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We Blind Tested Ketchup Brands On Fries And Hot Dogs And Picked The #1 Best

It’s ketchup season baby! With its heat waves, backyard barbecues, hiking and camping trips, beach days, and the M-F’ING FOURTH OF JULY the summer is the one time in the year when you actually need to give some thought to the ketchup you have on deck. Any other time of the year, you can probably get by on stray packets left over from fast food runs but during the summer and, more specifically, the weekends of the 4th, it’s essential to have some good ‘sup on hand for all those dogs and burgs.

The best ketchup will brighten an unctuous dish with its sweet, tangy, and umami-forward complexity, enhancing the experience with an acidic counterpoint to fatty foods and a sumptuous finish. Admittedly, the word “complexity” used in a sentence about ketchup is pretty funny, like who, aside from the disgraced former President of the United States, goes that crazy over ketchup? Well, that’s the thing, you don’t know you need good ketchup until you have it, and once you have it, you’re going to start getting really picky and particular with your ketchup specifications.

So who makes the best stuff? We decided to find out which bottle of ketchup is essential for your Fourth of July barbecues by blind taste testing 20 bottles on French fries and hot dogs. We hope that by testing the ketchup on a meat and side dish, we’d be able to zero in on the absolute best bottle in the fairest way possible. Let’s dip… and squirt.

Methodology:

For this blind taste test, I had my partner bring me a single fry (from my favorite corner burger spot) on a plate and a portion of a hot dog (beef franks) with a dollop of ketchup for each — 20 times in a row. This is actually a lot more complicated than it might seem because when it comes to meat, I’m a stickler for hot food. So I had to eat all of these really fast and in batches of five — having my girlfriend cook four dogs at a time on a cast iron pan (seared dogs over boiled!) over the span of about forty minutes for what she called my, “stupid hot dog article.”

Here are the brands we’re working with for this blind taste test:

  • 365 Whole Foods Organic Tomato Ketchup
  • Annie’s Organic Ketchup
  • Brooklyn Curry Ketchup
  • California Ketchup With Saffron And Living ACV
  • Fody Ketchup
  • Good Food For Good Ketchup
  • Heinz Organic Ketchup
  • Molonay No Added Sugar Ketchup
  • Noble Made Tomato Ketchup
  • Organicville Ketchup
  • Portland Organic Ketchup
  • Primal Kitchen Ketchup Organic Unsweetened
  • Signature Select Tomato Ketchup
  • Sir Kensington’s Classic Ketchup
  • Sprouts Organic Ketchup
  • Tessemae’s Classic Ketchup
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup
  • Trader Joes Tomato Ketchup with Black Summer Truffle
  • True Made Veggie Ketchup
  • Walden Farms Ketchup Sauce

Part 1: The Tasting

Taste 1:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Smacks you with a bright sweetness that tastes cheap. The consistency is very water and easily slips off a fry rather than adhering to it as it should.

On Hot Dogs:

It’s way too sweet, it needs something earthier and more distinct to counterbalance the intense sugariness. Ultimately, it tastes like something is missing.

Taste 2:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

This ketchup has a noticeably chunky consistency and looks separated and not well mixed. Looks aside, it tastes great, it has a nice bright flavor that really jumps out and is balanced with the right amount of subtle sweetness.

On Hot Dogs:

This one tastes really great on the beef dog. It manages to bring some of the meatiness forward with a slightly smokey finish and doesn’t tamp down the savory and salty notes with too much sugar.

Taste 3:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Almost completely neutral in flavor. All I’m getting out of this is the flavor of the fry with a subtle sweetness.

On Hot Dogs:

Again, it doesn’t really have a pronounced flavor. It’s more of a wet mouthfeel to go along with the beef than an actual flavor. Really forgettable.

Taste 4:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Is this even ketchup? It’s very vinegar-forward with only the slightest hint of tomato. I’m not a fan of this on fries at all.

On Hot Dogs:

It tastes slightly better on the dog, it has this very sumptuous and savory quality to it but it doesn’t really do what ketchup does. I’d rather use this as a base or a BBQ sauce.

