Ragu vs. Prego: What’s The Difference?

Ragu vs. Prego

When it comes to Italian pasta sauces, a plethora of brands lines the grocery store shelves. Yet, among the many options, Ragu and Prego are two names that immediately spring to mind when it’s time to whip up some spaghetti. What sets these two iconic sauces apart? Ragu offers a full-bodied flavor with a subtle sweetness, while Prego boasts a slightly spicier, chunkier sauce that’s perfect for all-purpose cooking. Ragu harmonizes splendidly with pasta, while Prego’s versatility extends to a wide range of Italian recipes. But there’s much more to discover about these beloved sauces. Let’s delve into the nuances, commonalities, and unique offerings of each brand!

Ragu – Where It All Began

Though Ragu may be an all-American brand, its roots are firmly embedded in traditional Italian cuisine. Back in 1937, this brand had the most humble of beginnings. Conceived by a married Italian couple, they initially concocted their classic sauce in their basement, then packaged and sold it right from their front porch.

Ragu swiftly gained recognition for its unique, well-balanced sauce that delivered an authentic Italian flavor. The brand’s popularity soared over the years, leading the family to establish a factory for mass production of their iconic sauce. Today, Ragu boasts a wide variety of sauces, suitable for not just pasta dishes but virtually every recipe that calls for Italian tomato sauce.

Product Variety

Ragu offers a broad spectrum of traditional and “contemporary” sauces. Here’s a look at their diverse offerings:

  • Ragu Simply Sauces
  • Ragu Old World Style Sauces
  • Ragu Chunky Sauces
  • Ragu Cheese Sauces
  • Ragu Pizza Sauces

Ragu Simply Sauces
Notable Sauce: Ragu Simply Pasta Sauce – Traditional

Pasta sauces have a notorious reputation for their sugar content, adding empty calories and potentially thwarting dietary goals. Ragu’s line of Simply Sauces is tailored for those who prioritize natural flavors and seek a healthier, all-purpose sauce. These sauces contain no added sugar and can be enjoyed with a variety of Italian dishes. Available in flavors such as roasted garlic, garden vegetable pasta sauce, chunky sauce, marinara sauce, and traditional pasta sauce.

Ragu Old World Style Sauces
Notable Sauce: Traditional Old-World Style Sauce

This sauce is the one that catapulted the brand to stardom. The Old-World Style sauces offer an authentic Italian flavor with a well-rounded and full-bodied profile. What’s remarkable is that this sauce serves as the cornerstone of classic Italian recipes. It maintains the essence and characteristics of Italian cuisine while incorporating regional variations that cater to North American palates.

Ragu Chunky Sauces
Notable Sauce: Ragu Chunky Pasta Sauce – Garden Combination

One common complaint about store-bought sauces is their uniform consistency. Ragu’s plain sauces are thoroughly homogenized, offering little texture. They’re suitable for many recipes but may lack the heartiness some prefer. To address this, the brand introduced chunky sauces, packed with cut vegetables, diced tomatoes, and spices. If you desire a sauce with more texture and a natural taste, the Chunky Sauces category is the way to go.

Ragu Cheese Sauces
Notable Sauce: Ragu Pasta Sauce – Classic Alfredo

Ragu’s cheese sauces are perfect for creating alfredo or any white sauce for pasta dishes. This line of sauce is renowned for its rich, cheesy flavors, pairing exceptionally well with various pasta types. It’s crafted using a delightful combination of aged asiago, Romano, parmesan, and fontina. These specialty sauces come in several variations, including classic alfredo sauce, basil alfredo sauce, garlic parmesan sauce, and more.

Ragu Pizza Sauces
Notable Sauce: Pizza Sauce Ragu Homemade Style

Ragu rounds out its product line with a unique pizza sauce. While the brand offers just one variety of pizza sauce, it’s likely the only one you’ll need to create delicious homemade pies. This sauce is crafted from vine-ripened tomatoes and authentic Italian seasonings, taking it to the next level. It boasts a smooth yet appropriately thick consistency, suitable for crafting authentic-tasting pizzas right in your own kitchen.

Prego – A Brief History

Prego is a trademark brand under the umbrella of the Campbell Soup Company, granting it a significant edge in terms of experience and scale. The Campbell Soup Company, an iconic brand with over 150 years of history, is renowned for producing condensed soups and other canned products. However, Campbell sought to enter the market with a tomato-based product distinct from ketchup.

