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I Blind-Tasted 9 Ketchup Brands—and the Winner Will Surprise You

I still haven't recovered.

It’s no surprise that ketchup is one of the top-selling condiments in the United States. In fact, despite its roots in China and England, ketchup is considered to be one of the most “American condiments” out there. Just think about how many things we add ketchup to: fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, meatloaf, eggs, barbecue, and even cake.

Plus, we Americans were the ones who created tomato-based ketchup. If it weren’t for James Mease and Henry Heinz, we might still put England’s stale beer and anchovy ketchup on our fries.

When you think of ketchup, the first thing that comes to mind is likely the bright red bottle of Heinz in your fridge right now—because, yes, ketchup should be stored in the refrigerator.

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As a proud Pittsburgher hailing from the city where Heinz ketchup was born—and is still celebrated to this day—that’s the only ketchup I’ve ever purchased. However, there are multiple ketchup brands out there and basically every grocery store has a private label version as well.

So, is Heinz ketchup really the best ketchup on the market? We blind-tasted nine different ketchups to determine which brands we’d buy again. And, I’m sorry to say Pittsburgh, you’re not going to be happy.

How I Tested

Each ketchup was tested on its own, then on a crinkle-cut French fry. I was looking for the best-tasting ketchup with the perfect flavor and texture. A good ketchup should have a salty, umami flavor with a hint of sweetness from the tomatoes. And, it should have a good dipping consistency to cling to the fries without running off as you bring it to your mouth.

I’ve never eaten so many ketchups in my life, but here’s how they stacked up.

The Best Store-Bought Ketchup, Ranked

9. 365 by Whole Foods Market Tomato Ketchup

<p>Abby Mercer/Allrecipes</p>

Abby Mercer/Allrecipes

I’m trying not to be too hard on the brands, but the texture and flavor of this ketchup from Whole Foods Market's private label was a bit concerning. The ketchup came out of the bottle the way you’d expect jarred marinara sauce to glop out. Despite the tomato sauce look, it actually tasted more like barbecue sauce than ketchup. If given the choice, I would not eat this again.

8. Burman's Tomato Ketchup

<p>Abby Mercer/Allrecipes</p>

Abby Mercer/Allrecipes

Aldi’s private-label ketchup wasn't bad by any means, but it also wasn't great. It was a bit sweeter than I would have liked—especially as someone who’s so used to a savory, umami ketchup. All in all, Burman’s has a pretty mild taste that’s just not that exciting. Though, if you are making a big pot of barbecue sauce or baked beans that you want on the sweeter side, this 38-ounce bottle from Aldi might actually be your first choice.

7. Annie's Organic Ketchup

<p>Abby Mercer/Allrecipes</p>

Abby Mercer/Allrecipes

As an organic ketchup made without high fructose corn syrup or any other artificial ingredients, Annie’s ketchup surprised me. It had a nice acidic tang and a good smooth consistency. However, given that the ketchup is made with tomato paste and doesn’t include any artificial sweeteners, the ketchup had a tomato soup-like flavor. It could benefit from a touch more sweetness to balance out the tomato paste.

6. Hunts 100% Natural Tomato Ketchup

<p>Courtney Kassel/Allrecipes</p>

Courtney Kassel/Allrecipes

Hunt’s Ketchup was very tomato-forward, with only a little sweetness to back it up. The packaging claims it is “thicker and richer,” which I think describes it well. It’s a rich tomato-tasting ketchup with a lot of acidity and only a hint of sweetness—likely from the cane sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup.

5. Del Monte Tomato Ketchup

<p>Courtney Kassel/Allrecipes</p>

Courtney Kassel/Allrecipes

Del Monte’s ketchup was pretty lackluster. While it looked good in the bowl, it was a bit too thin to thoroughly coat the fry. And, it had more of a tomato sauce flavor than ketchup. I wanted more spice notes and a bit more sweetness from this one, rather than feeling like I was eating a French fry topped with crushed tomatoes.

4. Great Value Tomato Ketchup

<p>Abby Mercer/Allrecipes</p>

Abby Mercer/Allrecipes

Just looking at the ketchup, you could tell Great Value’s was quite thick, so it completely coated the fry. It was a good ketchup with a nice balance of acidity, tomato flavors, and sweetness. While I did want just a little bit more salty, umami flavors to cut through the sweet tomatoes, in a pinch, I wouldn’t mind reaching for this Walmart-brand ketchup again.

3. Rao's Roma Tomato Ketchup

<p>Abby Mercer/Allrecipes</p>

Abby Mercer/Allrecipes

When Rao’s launched its ketchup line last year, I was a bit skeptical. I know Rao’s Homemade jarred sauce is top-tier and customers love their frozen dinners, but something about the Italian company making ketchup threw off my brain. I can now admit I was dead wrong. This ketchup surprised me the most with its tasty tomato flavors and blend of spices. My only complaint was it had a bit of a sweet aftertaste, likely because of the sweeter Roma tomato purée. But if I was searching for a tasty, higher-quality ketchup, this would be my first choice.

2. Heinz Tomato Ketchup

<p>Abby Mercer/Allrecipes</p>

Abby Mercer/Allrecipes

I am slightly ashamed to say that Heinz did not top my list for the best-tasting ketchup. I’d like to blame it on the ketchup batch that I had, but, I’ll be honest. It was great, but it wasn’t perfect. While it had that great balance of sweet, salty, and umami flavors that we know and love from Heinz, there was one ketchup that was just so classic-tasting that I couldn’t stop going back for more.

1. Market Pantry Tomato Ketchup

<p>Abby Mercer/Allrecipes</p>

Abby Mercer/Allrecipes

Believe me, when I say there was no one as shocked as I was to learn that I chose Target’s private-label Market Pantry ketchup over the tried-and-true Heinz ketchup. But, this ketchup tasted like a quintessential ketchup should. It was tangy, sweet, tomato-forward, with a hint of umami.

Truthfully, if I encountered this in another blind taste test, I’d probably still guess that it was Heinz. It’s exactly what you’d expect just with the most unexpected brand name. But, from what we know about private labels, who’s to say that Market Pantry’s ketchup isn’t just Heinz with a Target logo? And at more than half the price of the name brand, could you really ask for anything better?

<p>Abby Mercer/Allrecipes</p>

Abby Mercer/Allrecipes

Read the original article on All Recipes.