If you are anything like half the population, fries just aren’t fries without a generous side of ketchup to dip them in. Also, a BBQ is not a BBQ without the right condiments and it all starts with a bottle of the red stuff. Although some see it as little more than a sauce, the majority of people seem to know that it can make or break a meal.
Sub-par products taste like sweet vinegar whilst others get the texture all wrong. This is why we have decided to create a list of the best ketchup on the market. Each one nails the taste test but some performed better than others when it came to our other criteria such as ease of pouring and value. Scroll on to see which is the best and what brands make up the rest.
Quick Summary of Ketchup
Primal Kitchen Organic Unsweetened Ketchup
This is the best organic ketchup we have tasted and although it is unsweetened it is difficult to tell any differently. It is both Keto and paleo-friendly and contains ingredients that are USDA organic approved. There is no honey, agave, or cane syrup here so expect to taste juicy tomatoes and not a mouthful of sugar.
It is a common sight at the side of the BBQ of those a little more health-conscious but also makes the ideal condiment for dipping fries and anything else that takes your fancy. Founded in 2015, the Primal Kitchen brand has gone from strength to strength with many people crying out for a food brand that is healthy but tastes great. That’s exactly what you get in this organic ketchup that will stay fresh for up to 8 months once opened.
- Organic tomato ketchup
- Unsweetened recipe
- Keto and Paleo approved
- Glass bottle not as easy to pour from
Heinz Tomato Ketchup No Added Salt
Best Low Sodium
If it was on taste alone then Heinz is hard to beat and for a lot of us, it is the iconic taste of ketchup. However, there is also the health side to consider and in this no added salt version of their well-loved recipe they have improved it on all fronts. The squeeze bottle is as convenient to use as ever and the same delicious Heinz Ketchup flavor is there of course. Kosher certified you get a lot of value in this six-pack of a product you will find in restaurants and stadiums across the country.
Anyone who is looking for low-sodium ketchup should consider this product before all others as it is one of the few that actually maintains an excellent taste and silky-smooth texture rather than that pulpy grainy type that not everyone likes.
- No added salt, same great flavor
- Squeeze bottle is easy to use
- Smooth texture
- Comes as a 6 pack
- Contains high fructose corn syrup
HUNTS TOMATO KETCHUP 100% NATURAL 1 x 680g
For ketchup that is 100% natural with no preservatives in sight, Hunts Tomato Ketchup is one of the best. It comes in an easy to squeeze container and because it is not overloaded with sugar you get to taste the tomatoes. It is known for coming with a zest that is obvious from the first taste without any high fructose corn syrup.
Made with vine-ripened tomatoes from California that for many people is the best tasting tomato ketchup available. Although mayonnaise outsells ketchup in the US, it is products like this that are keeping it close and in the 680g bottle, you are getting enough to last you a good amount of BBQs.
- 100% natural
- Made from vine-ripened tomatoes
- Good value in the 680g bottle
Sir Kensington’s Classic Ketchup 20 oz, 2 Pack
A classic ketchup recipe that is non-GMO, there is a lot to like about this products especially since it is made from Californian vine-ripened tomatoes. The two-pack is good value considering the price and it contains no high fructose corn syrup. There is no paste or concentrate as the first ingredient, just tomatoes as it should be and it is also kosher-friendly, paleo-friendly, gluten-free, and soy-free.
With no artificial ingredients, it tastes great and has a pleasing texture as you bite into those fries or dip those nuggets. There is a little raw cane sugar in there to lift the taste but even this is organic and fair trade.
- No artificial ingredients
- Contains raw cane sugar but it is organic and fair trade
Steve’s PaleoGoods, PaleoChef Ketchup
It can be hard enough following a Paleo lifestyle let alone having to live without ketchup but no more thanks to Steves PaeloGoods and this bottle. Although the creators would advise against dipping regular fries in there it does taste good and can be enjoyed with a side of sweet potato fries if you are sticking to a Paleo diet. Either way, it does have a nice tang to it and all without refined sugars.
Instead, it has an array of spices and the likes of orange blossom honey and golden seedless raisins help to sweeten it up a little. The bottle is easy to use but the shelf life is somewhat smaller than most – because it’s natural it is best enjoyed within 30 days of opening. Don’t let this put you off what is a good option for anyone who is eating clean.
- Natural ingredients
- No refined sugars
- Lots of flavor
- Has to be consumed within 30 days of opening
Heinz Ketchup Single Serve Packets (9g Packets, Pack of 200)
Although these convenient packets aren’t Heinz’s organic or low-salt ketchup you’re paying for their portability. Still, there is no denying the great taste although many people will be averse to the sugar content. If you are trying to avoid ketchup that contains sugar then you might consider another product on the list but here you’re getting 200 x 9g packets of the original recipe Heinz Ketchup.
