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Best Cheap Salsa Dip Taste Test

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."

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.

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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.

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.

Brand Price Ounces Price Per Oz.
REGULAR SALSAS
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
ORGANIC/NATURAL SALSAS
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
FLAVORED SALSAS
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
VERDES
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,
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