A Definitive Ranking of Olive Garden's Classic Pasta Sauces
I'm a big fan of Olive Garden.
But that shouldn't come as a surprise. With endless delicious breadsticks, who wouldn't be a devout supporter of this Italian restaurant chain?
However, I recently realized that I'm often so focused on the breadsticks that I don't give the normal dishes the attention they deserve. In an effort to remedy this problem, I popped on over to my local Olive Garden and ordered the endless pasta bowl so I could try all six of their pasta sauces and rank them in order of deliciousness.
Keep scrolling to see what I (and my taste buds) came up with.
Unfortunately, the classic Alfredo sauce ranks at the very bottom of the list. I hadn't eaten Alfredo in years before digging into this sauce, but I clearly remembered being obsessed with the creamy and indulgent flavor. Sadly, it just didn't live up to my expectations. The consistency was definitely a little weird and it was a dry and settled on the top, which gave it an overall unpleasant appearance. Still, Alfredo is thick, meaning it's bound to settle a little if it's left sitting for any amount of time, so I was still hopeful.
Unfortunately, the weird consistency didn't change as I mixed it and began eating. It was undeniably creamy, but it felt overly dense and gooey, rather than rich and delicious. Even though the flavor wasn't all that bad, I couldn't bring myself to look past the odd texture, which firmly established this sauce as my least favorite.
Next on the list was the plain Olive Garden marinara. Like any classic marinara, it has a tangy tomato-based flavor that's perfectly enjoyable, but it's just a little bland in comparison to the other sauces. I'm not sure if it's a lack of seasoning or just that it is the simplest of the sauces, but it just wasn't all that exciting. I could eat it, but given the lack of flavor, it wouldn't be very satisfying.
4. Spinach Artichoke
Despite the fact that it's very veggie-based, I was excited to try the Spinach Artichoke sauce. And while it wasn't unenjoyable, it definitely wasn't my favorite, mostly due to the fact that the flavor is very muted. The sauce has a creamy and thick consistency, but it just doesn't really taste like anything. It was a little salty and I could get hints of a vague artichoke flavor, but other than that, it just added a smooth, buttery texture to the dish. It didn't taste bad by any means, but I felt like I was almost eating plain pasta, which isn't really the goal if I'm going to indulge in an Olive Garden meal.
3. Five Cheese Marinara
While I could eat pasta all day every day with any kind of toppings, the Olive Garden Five Cheese Marinara is where we really start getting into the good stuff. This sauce is rich, but in a way that's not at all off-putting. At first taste, I immediately equated the full-bodied taste to a queso dip, which makes sense considering this sauce is packed with tons of cheesy flavor. After a few more bites, the tanginess of the tomato started to come through, toning down what could easily become an overly-heavy sauce. It's definitely full-bodied, but it made for quite the delicious dish that I would happily eat again and again.
2. Creamy Mushroom
The Creamy Mushroom sauce was exactly what I wanted out of the Alfredo sauce, with the added benefit of a lovely mushroom undertone. It was creamy and rich, but it didn't delve into the realm of overly thick or gooey. The mushroom came through clearly, but it was paired with an almost buttery flavor that kept the strong taste from becoming too overwhelming. In addition, this sauce features chunks of mushroom, giving the pasta an extra texture and consistency that adds interest to the dish. Overall, it was absolutely delicious, easily making this sauce one of my favorites.
1. Meat Sauce
I have to admit, I'm a little biased with this No. 1 choice. Meat sauce is by far my favorite pasta topping, so it's always hard to rank any other sauce above it. However, since I like meat sauce so much, I'm also very critical of the flavor. And Olive Garden's was perfect. The meat was diced into tiny little chunks that weren't too chewy or intrusive in the dish. Additionally, the ratio of meat to sauce was on point, creating a flawless consistency that doused every noodle in delicious flavor. It had a tangy tomato taste that paired perfectly with the meat, and a little parmesan on top made this dish utter perfection. There was just no denying how good this topping was, meaning meat sauce obviously reigns supreme once again.
Wondering how some of your other favorite foods measure up in the taste department? Click HERE for a definitive ranking of Lunchables, from worst to best.