The question is if jarred premium pesto sauce is really that much better than a cheap package of dried pesto sauce.
Pesto sauce is really awesome, but for a lot of people, the process of making pesto is a bit too involved. It does take a bit of time and mess to crush everything and blend it all up, doing it right. This is why most people turn to either a pre-made jar of pesto sauce or a package of power that your mix up and cook real quick.
Whether there is really that much of a difference between jarred pesto and powdered came to me as I was making dinner the other night and my date had requested pesto. I usually make all my own sauces, but I was in a bit of a hurry and I don’t have a proper food processor so I had to go for premade pesto sauce
This what led me to be standing in the pasta aisle looking at the $6 jar of premium pesto and comparing it to the $1.50 package of powdered pesto mix. Were they really that different? I needed to know so I grabbed one of each and got to cooking and comparing.
Pesto Ingredient Comparison
For my premium product, I went with DeLallo Simply Pesto. This was about $6 on the shelf and boasts some quality sounding ingredients.
DeLallo Simply Pesto Ingredients
- Olive Oil
- Fresh Basil
- Cashew Nuts
- Parmesano-Regianno Cheese
- Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Skimmed Powdered Milk
- Pine Nuts
To me, this sounds like the ingredient list that I would use if I was making pesto from scratch. This sounds down right healthy.
On the other side of the coin, the only option the store had for powdered pesto mix was Knorr Pesto Sauce Mix. The ingredient list for this is shockingly different. We are talking night and day difference here.
Knorr Pesto Sauce Mix
- Garlic Powder
- Potato Starch
- Parmesan and Romano Cheeses
- Spinach Powder
- Hydrolyzed Corn Protein
- High Oleic Sunflower Oil
- Natural Flavors
- Guar Gum
- Disodium Inosinate
That reads like a lab report and the fact that the first ingredient and the one that there is the most of is maltodextrin, which is bad for your gut health. If you aren’t aware, gut health is super important and more and more diseases are being related to guy dysfunction.
Just based on that, I’d avoid the powdered mix.
Nutritional Differences Between Jarred and Powdered Pesto
Both the jar of DeLallo Pesto and the Knorr Pesto Mix are designed to be mixed with one pound of pasta. The Knorr has numbers for 3 portions, the DeLallo for 4 so I’m going with the totals for the whole amount you would be adding to pasta.
I’ll let you make your own judgments on the quality of one vs the other. I think it is pretty obvious that you are going to get more calories and sodium from the DeLallo, but you are eating pasta so are you really that concerned about calories?
Jarred Pesto vs Powdered Pesto Taste Test
Time for what really counts. How do jarred premium pesto sauce vs budget powdered sauce compare on pasta in a bowl? For my taste test, I cooked up a batch of Banza Chickpea Pasta (gratuitous Amazon affiliate link) and portioned it out.
The first observation is that the DeLallo looks significantly better on the pasta and in the bowl than the Knorr does. The Knorr looks more like some olive oil with parsley leaves in it, while the DeLallo looks like an actual sauce.
The Knorr was actually sliding off the pasta and the oil was pooling in the bottom of the bowl. The Dellalo was bright green, thick and stuck well to the pasta.
The Critical Taste Test
As for taste, it pretty much parallels how they look. To me, the Knorr was flat and mostly tasted like olive oil. The date that I had over got roped into my taste test and said she didn’t totally hate it. (No I didn’t kick her out the door right then and there.)
The DeLallo had a ton of flavor which is sort of to be expected looking at the ingredient list. My only complain is that it was a touch salty, even for pesto, but that might just be me. My date didn’t complain about it and didn’t ask for more of the Knorr.
Jarred Pesto vs Powdered Pesto
You can guess here that the jarred pesto is the hands-down winner. Normally I’d be falling back to a pack of powdered sauce in a pinch, but I think in this case, I’d skip it all together rather than try and make a powdered pesto sauce work in my dinner.