Just looking at all the options in the dairy aisle these days is enough to give anyone a case of Greek-yogurt fatigue. Even once you’ve ruled out flavored varieties, cut out any that have sweeteners, and nixed the reduced-fat versions, there are still way too many to choose from.
Turning the container around to check what's inside doesn’t help much either, since nearly every brand of Greek yogurt lists the same ingredients: milk, live active cultures, and sometimes cream. They're also made using essentially the same technique of straining regular yogurt until a large portion of the water, whey, and lactose have been removed. What’s left is a much thicker product, with roughly half the sugar and twice the protein of regular yogurt.
That endless parade of same can make it tempting to just reach for the nearest tub and keep moving. But despite the shared ingredients and process, all yogurts are not the same in taste—or texture. Graininess, thickness, and flavor all vary considerably between brands.
We took it upon ourselves to test our way through nine products, with the goal of finding one that really does stand out from the rest. This yogurt had to be rich, creamy, and just tart enough—something we’d want to eat by the spoonful. In fact, we decided to specifically seek out a Greek yogurt that was ideal for eating straight from the container (though presumably it'd also work in all sorts of cooking and baking applications, too). Some tasters were surprised by the results, noting that their blind-test favorite won out over the brands they’d been buying at the store.
How We Chose and Tested the Greek Yogurts
It was a bit challenging to decide what we, as an office, look for in Greek yogurt. Personally, I like a thinner, tangier Greek yogurt, while others argued that thinness in a strained yogurt was a disqualifying characteristic. Some of us like our yogurt smooth as can be, and others prefer it with a little bit of graininess and texture. With all of this in mind, we left enough room in our testing to declare a few different winners.
We decided to test only full-fat Greek yogurts, and avoided any that had added flavors or sweetening agents. We didn’t test any of these plain yogurts in recipes—such as coffee cake or banana bread—because, again, we were looking for a yogurt perfect for eating as is, or with toppings.
I settled on nine brands of Greek yogurt (well, technically eight, plus one popular brand of Icelandic-style skyr), all of which are widely available online and in grocery stores. Some are made using organic milk, active live cultures, and nothing else, while others use nonorganic milk. Several yogurts use thickening agents to bolster texture, and some include cream for extra richness.
To start, I scooped the contents of each container into a randomly numbered bowl. The bowls were set out in our test kitchen, alongside several very professional palate-cleansing snacks.
The seven testers were given a scoring sheet to fill out for each yogurt, on which they were asked to rate each yogurt’s smoothness (ranging from grainy to totally smooth), creaminess, tanginess, and overall flavor. After they’d scored the yogurt on each of those criteria, they were asked to give each yogurt an overall rating, taking all of their prior scores into consideration.
All the testers went about completing their sheets very differently. I noticed one of my coworkers painting little dollops of each yogurt onto her small paper plate, artist's palette–style. She then turned her plate-palette upside down and waited to see which yogurt would slide off first. I’m still not entirely sure what this method accomplished, but I was impressed. Some tasted and judged each yogurt completely on its own, while others compared one to the next and backtracked to adjust their previous scores as they finished tasting through the lineup.
While our ratings for smoothness, creaminess, tanginess, and overall flavor were used to evaluate the taste and texture of the yogurts, it was the overall rating for each that decided our winners. To choose the winners, I averaged each yogurt’s overall ratings. Many finished with very similar scores, but several stood out from the rest.
A certain portion of tasters who like a somewhat thinner yogurt weren’t huge fans of our winning Siggi’s Icelandic-Style Skyr, saying they wished it were less rich. Others were put off by the intense tang of another winner, wondering how it'd be possible to eat such an intense yogurt by the spoonful. Again, because of these split opinions, I chose a few different winners, allowing room for fans of thicker, thinner, sweeter, and more tart yogurts to all peacefully coexist.
The Best Greek Yogurts
The Winner: Siggi's Icelandic-Style Skyr
Our favorite Greek yogurt isn’t technically yogurt, though its taste and texture are very similar. I decided to include Siggi’s Icelandic-Style Skyr after reading rave reviews around the web and deciding that, ultimately, the differences between this creamy, yogurt-ish product and Greek yogurt are minimal.
