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I tried 8 jarred alfredo sauces and the winner is a true dairy queen

The winner of this taste test is a creamy, dreamy jar of goodness.

I eat a lot of pasta. Like a lot a lot. Sophia Loren’s famous quote, “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti," should be tattooed across my forehead.

If I’m being completely frank, though, my go-to sauce is never a creamy alfredo. Give me a marinara, a Bolognese, an arrabbiata or even a cacio e pepe. But an alfredo? Nah, not so much … or at least the jarred American varieties that are a far departure from its butter-and-Parmesan roots.

I know what you’re probably thinking: Who hates cream, butter, cheese and salt? Not me. In fact, I find the combo to be *chef’s kiss.* The issue with many alfredos is that they’re simply too heavy, coating noodles like a Canada Goose jacket in summer. Or they’re simply too bland … essentially Elmer’s Glue masked as a condiment. No, thank you.

So this week’s taste test is another instance of “taking one for the team,” which will work to your benefit because I was going to be hyper-critical. 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 stacked up.

(Sorry vegans. I didn’t include dairy-free options because they would have been pummeled by the dairy-filled competition. Those jars are honestly deserving of a separate ranking.)

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8. Botticelli Alfredo Sauce

Botticelli Alfredo Sauce
Botticelli Foods

I found this jar to be quite puzzling. It’s the most authentically Italian of the lot, boasting ingredients like ricottta that are sourced directly from the motherland, yet it was quite bland and had an off-putting sour aftertaste. I though maybe my palate had grown accustomed to Americanized imitations, but as someone who travels to Italy every year, I can guarantee that any chef would be “ma che vuoi?”-ing dramatically if I requested this to top my pasta.

7. Newman’s Own Alfredo Pasta Sauce

Newman's Own Alfredo Pasta Sauce.

There was a hint of garlic that I welcomed with open arms (and a terrified tongue due to the inevitable bad breath), but it was somewhat bland and boring. I’d honestly find myself dumping absurd amounts of spices and herbs like cayenne pepper and oregano into this mix, which would then beg the question: Why am I even eating an alfredo to begin with? I will say that I did love 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.

The good: Hints of black pepper and a very cheese-forward base make this one of the most craveworthy tastes on this list. The bad: It needs a touch more salt, which is ironic because I find most Trader Joe’s foods to be overly seasoned. The ugly: The mouthfeel. Grainy and borderline sandpapery. It ruined it for me, which is a bummer because it probably would have been a top-three pick.

6. Ragu Classic Alfredo Sauce

Ragu Classic Alfredo Sauce.

Here is where things took a turn for the better. Ragu’s recipe had an excellent balance of flavor, making it the one I’d likely incorporate into recipes beyond pasta like a grilled chicken bake or even a creamy dip. And while I still wish it had a bit more depth when it came to its cheesines, there was no trace of an awful afteraste or any type of artificiality. A win-win.

4. Classico Creamy Alfredo Sauce 

Classico Creamy Alfredo Sauce.

This probably tasted the most different on this list, but different was good … maybe even great! The richness of the egg yolks, cheese and butter provided a wonderful departure that, while not “classic,” was very much Classico (I feel like all of their sauces, whether a hit or miss, are very distinct in their own way). I know it also may be breaking the rules to recommend an iteration beyond the standard (to keep judging consistent), but you should opt for the brand’s roasted garlic flavor for a product that’s even better than the OG.

3. Bertolli Alfredo Sauce

Bertolli Alfredo Sauce.

Aged Parmesan can be a bit polarizing since it’s more robust in flavor, but Bertolli did a great job of maintaining the integirty of the cheese without having it overpower the sauce. And while it was certainly on the looser side, I’d rather have something drip into the crevices of my macaroni than sit on top of the dish like a bed of hot glue.

2. Prego Homestyle Alfredo Sauce

Prego Homestyle Alfredo Sauce.

If loving Prego Homestyle Alfredo is wrong, I don’t want to be right. This was shockingly silky and smooth and enrobed every strand of pasta like they were meant to be together forever. Like Newman’s Own, it also incorporated that necessary bite of garlic to add a bit more complexity to each bite. And at less than $3 a jar, this product is an absolute steal.

1. Rao’s Alfredo Sauce

Rao's Alfredo Sauce.

Unsurprisingly, my top pick for jarred marinara took home top honors, yet again, with another boss sauce that I’ve already added to my arsenal of beloved Italian ingredients. Rao’s boasted a wonderfully rustic texture and a bold, memorable taste of actual cheese and spices, making it far from the one-noted atrocities I’ve long associated with what should be a deliciously creamy and cheesy concoction. Perhaps I’m now converted and can call myself a certified alfredo lover.*

*Not happening. Give me all the tomatoes.