Taste 5:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Distinctly different than any ketchup I’ve ever had, it has a very herbal finish to it that I can’t quite put my finger on.

On Hot Dogs:

It’s clove! And it tastes even better on the beef frank. The clove and herbal flavors really bring out the savory quality of the beef and help to emphasize garlic and onion flavors. This is a winner on hot dogs for sure.

Taste 6:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Why the hell is this so dark? This is the sort of ketchup I look at and feel instantly skeptical. You can just tell this is some hipster ketchup brand. Well, the hipsters know their ketchup because this shit smacks! It has a nice sizzling spicy finish that tastes great on french fries. It tastes like you want ketchup to, but better.

On Hot Dogs:

It tastes even better on the dog. That spicy finish is joined with some garlic notes that pair perfectly with savory beef flavors.

Taste 7:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Great color and smooth consistency. This one is very tomato-forward with a sweet finish that tastes a bit earthy and slightly floral. More like honey than sugar.

On Hot Dogs:

I’m not into this on the beef. The odd sweetness doesn’t really work with the beef.

Taste 8:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

This tastes like standard ketchup. It has a bright sweetness and a tomato paste flavor. This has to be Heinz or a generic market brand.

On Hot Dogs:

It’s good, exactly what you need it to be. It meets expectations and that makes it… kinda boring.

Taste 9:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Sour and off-putting, there is an ingredient in this ketchup that isn’t supposed to be there.

On Hot Dogs:

Coupled with the flavors of beef, the sourness of this ketchup is straight-up wince-inducing. I couldn’t take more than a bite with this one, it actually made me spit up the dog.

Taste 10:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Great flavor, standard ketchup, a bit on the sweet side.

On Hot Dogs:

It tastes very bright and prominent, but the sweetness doesn’t linger or overshadow the beefy savory notes. I like it but it’s nothing special, my guess is Heinz.

Taste 11:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Similar to the last taste, very standard ketchup. It’s bright but better balanced with its sweetness. While the flavors are standard, there is a high-quality sheen to this ketchup. The consistency is perfect, the color is consistent, and the flavor is prominent and elevating.

On Hot Dogs:

This tastes so similar to taste 10 that I’m starting to wonder if this is the same exact ketchup or at least the same brand, but I know I tried to make sure we didn’t have any duplicates. I guess I like it slightly better than taste 10?

Taste 12:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Just as I was starting to think my palate was fried and this stuff was all starting to taste the same, this came along and smacked me in the face. Wow, this has a distinct earthiness to it and tastes very natural. The sweetness is perfectly balanced and natural. I love this.

On Hot Dogs:

That earthy floral quality is curry, I know this taste well and it really comes alive on a beef frank, adding this spicy finish that is mouthwateringly addictive. So far this is my number one, hands down.

Taste 13:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Bright and tomato forward with a heaviness to the backend that seems to soak into the palate. I can already tell it’s going to taste better on the dog.

On Hot Dogs:

Yup, much better in fact. There is a smokiness and a spicy finish that I wasn’t getting on the fries. A great simple-yet-elevated ketchup.

Taste 14:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Very bright, naturally sweet, and slightly vegetal with a cool peppery finish.

On Hot Dogs:

This tastes a bit better on fries, but still really good here. Those peppery notes got lost in the salty and savory flavors of the beef, but that vegetal quality is still there.

Taste 15:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Similar to Taste 14, very vegetal but that takes prominence to the sweetness. It’s not quite as bright as ketchup typically is but the flavor is undeniably good.

On Hot Dogs:

There is a real naturalness to the flavor here, it doesn’t taste like standard ketchup, it tastes like something someone made fresh in their kitchen for your dipping pleasure. You’re going to want to go hard on this ketchup, while the flavor is good it never really hits the palate in a satisfying way, you always want to taste a bit more.

Taste 16:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Really floral and unique, but it’s more complicated than ketchup needs to be. You can tell this is some kind of fancy ketchup, and it doesn’t really hold a candle to the standard stuff you get from a packet at your favorite corner burger spot.

