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The Best Ketchup You Can Buy at the Store

Epicurious logo Epicurious 6/20/2018 Joe Sevier
a bottle of beer © Photo by Caleb Adams

Classic Heinz ketchup is not the best ketchup in America. Despite the loyalty professed to the iconic stalwart by each Epi editor in the lead-up to our recent taste test—and their confidence that they'd be able to single it out in a crowd of 13 nationally available varieties—it fell (easily) to seventh place after each editor tasted the condiment on its own and with French fries. Rising to the top, however, was another offering from the same brand: Heinz Organic. To see how we tested and to review our ketchup criteria, scroll to the bottom of the page; but first, the rankings:

1. Our Favorite Ketchup: Heinz Organic

While the original Heinz was found to be "too sour" and "a bit gluey" by senior food editors Chris Morocco and Anna Stockwell, the organic offering was deemed "well balanced" by both Anna and social media editor Becky Hughes. It has a spicy kick that may be nearly imperceptible as heat when slathered on a burger, but would add a nice counterpoint to the richness nonetheless. And while the texture was smooth, consistent, and thick—what we've come to expect from Heinz—it didn't have the lingering gumminess of the original.

BUY IT: Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup, $5 for a 32-ounce bottle on Amazon

2. The Best Non-Organic Ketchup: French's

If you don't care for the mark-up associated with organic groceries, French's—the same brand known for its mustard—offers a great tasting, lower-priced option. Despite its non-organic status, it's still free of high-fructose corn syrup, in case that's something that does concern you. Slightly less acidic than our winner, French's also has more pronounced spice—not by way of heat, but in the allspice/clove warm-spice category. It's worth noting that the spiced-up flavor was nowhere near as pronounced as what we tasted in Woodstock, another contender on the list that Chris loved but nearly everyone else considered overpowering.

BUY IT: French's Tomato Ketchup, $2 for a 20-ounce bottle at Walmart

What We Were Looking For

a white plate topped with different types of food on a table: All we need now: 13 chocolate milkshakes. © Photo by Caleb Adams All we need now: 13 chocolate milkshakes.
When we set out to find the best ketchup on the market, we assumed it was all for show—Heinz classic would undoubtedly be the winner. It turns out that instead of the notoriously slow-dripping condiment most of us spent our childhoods waiting for, we wanted something more balanced: sweet, but with good acidity. A few brands veered too far into the acidic/sour side of the spectrum, one going so far as to taste fermented—and not in a delicious sauerkraut way, but in a "was this made with rotten tomatoes?" way.

We chose 13 contenders from popular brands available nationally in-stores and online. They had to have a traditional tomato ketchup flavor, so no Sriracha-infused or honey-sweetened variations were allowed. A small amount of spice and/or heat was nice to round out the flavor, but neither could be too extreme—any submissions that tasted too strongly of barbecue sauce or salsa were quickly down-voted. Finally, the texture needed to be smooth because, as associate editor Emily Johnson noted, "there is something totally disconcerting" about chunky, grainy, and/or watery ketchup.

How We Tested

All samples were tasted by a panel of Epicurious editors in a blind tasting. Voters tasted ketchups first with spoons, then with French fries to examine how the condiment fared in a classic pairing. All bottles were stored at room temperature and each was shaken and opened just before serving. Products labeled "organic" or "all-natural" were not treated differently and were tasted with the rest.

The Other Ketchups We Tasted

We also tasted, in alphabetical order:

All products featured on Epicurious are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Related video: The Perfect French Fry Cut

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