The company enlisted seasoned chefs to develop the foundation of what would soon become Prego. In 1981, Prego was introduced to resounding success, thanks to its uniquely thick sauce and clever marketing. Campbell had managed to perfect the art of canning thick, chunky sauces without separation, setting it apart from the competition. This sauce was prized for its consistency and natural flavors, achieved through years of meticulous research and development.

In contrast, other brands of the time employed starch or other thickeners, resulting in an artificial and non-homemade feel. Prego revolutionized the market by introducing authentic flavors, slightly tailored to the North American palate. Its freshness and thick consistency made it an instant hit, capturing an unprecedented 28% market share in its first year – an extraordinary feat in an already established market.

Product Variety

Prego similarly offers a wide array of diverse sauces, spanning various categories:

  • Prego’s Classic Italian Pasta Sauces
  • Prego’s Alfredo Sauces
  • Prego®+
  • Prego Farmers’ Market®
  • Pizza Sauce and Basil Pesto Sauce

Prego’s Classic Italian Pasta Sauces
Notable Sauce: Prego’s Classic Pasta Sauce – Traditional

Prego’s line of classic sauces is what catapulted the brand to stardom. These sauces are crafted from high-quality, vine-ripened tomatoes and authentic Italian seasonings. They offer the perfect starting point for anyone seeking to experience the brand’s products. This sauce stands out for its unique flavor, striking a balance between authenticity and regional flavors without being overly spicy or overwhelmingly tomato-centric.

Prego’s Alfredo Sauces
Notable Sauce: Homestyle Alfredo

Similar to Ragu, Prego offers a wide range of alfredo sauces. Prego delivers a homemade feel with its white sauces, featuring a combination of cheese and cream that imparts both flavor and heartiness. These sauces are superb for pasta dishes but can also double as toppings for other types of food.

Notable Sauce: Prego+ Hidden Super Veggies Sauce

Prego+ sauces are specially tailored for health-conscious consumers. This category comprises just two sauces, both renowned for their incorporation of healthy vegetables. These sauces feature a mix of six “super veggies”: sweet potato, carrot, cauliflower, butternut squash, spinach, and roasted red pepper. These added ingredients enhance the nutritional profile of the sauce, providing a substantial portion of your daily intake of greens. Prego+ sauces aim to maintain the same original flavor as the traditional sauce, even with the inclusion of these “hidden veggies,” a selling point emphasized by the brand.

Prego Farmers’ Market
Notable Sauce: Prego Farmers’ Market Classic Marinara

The Farmers’ Market line of sauces retains the brand’s unique taste but places a strong emphasis on premium-quality vegetables and ingredients. These sauces proudly contain no artificial colors, flavors, or added preservatives. They are the ideal solution for those in search of an all-natural sauce, suitable for a wide variety of recipes. This sub-category offers two distinct sauces, with one being a blend of roasted garlic. Both are crafted from vegetables picked and processed at the peak of their freshness.

Pizza Sauce and Basil Pesto Sauce
Notable Sauce: Pizzeria Style Pizza Sauce

Prego has an edge in the pizza sauce category, offering not one, but two pizza sauce variations, in addition to a standalone Basil Pesto sauce. Prego’s pizza sauces are known for their slightly thicker consistency and an authentic pizzeria sauce flavor. Crafted from high-quality ingredients, they combine fresh vine-ripened tomatoes and Italian seasonings to perfection. The separate Basil Pesto sauce serves as an excellent condiment and garnish for various recipes.

So, What Sets Them Apart?

With an abundance of information about these two iconic sauce brands, it’s time to draw a clear distinction between them. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Ragu and Prego’s overall sauciness:


Ragu’s reputation is anchored in the use of premium, perfectly ripened tomatoes. The brand’s commitment to freshness and natural flavors has played a pivotal role in its market success. In addition to high-quality tomatoes, Ragu incorporates a variety of spices and seasoning ingredients to enhance the flavor of its products. Renowned for introducing new sauces, recipes, and improvements to its existing product line, Ragu is among the most trusted brands in the Italian sauce market, beloved by many for its unwavering quality.

Prego’s connection to its parent company, Campbell, is its competitive advantage. The brand adheres to the same reputation and standards set by Campbell, ensuring that consumers consistently receive a premium-grade tomato product crafted with superior production and packaging methods. Given Campbell’s pioneering role in canned foods and contributions to food quality and shelf life improvement, Prego products consistently deliver on their promise, providing consumers with excellent value for their money.

