Vodka sauce has always been an indulgence that you may make from scratch for a special occasion or when dining at your favorite Italian joint. Traditional vodka sauce is made using heavy cream, which quickly racks up the calories and artery-clogging saturated fat, but these days you can find jarred brands that make better-for-you vodka sauce options. However, navigating through the sea of vodka sauces can get confusing, because there are many more than you may think!
Luckily, we researched for you and found the better-for-you brands to choose from and some you may want to skip. Interestingly, there are quite a bit of tasty jarred recipes that don't use a lot of heavy cream and are still rather tasty. Below you'll find the best and worst vodka sauces on grocery shelves, so the next time you're at the market, you know which brand is a better choice.
How we chose the best vodka sauces
When evaluating vodka sauces, the three main nutrients we looked at per half-cup serving were:
- Saturated Fat
The saturated fat tended to increase dramatically when heavy cream was used as a primary ingredient—so reading the ingredient list was another factor we looked at. In addition, most vodka sauces do have quite a bit of sodium, so keeping portions in check and being mindful of your sodium intake for the rest of the day is always important.
Read on to learn which jars are the best and which are the worst. Then, make sure to check out the 11 Best Pastas on Grocery Shelves.
The Best Vodka Sauces
Best: Primal Kitchen No-Dairy Vodka Sauce
"Like all of the Primal Kitchen products, this sauce is dairy, gluten, cane sugar, and corn-free," says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, CPT author of Fueling Male Fertility and partner with Primal Kitchen. "Made with organic tomatoes, avocado oil, and surprising ingredients like pumpkin seed butter, this sauce allows for a vodka sauce evening without completely derailing your dietary goals, especially if you are following a vegan, paleo, or keto diet."
Best: Rao's Homemade Vodka Sauce
"I appreciate that Rao's Homemade Homemade Vodka Sauce delivers creaminess and flavor but doesn't include any added sugars and is relatively low in both sodium and saturated fat when compared with most jarred vodka sauces," says Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN owner of Malina Malkani Nutrition and author of Safe and Simple Food Allergy Prevention. "I also love that Rao's vodka sauce recipe is made using a short list of recognizable, mostly whole-food ingredients."
Best: 365 by Whole Foods Market, Organic Creamy Vodka Pasta Sauce
This USDA-certified organic vodka sauce tastes great and provides a very reasonable amount of calories (only 80 per serving!) and saturated fat for the half-cup serving. As with any of the vodka sauces, keeping portions in check is key.
Best: Victoria Vodka Sauce
This mighty tasty vodka sauce keeps the calories and saturated fat on the lower end of most brands. It also listed whole tomatoes as the first ingredient, which means it's also loaded with the antioxidant lycopene. This natural plant compound is more potent when processed (like into sauces) and has been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, and macular degeneration.
Best: Yo Mama's Vodka Sauce
This brand's vodka sauce is made with fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, pepper, and basil and slow-cooked in small batches. It has no sugar added and is low in sodium, which is really nice for those following special diets or who just want to minimize those typically over-consumed nutrients.
Best: Cento Vodka Pasta Sauce
Made with whole peeled Italian tomatoes, this tasty high-quality brand's vodka sauce is another good option. The calories and saturated fat are within reasonable limits, but still, be mindful of the portion size as the sodium is a touch on the higher end.
The WorstVodka Sauces
Worst: Prego Creamy Vodka
Half a cup of this vodka sauce provides 18% of the daily value of saturated fat, 6% of the daily value of added sugar, and 20% of the daily value of sodium (based on a 2,000-calorie diet). "This nutrient profile makes it more challenging to keep sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars below recommended daily limits, especially when you consider that people may serve themselves more than ½ cup of sauce," explains Malkani.
Worst: Hoboken Farms Vodka Sauce
Although this vodka sauce is gluten-free with no preservatives, it is made with heavy cream which drives the saturated fat up. This means for every half-cup serving, you'll be taking in 23% of the daily recommended amount of artery-clogging saturated fat—and that's quite a bit coming from a sauce.
Worst: Williams Sonoma Vodka Sauce
This vodka sauce just has too much heavy cream contributing to its higher calorie and saturated fat count. Although Williams Sonoma is known for its tasty indulgent items, there are better-for-you options for vodka sauce to spend your money on.
Worst: Uncle Giuseppe's Vodka Sauce
With 35% of the daily recommended maximum for saturated fat and 17% of the recommended daily max of sodium, this highest-calorie vodka sauce option is one to skip.
- Source: Saturated fat. (2023, May 10). www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/saturated-fats#:~:text=The%20American%20Heart%20Association%20recommends,of%20saturated%20fat%20per%20day.
- Source: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/how-much-sugar-is-too-much#:~:text=Men%20should%20consume%20no%20more,day%27s%20allotment%20in%20one%20slurp.
- Source: Nutrition, C. F. F. S. a. A. (2022b, February 25). Sodium in your diet. U.S. Food And Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/sodium-your-diet#:~:text=Americans%20eat%20on%20average%20about,recommended%20limits%20are%20even%20lower.