White Sandwich Bread

From America's Test Kitchen Season 7: Chicken Kiev

Overview:

With all the hype about artisanal bread, the sliced stuff in the plastic bags doesn’t get much attention these days, but it should. Many families still go through a loaf or two of sandwich bread every week. So why not buy the best? We gathered eight leading brands of white sandwich bread, in country styles with larger slices whenever possible, and held a blind tasting.

For our first test, tasters sampled the bread plain. Because some of the breads are not available in large slices, we cut the samples into pieces so tasters would focus on taste and texture, not size. Tasters weren’t fooled. They gave top marks to the hearty texture of the two brands that have larger-than-usual slices—1 1/2 ounces each versus 1 ounce for the competition.

Tasters detected big flavor differences, too. Our top-rated brands were deemed the “sweetest” breads in the lineup. There were many complaints about “sour” and “off” notes in the lower-rated brands. It turns out that some of these brands contain vinegar (often added to increase shelf life).… read more

With all the hype about artisanal bread, the sliced stuff in the plastic bags doesn’t get much attention these days, but it should. Many families still go through a loaf or two of sandwich bread every week. So why not buy the best? We gathered eight leading brands of white sandwich bread, in country styles with larger slices whenever possible, and held a blind tasting.

For our first test, tasters sampled the bread plain. Because some of the breads are not available in large slices, we cut the samples into pieces so tasters would focus on taste and texture, not size. Tasters weren’t fooled. They gave top marks to the hearty texture of the two brands that have larger-than-usual slices—1 1/2 ounces each versus 1 ounce for the competition.

Tasters detected big flavor differences, too. Our top-rated brands were deemed the “sweetest” breads in the lineup. There were many complaints about “sour” and “off” notes in the lower-rated brands. It turns out that some of these brands contain vinegar (often added to increase shelf life). Lower-rated breads also contain almost twice as many ingredients as our top-rated breads, with many more additives and preservatives, which may also explain the unpleasant aftertaste.

We then asked tasters to try the breads in grilled cheese sandwiches. Though volunteers for this tasting were plentiful, clear winners were not—all the breads were pretty good. In short, once you slather your bread with butter and load it up with cheese, it gets very hard to tell one brand from another.

For our final test, we prepared simple croutons seasoned only with olive oil and salt. The same two brands that won the plain tasting swept this one. Croutons made from these loaves were consistently ranked as crunchier than the other brands.

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  • Product Tested

    Price*

  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Recommended - Winner

    Arnold Country Classics White Bread

    "This is what I expect from sandwich bread," wrote one taster of our top-rated brand. Others agreed, praising its "perfect structure" and "subtle sweetness."

    $3.19 for 24 ounces

  • Recommended

    Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Hearty White Bread

    Tasters deemed this top-rated bread "well balanced," "likeable," and "flavorful (for white bread!)," with a "familiar" taste that was "not overly sweet—just enough."

    $2.50 for 24 ounces

  • Not Recommended

    Wonder Country White Bread

    This upscale version of the bread many of us grew up with was panned as "rather dry and cardboard-like," with a "blah" flavor and "slightly sour aftertaste."

    $2.69 for 24 ounces

  • Not Recommended

    Sunbeam Giant White Bread

    Described as "classic packaged American white bread," this "squishy" bread had a "strong sour flavor" and a "texture like cotton candy" that turned off tasters.

    $2.39 for 22 ounces

  • Not Recommended

    Freihofer's Country White Bread

    There were few fans of this bread, which was described as "tasteless," "too soft," and "borderline gummy."

    $2.69 for 24 ounces

  • Not Recommended

    J.J. Nissen Butter Top White Bread

    "Who calls this fluff ‘bread’?" asked one taster of this "really soft and spongy" bread with "nonexistent" flavor. More "like eating air" than bread, said another.

    $2.39 for 20 ounces

  • Not Recommended

    Home Pride Butter Top White Bread

    Tasters found this "plasterboard sample" to be so "coarse and dry" that it would be "great for exfoliating your feet"; otherwise, a "waste of flour."

    $2.39 for 20 ounces

  • Not Recommended

    Country Kitchen Giant White Bread

    This "gutless" bread was deemed "ridiculously soft and bland," with a "plasticky" flavor that "tastes like additives."

    $2.49 for 22 ounces

*PRICES SUBJECT TO CHANGE
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