Some Icelanders will tell you that skyr is actually a cheese, not a yogurt. This makes some sense, as the process for making skyr in Iceland has historically involved adding rennet to milk to create curds, much as one would do when making mozzarella, resulting in something resembling a loose, creamy cheese.
However, in the US, companies like Siggi's use live active cultures in place of rennet, creating a product that is comparable to yogurt. Siggi's even prints the words "whole-milk yogurt" on the packaging for this product.
Siggi’s Icelandic-Style Skyr is made with different cultures from those used for traditional yogurt, giving the final product a sweeter, less tart flavor. Skyr is also strained further, making it ever-so-slightly thicker than most Greek yogurts, with a lovely, creamy consistency akin to that of sour cream. It pairs perfectly with sliced banana, coconut flakes, and a scoop of nut butter—the lunch I just so happen to be eating as I write this.
Tasters liked that the skyr was "really thick and rich," though some described the lack of tanginess as a "not very developed" flavor. The skyr had nearly no graininess, and looked just as silky and rich as it felt in the mouth. If what you want in yogurt is a blank canvas upon which to build a breakfast or snack (like fruit or granola), this is a great choice.
Plain Siggi's comes in both single-serving and large tubs. The company also makes a number of flavored skyrs (and even a lactose-free skyr) that we didn’t test.
The Best Thick and Sweet Greek Yogurt: The Greek Gods Traditional Plain Greek Yogurt
Several tasters noted a discernible sweetness and only a slight tang in The Greek Gods Traditional Plain Greek Yogurt, though the yogurt has no added sweeteners. This could be due to the cream added to the yogurt, an ingredient not all brands contain. The Greek Gods yogurt is less rich than the Icelandic skyr, but also has a more subdued tanginess than many of the other contenders. This yogurt uses pectin as a thickening agent, and, while its flavor stood out from the pack, it had a slightly grainier texture than our other favorites.
Fans of The Greek Gods approved of its “mild tartness” and noted that all of the flavors were “in balance.” The slight sweetness and tang of this yogurt raised some eyebrows, with one taster simply writing in their notes “what is going on here?”
Tasters clocked this yogurt as a little thinner than the skyr, and were split on whether that was a good or bad thing. I’ve eaten the leftover tub of Greek Gods yogurt for breakfast twice this week already, and have no complaints.
Greek Gods yogurt is branded as “Greek-Style,” which is to say it uses pectin to thicken, instead of straining the yogurt down in a traditional manner. This means less protein and more sugar per serving, in similar quantities as conventional non-strained yogurts. Stella notes that regardless of how Greek Gods tastes on its own, that added pectin used for thickening will ruin any baked goods it’s added to.
Though other Greek Gods flavors come in single-serving containers, the plain Greek yogurt comes only in 24-ounce tubs.
The Best Thick and Tart Greek Yogurt: Wallaby Aussie Whole Milk Plain Greek Yogurt
Wallaby Greek yogurt is perfect for those looking for a tangier, more pronounced flavor. In contrast with the slight graininess of The Greek Gods, the Wallaby has a shiny, glossy appearance and a smooth texture in the mouth. This Greek yogurt is made using organic milk—the yogurt’s only ingredient. The tanginess of this yogurt makes it feel somewhat less rich than the skyr. It's a great pick for those who like to eat Greek yogurt as is, by the spoonful.
The Wallaby Greek Yogurt is sold only in 32-ounce tubs.
In the past week, I’ve eaten my way through what remained of the three winning yogurts, and I’ve increasingly noticed the minor differences between them. It’s not that I prefer one yogurt to the other—some days I’ve enjoyed the extreme creaminess of Siggi’s, while other days I crave the more pronounced tartness of Wallaby. All three of these yogurts held their own in our taste test, but not all the yogurts we tested got such favorable reviews.
The six yogurts listed below didn’t make the cut for a variety of reasons. Some were too thin, others too grainy; a few others left off-putting tastes in the mouth, according to participants. Tasters also found several of the losing yogurts to be simply too tangy to enjoy by the spoonful.
- Fage Total 5% Greek Yogurt
- Maple Hill 100% Grass-Fed Organic Greek Yogurt
- Stonyfield Organic Greek Yogurt
- Chobani Greek Yogurt
- 365 (Whole Foods Brand) Greek Whole Milk Yogurt
- Trader Joe's Greek Yogurt