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Taste Test: Greek Yogurt

"If you're really into that trademark sour Greek yogurt funk taste, go with Fage, whereas Chobani is best for intimidated beginners."

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[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

Greek yogurt inspires an obsessive, almost cultish following that few other foods ever will. It's tarter than the average Yoplait, as thick as crème-fraîche, and packed with protein. Newbies have to work up to the tang, adding honey or fruit in the training wheels period. But the hard-core Greek yogurt eaters can handle it straight up. Fage remains the pioneering brand but many competitors have popped onto the fridge aisle.

What exactly defines a Greek yogurt? The real kind from Greece is typically made of sheep's milk, but in most parts of the world, the term just refers to any extra thick yogurt, no matter the milk type, where the whey has been strained out. We put our lactose tolerances on the line to find the best. The results, after the jump.

Best Fat-Free Plain

It was a tough call between Chobani ($1.69 for six ounces) and Fage ($1.89 for six ounces). Only a couple points separated the two in the fat-less category. If you're really into that trademark sour Greek yogurt funk taste, go with Fage, whereas Chobani is best for slightly intimidated beginners. Either way, they're both creamy and around 100 calories for a six-ounce serving.

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Blueberry goo.

Best Fat-Free Blueberry

Many of the Greek yogurt brands offer a blueberry flavor, but once you stir up all that syrupy gunk at the bottom, you kind of forget about the Greek part. If you want to eat blueberry yogurt just throw some darn blueberries on top. But of the four brands we tried, Stonyfield Farm's Oikos ($2.19 for 5.3 ounces) held onto its tangy base the most, and the blueberries were the most blueberry-tasting. Which is always good.

Most Desserty Fat-Free Flavor

If you're a sucker for dalmatian-like vanilla bean flecks, go for Trader Joe's Organic Vanilla Bean ($1.69 for six ounces). It was pleasantly sweet, creamy but not too rich, and did we mention, awesomely beany?

Fat-Free Honorable Mention

Brown Cow ($1.19 for six ounces) just entered the Greek yogurt scene and ain't so bad. With a nice tang and thickness, it also features the brand's signature flower-nibbling cow on the package. And can you really say no to that adorable bovine face?

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Scoopage of Fage Total Classic.

Most Like Butter

Can people actually eat a whole serving of this? Almost a golden shade, the Trader Joe's Plain Greek Yogurt ($2.49 for twelve ounces) was so thick, stirring it felt like mixing cement. For 18 grams of fat and 260 calories per one cup serving, this isn't something you could eat every morning, but a couple spoonfuls is a pretty nice splurge. The Fage's Total Classic is even fattier with 23 grams of fat and 300 calories per serving, but the Trader Joe's version was just as decadent. Go do something fun with that extra five grams of fat you just saved!

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Most Like Honey Butter

Many Serious Eaters hipped us to the Greek Gods Honey ($1.49 for six ounces), and boy were you people right. This also falls under the basically butter yogurt category with 14 grams of fat and 250 calories per serving. If you can handle eating a whole tub of this rich fluff, more power to ya, but we think a couple dollops is plenty. Ooh, on cake perhaps? This brand also wins for best ancient-looking Greek font and Zeus-like figure on the foil top.

Robyn's Famous Doodles

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It wouldn't be a Serious Eats taste test without Robyn sketching anthropomorphic yogurt blobs between bites. [Ed. note: See last time's milk chocolate doodles.] More swaddled babies need to be thrown into inflatable tubs of yogurt! Hmm, all that milk fat probably did something funny to our heads.

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