’t discuss what they were tasting or be influenced by others.
The overall score is based on:
- 50% taste
- 25% aroma
- 15% appearance
- 10% texture
These weightings are based on consumer rankings of the importance of different tomato pasta sauce attributes.