Flavor and Nutrition

Ragu is noted for its slightly sweeter notes present in nearly every sauce. The intentional addition of sugar aligns with research indicating a preference for a sauce with a hint of sweetness in the North American market. Ragu expertly balances its tomato flavor and sweetness using Italian seasonings and salt. This characteristic makes Ragu not only a great-tasting and incredibly versatile pasta sauce but also a reliable tomato sauce for a wide range of recipes. Ragu also offers a balanced nutritional profile and provides organic and healthier sauce alternatives.

Prego maintains a natural, homemade, and authentic tomato sauce flavor. The brand focuses on achieving a well-rounded balance, much like Ragu. However, the key distinction is that Prego incorporates a range of complex flavors rather than focusing solely on neutrality or sweetness. This means that consumers can anticipate hints of Italian spices, tanginess from the tomatoes, and supporting flavor notes from various herbs and ingredients. Nutritionally, Prego consistently delivers products that boast higher levels of macro and micronutrients, exemplified by the Prego+ line’s commitment to delivering nutrient-dense sauces.


Ragu’s sauces are typically thinner compared to Prego’s offerings. Ragu places a greater emphasis on the spreadability and the way the sauce interacts with the pasta and other ingredients in recipes. Its slightly thinner consistency ensures that the sauce fully coats pasta shapes and proves useful when preparing meat-based recipes. Ragu also offers a distinct line of chunky sauces that introduce greater variation in flavor and texture compared to its traditional sauce.

Prego’s sauces are generally thicker and incorporate visible chunks of vegetables, such as onions and tomato pieces. This texture imparts a homemade quality to the sauce, a feature highly valued by consumers who seek an authentic, non-industrial taste. Like its competitor, Prego provides a range of sauces with varying consistencies, catering to the diverse preferences of consumers.


Ragu takes pride in its impressive product lineup, offering a sauce for virtually every major food category. Whether you’re preparing pasta, meat-based recipes, or pizzas, Ragu’s sauces are incredibly versatile and exceptionally well-flavored, allowing for their use in a wide array of recipes with ease.

Prego echoes Ragu’s diversity, offering a range of sauces across multiple categories. Whether you’re in the market for all-natural sauces, traditional pasta sauces, white sauces, extra-veggie sauces, or pizza sauces, Prego covers nearly every major Italian, and even some non-Italian, recipes.

Quick Comparison

FlavorSlightly sweeter with balanced spiciness and tanginessComplex flavors. Tangy, sweet, spicy
TextureTraditional sauces are smooth and homogenizedContains bits and pieces of veggies
VarietyMultiple variations in each categoryMultiple variations in each category
AromaTomato, mildly spicyStrong tomato aroma with aromatic spices
UsesPasta, meat sauces, pizza, and morePasta, meat sauces, pizza, and more

With this comprehensive understanding of both Ragu and Prego, you’re now well-equipped to make an informed choice when deciding which sauce to bring home for your next Italian culinary adventure.

Now that you’ve explored the world of Ragu and Prego, you might have some related questions. Here are a couple to get you started:

Which sauce is best for making lasagna?

Both Ragu and Prego offer excellent options for crafting a delicious lasagna. You can opt for a marinara sauce from either brand. There are numerous easy-to-follow recipes that make use of Ragu or Prego sauces. If you’re seeking a slightly spicier, thicker, and more flavorful kick, Prego’s marinara sauce is a safe choice for your lasagna creation.

Does Ragu sauce contain dairy?

While Ragu offers a variety of sauces that include cheese, its traditional lineup of sauces typically does not contain dairy, unless otherwise specified on the packaging. There’s a common misconception that traditional Ragu sauce incorporates cheese for thickness and flavor, but this is not the case. If you have concerns or specific dietary requirements, always check the product’s label for detailed information regarding ingredients and nutrition.

I hope you found this extended exploration of Ragu and Prego’s pasta sauces informative and insightful. Whether you’re a fan of Ragu’s sweet and versatile flavors or Prego’s bold and chunky profiles, both brands offer an array of options to elevate your Italian culinary creations.

Remember, the choice between Ragu and Prego ultimately comes down to your taste preferences and the specific recipes you’re whipping up in your kitchen. Whichever you choose, you can be assured of enjoying a taste of Italy right at home.

If you have any more questions or are curious about other aspects of these sauces or Italian cuisine in general, feel free to ask. Happy cooking!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like