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Nonfat Greek Yogurt

From Mediterranean Specials

How we tested

When we’re eating nonfat yogurt, we go for Greek; its characteristically thick, creamy texture helps fool us into thinking we’re enjoying a far richer dairy product. But choose the wrong brand and the result can be disappointingly sour, harsh, and thin. To find the very best, we sampled eight nationally available supermarket nonfat Greek yogurts. We held two blind tastings, first scooping them straight out of the cartons and then preparing them in tzatziki, a bright, tangy Greek sauce featuring shredded cucumbers, garlic, and dill.

As a group, these yogurts tasted distinctly tangier and more sour than their full-fat counterparts. This is because they lack the mild counterbalance afforded by milkfat. Our tasters awarded these samples marks that were lower overall than the scores given to whole-milk Greek yogurts in a separate blind tasting. (Our conclusion: We really prefer the full-fat versions.)

That said, some nonfat yogurts stood out as acceptably rich and creamy, even with zero fat. Our favorite turned out to be from the same brand whose whole-milk version we preferred: Fage. Fage Total 0% wowed our tasters with its “full,” “pleasant” dairy flavor and “rich and creamy” texture—“like what Greek yogurt should be.” 

We had an independent laboratory measure each yogurt’s titratable acidity, a measure of its sourness, and the top-ranked nonfat yogurt had the least titratable acidity at 1.36 percent—which, notably, is close to the acidity in our favorite whole-milk yogurt. Unlike a few of the whole-milk Greek yogurts we tasted, none of the nonfat yogurts in our lineup added thickeners and stabilizers to achieve their texture (of the two that did so in our full-fat tasting, one brand does not make nonfat Greek yogurt, while the other’s nonfat Greek is not widely available and so was not included in this tasting). Nevertheless, some had much thicker, denser textures than others. Our lower-ranked yogurts were much looser than our preferred brands. 

Similar to our preferences when it came to full-fat Greek yogurt, a rich, thick texture was key for nonfat Greek yogurt, and that ideal was met by Fage Total 0%. As one taster raved, “I love this yogurt. It’s impossible that this is nonfat.”

Methodology

We tasted eight nationally available supermarket plain-flavor nonfat Greek yogurts, sampling them in two blind tastings, first plain and then in Greek-style tzatziki sauce. Scores were averaged, and products appear below in order of preference. Nutritional information was taken from product labels. Titratable acidity was measured by an independent laboratory. 

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Skippy Peanut Butter

In a contest that hinged on texture, tasters thought this "smooth, "creamy" sample was "swell" and gave it top honors, both plain and baked into cookies. Its rave reviews even compensated for a slightly "weak" nut flavor that didn't come through as well as that of other brands in the pungent satay sauce.

$2.39 for 16.3-oz. jar (15 cents per oz.)*
Recommended

Jif Natural Peanut Butter Spread

The big favorite in satay sauce, this peanut butter's "dark, roasted flavor"—helped by the addition of molasses—stood out particularly well against the other heady ingredients, and it made cookies with "nice sweet-salty balance." Plus, as the top-rated palm oil-based sample, it was "creamy," "thick," and better emulsified than other "natural" contenders.

$2.29 for 18-oz. jar (13 cents per oz.)*

Reese's Peanut Butter

This is what peanut butter should be like, " declared one happy taster, noting specifically this product's "good," "thick" texture and "powerful peanut flavor." In satay sauce, however, some tasters felt that heavier body made for a "pasty" end result.

$2.59 for 18-oz. jar (14 cents per oz.)*

Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread

The only other palm oil-based peanut butter to make the "recommended" cut, this contender had a "looser" texture than its winning sibling but still won fans for being "super-smooth." Tasters thought it made an especially "well-balanced," "complex" peanut sauce.

$2.39 for 15-oz. jar (16 cents per oz.)*
Recommended with Reservations

Peanut Butter & Co. No-Stir Natural Smooth Operator

Though it says "no-stir" on the label, this "stiff" palm-oil enriched peanut butter was "weeping oil" and came across as "greasy" to some tasters. However, it turned out a respectable batch of cookies—"chewy in the center, crisp and short at the edge"—and made "perfectly good" satay sauce.

$4.49 for 18-oz. jar (25 cents per oz.)*

Maranatha Organic No Stir Peanut Butter

On the one hand, this organic peanut butter produced cookies that were "soft and sturdy" yet "moist," with "knockout peanut flavor." On the other hand, eating it straight from the jar was nearly impossible; its "loose," "liquid-y," and "dribbly" consistency had one taster wonder if it was "peanut soup."

$5.69 for 16-oz. jar (36 cents per oz.)*
Not Recommended

Smart Balance All Natural Rich Roast Peanut Butter

Besides being unpalatably "tacky" and "sludgy," this "natural" peanut butter suffered from an awful "fishy" flavor with a "weird acidic aftertaste" that tasters noted in all three applications. Our best guess as to the culprit? The inclusion of flax seed oil, an unsaturated fat that's highly susceptible to rancidity.

$3.59 for 16-oz. jar (22 cents per oz.)*

Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter

With its only additive a negligible amount of salt, the only truly natural peanut butter in the lineup elicited comments ranging from mild dissatisfaction ("needs enhancement with salt and sugar") to outright disgust ("slithery," "chalky," "inedible"). Cookies were "dry and crumbly" with a "hockey puck" texture, and the satay sauce was "stiff," "gritty," and "gloopy."

$2.69 for 16-oz. jar (17 cents per oz.)*
Done in 281 ms! 61.385 KiB - 7.5% = 56.776 KiB