Supermarket standoff: Dill pickles

Bon Appetit
Pickle taste test

Photo: iStockPhoto

We have embarked on a taste test tour of supermarket foods. We nibble, we score, and we share the results to help you avoid the paralysis of Brand Choice Overload.

Today's topic: pickles.

Taste tests like those required for this Supermarket Standoff series have the potential to ruin your childhood. When a brand you grew up with doesn't hold up in a blind tasting, the very foundations of your being seem to crumble (as ours did with ice cream and tomato soup). BA's dill pickle tasting was possibly one of the worst in that category. We just don't know what to believe anymore.

After this jarring (ha!) experience, we recommend that you make your own pickles with this awesome recipe. But if you MUST purchase a jar, we've done the work to determine which is the best, flavor-wise; we also had nutritionist Marissa Lippert pore over the ingredient information to determine which brands are healthiest. To the results!

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Walmart Great Value Dill Spears

Photo courtesy of

Our Favorites for Flavor

#1. Walmart Great Value Dill Spears (TIE)

Nutrition: One serving (28 g) contains: Calories (kcal) 0; Total Fat (g) 0; Saturated Fat (g) 0; Cholesterol (mg) 0; Sodium (mg) 210; Total Carbohydrate (g) 0; Sugars (g) 0; Protein (g) 0.
Ingredients: Cucumbers, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Polysorbate 80, Natural Flavor, Yellow 5.
Cost: $1.96 at Walmart near Boston, MA.
Blind Tasting Notes: "Tastes like a cafeteria pickle" that's "sort of mushy." Some didn't like the "neon glow," but appreciated the "milder tang" and the "briny, sweet flavor." Overall, a "classic dill spear."

(See also: Photos from food ads vs. the real thing)

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Boar's Head Whole Kosher Dill

Photo courtesy of

#1. Boar's Head Whole Kosher Dill (TIE)

Nutrition: One serving (1/2 pickle) contains: Calories (kcal) 5; Total Fat 0g; Sodium 290mg; Total Carbohydrate 1g; Protein 0g.
Ingredients: Cucumbers, Water, Vinegar, Salt, Garlic, Spices, Natural Flavors, Calcium Chloride, 1/10 of 1% Sodium Benzoate as a Preservative, EDTA, Tumeric.
Cost: $3.99 at
Blind Tasting Notes: "Crisp and mild" with a "clean" taste and "great crunch." One taster noted, "the only not bad one."

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Trader Joe's Kosher Dill Pickles

Photo courtesy of Trader Joe's

#3. Trader Joe's Kosher Dill Pickles

Nutrition: One serving (1 oz) contains: Calories (kcal) 0; Total Fat (g) 0; Sodium (mg) 280; Total Carbohydrate (g) 0; Protein (g) 0.
Ingredients: gherkins, distilled vinegar, salt, mustard seed, granulated garlic, cumin, natural flavorings (dill, garlic), calcium chloride, turmeric.
Cost: $2.29 at Trader Joe's in New York City.
Blind Tasting Notes: These pickles were "not exciting," but they were a "good middle of the road." They have a "good crunch and bite" and were "tangy enough."

Nutritionist Marissa Lippert's Picks

Comments from Lippert: "All of the pickle brands had essentially the exact same nutrient facts--similar in calories, fat and sodium. We're really just talking cucumbers, salt, vinegar and garlic, here. In order to make my top three choices, I went a step further and weeded out those brands that included more preservatives and/or artificial coloring in the ingredient lists. My picks may spoil a little faster, but I'd much rather chomp on a pickle naturally colored with a bit of turmeric instead of food dye.

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Woodstock Organic Kosher Dill Pickles

Photo courtesy of

Woodstock Organic Kosher Dill Pickles (Deli Style)

Nutrition:One serving (about 1/2 lg. pickle) contains: Calories (kcal) 5; Fat (g) 0g; Sodium (mg) 290; Carbohydrates (g)1g; Total Sugars (g) 0g; Protein (g) 0g.
Ingredients: organic cucumbers, water, organic distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, organic garlic chips, organic dillweed oil, organic gum Arabic, organic natural spice flavors, xanthan gum.
Cost: $5.39 on
Blind Tasting Notes: These came in dead last. Tasters found "hints of dish soap," "too many weird spices," and a "pool water flavor." Although they were nice and crunchy, their flavor did not cut it.

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Whole Foods 365 Organic Kosher Dill Spears

Photo courtesy of Whole Foods

Whole Foods 365 Organic Kosher Dill Spears

Nutrition: One serving (38g/ bout 3/4 spear) contains: Calories (kcal) 0; Total Fat (g) 0; Sodium (mg) 280; Total Carbohydrate (g) <1; Protein (g) 0.
Ingredients: organic cucumbers, water, organic vinegar, salt, organic dehydrated garlic, calcium chloride, natural flavors, organic turmeric (for color).
Cost: $3.99 at Whole Foods in New York City.
Blind Tasting Notes: "Too sour and sweet," but with a "good crunch," and a nice "deli-style appearance."

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Trader Joe's Kosher Dill Pickles

Photo courtesy of Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's Kosher Dill Pickles

Nutrition: One serving (1 oz) contains: Calories (kcal) 0; Total Fat (g) 0; Sodium (mg) 280; Total Carbohydrate (g) 0; Protein (g) 0.
Ingredients: gherkins, distilled vinegar, salt, mustard seed, granulated garlic, cumin, natural flavorings (dill, garlic), calcium chloride, turmeric.
Cost: $2.29 at Trader Joe's in New York City.
Blind Tasting Notes: These were third on our list for flavor. Yay!

More at Bon Appetit:

Bon Appétit's Guide to the Ultimate Burger

25 Ways to Use Sriracha

25 One-Bite Appetizers

10 Quick and Easy School-Night Dinners

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