The Most Popular Sauce for Pasta: A Ranking of the Top Choices

Choose the sauce you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Mar 3, 2024 06:29
Welcome to StrawPoll, your go-to destination for the sauciest debate of all time! Are you ready to dive into the world of pasta perfection and help us crown the ultimate pasta sauce? Join thousands of fellow pasta enthusiasts as we embark on a flavorful quest to rank the most popular sauce for pasta. Be it the rich, creamy goodness of Alfredo, the timeless classic Marinara, or a spicy Arrabbiata that fires up your taste buds, every sauce has its own charm. But which one tops the charts? It's time to swirl your forks, cast your vote, and make your favorite sauce the talk of the town! And hey, if you think we've missed out on a lip-smacking option, feel free to suggest it, and we'll be more than happy to add it to our saucy lineup. So, let the pasta party begin!

What Is the Most Popular Sauce for Pasta?

  1. 1
    This classic tomato-based sauce is arguably the most popular sauce for pasta. It's flavorful, easy to make, and pairs well with a variety of pasta shapes.
    Marinara sauce is a classic Italian sauce that is commonly used as a topping for pasta dishes. It is a vibrant, flavorful tomato-based sauce that is lightly seasoned with herbs and spices. The sauce has a slightly tangy and slightly sweet taste, making it a versatile choice for a variety of pasta dishes.
    • Main Ingredient: Tomatoes
    • Seasonings: Garlic, onions, oregano, basil
    • Consistency: Smooth and thick
    • Spiciness: Mild to medium
    • Color: Bright red
    Marinara Sauce in other rankings
  2. 2
    A rich and creamy sauce made with butter, cream, garlic, and Parmesan cheese, Alfredo sauce is a popular choice for pasta lovers who crave something indulgent.
    Alfredo sauce is a rich and creamy sauce typically served with pasta dishes. It is a popular sauce known for its smooth texture and indulgent flavor. The sauce is made from butter, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and sometimes garlic. It originated in Italy but gained popularity worldwide, especially in American and Italian-American cuisine.
    • Texture: Smooth and creamy
    • Flavor: Indulgent and savory
    • Ingredients: Butter, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese
    • Origin: Italy
    • Popularity: Global, particularly in American and Italian-American cuisine
  3. 3
    Made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, pesto sauce has a bright, herbaceous flavor and is perfect for tossing with pasta.
    Pesto Sauce is a vibrant and flavorful Italian sauce typically made with fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. It has a rich, creamy texture and a distinct herbaceous taste. Pesto sauce is commonly used as a condiment for pasta dishes, adding a burst of freshness and aromatic flavors to the dish.
    • Main Ingredients: Fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil
    • Texture: Creamy
    • Flavor: Herbaceous, aromatic
    • Typical Use: Condiment for pasta
    • Color: Bright green
  4. 4
    Bolognese Sauce
    Erikatrioschi · CC BY-SA 4.0

    Bolognese Sauce

    Bologna, Italy
    This meat-based sauce is made with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, and garlic, and is a hearty and satisfying option for pasta lovers.
    Bolognese sauce is a rich and flavorful meat-based sauce that is commonly served with pasta. It originated in Bologna, Italy, and is known as Ragù alla Bolognese in Italian. The sauce is traditionally made by sautéing a mixture of finely chopped onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil, then adding ground meat (usually beef or a combination of beef and pork) and cooking it until browned. Tomatoes, tomato paste, broth or wine, and various herbs and spices are then added to the mixture. The sauce is simmered slowly over low heat for several hours, allowing the flavors to develop and the meat to become tender. Bolognese sauce is known for its thick and meaty consistency, and it pairs well with a wide variety of pasta shapes.
    • Origin: Bologna, Italy
    • Main ingredients: Ground meat (beef, pork), onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes
    • Additional ingredients: Tomato paste, broth or wine, herbs, spices
    • Cooking time: Several hours
    • Consistency: Thick and meaty
  5. 5
    A creamy and savory sauce made with eggs, bacon, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper, carbonara sauce is a classic Italian favorite.
    Carbonara sauce is a creamy and savory Italian sauce traditionally paired with pasta. It is characterized by its rich and indulgent flavor, combining eggs, cheese, pancetta or guanciale (cured pork jowl), black pepper, and sometimes garlic.
    • Ingredients: Eggs, cheese (usually Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano), pancetta or guanciale, black pepper, optional garlic
    • Method of Preparation: The sauce is made by cooking pancetta or guanciale until crispy, then combining it with beaten eggs, grated cheese, black pepper, and sometimes garlic. This mixture is then tossed with hot cooked pasta to create a smooth and creamy sauce.
    • Consistency: The sauce has a creamy and velvety consistency, coating the pasta evenly.
    • Flavor Profile: Carbonara sauce offers a rich, salty, and slightly smoky flavor, balanced by the creaminess of the eggs and cheese.
    • Authenticity: Authentic Carbonara does not include cream or milk in the sauce. The creaminess comes solely from the combination of eggs and cheese.
  6. 6
    Arrabbiata Sauce
    Petar Milošević · CC BY-SA 4.0
    A spicy tomato-based sauce made with red pepper flakes, garlic, and olive oil, arrabbiata sauce adds a kick to any pasta dish.
    Arrabbiata sauce is a spicy tomato-based sauce commonly served with pasta dishes. It originates from Italian cuisine and is known for its combination of tangy, spicy, and slightly sweet flavors. The sauce gets its heat from the liberal use of red chili peppers or flakes, which gives it a fiery kick.
    • Heat level: Spicy
    • Flavor profile: Tangy, spicy, slightly sweet
    • Base ingredients: Tomatoes, garlic, red chili peppers, olive oil
    • Texture: Smooth
    • Color: Vibrant red
  7. 7
    Vodka Sauce
    Siddharthagandhi26 · CC BY-SA 4.0

