Best and Worst Ketchups
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We Tried 13 Ketchups and These Are the Best (and Worst)

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Best and Worst Ketchups
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The Secret's in the Sauce

When it comes to America's favorite brand of ketchup, Heinz wins hands down, according to research conducted by Statista. But just because more Americans say they prefer Heinz to Hunt's — or any other brand — does that mean it's really the best brand of ketchup you can buy? To find out, we purchased 13 kinds of ketchup, including sugar-free (sometimes called keto ketchup), organic, and low-sodium varieties, then subjected them to a blind taste test. All samples were tasted straight and with french fries; the results are ranked best to worst.


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Heinz Simply Tomato Ketchup
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Heinz Simply Tomato Ketchup: Best Ketchup Overall

Cheapism Taste Test Winner–Best KetchupOne of the reasons why so many Americans love Heinz may be because Heinz has been making ketchup since 1876 — longer than just about anyone — and has set the standard for how the condiment "should" taste. The primary difference between their Simply Tomato Ketchup and the "classic" version (just two of the 21 ketchup varieties Heinz sells) is the use of cane sugar, rather than high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup, to give Heinz its subtle sweetness. That sugar also evens out the tang of the vinegar just enough to give Heinz Simply ketchup a balance and depth of flavor few can match.


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Sir Kensington's Classic Ketchup
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Sir Kensington's Classic Ketchup: Runner-Up

Cheapism Taste Test–Best Ketchup Runner UpThis ketchup comes closest to homemade: thick, rich, with a deep red hue and a texture that clings tenaciously to french fries. It's got less vinegary bite than Heinz, with a fuller, more savory flavor that hints at onion, green pepper, and allspice. One reason for that unique flavor: Unlike most ketchups in this comparison, Sir Kensington's uses tomatoes, rather than tomato concentrate, as its first ingredient. If you love ketchup but want a little less tang, this is your condiment.


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Primal Kitchen Organic and Unsweetened Ketchup
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Primal Kitchen Organic and Unsweetened Ketchup: Best Sugar-Free Ketchup

If you're diabetic, following a keto diet, or otherwise need to cut your sugar intake, even condiments are fair game for rethinking. There are a fair number of low- and no-sugar ketchups out there, including a few in this roundup; this is the best, although if you're accustomed to a sweetened ketchup, you will notice a difference. Primal Kitchen uses balsamic vinegar, rather than white. This smoothes out that familiar tangy bite, but the ketchup lacks the hints of spice and depth of flavor of our top choices.


Related: 26 Delicious Recipes That Use Up Those Aging Condiments in the Fridge

Good & Gather Organic 33% Less Sugar, 55% Less Sodium Ketchup
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Good & Gather Organic 33% Less Sugar, 55% Less Sodium Ketchup: Best Low-Sodium Ketchup

This reduced-sugar and -salt ketchup from Target's "upscale" brand, Good & Gather, isn't quite on par with our top picks, either, but it was our favorite condiment from Target or rival Walmart. The overall flavor is balanced, with just enough sweetness that you won't miss the reduced sugar (nor, for that matter, will the extra salt be missed). Although the Good & Gather ketchup wasn't quite as tasty as name brands, particularly when it came time to dunk french fries in our samples, it would still be just fine on a burger or hot dog laden with other condiments.


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Heinz Tomato Ketchup
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Heinz Tomato Ketchup

We detected a sharper, snappier presence of vinegar in our sample of Heinz's "classic" ketchup than in our top pick, Heinz Simply Tomato, and a very subtle extra sweetness. Otherwise, you'd be hard pressed to tell the two apart, making Heinz our top pick of the rest of the pack.


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Hunt's 100% Natural Thicker & Richer Tomato Ketchup
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Hunt's 100% Natural Thicker & Richer Tomato Ketchup

Hunt's is the second most popular brand of ketchup, according to Statista, but it's definitely no Heinz clone. This version, one of two from the brand we sampled, was the preferred choice, mostly because it was definitely the thickest of the bunch (making it our go-to for fry dunking) and lacked the funky, powerful spices we detected in the lesser Hunt's sample.

Great Value Tomato Ketchup (tie)
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Great Value Tomato Ketchup (Tie)

Imagine a diner. Now, imagine the ketchup in that diner. Great Value, Walmart's house brand ketchup, tastes exactly how we think diner ketchup would taste. The consistency was notably thinner than that of Heinz, and the flavor was less intense, though still a balanced mix of sweet, savory, and sour.


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Market Pantry Thick & Rich Ketchup
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Market Pantry Thick & Rich Ketchup (Tie)

Target's "other" house brand ketchup had the smoothest mouthfeel of our samples, but otherwise was very similar to Great Value taste-wise. If you're looking for a cheap bottle of ketchup to take to that potluck or picnic, this is a decent, inexpensive option.


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Hunt's Tomato Ketchup
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Hunt's Tomato Ketchup

Like your ketchup super-tart and almost-too-tangy? Then Hunt's original ketchup is the condiment for you. It had by far the most vinegary bite of the ketchups we sampled; too much, in our opinion. But the tomato base was rich and savory, though it could have used more sweetness to counter the tang.

Trader Joe's Organic Ketchup
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Trader Joe's Organic Ketchup

We're not quite sure what all funky flavors are that we detected in this, our only organic ketchup of the bunch. Though tomato-y, it also had a slightly vegetal taste with funky hints of onion and celery powder and a weirdly sweet aftertaste.


RelatedSnack Food Showdown: Trader Joe's vs. Aldi

G. Hughes Original Recipe Sugar Free Ketchup
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G. Hughes Original Recipe Sugar-Free Ketchup

Easily the runniest of the bunch, it pooled and spread like none of the other ketchups we sampled. Despite being sugar-free, it was surprisingly (though not overwhelmingly) sweet, thanks to the addition of sucralose. A little too heavy on the onion powder for our taste, and too thin to cling satisfactorily to fries.

Heinz No Sugar Added Ketchup
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Heinz No Sugar Added Ketchup

What does Heinz ketchup taste like without any sweetening at all? Bright with a hint of bitterness on the back end. "Heinz Lite," as one of our tasters referred to it, was our least favorite of its brandmates we sampled.


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Great Value 50% Less Sugar, 50% Less Sodium Ketchup
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Great Value 50% Less Sugar, 50% Less Sodium Ketchup

With its thin consistency and overpowering vinegary bite, this was hands-down our least favorite ketchup. It bore little resemblance to its Walmart brandmate, which we strongly prefer.