The texture is the same one that everyone seems to know and is full of vine-ripened tomatoes and a handful of spices. These are perfect for keeping in your bag for a ketchup emergency or taking on a picnic and are packed in a sturdy box to keep the packets intact.
- Convenient packets
- Bulk pack is good value
- Some people received ketchup close to the expiry date
When it’s time to upgrade your ketchup you need to start by researching what makes a quality product. If you are bored of the same two brands you always buy then you need to reconsider your condiment options but when every company makes the same promises it can be hard to tell them apart.
This is why we have created the following guide, to help clarify some of the better attributes of quality ketchup and ensure you know what to avoid. We cover everything worth knowing to make your next purchase an easy one.
What To Look For In Ketchup
The First Ingredient
This is a good place to start and if you remember nothing else then make sure you check the first ingredient before buying. Not only do some brands list sugar as the first (always a bad sign), but some have concentrate or puree. What you want to know is that the first ingredient is made up of tomatoes and nothing else.
You want as many of these as possible with some brands giving you a product that is made only from natural ingredients. A popular start is with vine-ripened tomatoes but anything from vinegar to raw cane sugar can be natural.
The main thing to do is to make sure the product you buy has as few or no artificial ingredients as possible. If you can’t read the ingredient with ease then it might be best to avoid it and although a lot of products tend to have high fructose corn syrup as part of the ingredients list, there are alternatives out there.
Not enough people put the right amount of emphasis into this as it needs – texture accounts for so much of what makes a ketchup good or one to swerve. If you look at any blind test then the results are pretty conclusive – smooth texture beats grainy and pulpy pretty much every time.
The grainy types tend to fall off a fry so you don’t get a good coating and although these are often the healthier options, it doesn’t always make for good ketchup.
Again, look at the results of any blind taste test and what you will find is a mix of random people with a majority that lean towards a tangy, vinegar led taste. This can be picked up by a handful of spices but the taste should have a blend of tang as well as being sweet with a hint of savory in there too.
This isn’t going to be high on everyone’s list, but if it is then you do not have to go without organic ketchup. There are plenty of products out there with many brands offering an organic alternative on top of their non-organic version and the result is often just as good.
Although it is better to keep the sugar content down, sometimes it is difficult to avoid it altogether. Even the natural and organic products that seem good on first impressions can be full of sweeteners such as honey and agave syrup. There is no replacement for the natural tang of tomatoes and as long as the added sugar or sweet alternative doesn’t take over then you should still enjoy the ketchup.
This can be in the form of long shelf life for those who don’t use a lot of ketchup to using packet ketchup that you can throw in a bag. There are certain products that are more convenient to use than others. We’ll get onto the types of bottles used a little later.
Although buying ketchup from a food festival can be good, they aren’t always easy to get hold of again if you enjoyed the product. There are plenty of products that are made by reputable brands and the benefit of this comes with quality customer service should you have any questions and certain standards when it comes to quality.
Sweetened Vs Unsweetened Ketchup
This is all down to personal preference and although the health benefits of unsweetened ketchup might be obvious, they don’t always taste as good. As long as they have compensated for the lack of sweetness with flavor (it can be in the form of added spice for example), then there are some great tasting unsweetened ketchup on the market.
Tomato Ketchup Shelf Life
Most of us tend to avoid certain preservatives but if you do, you have to keep an eye on how long the ketchup you are looking at will stay fresh for. Natural products can last for as little as a few weeks once opened and although you probably don’t want ketchup that is still ok to use a year or so after opening it is important to know how long yours lasts before you buy, especially if you do not use it so often.
Ketchup Bottles: Plastic Vs Glass
So you’ve managed to decide on ketchup that ticks all the important boxes to you but now you have to make another decision, the bottle.
There is a lot of good going for glass bottles, they feel sturdy and are free from BPA’s which is something that can’t always be said for plastic containers. Still, when the bottle is anywhere near half empty and below you can find yourself spending more time using your palm to knock the bottom just to get the ketchup pouring. Then, you can find it difficult just to make the thing stop.
There is no such hassle with a plastic bottle of ketchup as accuracy is easy. Still, you want to make sure the plastic is made from BPA-free materials but if it is, at least there is little risk or the packaging breaking in transit which can be an issue with glass ketchup bottles.
It’s all down to personal preference with benefits to both.
Although quality ketchup can be right in front of you, it isn’t always easy to know how good it is until you’ve tasted it for yourself. The best way to get close to a good thing is by following the above to enjoy great tasting ketchup that gives you another excuse to have fries with that.