About Best Loved Brands
When you’re looking for the absolute best, grocery shopping can be a real chore—dozens of brands, hundreds of choices. From cake mix to coffee, hot sauce to hummus, it can be daunting to make the picks that will make your homemade creations their best yet. That’s where Taste of Home comes in. Our culinary and editorial experts put 100+ products to the test. After undergoing a thorough review, our Best Loved Brands emerged. Find out which brands you should be grabbing at the grocery store.
Finding the Best Meatball
When it comes to the best meatballs around, I think we can all agree that our grandmothers, aunties and moms tend to have the best recipes (though our Test Kitchen might have found a winner, too!). But let’s be honest: We don’t always have time to make meatballs from scratch. That’s why a bag of meatballs from the frozen section is so appealing. Just heat them up, add them to your recipe and before you know it, dinner is served. But how do you find the best meatballs for your next dinner? Enter our Test Kitchen crew, who tested seven brands to pick the best.
When it comes to a good meatball—be it frozen or homemade—we’re looking for the same things: a great savory flavor paired with on-point seasoning (no bland meatballs accepted) plus a stellar texture—not too dry or spongy. With this in mind, our Test Kitchen panel tested a handful of meatball brands in a blind test and judged them according to these qualities:
First Place: Nature’s Rancher
For a great substitute (and shortcut) to Nonna’s meatballs, our Test Kitchen recommends reaching for Nature’s Rancher meatballs, available exclusively at Whole Foods. These homestyle meatballs had a great texture that was fork tender. Our culinary team really appreciated the slightly charred flavor mixed in—it made us think of meatballs being lovingly made over the stove. These Nature’s Rancher meatballs also had a nice blend of herbs inside including parsley and garlic, as well as some nice cheese flavors (the mix contains ricotta and Romano). We think these would be a great compliment to one of our Best Loved Brands pasta sauces!
$6.99 for a 22-oz. bag; available exclusively at Whole Foods.
Second Place: Bremer
For a meatball with a less Italian flair (but still tons of flavor!), our Test Kitchen recommends Bremer, an Aldi brand. This meatball, like our other favorites, had us thinking that it just might be homemade. This option’s great meaty texture and the perfect level of moisture had us really digging in. What we appreciated most, however, might have been the just-right spice blend of black pepper, onion and a hint of paprika—a great backdrop for so many dishes.
$2.19 for a 14-oz. bag; available exclusively at Aldi.
Third Place: Trader Joe’s
Our third notable meatball came from Trader Joe’s, one of our favorite places to shop for souped-up (yet affordable) essentials like these. This meatball option got good marks for its homemade appearance. You might just be able to fool your friends at book club with these! What our culinary and editorial panel really liked most about this Trader Joe’s option was that it had some nice seasoning: salt, pepper and red pepper flakes which gave them some zip. Since this brand doesn’t have a lot of Italian seasonings inside, they’re a great backdrop for all sorts of sauces.
$4.00 for a 16-oz. bag; available exclusively at Trader Joe’s.
What to Make with Frozen Meatballs
When it comes to frozen meatballs, the possibilities are almost limitless. Fry them up in a pan and top your favorite pasta dish or you can toss them in a slow cooker with the sauce of your choosing for an easy appetizer. Frozen meatballs are a great ingredient to have on hand and to have a little fun with. Just check out all these mouthwatering recipes.
And don’t forget about those tasty appetizer meatballs. They’re a cinch to make. Just watch and see.
Can’t get enough of our Test Kitchen taste tests? Be sure to check out our other Best Loved Brands!