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.
Published Mar. 1, 2016. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 12: Beef Kebabs and Spanakopita
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.”
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