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In this review:
  1. Best Cheap Salsa Comparison
  2. Salsa Reviews

Best Cheap Salsa Dip Taste Test

Salsa and chips -- the dynamic duo of snack food. Whether you're watching the football playoffs, enjoying family movie night, or stocking up for the new season of Downton Abbey, this simple combo is sure to be the hero of the hungry.

To determine which cheap salsa dips pair best with our tortilla chip picks, we organized a panel of 11 tasters and got down to business.

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Our volunteer panelists sampled 19 low price name-brand and store-brand salsas without knowing which brands were in the bowls set before them. The sample products were purchased at Safeway, Kroger, Target, Walmart, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods, and rang up at less than 19 cents an ounce.

A handful of cheap salsas stood out for their appeal to chip dippers of all taste persuasions. Great Value Mild Chunky Salsa ($1.98/24 ounces) from Walmart won high marks as a traditional salsa for being "thicker and chunky" in consistency and for having a "good taste" that's "not too overpowering." Simple Truth Organic Mild Salsa ($2.59/16 ounces), found at Kroger and affiliated markets, was judged the best organic and/or natural salsa for "nice flavors" and "good overall taste." Simple Truth Organic Tomatillo Medium Salsa ($2.59/16 ounces) was the salsa verde (green salsa) of choice based on its "good mix of spice and sweetness." And then there was Trader Jose's Salsa Verde ($1.99/12 ounces), a salsa dip sold by Trader Joe's that was disliked by nearly all our panelists due to its tartness and "lack of distinctive flavor."

Review continues below

When shopping for the salsa dips to include in the taste-off, we picked up widely available store brands over the name-brand competition and shaved cents off our grocery bill. Riverwalk Cantina Salsa ($1.58/24 ounces) was the sole name-brand contribution to the lineup, chosen for its bargain price point. Note, however, that prices generally vary by locale and sometimes within the same city, regardless whether you shop at a supermarket, big-box store, or wholesale club.

We grouped the cheap salsas into four categories: traditional salsas, natural and organic salsas, flavored salsas, and salsa verdes. To even the playing field as much as possible, we chose mild salsa dips whenever they were available. In cases where mild varieties weren't offered or on hand, we opted for salsas with a medium level of heat. Testers were asked to comment on the flavor, consistency, and appearance of each sample and to name their favorites in each category. They were also asked to determine which cheap salsas weren't up to par or were downright unpalatable.

Unsurprisingly, personal taste played a big part in the results. Panel members who liked food with a bit of heat had fewer good things to say about the milder salsa dips. Those with more sensitive palates generally disliked the salsas with stronger flavors, calling them "too salty" or "too spicy." Flavored salsas were polarizing and didn't do well overall in our testing.

Review continues below

Panel members didn't always agree on which salsas were their favorites, and those that ultimately won out did so by presenting a good balance of flavor and texture. And while the best budget-priced salsa dip brands may lag behind the best high-end artisanal salsas in these two critical dimensions, they hold up well in the midst of a crowd. What works in their favor is a near universal appeal. The best salsas we tested were neither too sweet nor too salty and boasted a chunky consistency. Nor were they too thick, or, heaven forbid, like a tomato sauce. And most importantly, they delivered a flavor punch without too much spice.

Salsa Brands We Tested
Brand Price Ounces Price Per Oz.
365 Salsa $2.29 16 $0.14
Safeway Select Chunky Classic Mild $2.49 16 $0.16
Riverwalk Cantina $1.58 24 $0.07
Kroger Traditional Salsa $2.59 16 $0.16
Trader Jose's Salsa Autentica $1.69 12 $0.14
Private Selection Authentic Restaurant Salsa $2.59 24 $0.11
Market Pantry Chunky Salsa Mild $1.97 24 $0.08
Great Value Mild Chunky Salsa $1.98 24 $0.08
365 Organic Salsa Mild $2.99 16 $0.19
O Organics Mild Salsa $2.49 16 $0.16
O Organics Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa $2.49 16 $0.16
Simple Truth Organics Mild Salsa $2.59 16 $0.16
Archer Farms Organic Mango Peach $2.69 16 $0.17
365 Roasted Chipotle $1.99 16 $0.12
Great Value Lime Garlic Salsa $1.98 24 $0.08
Safeway Select Salsa Verde $2.99 24 $0.12
365 Salsa Tomatillo $2.99 16 $0.19
Trader Joe's Salsa Verde $1.99 12 $0.17
Simple Truth Organic Tomatillo Medium Salsa $2.59 16 $0.16

by Gina Briles (Google+ Profile)

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Filed in: Dining, Family, Food,

Best Cheap Salsa

Great Value Mild Chunky Salsa
Gold Medal

Great Value Mild Chunky Salsa

Best Traditional Salsa. This Walmart-brand salsa hit just the right unobtrusive notes with a taste and consistency that satisfied all members of our tasting panel. In particular, they liked the chunks and barely-there spiciness.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Simple Truth Organic Mild Salsa
Gold Medal

Simple Truth Organic Mild Salsa

Best Organic or Natural Salsa. Of the organic and natural salsas we tested, Kroger's house brand Simple Truth Organic Mild Salsa was one of few to find favor with our panel. A touch of sweet and smoke in the flavor appealed, but the consistency was declared a tad thin.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Simple Truth Organic Tomatillo Medium Salsa
Gold Medal

Simple Truth Organic Tomatillo Medium Salsa

Best Salsa Verde. Our tasting panel agreed that this Kroger-brand dip bested the other salsa verdes in the sample. The thick consistency and touch of fruity spice won them over.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »

Don't Bother

Trader Jose's Salsa Verde

This Trader Joe's salsa was a near total turn-off for our panelists. They objected to the sour taste and sauce-like texture.

Read more »

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