Plain Yogurts, Ranked From Worst To Best

A probiotic spin through the refrigerator case to determine where to spend your grocery budget.

Yes, this is about plain yogurt. I know, that sounds boring. But before you click away to read about the latest crazy new dish at Taco Bell or something, let me convince you to love this product.

Plain yogurt is an artist's canvas, a solid base off of which to experiment. I use it as the ultimate marinade for chicken thighs, mixed with spices to tenderize the meat. I'll eat it sweet with nuts and honey and berries or even salty and mixed into rice. It was the base of the smoothie I made that one time I worked out. Around the world, fermented milk has taken similar forms and a variety of uses, from South Asian raita to Greek tzatziki, Icelandic skyr to Turkish ayran. I always recommend buying plain yogurt and flavoring it to your taste rather than going with pre-flavored yogurts.

Admittedly, yogurt is hard to write about and rank. The differences are subtle. But don't you want to know you're buying the best? For this ranking, I focussed on plain "normal" yogurt—not Greek or other popular formats. I went with the full-fat options whenever possible, because if you're not, what are you doing?

Here's how I and my panel of taste testers judged each product:

  • Flavor: How creamy, tangy, grassy, etc. is the yogurt?
  • Texture: Is it smooth, thin, thick, etc.? 
  • Balance: How round is the overall tasting experience, and how satisfying?
  • Our rankings are below, from worst to best.

7. 365 Organic Yogurt

As has become the norm in almost every ranking I've done, the 365 version of this product is the worst. That kind of brand consistency is honestly impressive. In the case of yogurt, it's not bad, but when there are so many great yogurts, it's just disappointing. The texture is gelatinous, on the thicker and stickier side than most, but still a little grainy. The flavor is just... nothing. You get neither a round fattiness nor a sharp tang, just blah.

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6. Trader Joe’s Organic Yogurt

Trader Joe's yogurt comes in just above its health food supermarket brethren largely because of texture. It avoids the graininess that plagues 365's version; instead, it is a little more watery. The flavor doesn't stand out next to the others in that it is also bland—but hey, this is yogurt we're talking about, after all.

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5. Stonyfield Organic Probiotic Yogurt

This was a very average yogurt, which in the yogurt world is not a bad thing. There is nothing much to note in the pro or con list, which is more than can be said for the previous entries. It is a little clumpy but not in an unappealing way, and a slightly higher tang balances it out nicely.

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4. Seven Stars Farms Organic Yogurt

I really wanted to love this yogurt because it has a cute illustration of a little brown cow on the package. This product is essentially tied with Stonyfield at 5. Whereas Stonyfield is like the "It's a Small World" ride at Disney World—pleasant, a little boring—Seven Stars Farm is Space Mountain, with high highs and low lows. The flavor is one of my favorites: With these smaller farm brands, we get fresh grassiness and high amounts of that fermented tang. The texture, on the other hand, was one of the worst. It felt like when Jell-O disintegrates in your mouth and you have that swirled mix of chunks and saliva left. Enough said?

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3. Maple Hill Organic Yogurt

Now we're talking. This yogurt points to all of those wonderful things plain yogurt can be. What really stands out about this is the tangy acidity. More than any other yogurt, Maple Hill really leaned into that sour flavor. But the intense creaminess from the grass-fed cows balances it out. It is on the runnier side, more than most, but still smooth.

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2. Brown Cow Yogurt

Like Seven Stars Farm, Brown Cow Yogurt is a win in my book because of the cow face on the tub (it connects you with nature while you eat yogurt in your cramped, city apartment!). Packaging aside, this really is a wonderful yogurt. It is well-balanced and rich, almost sweet from the creaminess. This is lacking almost any of the fermented, tangy flavor, though, so if that's your preference, this sweet and creamy yogurt is not for you.

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1. Alexandre Family Farm

This yogurt is so good. When I took my first bite I blurted out that I could taste the grass that the cows ate. My fellow tasters looked at me like I was an ass (rightfully so), but then they each tried it for themselves and wholeheartedly agreed. This is unlike any yogurt I've had; it's almost yellow in complexion from the farm-fresh cream. There is a deep earthiness from the grass factor. It is runny, pourable even, but smooth and delicious nonetheless. If you see it, buy it.

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BONUS: Old Chatham Creamery Original Sheep’s Yogurt

Though not a traditional yogurt like the rest, Old Chatham Creamery Original Sheep's Yogurt caught my attention. It's like cow's milk yogurt on steroids: richer, creamier, saltier. You get that nutty roundness you might expect from a Manchego but also a bright, fermented flavor that excites the palate.

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