Our Definitive Ranking of the 10 Most Common Types of Pasta Sauce
Pasta. Is. Everything.
Seriously, you can solve almost anything with a heaping bowl of pasta and a night of lounging in your bed. Talk about the ultimate comfort food.
But pasta isn't noteworthy for its ability to soothe your pain alone. It's also earned recognition for its versatility. There are just so many kinds of pasta noodles and sauces, each of which bring their own unique flavor and pairings.
But which pasta sauce outdoes all the others? We finally have the answer. Keep scrolling for our definitive ranking of the 10 most common types of pasta sauce.
Pomodoro is really just a fancy way of saying tomato sauce. That's all it is—crushed tomatoes whipped together to create a creamy sauce. On one hand, pomodoro sauce creates a perfect base for any pasta dish. On the other hand, it's a bit boring and bland in comparison to some of the other sauce options, especially if you look at it on its own. It's definitely not bad per se, but there are also more interesting options out there if you want to indulge in a pasta dish.
Alfredo sauce is the typical white sauce that usually comes with fettuccine noodles. It's rich and totally indulgent, probably because the only ingredients are butter, Parmesan cheese and cream. It's good… for like, a minute. But then, it becomes really overwhelming to cram all those rich ingredients into your body. It's a once-in-a-while type of sauce, but certainly not a go-to dish that we'd choose every time we want some pasta.
Vongole is a clam sauce served with onions, tomatoes, olive oil and garlic. It's actually pretty darn good, but there's just one problem—you understandably have to like clams. While we appreciate this sauce, we have to rank it lower on our list, mostly due to the fact that it's a flavor that can't appeal to everyone.
7. Frutti di Mare
Frutti di mare is simply a seafood sauce. What does that mean? Well, it's open to interpretation. This sauce can include any and all types of seafood, from fish to mussels to prawns, and anything in between. The important element is that there are multiple types of seafood included in the dish. Unfortunately, frutti di mare is really hard to do correctly. We've had our fair share of delicious sauces, and we've definitely had more than we'd like to remember that just weren't up to snuff. It's undeniably delicious, but you have to find a place that blends the seafood together effectively. Otherwise, you'll wish you never bothered to order this sauce.
If you only look at the definition, carbonara sauce doesn't sound appealing at all. This mixture includes eggs, cheese, pancetta, black pepper and cream. That's right—eggs. Carbonara is actually more challenging to make, as you can accidentally scramble the eggs if you're not careful. When done correctly, it's pretty similar to an Alfredo sauce, but it has a bit of added crunch. It's lighter than Alfredo, but still maintains a creamy texture that adds a different feel to your dish. It's wholly enjoyable, it's just not our favorite option. Much like frutti di mare, it's difficult to perfect. We tend to veer towards safer options when choosing a pasta dish, but if we're feeling more adventurous we'll definitely opt for a carbonara sauce.
5. Cacio e Pepe
Cacio e pepe is a super fancy word for what is essentially buttered noodles. Translated literally as "cheese and pepper," we can also compare this dish to a super-simple mac 'n' cheese. It uses noodles cooked in butter, topped with Pecorino or Parmesan cheese and black pepper. It's almost overly simple, but who can deny the joy of a simple dish from time to time? This a perfect option for those among us who haven't yet given our taste buds a test. There's no way to hate this pasta, which is why we've ranked it at No. 5 on our list.
It's hard to beat a classic marinara sauce. In case you weren't aware, marinara isn't just crushed tomatoes whipped together. While tomatoes act as the base, garlic, herbs and onions are usually added to this tried-and-true sauce. That gives it a leg up over its closely-related cousin, pomodoro. Marinara ranks at No. 4 on our list because it's just so reliable. If you order pasta with marinara sauce, you know exactly what you're getting. There are certainly options with a wider flavor profile, but marinara is always the safe bet. We simply have to tip our hat to this reliable sauce.
Mmm, here's where we get into the good stuff. Pesto offers a totally different taste than a lot of other pasta sauces. Made with basil, pine nuts, olive oil and grated parmesan, this sauce has an entirely unique flavor profile when compared to tomato or cream-based sauces. That's precisely why we love it so much. It's new, it's different, it's outside the norm—aka it deserves to be celebrated. Long live pesto, the No.3 sauce on our list.
After pesto we head back into more tomato-centric territory with arrabbiata. However, this sauce comes with a spicy twist. It combines garlic and tomatoes with red chili peppers for a dish with a kick. This sauce is a definite winner, especially if you veer towards spicy foods. The chili flavor breaks up the normality of the tomatoes, creating a unique dish that you'll want to eat again and again.
Yes, yes—we have our ultimate winner. Bolognese, also known as ragù, ranks as the queen of all the pasta sauces. This meat-based sauce represents total decadence and the epitome of comfort food. The ground meat combines beautifully with a tomato base for a dish that's equal parts delicious and filling. Plus, it's normal enough to be universally beloved. Catch us ordering bolognese everywhere we go—it's definitely our favorite sauce.
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