On Hot Dogs:

The floral notes of this ketchup do not pair well with meat. It’s doing too much, it’s more of a distraction than a compliment to the flavors of the frank.

Taste 17:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Very deep and pepper-forward flavor with an umami-packed tomato finish.

On Hot Dogs:

This tastes way better on the beef, you really get to appreciate that complex pepper-forward flavor. Very savory.

Taste 18:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

The smell is kind of off-putting. It’s pretty distracting and the flavor is even more all over the place. It honestly tastes like it’s going bad.

On Hot Dogs:

This tastes a bit better on the dog, the beef frank pairs with the very earthy and musky flavor. I don’t really like it, but it might work on something like a burger, I can see it complimenting charred flavors.

Taste 19:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

Not sure what happened to the pour here but, that looks like too much ketchup. It’s probably just that I’m getting burned out from eating ketchup but going into this was rough. Luckily, it still tastes great, I guess my tastebuds aren’t as tired of ketchup as my nose and eyes. This is very bright and slightly tangy and sweet.

On Hot Dogs:

Too tangy and sweet for the frank. This is way better on fries.

Taste 20:

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

On Fries:

The consistency of this one is super thick, with an initial spicy flavor that shifts into sweetness and settles into something rich and umami forward. Great ketchup.

On Hot Dogs:

I didn’t notice it on the fries but there are definitely some clove and spice notes lurking deep within this ketchup. It also has a nice finish. I guess I’m living proof that you just can’t get tired of ketchup.

Part 2: The Ranking

20. Walden Farms Ketchup Sauce (Taste 4)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $5.99

About The Brand:

During the tasting, I remarked that I’m not sure if this was ketchup in the first place and after seeing the bottle I’m even more unclear. Considering crushed tomatoes are the sixth ingredient on the list and this bottle is called “ketchup sauce,” I feel like there is some legal wording going on here to save Walden Farms’ ass.

This ketchup is sugar-free and calorie-free and tastes generally awful, probably as a result.

The Bottom Line:

Ketchup sauce. This stuff is gross and tastes more like vinegar than anything else.

19. Tessemae’s Classic Ketchup (Taste 9):

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $5.99

About The Brand:

I’m not against deviating from the standard ketchup recipe, but Tessemae’s website states that this classic ketchup is “made with vine-ripened tomatoes and sweetened with organic coconut nectar for that classic ketchup taste without all the junk,” but that’s wrong, this very much tastes like junk.

Sorry to Tessemae, but this very sour and wince-inducing ketchup just tastes off.

The Bottom Line:

Avoid this one.

18. Trader Joe’s Tomato Ketchup with Black Summer Truffle (Taste 5)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $3.49

About The Brand:

This ketchup is frustrating because everything about it signals that it should be good. It’s in a fancy bottle, it’s imported from Italy, and it has summer truffles in it! It’s a seasonal treat but… it just tastes so off-putting and kind of rotten. I appreciate the concept but it just doesn’t come together. And trust me, I’m not one of those people who doesn’t appreciate truffles. But this straight-up tastes like dirty feet smell.

The Bottom Line:

It sounds much better than it actually tastes. Skip it.

17. Signature Select Tomato Ketchup (Taste 8)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $2.99

About The Brand:

Signature Select is predictably boring and bland. It tastes like ketchup should taste, if you tasted this on its own you’d assume it was something standard like Heinz, but side by side with actual Heinz, this is noticeably blander. Not really worth the money you save by going off-brand.

The Bottom Line:

Stay away from the standard market brands. They get the job done but poorly.

16. Fody Sensitive Recipe Ketchup (Taste 3)

Fody
Dane Rivera

Price: $3.99

About The Brand:

Fody describes itself as a sensitive recipe, meaning it has no onion or garlic, or anything that might upset someone’s stomach if they have dietary restrictions. Unfortunately, this just doesn’t have much flavor compared to the other ketchup on this list. It gets the job done, and if you really need to stay away from garlic and onion, this won’t leave you wanting for much, but it doesn’t compare to more heavily seasoned ketchup.

