It’s Not Just for Pasta Anymore: Get the Marinara Boost with These Clever Recipes

7 Unexpected Ways to Use Jarred Pasta Sauce

Everyone knows a jar of red sauce makes a fast, delicious dinner— but what if we told you marinara could do so much more? Sponsored by Prego® Italian Sauce.

Sponsored by Prego® Italian Sauce.

Nobody likes to be underestimated, not when you have so many interesting, creative ideas to offer. So it is with that jar of marinara sauce in the cupboard: At a glance, it looks like the smart choice for a pot of al dente pasta on a busy night, and you’re not wrong. But here’s the thing: Even our favorite dinner can get a little ho-hum after we’ve eaten it for the thousandth time. 

But it’s hard, right? When you feel pulled in a dozen different directions, or like Sisyphus pushing that giant stone up the mountain once again, it’s a challenge to come up with new and fun inspiration for snacks or dinner. Well fear not, intrepid home cooks, we bring tidings of delicious joy: The solution has arrived, and it’s already in your pantry. Get grumpy looks from your family no more!

Below you’ll find seven new recipes that take that beloved kitchen workhorse, red pasta sauce in a jar, such as Prego® Italian Sauce, and reveal it to be the delectable unicorn of an ingredient that it truly is: Something familiar that everyone already loves and kids say ‘yes’ to, but transformed via these creative and intriguing recipes into snacks, appetizers, and dinners that are guaranteed to get everyone smiling and asking for seconds. Dinner doldrums, solved! That jar of marinara never looked so sparkly.



Creative Marinara Recipes

From surprising soups and dips to showstopping shakshuka and lasagna meatloaf (yep!), these marinara sauce recipes are sure to elevate your dinner game.

Oven-Baked Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Everyone’s favorite toasty sandwich goes from being an old standard to singing a new song: This exciting new riff on grilled cheese is a super-fun take on pizza, and is infinitely improvise-able! Best of all, it’s made in the oven so you can have as many hot sandwiches as you need ready all at once. Butter your bread, spread marinara inside, then layer mozzarella and your favorite toppings. (Note: Kids love to help fill these sandwiches!) Then set the next slice of buttered bread on top and pop them in the oven with a pre-heated sheet pan on top to help make both sides crispy. That’s it! Cleanup is a snap, and grilled cheese plays an updated tune.


Easy & Delicious Shakshuka

Shake it up with shakshuka for dinner: This trendy breakfast dish—originally from Tunisia but now on menus everywhere—makes a gracious transition to evening, and using jarred pasta sauce provides a time-saving shortcut to great flavor in what is, if we’re being honest, ultimately dressed-up comfort food. All the ingredients are probably in your pantry already, and best of all this meatless dish comes together in under a half-hour. 


Shrimp Marinara Soup

This elegant soup has only eight ingredients, and tastes more delicious than it should! A smooth marinara sauce provides a satisfying base of flavor; the soup gets a boost from chicken stock and some nuance from white wine. Pulling frozen shrimp from the freezer makes this recipe a great choice for a busy night, and orzo simmered in the soup guarantees flavorful pasta. And because it’s fast and easy, everyone’s soup bowl makes it to the table in under 25 minutes. With a scattering of crumbled feta and chopped fresh parsley for a bright pop of flavor on top, it’s sure to become a family favorite.


Chicken Parmesan Dip

This hearty and fun dip takes an Italian restaurant favorite and transforms it into an excellent movie and game night treat, and an impressive appetizer. Best of all, while it’s got every element of the original Chicken Parmesan—red sauce, seasoned breadcrumbs, and whatever ready-to-eat chicken you’ve got on hand—putting the seven ingredients together is as simple as popping open a jar of marinara and doing a little stirring, spreading, and cheese sprinkling in an oven-safe dish. Then it’s 20 minutes at 350°F and hooray! The ultimate crowd-pleaser is served.  


Lasagna Meatloaf

Grab your zestiest jar of pasta sauce for this genuine showstopper of a dinner that will have everyone clamoring for more. This recipe boasts easy prep with phenomenal results. Chop a little garlic and parsley, and the rest is mostly mixing and layering, making it a great dish for kids who like to help. Just press a seasoned meatloaf mixture along the bottom and sides of a loaf pan, then layer lasagna noodles, cheese, and sauce within before sealing it with a meatloaf lid and topping it with flavorful marinara and luscious cheese. Mangia! 


Kale, Tomato & Vegetable Soup

This soul-satisfying dish comes together with minimal effort, especially if you buy washed, pre-cut kale (or a bag of spinach if there are picky eaters afoot). A jar of roasted garlic tomato sauce provides depth of flavor, and a quick sauté of cubed pancetta lends a savory decadence to this nutritious soup. The holy trinity of cooking—onion, celery, and sweet carrot—provides balanced flavor as well as color, while white beans and rosemary give it a Northern Italian flair.


Marinara Chicken Wings

Everyone loves wings! They make a great snack, appetizer, or treat while hanging out with the family for a game night or movie-watching marathon. This clever recipe uses only six ingredients and is an innovative way to use up the last cup of marinara to deliver big flavor with minimal effort. The wings get coated with a little flour and Italian seasoning, go into a hot oven, and just before the end of the baking time are tossed with marinara sauce and popped back in. The high heat intensifies the flavors, and provides a welcome break from the same old candy-sweet wing glazes.

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