Our Favorite Store-Brand Products

Don't know which store-brands will give you flavor you are looking for? We're giving you the scoop on the best budget-friendly buys.

The Best Store-Brand Products

Photo: Manfred Koh

The Best Store-Brand Products

Deciding when to buy budget-friendly store-brand products and when to pass and go for the gusto can be a tricky task. Luckily, we've done the dirty work so you don't have to. Cooking Light staffers weeded through countless products to bring you the best that the store-brands have to offer.

We'll start with Whole Foods Organic 100% Whole-Wheat Bread. A hearty, dense texture makes this ideal for toast, slathered with a tart fruit preserves.

Shop: Organic 100% Whole-Wheat Bread

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Albacore Tuna

Photo: Manfred Koh

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Albacore Tuna

What you want from canned tuna are distinct, meaty flakes, and that’s exactly what you get here—plus clean, pure tuna taste.

Shop: 365 Everyday Value Albacore Tuna

Target Market Pantry Unsalted Butter

Photo: Manfred Koh

Target Market Pantry Unsalted Butter

Superior creamy texture at a great price—about $2 a pound. This is the butter to stock up on.

Shop: Market Pantry Unsalted Butter

Walmart Great Value Pie Crust

Photo: Randy Mayor

Walmart Great Value Pie Crust

Its neutral flavor puts focus on the filling. Straight out of the box, its thickness is ideal for heavy custards or quiches.

Shop: Great Value Pie Crust

Target Archer Farms Steamable Frozen Green Beans

Photo: Randy Mayor

Target Archer Farms Steamable Frozen Green Beans

Your standard steam-in-the-bag bean goes upscale with these haricots verts--like beauties. They maintained their flavor and texture, despite being frozen. Grassy, crunchy, and crisp, they're the perfect go-to for the time-strapped cook.

Shop: Archer Farms Extra-Fine Green Beans

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Toasted Sesame Oil

Photo: Randy Mayor

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Toasted Sesame Oil

A nutty, nuanced oil that's bold but not bitter. Intensely roasty, toasty flavor with a clean finish.

Shop: 365 Everyday Value Toasted Sesame Oil

Walmart Great Value Unsalted Butter

Photo: Manfred Koh

Walmart Great Value Unsalted Butter

Clean, clear butter flavor.

Shop: Great Value Unsalted Butter

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Canola Mayonnaise

Photo: Manfred Koh

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Canola Mayonnaise

Light, silky texture, balanced vinegar-lemon tang, and a nice salty kick.

Shop: 365 Everyday Value Canola Mayonnaise

Target Market Pantry Lower-Sodium Soy Sauce

Photo: Manfred Koh

Target Market Pantry Lower-Sodium Soy Sauce

Dark, strong, with an intense smoky character.

Shop: Market Pantry Lower-Sodium Soy Sauce

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Ketchup

Photo: Randy Mayor

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Ketchup

Flecks of spices set this ketchup apart from other brands. We loved the sweet and naturally clean flavor and applaud Whole Foods for making a great product with only 160 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon. Less salt but lots of flavor.

Shop: 365 Everyday Value Ketchup

Target Archer Farms Vindaloo Indian Simmering Sauce

Photo: Randy Mayor

Target Archer Farms Vindaloo Indian Simmering Sauce

Lemony and full of heat, with a backbone of cumin, coriander, and cardamom. Coconut milk and butter provide creaminess (and 4g sat fat). Traditional with pork, but try with potatoes.

Shop: Archer Farms Vindaloo

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Light Coconut Milk

Photo: Randy Mayor

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Light Coconut Milk

Thinner (without being watery) with a milder hit of coconut flavor. Not overly sweet. Does not have the oaky taste found in some light coconut milks—best in a dessert recipe.

Shop: 365 Everyday Value Light Coconut Milk

Walmart World Table Salsa Verde

Photo: Randy Mayor

Walmart World Table Salsa Verde

This is a chip clinger with cumin, salt, and heat all getting their turn on the palate. Tangy with a smoky endnote—you can tell the jalapeños were roasted properly.

