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What's the best tasting tomato sauce?

We review tomato sauce from Heinz, Masterfoods, Rosella and more.

tomato sauce on sausage sizzle
Last updated: 29 October 2019

Tomato sauce is an Aussie pantry staple. We squirt it on our meat pies, dip our hot chips into it and drizzle it on our snags. So which tomato sauce tastes best? 

We taste test and review 22 supermarket tomato sauces, from brands including Heinz, Masterfoods and Rosella, to find out which one you should be stocking in your condiments cupboard.

Best tomato sauce

Community Co A Squeeze Of Tomato Sauce

Community Co A Squeeze Of Tomato Sauce

  • CHOICE score: 79%
  • Price per 100mL: $0.30
  • Country of origin statement: Made in Australia from at least 98% Australian Ingredients.
  • Good to know: One of the cheapest products in our test.
  • Experts say: "Thick and shiny. Strong acid on the front palate. Nice flavour. A sauce that is well balanced. Sweet and umami with a slight tang."
Ozesauce Australian All Natural Tomato Sauce

Ozesauce Australian All Natural Tomato Sauce

  • CHOICE score: 72%
  • Price per 100mL: $0.60
  • Country of origin statement: Made in Australia from at least 99% Australian Ingredients.
  • Experts say: "Deep red appearance, with lovely shine. Nice thick texture. Sweet tomato plant aroma. Spicy herbaceous flavour. Depth in flavour and richness. Good balanced sweetness vs acidity."
Heinz Big Red Tomato Sauce

Heinz Big Red Tomato Sauce

  • CHOICE score: 71%
  • Price per 100mL: $0.53
  • Country of origin statement: Made in New Zealand.
  • Experts say: "Nice glossy orange red colour, with a faint tomato aroma and sweetness. Flavour is fresh and clean. Quite acidic finish"
Aldi Colway Tomato Sauce

Aldi Colway Tomato Sauce

  • CHOICE score: 70%
  • Price per 100mL: $0.28
  • Country of origin statement: Made in Australia from at least 98% Australian Ingredients.
  • Good to know: One of the cheapest products in our test. 
  • Experts say: "Glossy and smooth. Nice, balanced aroma. Strong onion and garlic notes.  Spice tartness/tang. Sweet up front with an umami finish. Good evidence of pureed fruit."

Tomato sauce products compared

Choosing lower sugar

Sugar is a key ingredient of tomato sauce, and most products in this test are at least 20% sugar – Coles Tomato Ketchup is almost 30%. 

But if you’d prefer a lower sugar product they’re easy to find – the five products in our test with the lowest sugar content all make claims to have ‘reduced’, ‘less’ or ‘no added’ sugar:

  • Celebrate Health Tomato Sauce, Fountain Tomato Sauce Reduced Sugar and Heinz Tomato Ketchup 50% Less Added Sugar & Salt achieve their lower sugar content by using Stevia or Natvia sweeteners. 
  • Rosella Honest Kids Tomato Sauce is sweetened with carrot juice concentrate.
  • Masterfoods Tomato Sauce Reduced Salt & Sugar just uses less sugar.

Celebrate Health Tomato  Sauce is the only genuinely ‘low sugar’ product we tested – no more than 5g sugar per 100g as per the Food Standards Code – but the trade off seems to be taste, as it’s one of the lowest scoring products in our test.

Choosing lower salt

Tomato sauce can be really salty. Rosella Tomato Sauce, Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup and Three Threes Family Recipe Tomato Sauce contain more than 1200mg per 100g. This means an average 15g serve of these sauces – roughly what's in one of the portioned squirt sachets you get with your pie at the footy – will give you a fifth of the total sodium you need in a day.

If you're watching your sodium intake there are options that are only half as salty. These four products all have less than 600mg sodium per 100g: 

  • Masterfoods Tomato Sauce Reduced Salt & Sugar
  • Rosella Honest Kids Tomato Sauce
  • Fountain Tomato Sauce Reduced Sugar
  • Heinz Tomato Ketchup 50% Less Added Sugar & Salt

CHOICE tip:  It's best to check the nutrition information panel rather than rely wholly on claims. Beerenberg Tomato Sauce doesn't make any claim about its salt content, and at 380mg per 100g it's the lowest sodium product in our test.

Tomato sauce viscosity

Do you prefer your sauce thick, or runny? We used a Bostwick Consistometer to measure the viscosity of all 22 sauces on test.

What's the difference between tomato sauce and ketchup?

In the US, the FDA standard for ‘catsup’ (ketchup) requires that it be prepared from tomato concentrate with one or more of the ingredients: vinegar, ‘nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners’ (i.e. sugar), spices, flavouring, onions, or garlic.

In Australia, there’s no standard for ketchup or tomato sauce, and essentially the names are interchangeable. Four of the products in this test were labelled as ketchup (three from American-owned company Heinz, and one from Coles). But regardless of name, all of the products were similar in that they’re made from a combination of tomato puree (usually reconstituted from a concentrated tomato paste), added sugar (or sweeteners) and salt, with optional vinegar, seasonings and spices.

Interestingly the Coles tomato sauce contained less sugar and salt than its ketchup counterpart, but scored better on our taste test (64% vs 56%).

How to make tomato sauce

Fancy making your own ketchup? This tasty recipe is from Fiona Mair, CHOICE home economist.

Meet our expert taste testers

tomato sauce taste test judges

L-R Tawnya Bahr, Adam Moore, Peter van Es

Tawnya Bahr is a food consultant, chef, and founding partner of regional tour company Straight To The Source. Her culinary journey began after moving to Australia from San Francisco in 1995 when she created her own condiment product line and gourmet food distribution businesses. A Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, Tawnya regularly participates as a regional food and bakery judge for the Royal Agricultural Society's Fine Food Show.

Adam Moore has more than 25 years' experience in the industry working in restaurants, food service, retail, food manufacturing, marketing and sales. He has formal qualifications in pastry, charcuterie and butchery, food styling, food photography and sensory evaluation. He's a prolific culinary judge, with credits including judging for Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) Fine Food competitions across a range of categories. Past employers include Mars Australia, George Weston Foods, Suntory and Cerebos Foods, and the multinational Campbell Arnotts. Adam is currently corporate chef at NAFDA. 

Peter Van Es brings 35 years of food industry experience, from working as a corporate chef for 5-star hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants to consulting in the beef industry with major promotional activities in Asia. He has five years of experience as a judge for a major industry group and awards, and his most recent venture is the manufacture of a range of finger foods, sauces and ready-to-eat meals.

expert judges in kitchen lab blind tasting tomato sauce samples

Our expert judges in action

How we test

Products

We tested 22 tomato sauce products that are available nationally in major supermarket chains. We included products labelled 'ketchup' and products labelled as reduced salt and/or sugar. Price is based on the price of a 500mL (or closest) bottle in Sydney stores (not on special) in September 2019.

coded tomato sauce samples

A ketchup line-up

Tasting

Our experts tasted the tomato sauce samples 'blind' (without knowing the brands) in a randomised order, which was different for each expert.

male judge blind tasting tomato sauce samples

A sniff of sauce

Scores

Experts independently judged all tomato sauce products, scoring each sample for flavour and aroma, texture and appearance. The CHOICE score is made up of taste 90% (50% flavour, 30% texture, 10% aroma and 10% presentation) and nutrition 10% (based on the Health Star Rating, calculated from the details in the nutrition information panel and converted to a percentage). 

We recommend products with a CHOICE score of 70% or more.

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