Serious Eats

Taste Test: Strawberry Yogurt

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[Photographs: Alice Gao]

The Winners!

#1 [TIE]: If You Want Fat-Free: 365 Whole Foods
#1 [TIE]: If You Want Fatty: Liberté
#2: Emmi's Swiss

Yogurt is many things for many people. Breakfast, a lunchtime chaser to a sandwich, an anytime snack, a bedtime nibble. Peel off the top of the individually portioned cups and you've got a creamy, refreshing, protein-packed snack on the go.

Strawberry is a classic yogurt flavor but there's such a huge range in how strawberry-y these yogurts actually taste. Some have the fresh, real berry chunks swirled in; others are more artificially-flavored and sodapop-sweet.

We limited this tasting to the smaller-sized packages of yogurts, not the bigger tubs since that's a little awkward and heavy to pack in a lunchbox or bag along with a spoon. We tried 13 yogurt varieties to find the best fat-free, lowfat, and full-fat varieties.

The Contenders

Though we love some local brands here in NY from nearby dairies—just as many of you probably have your own local, small-batch favorites—we limited this tasting to nationally available brands.

  1. 365 Whole Foods (wholefoodsmarket/365)
  2. Brown Cow (browncowfarm)
  3. Dannon (dannon.com)
  4. Stonyfield (Nonfat and Lowfat varieties) (stonyfield.com)
  5. Trader Joe's (Nonfat and Lowfat varieties) (traderjoes.com)
  6. YoCrunch (yocrunch.com)
  7. Yoplait (yoplait.com)
  8. Activia (activia.com)
  9. Emmi Swiss (emmi.ch)
  10. Liberté (liberteyogourt)
  11. Wallaby (wallabyyogurt.com)

Before You Flip Out About No Greek Yogurt!

We didn't include any Greek yogurts (and we can already read the angry comments shaking their fists at us for excluding them) but hear us out. We love Greek yogurt as much as the next person but that subgroup really merits its own tasting. The Greek yogurt market has exploded over the last couple of years; we just couldn't make room for them in this tasting. Thirteen varieties in one sitting was already plenty! Let us know if you'd like us to do a special Greek yogurt round of strawberry, and we will.

In the meantime, read our previous Greek yogurt tasting here »

Or No Siggi's!

Siggi's technically isn't yogurt because it's curdled with rennet, which classifies it as a cheese. It's more like, say, goat cheese. Yogurts, according to yogurt laws, are thickened with just bacterial action alone. While we like the tangy, strained, super thick Icelandic "yogurt," it didn't seem fair to include Siggi's in this tasting. Apologies if this decision upsets anyone.

The Criteria

We only included yogurts that were available in individual portion sizes for portable eating purposes. This was a bit restrictive, but we still ended up tasting most of the major yogurt brands.

All levels of fat were invited: nonfat, lowfat, and full-fat yogurt varieties. It was harder to find the fattier options at stores, though. Many widely available yogurts on the market are made from skim milk, perhaps because it's a go-to snack for fit, calorie-mindful folks who don't want an indulgent ice cream or cheese, but still wants a creamy dose of dairy.

The Results

Our tasters preferred the yogurts that actually tasted like real strawberry. The overly sweet, artificial-tasting yogurts scored poorly, as did the bland, berry-weak ones. Texture was also very important in this tasting. We wanted it to feel creamy and silky on the tongue instead of runny, gummy, or chalky.

If You Want Fat-Free: 365 Whole Foods (6.33)

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Creamy, slightly tart, and sweet but not inappropriately so. It's a little thin, but there are nibbles of real strawberries in there—enough that you get some seeds stuck between the teeth. Tastes fresh, and looks it too. Not bubblegum-pink like some others. Light, not too rich, but still filling and satisfying.

If You Want Fatty: Liberté (6.33)

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By far the thickest. "Tastes like full fat yogurt!" said one taster (and it was). Rich and creamy, this Canadian brand of yogurt is almost pushing fresh-whipped cream territory. If you like your yogurt more decadent, or want more of a special occasion, every-once-in-a-while yogurt, this tastes very luxurious. Tongue-coatingly-creamy luxurious at 270 calories and 12 grams of fat per cup. It's also tart, almost Greek-yogurt-tart, but with a smooth, fatty background and bits of real strawberry.

Emmi Swiss (6.00)

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Perhaps the tartest, but not in a bad way. The tang is balanced by the berry sweetness. "Silky and and creamy," noted many tasters. It has a natural yogurt taste with just the right amount of berry.

Dannon Fruit on the Bottom (5.66)

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Ah, that classic Dannon taste and Pepto Bismol pink after mixing the bottom layer of fruit goop. We're not saying this is the most real-tasting, but it's definitely one of the most familiar. It's the quintessential supermarket strawberry yogurt. And sometimes you want that. Sweet, arguably too sweet, but there's plenty of strawberry flavor under there. Creamy with lots of big berry pieces to blend in.

Stonyfield and Trader Joe's, Lowfat vs. Nonfat

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We tried both the lowfat and nonfat varieties available of the Stonyfield and Trader Joe's brands. In both cases, we didn't notice a significant difference between the two options. Both were milky-creamy with strawberry bits mixed in. Neither were especially strawberry-tasting; more like natural plain yogurt with a subtle berry swirl. In the case of the Trader Joe's, the nonfat scored slightly higher; with Stonyfield, the nonfat was a few tenths of a point behind the lowfat.

What About the Rest?

The rest were either too artificially sweet or too bland. Many of the fat-free yogurts out there are chock full of fake sweeteners and hardly taste like real fruit. They taste more like strawberry soda, medicine, or the flavored fluoride treatments at the dentist.

You can immediately tell by the pinky-pink hue and teeth-hurting sweetness that they're sugarfree.

Complaints included: "too pink"..."chalky, chapsticky"..."gummy texture"..."not tart, at all"..."reminiscent of Nesquick strawberry milk."

What About Lactose-Free Yogurts?

When we asked readers for favorite lactose-free options, the ones that came up included: So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt, Silk Live Soy Yogurt, and Amande Almond Yogurt. We didn't conduct a formal tasting of these, but curious if you have more thoughts. What's the most dairy-like and luscious of the options out there?

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