In a perfect world, we would make homemade pasta sauce every time we needed it. But realistically, 9/10 times, you probably reach for the jarred sauce instead. Nothing beats homemade sauce, but store-bought sauces definitely do the trick. If you’re trying to impress someone with store-bought sauce that tastes homemade, here are a few ways you can elevate a simple jarred sauce:

Add in sautéed vegetables
To bring a simple red sauce to another level, try adding in a few sautéed veggies. Onion, peppers, and garlic are a great touch.

Season it
While your store-bought sauce may already have seasoning in it, there’s nothing wrong with adding more. Add a combination of oregano and basil or red pepper flakes for a spicy touch.

Throw in meat
Homemade meat sauce is top tier, but adding in meat to the jarred sauce is still a great way to amp it up. You can throw in ground beef or sauce, or if you’re plant-based, go for Beyond Meat beef or vegan sausage instead!

Bake your dish
If you want to make a more elevated pasta dish, consider baking your pasta in the sauce. Dishes like lasagna or baked ziti will make your store-bought sauce taste that much better.

Make it creamy
If you have a basic red sauce and want to make it creamy, all you have to do is add in some milk. Whether that’s dairy milk or plant-based milk, that’s up to you. Regardless, it makes the sauce taste creamy and delicious.

Put aside pasta waster
Saving some pasta water is a great way to thin out your sauce and improve the texture. All you need to do is keep a few cups from the pasta water once it’s cooked.

Simmer the sauce
If you’re in a pinch, you might be tempted to throw cold jarred sauce on hot pasta and call it a day. But if you really want to bring that sauce to a new level, you have to let it simmer. It helps thicken and meld the flavors.

Deglaze the pan
Deglazing your pan with wine or vegetable/meat stock is a great way to make your sauce taste more professional. Deglazing unsticks the pan and helps bring all the flavors together.