How to reheat leftover pasta sauce (the 4 best ways)

If you’re wondering how to reheat leftover pasta, we’ve got the best ways to store and reheat your pasta sauce like a fettuccine Alfredo sauce with tips, helping you to pick the best method for reheating pasta sauce.

Quite often we have leftover pasta marinara sauce that we would like to use again, to help make meal planning easier for busy weeknights.


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How to reheat pasta sauce from a jar

How to heat up pasta sauce from a jar you bought at the store is quick and easy with the 2 best different methods being microwave and stove methods.

  • Remove the jar of past sauce from the fridge (assuming you stored it quickly in the fridge with the lid on).
  • Pour the amount you need or all of it in a frying pan or saucepan. You could also could use microwave-safe container for a microwave option. You can add a few tablespoons of water or broth to thin out the texture if too thick.
  • Heat over medium heat on the stove for 5-10 minutes or
  • Cook on a high setting in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute stir repeat once, a second time if necessary
  • Check for desired temperature once heated through, remove then serve

How to reheat spaghetti sauce

The best ways to reheat leftover spaghetti sauce are the same as reheating pasta sauce from a jar as in the instructions above.

Either the quickest way in the microwave or the traditional method on the stove top.

Spaghetti with sauce on a red and white plate with a fork.

Best jarred tomato pasta sauce

According to chefs these are the best jarred tomato sauce to buy from your local grocery store to perhaps use as a ravioli sauce.

How to reheat pasta sauce in microwave

How to heat up pasta sauce in the microwave method is quick and the easiest way:

  • Place in microwave-safe bowl
  • Cover with microwave-safe lid , microwave-safe plastic wrap or paper towel to prevent making a mess in the microwave
  • Add a little bit of water or broth to thin out sauce if it’s too thick
  • Cook on high heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute the first time
  • Stir the sauce cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • Once heated through to your desired temperature remove and serve

The best part of using the microwave is that it is an easy method to warm up a single serving of pasta sauce.

How to reheat pasta sauce without microwave

We have 3 terrific methods, I most often use the stove method.

How to reheat pasta sauce on the stove

Pasta sauce on stovetop with wooden spoon.

How to heat up pasta sauce using stovetop method is a good option:

  • Use a small saucepan or large pot of water, picking the right size to heat your amount of sauce
  • Add water or broth if sauce is too thick
  • Heat over a medium-low heat on the stove
  • Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula occasionally to prevent burning or sticking
  • Heat up slowly over 5-10 minutes continuing to stir
  • Once heated through reduce heat to lowest setting to keep sauce warm until ready to serve over some leftover noodles

If the sauce is sticking too much, lower your temperature for best results.

How to reheat pasta sauce in the oven

Best for a large amount of pasta sauce the oven method is a great option:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Place in proper size oven-safe baking dish
  • Add a drops of water or broth if sauce is too thick
  • Cover with aluminum foil
  • Cook for 20-30 minutes stir occasionally
  • When heated through serve over plain pasta and enjoy

Reheat pasta sauce in slow cooker

Another perfect option for a large amount of pasta sauce and it also helps to keep it warm:

  • Place in slow cooker
  • You can add a little water or broth if sauce too thick
  • Heat on a low setting for 2-3 hours stir occasionally
  • Serve when heated through or keep it warm until ready to serve

Can you use an air fryer to reheat leftover pasta sauce?

Yes you can use an oven-safe dish with a lid that fits in your air fryer in a pinch, but it is not the best method for reheating pasta sauces.

Can you reheat pasta with sauce

Yes, you can reheat pasta with a marinara sauce as I have detailed in my 5 ways to reheat pasta to find your best option.

Penne with tomato sauce and fresh basil on a white plate.

How to reheat a pasta cream sauce

Best way to reheat pasta cream-based sauces like a fettuccine alfredo is on the stove:

  • Use the proper size saucepan or pot for your amount of creamy alfredo sauce
  • If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of milk or heavy cream
  • Heat over medium heat, giving a good stir constantly to prevent scorching or curdling
  • Heat and stir until at a gentle simmer for 5-10 minutes cooking time
  • Once heated through remove and serve

If you want to use the double broiler method to warm up a creamy pasta sauce please see my best ways to reheat pasta on the stove method for instructions.

Alfredo sauce with fettucine noodles in a black cast iron skillet.

How to reheat pasta meat sauce

Pasta with meat sauce, reheated and mixed with noodles.

To reheat a pasta sauce with meat like a bolognese sauce, you would use the same way as reheating pasta sauce on the stove instructions.

If however the meat in the sauce has not yet been cooked properly, please be sure using a food thermometer to check that temperature of the meat sauce has reached 165°F for safe eating the right way.

