Trader Joe's Just Released a New Ketchup-Flavored Seasoning and It's Divisive

Should you be adding this seasoning blend to cart? We have some (very strong) thoughts.

Ketchup is a polarizing condiment—does it belong on top of fries, next to them, nowhere near them? Everyone has strong opinions when it comes to the condiment, but it undoubtedly one of America's favorites, so it should come as no surprise that Trader Joe's decided to turn it into a seasoning blend. That's right. The store's (which is known for its highly sought-out product releases) latest addition is a powdered form of ketchup to "sprinkle" on any and all of your food.

Why? Nobody knows. Did anyone ask for this? I doubt it. I will say, I was initially intrigued. I went to college in Canada where ketchup chips reign supreme, and the condiment's flavor dominates the snack food aisle. There are ketchup Doritos, ketchup Lay's and Ruffles, and even ketchup-flavored rice cakes. In fact, it's a pretty common snack flavor in many Commonwealth countries that (surprisingly) never quite landed in The States.

Fear not, because now you can turn any snack into a ketchup-snack with Trader Joe's newest arrival: Ketchup Flavored Sprinkle Seasoning Blend. I got my hands on a bottle and brought it into the Allrecipes office for a little taste test, and let's just say ... we had thoughts.

trader joes ketchup seasoning
Courtney Kassel

What is Trader Joe's Ketchup Flavored Sprinkle Seasoning Blend?

First off, let's talk ingredients. They are listed, in order, as: tomato powder, sugar, kosher salt, vinegar powder, rice concentrate, onion powder, and garlic powder. The order will be important later, I promise.

It's described as, "Ketchup in powder form", and the bottle suggests using it, "wherever you'd use ketchup". According to the bottle, that includes potatoes in any form, ramen, eggs, rice, meat, and of course, hot dogs and hamburgers.

One final note: Trader Joe's is not the first brand to make ketchup seasoning. There are several other brands making it that are available for purchase online.

french fries with ketchup seasoning
Courtney Kassel

How Does Trader Joe's Ketchup Flavored Sprinkle Seasoning Blend Taste?

To try out the seasoning blend, my coworker and I got an assortment of different things to try it on ranging from the obvious to the experimental. We got French fries, popcorn, potato chips, and a wildcard: a bagel with cream cheese. When I posted to social media asking for suggestions on how to use the blend, many people suggested eggs, but that just wasn't feasible in our office.

Now for the taste test. I'll preface it by saying this—I wanted to love this! I loved ketchup chips in college and find the American equivalents never quite punchy enough. The way I describe the ketchup flavor was like a slightly sweeter salt and vinegar, with that same acidic kick that makes your mouth pucker after too many chips (but in a good way!). I was hoping this seasoning blend would bring the same tangy quality so I could DIY my own ketchup chips stateside.

Sadly, we found the Trader Joe's Ketchup Sprinkle to be too sweet. My first remark upon opening the blend was that it looked like sprinkles (it's aptly named, I guess!). And apparently that idea carries through to the actual recipe for this seasoning blend; You can see sugar granules throughout it. As noted in the ingredients, sugar is listed before vinegar powder, denoting there's more of the former than the latter in the mix, and you can definitely taste it.

On chips, it was fine, but gave them an unpleasant sweet aftertaste. Same with popcorn. The piping hot fries were a bit better, the heat allowing the spices to 'bloom' a bit more, but it still fell flat. We tried it head to head with the real stuff and regular ketchup was by far the preferable option. Weirdly my favorite application was the bagel. It elevated the natural sweetness of the cream cheese, while pairing nicely with the toasted bagel.

The Bottom Line

I wish the vinegar powder was more prominent or in a higher ratio in this seasoning blend. It needed more punch to bring the true acidic balance that ketchup adds. I'm still not giving up on the idea of ketchup seasoning altogether, and would be curious to see if the other brands nail the sugar-vinegar ratio better.

Overall, I'd say it's a fun one-time purchase to surprise the ketchup lover in your life, but wouldn't buy it again or rank it anywhere near the TJ's greats like Everything But the Bagel Seasoning. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

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