Ketchup is always serious business. But in the summer -- when we're putting it on anything and everything from burgers and hot dogs to brats and grilled chicken -- it's particularly crucial that we're eating the best-tasting condiment on the market.
That's why here at The Stir we embarked on a blind taste test of 10 ketchup brands to determine which ones had superior tomato flavor and consistency, and which ones were disappointingly watery and bland. The winners and losers will definitely surprise you. Let's dip into the results.
For our official ketchup taste test, we blindly sampled the following 10 brands (using McDonald's French Fries for dipping) and chose the two best and two worst based on flavor and consistency:
- Whole Foods 365 Organic Tomato Ketchup
- Whole Foods 365 Ketchup
- Generic Tomato Ketchup (Best Yet)
- Heinz Tomato Ketchup
- Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup
- No Salt Added Heinz
- Reduced Sugar Heinz
- Sir Kensington Gourmet Scooping Ketchup
- Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup
- Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup (no salt)
Admittedly, the majority of our tasters went into the test thinking that best-selling ketchup brand, Heinz, would be the clear winner (and that Hunt's would come in dead last). But guess what: They were wrong. It looks like Heinz has some definite competition, as all of its products ended up somewhere in the middle.
Best Ketchup: Whole Foods 365 Organic Tomato Ketchup
This was, hands down, the favorite of the bunch. Tasters said it tasted like fresh pasta sauce but with perfect ketchup consistency. Other descriptors used included: "really nice," "slightly sweet," "perfect consistency," "thick and smooth," "exactly like what I expect ketchup to taste like," and, most tellingly, "yummy."
Runner-up for Best Ketchup: Generic Tomato Ketchup (Best Yet Brand from D'Agostino Grocery Store)
The only ketchup in the bunch that contained high fructose corn syrup, the generic ketchup had a lot of fans, too, for its bright tomato flavor. Other reactions included: "medium-thick consistency," "really tasty," "tastes exactly like McDonald's ketchup (this was a good thing)," and, "Is this my beloved Heinz?"
Worst Ketchup: Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup (No Salt)
This ketchup disappointed across the board because of its watery consistency and strong, too sweet vinegar taste. Tasters described it as "bland," "way sweet," "thin," "bleh," "yuck," "It reminds me of bad sweet and sour sauce," "tastes artificial," and "bad, as if something had gone bad."
Runner-up for Worst Ketchup: Whole Foods 365 Tomato Ketchup
It's interesting that Whole Foods organic brand topped our list, but the regular ketchup was at the bottom. Tasters mostly complained about its strong, smokey flavor. Here were some other comments: "Gross!" "artificial tomato taste," "watery," "yuck," "too sugary," "not thick enough," "vinegary," "tastes like barbecue sauce."
Which ketchup brand is your favorite?