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Finding a good low sodium pasta sauce is key to following a healthy kidney diet! Pasta sauce seems to sneak into SO many dishes other than spaghetti! And, since traditional jarred marinara sauce can have up to 600mg per 1/2 cup, it can add quite a bit of sodium to your diet.
I found many low sodium pasta sauce recipes were quite bland and not very exciting. Check out this recipe for low sodium pasta sauce. I promise you, you’ll never go back to the jarred stuff!
How Is this Low Sodium Pasta Sauce Different?
This low sodium pasta sauce is full of flavor, compared to many other recipes I have tried. This sauce is more robust than a traditional marinara. It is a bit thicker and has a deeper flavor from the wine compared to the bright flavors of a traditional marinara. I promise you will love it!
I used all the tools in my low sodium toolbox to really pump up the flavor in this recipe.
The biggest punch of flavor comes from the red wine. Don’t worry, simmering the sauce for 30 minutes removes any alcohol and just leaves a deep, rich flavor. Make sure to choose a dry red wine for this recipe – a sweet red will not have the same effect.
Here is my secrets for cooking with wine. I always keep tiny, single serve bottles* of red and white wine in my pantry to use for cooking. As a self-proclaimed wine expert, this is somewhat embarrassing to admit. I have absolutely heard you should never cook with wine you are not willing to drink. However, sometimes I just don’t want to open an entire bottle of wine just for 1/2 cup in a recipe. These tiny bottles work perfectly on that occasion! Or, if you want to use this recipe as an excuse to open a bottle of your favorite wine, please, don’t let me stop you!
Garlic & Onion
A secret to almost any low sodium recipe, this recipe has plenty of garlic and onion. I started the sauce by sauteeing these ingredients in olive oil. This brings out even more flavor, rather than just adding them to the sauce and letting them simmer.
Red Wine Vinegar
Another one of my secret low sodium weapons. Flavored vinegar is a wonderful addition to nearly any savory recipe. I added red wine vinegar after the sauce cooks for some extra punch. The recipe calls for just a teaspoon, however, you can add much more if you like! Vinegar has almost no sodium, calories, fat or sugar. So, it is a great way to add flavor without touching the nutrition content!
How Much Sodium is in Your Low Sodium Pasta Sauce, Melanie?
This low sodium pasta sauce recipe only has 70mg of sodium per a 1/2 cup serving! This is about 85% less sodium compared to the whopping 480mg in Prego, 460mg in Ragu and 490mg in Newman’s Own marinara sauces.
You can find low sodium or “heart healthy” versions of jarred pasta sauce. However, most of these sauces still have about 350mg of sodium per 1/2 cup. Also, low sodium products often have added potassium, which can be a problem for some people with kidney disease.
Making pasta sauce at home tastes SO much better anyway! But, the lower sodium versions of the jarred pasta sauce are certainly better than the full sodium version in a pinch!
Be Choosy with Ingredients
Be careful to use No Salt Added canned tomatoes and tomato paste for this recipe. Regular canned tomatoes and tomato paste can add a lot of sodium to your cooking.
I found that many tomato pastes do not have have salt added*, even though it does not advertise as being low sodium! Just make sure to check the food label.
I chose to use canned diced tomatoes in this recipe. Many pasta sauce recipes call for crushed canned tomatoes, but I have a harder time finding low sodium crushed tomatoes. As a result, this recipe comes out a little more chunky than many pasta sauces. If you do not prefer a chunky sauce, simply blend the sauce to the consistency you would like after cooking. Or, if you can find no salt added crushed tomatoes in your grocery store, they would make a fine substitute for the diced tomatoes in the recipe.
Low Sodium Pasta Sauce Serving Suggestions
This low sodium pasta sauce can be used for so much more than pasta. Although, I certainly highly recommend it for spaghetti!
Inspired by my love of small plates and Spain, I love to make this low sodium pasta sauce into a baked goat cheese dish. Spoon some of the sauce into an oven-safe bowl and plop a chunk of goat cheese on top of the sauce. Bake at 450’F for around 10 minutes, or until the sauce gets bubbly and the cheese is nice and soft and even a little charred on the edges. Serve with some sliced baguette. You’ll be in heaven!
Other ideas for this low sodium pasta sauce:
- Homemade pizza
- Spoon over grilled veggies (zucchini, eggplant and yellow squash are my favorite!)