The Bottom Line:

No onion, no garlic, no flavor.

15. Sprouts Organic Ketchup (Taste 1)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $3.29

About The Brand:

Sweet and bright, but a little too watery in consistency. Sprouts’ ketchup is the sort of ketchup you buy if you shop exclusively at Sprouts because the store gives you literally no other options. As a ketchup it’s fairly standard stuff, you won’t miss Heinz if you have this, but side by side, go for the Heinz.

The Bottom Line:

Too watery to be considered great ketchup. Middling stuff.

14. Organicville Ketchup (Taste 7)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $5.79

About The Brand:

For the price, this ketchup is just okay. It tastes great and the consistency is smooth, but it doesn’t really stand out compared to the other brands. Instead of sugar, this ketchup is sweetened with agave nectar, which is a nice price but if that’s what’s making it more expensive, it’s not really a good trade-off.

The Bottom Line:

Don’t get seduced by the use of agave nectar, while this ketchup is pleasingly floral it doesn’t really stand out compared to other brands. It’s pretty middling overall.

13. Acid League: California Ketchup (Taste 16)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $7.99

About The Brand:

This is clearly some kind of fancy brand of ketchup, I mean it comes in an unorthodox 8 oz jar and has the word “gastronomy” written on the bottle three times. It’s also called “California Ketchup” but is strangely from Canada. The ketchup is made from California tomato paste as well as apple juice, watermelon juice, saffron, and living apple cider vinegar. It’s more complicated than it needs to be but it definitely has a niche audience that would eat this up.

The Bottom Line:

It tastes good but it’s too expensive and the serving size is too small for your fourth of July barbecue. Keep this in the fridge maybe but it doesn’t work for serving a large party.

12. Annie’s Organic Ketchup (Taste 10)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $3.18

About The Brand:

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.

The Bottom Line:

Great-tasting no-frills ketchup. If you’re already an Annie’s fan, this take on ketchup delivers the same sort of quality as their other products. If it’s on sale or priced similarly to the standard brands, I’d pick this for a subtler take on sweetness but that same familiar simple ketchup flavor.

11. True Made Veggie Ketchup (Taste 15)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $4.19

About The Brand:

True Made’s Veggie Ketchup isn’t made with refined or artificial sweetners and instead gets its sweetness from tomatoes, apples, and a vegetable puree that features carrots and butternut squash. True Made went the natural route with its ketchup but instead of compromising for the sake of naturalness they still managed to put together a great-tasting ketchup.

The Bottom Line:

Flavorful, and sweet, but in a naturally fresh, and vegetal way. This is a great option for people who like sweet ketchup but are staying away from sugar.

10. Molononay No Added Sugar Ketchup (Taste 17)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $5.99

About The Brand:

Molonay comes straight out of Los Angeles and features a sugar-free recipe relying on monk fruit for its sweetness. The full blend features organic tomato paste, tangy apple cider vinegar, red bell pepper powder, celery seed, mustard seed, onion powder, and black pepper. It’s so flavorful you don’t really think about the lack of sweetness.

The Bottom Line:

A sugar-free ketchup that doesn’t taste like something is missing.

9. Good Food For Good Ketchup (Taste 6)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $6.99

About The Brand:

Looking at the bottle it’s finally clear why this ketchup was so off-puttingly dark. Instead of sugar, it’s sweetened with date paste which gives it a barbecue sauce-like appearance. Dark color aside, this one is full of spicy flavors that make it remarkably addicting. The brand is woman-owned and every purchase feeds a person in need, hence the name.

Good Food For Good, it delivers.

The Bottom Line:

Sugar, who needs it? Another great-tasting sugar-free ketchup that relies on spices rather than sugar to excite the palate.

8. Primal Kitchen Ketchup Organic and Unsweetened (Taste 2)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $6.99

About The Brand:

Primal Kitchen might look like a fancy top-shelf artisan brand of ketchup but it’s actually owned by Heinz. We’re not mad at that — Heinz makes some damn good ketchup and this is no exception. This ketchup is sugar-free and 100% organic, from the tomatoes to the spices.

