When it comes to America’s favorite condiment, you might think of one brand and one brand only. (Yes, the one that starts with an H.) And we get it — we admire that kind of loyalty! But there are a number of ketchup brands out there that also provide excellent flavor or might be more economical so we set out to find out which ketchup is truly the best. With a panel of eager taste testers, we blind tasted six different ketchup brands to see which one we loved the most. (And like us, you just might be very surprised who comes in first!)
How We Tested
We conducted this trial blindly with a panel of testers, meaning that the taste testers didn’t know which ketchup was which when tasting. (But at the end, we did try to guess which was which for fun!) For this test, we had a panel of three testers so that we could compare opinions. Each ketchup was tasted with french fries for dipping. Testers were allowed to re-taste as needed to further investigate a ketchup’s qualities.
We chose six national brands of ketchup that all strived to be “classic” ketchup (no curry flavor or spicy ketchups here). We tasted Signature Select, Fody, G Hughes Sugar Free, Trader Joes, Heinz, and O Organics.
What We Looked For In a Ketchup
With ketchup, we mainly looked at three things:
Ketchup should have a solid tomato flavor with a balance of sweetness and acidity. Does the ketchup have that classic well-balanced flavor?
Ketchup should be thick and smooth, but not too thick. Was the ketchup runny? Gritty? Gloppy?
Ketchup has a signature bright red hue with a nice shine to it. Was the ketchup too dark? Too matte?
And here are the results, ranked from worst to best:
While this ketchup is meant to be a substitute for those who have to follow a low FODMAP diet, the lack of onions and garlic gives this ketchup a very unique flavor, and not in a good way. Every tester found the flavor shockingly off-putting and wasn’t eager to go back in for another taste. I noted that it had an almost fishy taste, while others noted that it had an off flavor, almost like it had gone bad. (We did try this again after it had been refrigerated and that helped mellow the flavor a bit!)
5. G Hughes Sugar Free Ketchup
We found the consistency of this ketchup to be thin and watery with a little bit of a darker hue. The flavor wasn’t offensive, but didn’t deliver a classic ketchup experience. The sweetness tasted different — one taster noted that it was almost like honey, while another mentioned it had an artificial note.
4. Trader Joes Organic Ketchup
We found this ketchup to have a much different flavor than what you generally expect from a ketchup. The texture was a little thicker and darker than other brands with a grittier mouth feel and the flavor was approaching something more like barbecue sauce. Not an offensive flavor, but not what you expect from classic ketchup.
And then the three that rose above the rest.
Our panel had a hard time choosing their true favorite, but the next three all delivered classic, delicious ketchup flavor.
3. Signature Select Tomato Ketchup
This is a classic bright red ketchup with smooth texture, and a decent balance of sweetness and acidity. A good, basic ketchup. You can’t go wrong here and the store brand pricing means it won’t hurt your wallet!
2. Heinz Tomato Ketchup
It’s true! We expected it to be our favorite but Heinz came in at number two. Heinz is the quintessential ketchup, or so we thought, but we found it just ever so slightly more plain than our top choice. Still, the balance of sweetness and vinegar is right on the money. Bright red, glossy, and thick but not gloppy. (Perfect for dipping.)
1. O Organics Tomato Ketchup
We were so surprised to find that O Organics took top place for all of us! With a little bit more sweetness than Heinz and a slightly richer tomato flavor, it edged out the competition. A classic bright red ketchup with a glossy sheen and smooth texture. Can’t go wrong here!SKM: below-content placeholder