The Best Grape Jellies, Jams and Spreads, Tested by Food Network Kitchen

With the start of another school year right about the corner, these are the best brands to include in your kid’s next PB&J!

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August 12, 2022

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Photo by: Photograph by Vince Camillo

Photograph by Vince Camillo

Tested by Vince Camillo for Food Network Kitchen

You can’t have a conversation about boxed school lunch without mentioning the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Not only is it a favorite amongst kids, the sweet-meets-salty combo is also a beloved classic with adults of all ages too. If you’re wondering what makes the PB&J so popular, here are just a few reasons: It’s easy to make, durable and, once you put it together, the yummy sandwich needs no refrigeration. In preparation for the new school year, we got our hands on as many grape-flavored jellies, jams, spreads and preserves we could find and tasted them all, keeping these two questions in mind: What makes a great grape jelly? And which ones should you buy next? You’ll find the answers to both those questions, along with our delicious product recommendations, below.

A Note on Grape Jellies, Jams, Preserves and Fruit Spreads

If you wander up and down the jam aisle of your local supermarket or scroll through all the listings included on your favorite grocery delivery website, you’ll probably notice words like "jam," "jelly," "preserves" and "fruit spread" written across the jars. But what’s the difference? Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Jams are made with mashed fruit, whereas jellies are made with just fruit juice, sugar and a thickener, like pectin.
  • Preserves are made with fruit and contain fruit pieces.
  • Fruit spreads, on the other hand, are more of a catchall term, and are made with fruit juice (which sometimes provides all of the sweetness). They might or might not also have added sugars.

We included all four versions in this taste test.

How We Tested

We tested 13 grape-flavored jellies, jams, preserves and fruit spreads total. Each one was tested three different times — once at room temperature and once refrigerated — since there is such a wide textural difference between items made with fruit juice and pectin versus those that contain fruit purees. We tested to determine if those aspects affected how spreadable the grape product was. A third tasting was also done with peanut butter to test the grape products’ compatibility as a peanut butter and jelly combo.

$2.99

When it comes to grape jelly, Welch’s Natural Concord Grape Spread is a popular choice for a reason. If you’re a big grape juice or grape soda drinker, you already know what it tastes like — it’s literally bursting with quintessential grape flavor! We found this jelly to be highly aromatic and it has a bright purple, almost jewel tone-like color, which is very pleasing to the eyes. Its texture is quite smooth almost like a gel and can easily be spread across a variety of delicious items like white bread, toast and store-bought bagels. Welsh’s Concord Grape Spread is also made from very few ingredients — grapes, sugar, lemon juice and pectin and it contains absolutely no high fructose corn syrup, which is a pretty big deal! (It should be noted that while we found all the varieties we tested that contained high fructose corn syrup to taste good, they were significantly sweeter than those without. If your tastebuds run on the sweeter side, those versions are the ones to go with.) If you’re looking to use this jam beyond a classic PB&J, be sure to check out Food Network Kitchen’s Grape Jelly Slow-Cooker Meatballs. We also wouldn’t be mad if you used it as a filling for these classic jelly doughnuts.

$4.49

This delectable grape-flavored fruit spread from Santa Cruz Organic is dense and jammy. It’s also pretty firm, yet it’s still easy to spread (hence the name). Even the color is a pretty, dark red-purple, but it is not quite as glossy as the other straight-forward jellies we tried. The grape flavor in this one is solid, with an undercurrent of lush berries. This would be our go-to choice if we were making filled desserts, like these stuffed cupcakes. You can even mix it into a frosting too!

$13.99

Unlike most American jellies, which are made from native Concord grapes, this French-made one from Bonne Maman contains Muscat grapes, which lends to a deeper, richer grape flavor. This jelly is far less acidic than most of the others we tested and seemingly less sweet. Since it’s made with brown sugar, this Bonne Maman offering is also uniquely mellow, which allows the nutty, salty taste of peanut butter to really shine through when you use it in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

$10.25

If you can find it and a fan of spreads made from whole fruits, then St Dalfour French Grape Fruit Spread is definitely something you need to try! It is strong on flavor and chunky on texture, so it’s ideal on ricotta toast or mixed into a yogurt-and-granola parfait. If you're looking to use this spread inside a PB&J sandwich, we found that it pairs best with chunky-styled peanut butters, not smooth or creamy ones.

$13.14

If you’re looking for a grape spread that’s heavy on the actual grapes, Polanders All Fruit Concord Grape Spreadable Fruit belongs on your shopping list. It’s a heady and fruity concoction made from just grape, pear and pineapple juice concentrates, as well as grape puree. Cooking down the juices gives this variety a much more jammy flavor, with some unique spice notes. One caveat here — this product is not to be mistaken for those looking to avoid adding calories or spiking their blood sugar. If that’s something you’re looking for, you should go with a real sugar-free alternative that uses artificial sweeteners.

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