Shop: World Table Salsa Verde

Target Archer Farms Tortilla Chips

Photo: Manfred Koh

Target Archer Farms Tortilla Chips

They’re corn-yellow-pretty, delectably crunchy, nicely salted, and loaded with hearty flavor. Plus, a zip-top bag closure staves off staleness (if they last long enough for a third or fourth session).

Shop: Archer Farms Tortilla Chips

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Organic Crunchy Mini Twists

Photo: Randy Mayor

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Organic Crunchy Mini Twists

Whole Foods’ house brand offered a buttery flavor balanced with just the right amount of salt and crunch (again, not tooth-breakingly hard, but not airy or floury, as several samples were).

Shop: 365 Everyday Value Organic Crunchy Mini Twists

Target Market Pantry Light Sour Cream

Photo: Manfred Koh

Target Market Pantry Light Sour Cream

So thick and luscious that one tester thought it might be mascarpone cheese.

Shop: Market Pantry Light Sour Cream

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value No Salt Added Black Beans

Photo: Randy Mayor

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value No Salt Added Black Beans

These hearty beans hold up well during the canning process—firm, yet still tender.

Shop: 365 Everyday Value No Salt Added Black Beans

Target Market Pantry Applesauce Natural

Photo: Randy Mayor

Target Market Pantry Applesauce Natural

The intensity of the apple flavor really hits in every bite—with just the right sweetness to balance the tart notes.

Shop: Market Pantry Applesauce Natural

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Organic Homestyle Waffles

Photo: Randy Mayor

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Organic Homestyle Waffles

Crisp on the outside with a tenderly chewy middle. Not overly sweet, so they're the perfect accompaniment for maple syrup.

Shop: 365 Everyday Value Organic Homestyle Waffles

Walmart Great Value Pure Olive Oil

Photo: Randy Mayor

Walmart Great Value Pure Olive Oil

This oil's clean, fresh taste is the perfect backdrop for sautéing veggies like mushrooms and onions, but its grassy finish was something we savored with a simple slice of crusty bread.

Shop: Great Value Pure Olive Oil

Target Archer Farms Plain Soy Milk

Photo: Manfred Koh

Target Archer Farms Plain Soy Milk

Stands out for its nice, thick, creamy texture and light sweetness.

Shop: Archer Farms Plain Soy Milk

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Balsamic Vinegar

Photo: Randy Mayor

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Balsamic Vinegar

For a budget balsamic, this one packs a thick, rich punch. Ready to drizzle or glaze grilled chicken or salmon.

Shop: 365 Everyday Value Balsamic Vinegar

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Oat & Honey Granola

Photo: Manfred Koh

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Oat & Honey Granola

Slightly puffed brown rice gives this not-too-sweet granola a nice, light crunch.

Shop: 365 Everyday Value Oat & Honey Granola

Target Market Pantry Frosted Bite-Sized Shredded Wheat

Photo: Randy Mayor

Target Market Pantry Frosted Bite-Sized Shredded Wheat

Its toasted whole-wheat notes are complemented—rather than obscured—by the sweet frosting. Tall, fluffy biscuits don't lose their crunchy mojo in milk.

Shop: Market Pantry Frosted Bite-Sized Shredded Wheat

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Diced, No-Salt-Added Tomatoes

Photo: Manfred Koh

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Diced, No-Salt-Added Tomatoes

A midsummer-fresh tomato taste and a nice, thick texture make this a great option for any soup, stew, or sauce that needs body.

Shop: 365 Everyday Value Diced, No-Salt-Added Tomatoes

Target Archer Farms Whole-Wheat Spaghetti

Photo: Manfred Koh

Target Archer Farms Whole-Wheat Spaghetti

Great for those just starting down the whole-wheat pasta path. A subtler flavor for subtler sauces—basic marinara would be perfect.

Shop: Archer Farms Whole-Wheat Spaghetti

Walmart Great Value Tomato Ketchup

Photo: Randy Mayor

Walmart Great Value Tomato Ketchup

Walmart's house brand is thick and clingy, has a robust vinegar flavor, and the standard 190 milligrams sodium. Its brightness is balanced by a smooth, sweet finish.

Shop: Great Value Tomato Ketchup

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Unsalted Butter

Photo: Manfred Koh

Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Unsalted Butter

A good basic-butter choice if you’re looking for organic.

Shop: 365 Everyday Value Unsalted Butter

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