    Vodka Sauce

    James Doty
    A creamy tomato-based sauce made with vodka, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese, vodka sauce is a rich and indulgent option for pasta lovers.
    Vodka sauce is a creamy and rich sauce commonly used in pasta dishes. It is known for its smooth texture and subtle flavors. The sauce is made by combining tomatoes, heavy cream, vodka, herbs, and spices. It is often paired with pasta, such as penne or rigatoni, and topped with grated cheese.
    • Main Ingredients: Tomatoes, heavy cream, vodka, herbs, and spices
    • Texture: Creamy and smooth
    • Flavor: Subtle with hints of vodka
    • Common Pairings: Pasta, such as penne or rigatoni
    • Topping: Grated cheese
  8. 8
    A simple and flavorful sauce made with garlic, olive oil, and chili flakes, aglio e olio is a classic Italian sauce that pairs well with any pasta shape.
    Aglio e Olio is a traditional Italian pasta sauce that translates to 'garlic and oil' in English. It is a simple and rustic sauce that has its roots in the cuisine of Southern Italy. The sauce is made by sautéing minced or thinly sliced garlic in olive oil until it is golden and fragrant, then tossing it with cooked pasta. Aglio e Olio is known for its intense garlic flavor and light, yet flavorful, sauce that clings to the strands of pasta.
    • Garlic: The main ingredient of Aglio e Olio is garlic. It is typically used in generous amounts to infuse the olive oil with its unique flavor.
    • Olive Oil: High-quality extra virgin olive oil is crucial to achieving the authentic taste of Aglio e Olio. It adds richness and a smooth texture to the sauce.
    • Pasta: Aglio e Olio can be paired with various types of pasta, though long and thin strands like spaghetti or linguine are commonly used.
    • Chili Flakes: A pinch of chili flakes is often added to Aglio e Olio to give it a subtle kick of heat and enhance the overall flavor profile.
    • Parsley: Freshly chopped parsley is a traditional garnish for Aglio e Olio, adding a touch of freshness and color to the dish.
  9. 9
    Puttanesca Sauce
    Rainer Zenz · CC BY-SA 3.0
    A tangy and savory sauce made with tomatoes, olives, capers, and anchovies, puttanesca sauce is a bold and flavorful option for pasta lovers.
    Puttanesca sauce is a tangy and robust sauce that originated in Italy. It is known for its bold flavors and simplicity. The sauce is made from a combination of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, anchovies, capers, and olives, usually black. It has a rich and salty taste with a slight tanginess.
    • Origin: Italy
    • Flavor: Bold, tangy, salty
    • Ingredients: Tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, anchovies, capers, olives
    • Color: Red
    • Texture: Smooth
  10. 10
    A creamy and tangy sauce made with Gorgonzola cheese, butter, and cream, Gorgonzola sauce is a decadent option for pasta lovers who enjoy bold flavors.
    Gorgonzola Sauce is a creamy Italian sauce made from Gorgonzola cheese, a type of blue cheese made from cow's milk. It is known for its distinct tangy and slightly salty flavor. The sauce is rich and smooth, with a velvety texture that coats the pasta perfectly. Gorgonzola Sauce pairs well with different types of pasta, especially gnocchi and fettuccine.
    • Cheese: Made from Gorgonzola cheese
    • Flavor: Tangy and slightly salty
    • Texture: Rich and smooth with a velvety consistency
    • Pasta Pairing: Ideal with gnocchi and fettuccine
    • Origin: Lombardy region, Northern Italy

Missing your favorite sauce?


Ranking factors for popular sauce

  1. Taste
    The flavor of the sauce should complement the pasta and be delicious for a wide range of palates. The balance of flavors (sweet, salty, tangy, spicy) should be considered.
  2. Texture
    The sauce should have a good consistency (not too thin or thick) that adheres well to the pasta.
  3. Ingredients
    The ingredients used in the sauce should be easily accessible and of good quality. They should also appeal to a wide variety of diets and preferences (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free).
  4. Versatility
    The sauce should work well with a variety of pasta types and shapes, and be suitable for different dishes (e.g., spaghetti, lasagna, baked ziti).
  5. Ease of Preparation
    The sauce should be relatively easy and quick to prepare, so it can be enjoyed by people with different cooking skill levels and time constraints.
  6. Popularity
    The sauce should be popular and well-known across different demographics and regional areas.
  7. Nutritional Value
    The sauce should provide nutritional benefits like vitamins, minerals, and proteins, and be compatible with various dietary restrictions and needs.
  8. Storage/Freezing
    The sauce should hold up well in storage, whether refrigerated or frozen, without losing its quality or taste.
  9. Customizability
    The sauce should be adaptable to personal preferences and tastes, with the option to add or subtract specific ingredients to suit individual palettes.
  10. Cost
    The sauce should be affordable and provide good value for the money, considering the quality, taste, and quantity.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular sauce for pasta. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or sauce is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 188 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each sauce once every 24 hours. The rank of each sauce is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular sauce for pasta

Pasta is a staple food in Italian cuisine and is enjoyed all over the world. One of the things that makes pasta so versatile is the variety of sauces that can be paired with it. From classic tomato sauce to creamy Alfredo, there are countless options to choose from. However, when it comes to the most popular sauce for pasta, opinions can vary greatly. Some prefer a simple marinara, while others enjoy a spicy arrabbiata or a rich bolognese. At StrawPoll, we've asked our community to weigh in on this delicious debate, and the results may surprise you. Read on to discover which sauce reigns supreme as the ultimate pasta topper.

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