- Homemade lasagna
- Use as a base for soups, such as minestrone or cream of tomato
- Serve with homemade meatballs
Low sodium pasta sauce freezes very well. I like to make it in big batches and freeze 2 cup portions. Then, I can easily grab one of my small containers, defrost it, and I have just enough for another healthy low sodium spaghetti night! A perfect low sodium weeknight meal idea.
You could easily double or triple this recipe to have plenty leftover to freeze!
Low Sodium Pasta Sauce
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 6 oz tomato paste no salt added
- 3 14.5oz can diced tomatoes no salt added
- 6 fl oz dry red wine
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp dried basil
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly, 1-2 minutes or until tomato paste develops a deep color.
- Add diced tomatoes, wine, water, spices, salt and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Optional: Depending on your sauce consistency preference, blend sauce using an immersion blender or traditional stand blender. I like to leave mine a little chunky, but it is completely up to you how smooth you want to make your sauce!
- Add vinegar. Feel free to add more to taste!
22 thoughts on “Low Sodium Pasta Sauce”
Fantastic recipe, I have made it several times. After trying about half a dozen recipes previously that ranged from OK to not so good, I agree wholeheartedly, yours is one of the absolute best I have tasted on the Internet. And I can see why too! I have one question for you: when bringing the sauce to a simmer and cooking for 30 minutes, do you recommend covering the pot, or not?
I’m so glad you love it, Tony! I usually let it simmer UNcovered. This helps extra liquid evaporate and helps concentrate the sauce for a more intense flavor. Thanks for sharing!
Well, I know that any form of tomatoes, (with no salt paste, sauce or canned tomatoes), wine (any alcohol) are
no-nos for my third stage kidney disease. Also have to stay away from too much potassium, phosphorous, protein and sodium, so I would have to cut out some of this recipe. I’m looking for recipes without these.
Hi Yoony! Tomatoes are often ostracized on a “renal diet” because of potassium. However, potassium does not need to be limited for MANY people with CKD. A renal diet is different for every single person. I’d work with a dietitian to know what is best for you, based on your labs.
I am so excited that I found this low salt spaghetti sauce !
You are so welcome! I hope you love it!
We were VERY pleased! We doubled the recipe. Left out the sugar. Did half the salt. Chose balsamic over red wine vinegar. Blended with an immersion blender. It tastes really great! Thank you. We will be freezing a few meals worth.
Woo hoo! I’m so glad you liked it – even with a EVEN lower sodium version. Great job!
Do you have a recipe for red enchilada sauce for people with CKD? I to make ground turkey chili. Thanks
Hi Charlesetta! I don’t have one off hand. That is a wonderful suggestion though – I’ll add it to my list of recipes to create!
I’ve not tried this recipe yet. However, I often change Italian sauces to Mexican enchilada sauces by adding cumin, chili powder, fresh cilantro, fresh oregano, fresh basil and a little chipotle powder. Would that work for a low sodium and low potassium recipe?
Yes! All spices have minimal potassium or sodium and that change wouldn’t change the nutrition information significantly. That sounds delicious!
what portion of pasta should one with kidney disease use
Hi Gloria! Portions are completely different based on your medical history, body size and calorie needs. I’d recommend asking a dietitian more familiar with you!
Add tomato sauce, olive oil and Italian seasonings. Process until well blended. Ready to use on pizza, pasta or as a replacement for tomato sauce in recipes. Red peppers are available bottled, canned or fresh. Compare roasted red peppers and select the brand lowest in sodium or make from fresh peppers.
Love it! So easy. It is SO important to make sure you find low sodium tomato sauce or canned pepper if you go this route. Easy peasy!
Wondering why not use fresh tomatoes to eliminate salt completely..is there another substition that is healthy for “new” kidney instead of dry red wine??
Hi Michelle! You could definitely use fresh tomatoes. I usually go for no salt added canned as this doesn’t add much more salt than fresh and it is just SO much easier (and cheaper!). Honestly, nothing is going to help give this sauce as rich of a flavor as red wine. Wine is an amazing flavor booster for low sodium recipes! But, you could sub 100% grape juice (and leave out the added sugar) for the wine for a more fruity/sweeter sauce.
This recipe is great – easy to make and so tasty! We will definitely be making again.
Yay! Thank you so much! It is one of my favorites too. So glad you liked it!
I am not a “happy” cook, but with CKD am now learning. This was quick, easy and is quite tasty!
That is SO amazing to hear!! Thank you for sharing. VERY happy that you enjoyed the pasta sauce. I love to make this one all the time too!