The Ketchup Taste Test: We Tried 7 Brands and Picked Our 3 Favorites

updated May 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

It’s the go-to condiment for French fries; a must-have for kids; and a regular accompaniment to hamburgers, hot dogs, and veggie burgers. Yes, we’re talking about ketchup!

We tried seven well-known brands of ketchup (with French fries for dipping, of course!) and picked our three favorites. Keep reading to see which ones won.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

How We Selected the 7 Brands

I selected a variety of well-known national brands of ketchup that can be found at most grocery stores across the country, as well as one specialty brand predominantly found on the West Coast. There was a mix of both organic and non-organic ketchups based on what I found from visiting three major grocery stores in New York City.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

How We Set up the Blind Taste Test

I purchased seven brands of ketchup. I assigned each brand a letter, then poured each one into a clear plastic cup, and lined them up on a table. As for sampling, really, what better way is there to taste ketchup than with French fries? I placed a few bowls of fries on the table for the tasters to use as a vehicle for sampling the ketchup.

I asked everyone in the office to give me their thoughts on all seven ketchups and to comment on their favorite, their second favorite, and their least favorite.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

The Ketchup Taste Test Results

We’ll spare you from having to read about the losers and the ketchups we simply do not recommend. Instead, here are our favorites — along with why might like them and some of our testers’ notes.

(Image credit: Amazon)

If you like ketchup and barbecue sauce: Red Duck Classic Ketchup, $12 for 14 ounces

This was the one wild card specialty ketchup we threw into the mix, just to shake things up. Off the bat, this ketchup looked darker than the rest and had a more textured consistency. The tomato flavor was very dominant, more so than the other brands. The tasters thought it tasted more like a cross between tomato paste and smoky BBQ sauce than the classic ketchup taste they’re used to.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • “Interesting texture. I like it! It’s not too sweet or salty.”
  • “Very tomato-y!”
  • “This tastes sweet and natural.”
  • “Tastes like BBQ sauce.”
  • “Thought I wasn’t going to like it because it’s lumpy, but I love it.”
  • “It tastes like BBQ tomato paste.”
(Image credit: Amazon)

If you want a bit of tang: Hunts Tomato Ketchup, $2.50 for 35 ounces

This familiar national brand got high marks from tasters because of its balanced flavor and slight tang. It had a slight acidity and vinegary flavor that was welcoming and a great complement to the sweetness. It was a close race for the number-one slot.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • “Delicious!”
  • “Sweet & lovely.”
  • “It’s kind of acidic.”
  • “Tastes like fake Heinz.”
  • “I like it!”
  • “Has a nice acidic kick.”
(Image credit: Heinz)

If you’re a sucker for the classics: Heinz Tomato Ketchup, $3 for 32 ounces

Nearly all of the tasters immediately pegged this ketchup as Heinz. It had a really recognizable flavor that was balanced and sweet, without too much acidity. To us, Heinz is the one that still beats all those trendy upstarts. It’s the ketchup your burgers and dogs deserve. It even won a spot in our list of grocery staples.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • “This is definitely Heinz! Yum!”
  • “This tastes like delicious Heinz goodness.”
  • “I love this.”
  • “Almost a little buttery.”

Do you have a favorite ketchup that we didn’t mention here? Add it in the comments below.