Taste Test: Best Ketchup Isn't the One You Think


ketchupKetchup 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:

  1. Whole Foods 365 Organic Tomato Ketchup
  2. Whole Foods 365 Ketchup
  3. Generic Tomato Ketchup (Best Yet)
  4. Heinz Tomato Ketchup
  5. Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup
  6. No Salt Added Heinz
  7. Reduced Sugar Heinz
  8. Sir Kensington Gourmet Scooping Ketchup
  9. Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup
  10. 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?

food, grilling, trends


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ashjo85 ashjo85

I'm a Heinz original girl, all the way. It's one of the few things I'm brand-loyal to.

Also, McD's french fries? I don't think that's the best medium...those fries are heavenly all by themselves! Burger King has better fries for covering with ketchup.

starr... starrsitter

Yeah, perhaps it's my proximity to Pittsburgh, but Heinz all the way.  Admittedly, your number one will do in a pinch as will (for those of you in parts of the middle Atlantic states can probably attest) Wegman's store brand.

Jesse... JessecaLynn

Heinz.....only kind I like.

nonmember avatar jan

you left out my personal favorite. You don't have to shake it except to get the last drop - no watery mess!!!!! Who you ask? Trader Joes. Delicious

Chris Crutcher

I've said it once and I;ll say it again; You can not perform and true BLIND taste test. For example; blind fold someone and have them drink coke, pepsi, sevenup etc and they won't be able to tell you which one they are drinking.

nonmember avatar Tim

How many people were involved in this blind taste test? I'm wondering if the sample was large enough to make the test statistically significant.

nonmember avatar Doug Otoupalik

My favorite is Del Monte, which you didn't even test!

nonmember avatar jet

using McDonald's French Fries for dipping?? We all know that alot of the taste has something to do with what we use for dipping.... go ahead America, let us set our standard on the most unhealthy fries.

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