How to keep my pasta sauce warm

Keeping pasta sauce warm is important to ensure that it retains its flavor and texture for social gatherings. 4 good options:

  • Use a Slow Cooker: set on a warm or low setting stir occasionally
  • Use a warming tray: on lowest heat setting cover with lid
  • Stove top: on lowest heat setting in saucepan stir occasionally
  • Double Boiler: steam will help keep it warm

Do not warm your sauce for too long as it can overcook and dry out the sauce.

What cheese to add to my pasta sauce?

The best cheese to add to you pasta sauce to add to the texture or flavor:

  • Parmesan cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Ricotta cheese

See also my comprehensive guide on best cheese for pasta for more detail.

Tips for reheating pasta sauce

  • If you feel your pasta sauce it too thick you can add a little bit of water or vegetable and chicken broth to thin it out to help it cook more evenly and improve the texture.
  • If your pasta sauce is sticking too much on the stove lower your temperature immediately.
  • The good news is you can improve the taste of pasta sauce in easy ways by adding cheese, herbs, garlic, vegetables, seasonings and protein.
Spaghetti on a white plate with basil.

How long will marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce last in the fridge

Pasta sauce like a marinara sauce if stored properly in the fridge can last safely for 5-7 days.

Storage and Freezing leftover pasta sauce

Best sure not to leave your pasta sauce out a room temperature for longer than 2 hours for safe eating.

Do not store your pasta in the glass jar after opened for more than 3-5 days in the fridge to avoid it going bad.

Store pasta sauce in a airtight container can last for up to 5-7 days in the fridge.

Cream based pasta sauce should only be stored for 3-5 days in the fridge.

These are conservative estimates but effective methods to help keep your food safe as mold can be hard to see forming in the sauce.

If you need to store it for a longer time freezing is a great way.

Can you freeze pasta sauce?

Yes, you can freeze leftover pasta sauce after allowing it to cool, then trasfer to a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic zip lock freezer bags removing all excess air.

Label the container with the date and it will be good for a longer time of 2 months.

How to thaw frozen pasta sauce

The best way to thaw frozen pasta sauce is in the fridge overnight.

You could also defrost in the microwave in a microwave-safe container or even in a cold bath.

Can you reheat frozen pasta sauce?

Once thawed for better results use the reheating process for pasta sauce detailed above in the different ways, for less time than in a frozen state.

If you did not thaw your pasta sauce you can still reheat on the stove, microwave, oven or slow cooker.

The amount of time to use will be longer by slow heating over a lower heat while stirring more often. You may need to add liquid to improve the texture.

If you do not thaw your pasta sauce the texture or flavor may not be as good and it not mix as well with any other ingredients you are using.

How to make pasta sauce?

Pasta sauce in a stainless steel bowl with a wooden spoon scooping some out.

Some basic steps for making a tomato pasta sauce:

  • Step 1 – Start with a base: like tomatoes, cream or oil
  • Step 2 – Aromatics: add onions, garlic or shallots add depth to sauce
  • Step 3 – Vegetables: add bell peppers, mushrooms or zucchini add texture and flavor
  • Step 4 – Seasonings: salt, pepper, Italian seasoning or fresh herbs like basil and oregano
  • Step 5 – Simmer: let sauce simmer for 15-20 minutes on low heat to let all the flavors meld together.
  • Step 6 – Adjust: taste the sauce adjusting any seasonings
  • Step 7 – Serve and enjoy over your favorite type of pasta

It is important when making pasta sauce to taste and adjust as you go!

Different types of pasta sauce

There are many different types of pasta sauce, I provide some of the most common ones:

  • Marinara Sauce: classic tomato sauce used pairs with any type of pasta
  • Bolognese Sauce: meat based sauce pairs well with thicker pasta like fettuccine or tagliatelle
  • Alfredo Sauce: creamy sauce pairs well with long thin pasta shapes like spaghetti or linguine
  • Pesto Sauce: made with fresh basil, garlic pine nuts, parmesan cheese and olive oil pairs well with short pasta like fusili or rotini
  • Arrabbiata Sauce: spicy tomato sauce pairs well with rigatoni or ziti
  • Carbonara Sauce: creamy sauce made with eggs, Parmesan, pancetta or bacon pairs well with long pasta like spaghetti or bucatini
  • Puttanesca Sauce: tangy, salty tomato sauce with olives, capers and anchovies pairs well with short pasta like penne or orecchiette.
  • Cacio e Pepe Sauce: black pepper and cheese sauce that pairs well with long noodles like capellini (angel hair) or linguine

One of the best options for any type of pasta sauce is that it can be customizable with different ingredients and seasonings to create our own delicious meal of pasta dishes.

Please tell us in the comment section at the bottom of this page – What are you favorite pasta sauces and any variations you like to use!

How to make my store bought pasta sauce taste better

Spaghetti noodels in pasta sauce on stove.

I like to use the best quality fresh herbs, cheese and protein to improve the texture and flavor of store bought pasta sauce or leftover sauce the next day.

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