The Bottom Line:

A great tasting, but expensive standard tasting ketchup with a nice spicy profile.

7. 365 Whole Foods Organic Tomato Ketchup (Taste 13)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $3.29

About The Brand

Whole Foods branded products generally have a characterless blandness to them (see: their mac & cheese) but this Organic Tomato Ketchup is refreshingly different. This cane sugar-sweetened ketchup is balanced with allspice, clove, and paprika notes that make it very addictive.

The Bottom Line:

Great standard ketchup that tastes like it was made from well-sourced high-quality ingredients.

6. Trader Joe’s Organic Ketchup (Taste 5)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $1.99

About The Brand:

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. But here it is.

The Bottom Line:

The cheapest best tasting bottle of ketchup you’ll find. It has a distinct herbal quality that makes it taste special compared to your standard ketchup.

5. Noble Made Tomato Ketchup (Taste 19)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $4.99

About The Brand:

Noble Made is very much artisan ketchup. It took the simple tomato-paste recipe and infused extra spices like allspice, clove, garlic, and onion with a bit of pineapple in there for an extra fruit-forward tang. That tang is a little too powerful for hot dogs but it’s hard to find something to really dislike about this ketchup.

The Bottom Line:

A great-tasting ketchup with a bit more emphasis on spices and a subtle fruity tang at the finish. This is for fans of bright ketchup.

4. Heinz Organic Ketchup (Taste 11)

Ketchup
Heinz

Price: $3.98

About The Brand:

It’s Heinz baby. This is the stuff your taste buds are probably already conditioned to think of as ketchup and in a blind lineup, it doesn’t disappoint. This just tastes exactly like you want it to, it’s tomato-forward and bright. Never feel bad for going for the old standard — Heinz is a classic for a reason.

The Bottom Line:

The best standard-tasting ketchup you’re ever going to taste. Heinz might not be an exciting pickup but it gets the job done while still being satisfying and elevating the dish you put it on from fries to burgers to hot dogs and everything in between.

3. Portland Ketchup Company Organic Ketchup (Taste 20)

Ketchup
Portland

Price: $6

About The Brand

Portland Ketchup Company bills itself as a “Classic Ketchup, reimagined” and it delivers on the front. This is your standard classic ketchup flavor, bright and tomato-forward, but just slightly better. Maybe it’s the cane sugar, maybe it’s the cayenne and clove, but whatever it is, it delivers exactly what you want from ketchup but does it better than Heinz. Instead of tomato paste, this ketchup is made from tomato puree, which is why the tomato flavors are so prominent. It doesn’t hit you as brightly as other brands, but the depth of flavor makes up for it.

The Bottom Line:

More depth of flavor and spicier than Heinz, but still in that classic ketchup ballpark.

2. Sir Kensington’s Classic Ketchup (Taste 14)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $4.29

About The Brand:

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.

The Bottom Line:

Better than your standard ketchup, but still everything you want ketchup to be. If you had this out in the wild you’d assume it was some proprietary house blend made by the restaurant you’re eating at. There is a fresh vegetal quality that edges this just above the Portland brand for me.

1. Brooklyn Delhi Curry Ketchup (Taste 12)

Ketchup
Dane Rivera

Price: $9.99

About The Brand:

Maybe it’s cheating to give a curry ketchup the number one spot but I don’t care — this is the best ketchup I’ve ever had. This ketchup is made from tomato paste, brown sugar, garlic, salt, ground chili peppers, tamarind, and other spices that give it a shifting bouquet of flavors that truly elevates whatever you put it on.

The Bottom Line:

If you want standard ketchup, this is going to be too flavorful for you but if you’re looking for ketchup that’ll stop people mid-bite to ask you why this ketchup tastes so special and unlike what they’re used to, this is that. The perfect accompaniment to fries and any meat.

This is a must for this week’s barbecue and every barbecue after.

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