What Is Rao's "Sensitive" Marinara, and Does It Taste Good?

Cursed with stomach issues, I tried our winning jarred pasta sauce maker’s sensitive marinara. Was it worth its price tag? 

Published May 18, 2023.

I’m on the record as being obsessed with Rao’s marinara.

Rao’s (pronounced RAY-ohs) is the ultimate convenience product. In the years since it won our taste test, it’s helped me get dozens of dinners on the table in just minutes, without sacrificing that simmered-all-day, savory tomato flavor. 

So when I learned from my doctor that I needed to cut back on alliums (in my case, onions and garlic) to help with a low-FODMAP elimination, I was terrified. How would I survive in a world without all that garlicky goodness? 

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After some heavy research online and snooping in my supermarket I found Rao’s Sensitive Marinara. It doesn’t contain onions or garlic, so people who aren’t able to metabolize those ingredients properly can use it in place of normal marinara.

You can learn more about whether the fructans in garlic or other ingredients might be causing you digestive issues, as well as all sorts of recipes to help, in our fantastic cookbook Cook for Your Gut Health.

170+ Good-for-your-gut recipes

Cook For Your Gut Health

Whether you struggle with a gut disorder or occasional digestive discomfort, or are simply looking to eat a more healthful diet, these recipes and resources can help you eat well and maintain a healthy digestive tract.

“But the garlic and onions are the best part!” you say, as I did, scandalized that they’d dare make a sauce that didn’t have my favorite ingredients. I was definitely skeptical, but willing to give it a try. I whipped up my favorite weeknight meatballs (skipping the garlic in the meatballs) and used the sensitive sauce in place of my normal garlic-heavy option. 

And . . . ? It was still quite good! It had a fresh, tangy jolt of acidity, with a surprising amount of umami from all those tomatoey glutamates. Our winning sauce from Rao’s tastes a bit more complex due to its additional ingredients, but the sensitive sauce was slightly brighter and more acidic, and tasted just as fresh.

It’s a great option for everyone, not just those of us with sensitive tummies. 

Never fear! Your meatballs and marinara (and tons of other dishes) will still be tasty with Rao's sensitive marinara.

I also learned a great tip from Cook for Your Gut Health about harnessing garlic flavor without eating all those pesky fermentable fructans. They’re soluble in water, but not fat, so sautéing garlic in oil and then straining out the garlic solids will give you lots of garlic-flavored oil to use in whatever recipes or dishes you want. 

So if you’re wondering if you can survive without onions and garlic, give Rao’s Sensitive Marinara a try, and bulk it up with some DIY garlicky oil that has all sorts of additional uses. And pick up a copy of Cook for Your Gut Health while you’re at it. I swear, your sensitive digestive tract will thank you.

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