Ketchup is one of the most beloved condiments, though there is some debate regarding what it should or shouldn’t be paired with. Snobbery aside, ketchup is a great condiment that many consumers love. Equally present with breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks we decided to round up our sources and find the best ketchup brands.
Ketchup stans will never bow to pressure from haters. One recent study highlights some of the anti-ketchup sentiment: If cooking a steak until it’s bone-dry isn’t bad enough, daters also don’t want to see a potential partner reach for the ketchup! Forty-two percent say they’d be critical of a date who slathers a steak in ketchup. Exactly the same number of men and women (42%) believe this is a steak-eating no-no. If you’re looking for a safe choice, four in 10 respondents say their favorite steak sauce is A.1. Thirteen percent opt for barbeque sauce and 10 percent like a little Worcestershire sauce on the side. Regardless of what their date may think, one in 20 people still say, “pass the ketchup!” — the same number who prefer fancier options like a wine reduction or a béarnaise sauce.
Despite this attitude towards ketchup that some folks seem to cling too, our true colors are revealed at the BBQ. Your BBQ preferences say a lot about your personality. Americans overwhelmingly prefer ketchup (63%) over mustard (27%), as a condiment. However, being an adventurous eater is a more prevalent trait among mustard lovers, rather than ketchup enthusiasts (42% vs 34%).
Your options for this staple condiment are not limited to just major names like Heinz. Whether you feel it’s only for burgers and fries, or if you love to slather it all over everything, our list of the best ketchup brands is for you. Let us know your favorite variety in the comments below!
The List: Best Ketchup: Top 5 Brands, According To Flavor Experts
Heinz Tomato Ketchup sets the standard against which all other ketchup brands are measured. Kitchn has this to say, “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.”
Heinz is a brand that is ubiquitous at restaurants in every state in the U.S. It is familiar and for some, a very comforting flavor that they can instantly recognize. Taste of Home writes: “This ketchup gave our Test Kitchen the best balance of tomato flavor, tanginess and sweetness. This is exactly the type of ketchup we all want to have on the table at our cookouts and in the fridge when we whip up some frozen fries in the air fryer. Overall, this thick, glossy ketchup had the perfect tang, perfect color and great tomato flavor.”
Although not ranked as the best with all our sources, it was still considered the gold standard. America’s Test Kitchen claims, “Our runner-up garnered high scores due to its ‘supersmooth, consistent texture’ and recognizable flavor. It was ‘pleasantly sweet’ and had ‘a great balance of vinegar and tang.'”
After Heinz, Hunt’s Ketchup is arguably one of the most recognizable brands because of its uniquely thick consistency. Restaurant News explains, “Next up is one for someone who likes a thicker consistency to their ketchup. This is a great one for slathering on your pork chop before putting it on the grill. Not only is this made from fresh tomatoes, but it will give you everything you need for a rounded flavor palette – introducing Hunt’s Ketchup. If you are looking for the hidden ‘umami’ in your ketchup, then you can’t go wrong with this one.”
Folks that prefer Hunt’s Ketchup typically cite the flavor and consistency as the reason why. Sporked details the following: “In my humble opinion, Hunt’s lives in the shadow of Heinz ketchup, but not everyone agrees… The best way I can describe it is that Heinz is banana-flavored candy and Hunt’s is a banana. Both are good, but they’re different!”
A shared experience among ketchup consumers is the dreaded separation of liquid that can cause runny ketchup if you don’t remember to shake the bottle. Taste of Home adds, “No one likes runny ketchup that slides right off your fries and onto your lap. For thick ketchup that stays put, grab a bottle of Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup. This deep red ketchup was thicker in consistency and had a well-balanced flavor—not too sweet or tangy.”
Some consumers prefer organic products and others love sweet ones. For people that fall into both categories our sources recommend Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup. Mashed writes, “Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup might just make your tastebuds sing. It’s smooth, it’s rich, and has a simple list of ingredients that are easy to pronounce (and recognize). They spell out the specific spices that are included, like allspice and clove, so there’s no need to guess what’s in this ketchup. This level of transparency is hard to get from other ketchup brands but it makes us love this Trader Joe’s ketchup that much more. ”
Trader Joe’s products can be hit-or-miss, but the reviews of their ketchup are strong. Sporked adds: “After tasting all sorts of products from TJ’s, I can confidently say that the Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup is one of the best pantry staple products they sell. Sporked contributor, Naajia Shukri, described it as ‘sickeningly sweet’ in the best way possible and I agree. This ketchup is sweet, sweet, sweet and there is nothing wrong with that.”
In addition to its distinctive flavor, Trader Joe’s Ketchup is also a budget buy. Uproxx says, “I’m blown away by this ketchup. One, it’s one of the cheaper bottles on this list, even cheaper than Heinz, but it tastes just as good as the high-quality high-priced stuff. Two, it’s Trader Joe’s, and as much as I love Trader Joe’s, the Joe’s branded stuff never does this well in a ranking.”
Annie’s Organic Ketchup is both sweeter and more acidic than other entries on this list. One unusual trait of this ketchup is that it is very highly rated and at the same time, highly critiqued. Mashed writes, “Annie’s has provided kitchens with tasty prepared organic products since 1989, well before the average diner caught onto the benefits of organic eating. Its ketchup is organic and made from California-grown tomatoes, so it has a fresh, luscious sweetness, with no high fructose corn syrup.”
Serious Eats offers some critical feedback as well. They claim, “I like this—it’s a little sweet for me, but tart enough to back it up.” Between this and Heinz’s two offerings, most tasters had trouble distinguishing the difference. All three had that familiar, not-too-tomatoey flavor laced with a hint of onion, allspice, and cloves.”
Brand loyalty is also a factor for some consumers, so much so that they may be willing to pay a bit more to get a brand that they trust. Uproxx mentions, “A great standard tomato-forward ketchup that leans on the sweet side but not in an overwhelming way. Annie’s is made with tomato paste sourced from California tomatoes, cane sugar, and a minimal amount of spices and salt.”
Here’s a newer entry that some might not be familiar with, but after you have a look at the details, you might want to try a bottle. Uproxx writes, “Sir Kensington’s is the brand that most markets hold that isn’t Heinz or Hunts. It’s a slightly elevated better sourced classic ketchup, but aside from costing more, it also packs more flavor than the standard stuff. It features fair trade organic cane sugar, green bell peppers, and a bit of allspice on the backend.”
Favorable compared to homemade ketchup, Cheapism had this to say: “This 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.”
A reviewer with Eat This, Not That! also claims that, “Admittedly, I had never heard of Sir Kensington’s before browsing my grocery store’s shelves for ketchup to taste and rank, but I’m thrilled I picked this bottle up. The first thing I noticed about it was its darker color and thicker consistency compared to the other brands of ketchup on my plate. The second thing I noticed was its outstanding flavor profile.”
You might also be interested in:
- Taste of Home
- Eat This, Not That!
- America’s Test Kitchen
- Serious Eats
- Restaurant Clicks
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.
Lea la versión en español en EstudioRevela.com: Mejor Ketchup: Las 5 Mejores Marcas, Según Expertos en Sabor.