Let’s just get this out of the way now: An apple a day can keep the doctor away. You can’t have an article about apples without saying that — it’s pretty much the law. But what about apple juice? Does it carry the same doctor-distancing powers? In a word: sorta.
While juicing removes the fiber from fruits, apple juice can still have some benefits, including providing hydration and protective antioxidants. But apple juice can contain too much sugar and, at times, pesticides that can be harmful when ingested in excess. The trick is to find one with the least amount of processing, added sugars, and other extras you don’t necessarily need in juice. Otherwise, you might as well be drinking apple-flavored soda.
You can make your own apple juice, but if learning to press apples is not on your top 100 things to do list, you can find some relatively healthy options at the store instead. There’s no shortage of apple juice brands and plenty of variations on the classic drink. Cold-pressed, from concentrate, unfiltered, cider vs. juice — it can all start to feel overwhelming. But we’ve got your back! Join us in the juice aisle and we’ll do our best to make it all clear while ranking the worst and best apple juice brands.
13. Old Orchard Healthy Balance Diet
With the word "healthy" blazoned across the label, you might think that Old Orchard Healthy Balance Diet Apple drink is, well, healthy. With only a handful of calories and one gram of sugar, it looks appealing. It’s only when you look a little closer that you find out why this brand is less than ideal.
For starters, it’s only 5% juice, meaning 95% of what you’re drinking is additives and water. Since there isn’t enough juice content to make the drink naturally sweet, Old Orchard uses artificial sweeteners, including sucralose and acesulfame potassium. Some studies have shown acesulfame potassium might have several harmful effects on your body, like upsetting the delicate balance of your gut microbiome. Those little dudes are important and you don’t want to mess with them.
Some people also find that sucralose has a strange taste that’s sometimes too sweet (via The Daily Meal). Apple juice should be sweet and refreshing, and not leave you smacking your tongue thanks to a strange sticky sweetness that tastes slightly artificial. On top of that, this apple juice tends to be pricey, with the Walmart price being around $4 for 64 ounces. That’s why we’re giving this one a pass.
12. Great Value Light
It’s not a good sign that Walmart’s Great Value juice is called Apple Juice Cocktail from Concentrate. The word "cocktail" usually means a lot of added sugars and not 100% juice. In this case, it means 50% juice. It also means sucralose, an artificial sweetener sometimes known by the brand name Splenda.
This brand’s mix of natural sugars and artificial sugars creates another interesting problem: A Yale study found that consuming sucralose and carbohydrates at the same time can confuse your brain and how it uses insulin. This brings with it the risk of becoming insulin resistant or even diabetic. The natural sugars contribute to the 15 grams of carbs in this apple juice cocktail, making it impossible to avoid simple carbs while consuming the sucralose that is also in this drink.
We don’t mind the sweeter taste of this cocktail, but mixed with the strange aftertaste from the sucralose, it just misses the fresh, crisp flavor we’re looking for. Great Value is true to its name: It is a great value in regard to price, at about $1.60 on the Walmart website. But there are other brands with an equally low price while having a better flavor.
11. Old Orchard Harvest Select Frozen Concentrate
When selecting an apple juice, you’re probably expecting apples to be the main ingredient. Sometimes it’s water, but apples should at least come second. In Harvest Select Frozen Concentrate, the top ingredient is water and the second ingredient is high fructose corn syrup, which gets a lot of bad press for good reason. Linked to dementia, cancer, heart disease, and more, the highly processed sweetener is not an ideal choice.
This concentrate also has only 10% juice; it’s not going to give you a fresh, real-apple flavor if 90% of its content comes from somewhere other than an orchard (perhaps that’s why it only costs about a dollar per can). There are brands that make concentrate with a lot more actual juice. Old Orchard itself even has a 100% apple juice concentrate.
Juice concentrate is often more processed than regular juice, though it can still have many of the same benefits. It should also have the same delicious taste as apple juice. This one seems to miss the mark with flavor with its too-sweet taste also, so it’s definitely not near the top of our list.
10. Capri Sun
If you ever took a lunch to school, the odds are good you’ve tried Capri Sun. Those silver pouches are still popular today, and the company makes an apple juice flavor. While you might expect that all drinks aimed at kids are full of artificial flavors and extra sugars, Capri Sun’s 100% apple juice actually has many of the same ingredients as other brands: water, apple juice concentrate, citric acid, and natural flavor.
The apple drink does taste like apples, but it lacks the full-bodied flavor found in other juices. Kids will probably enjoy it. Most adults, on the other hand, are probably looking for more taste than Capri Sun offers.
And while the trademark pouches would make it harder to water this brand down, they will help you to not accidentally drink too many servings in a sitting; however, these pouches don’t do any favors for the environment. According to the non-profit National Resources Defense Council, Capri Sun containers are part aluminum and part plastic, which is not an easy thing to recycle. While what’s inside every package is apple juice with relatively decent ingredients, it’s not hard to find many other brands that come in more environmentally responsible packaging.
Mott’s is a brand known for its apples, and Mott’s 100% Original Apple Juice looks pretty good ingredient-wise. Water, apple juice concentrate, and ascorbic acid for vitamin C are its only ingredients. It’s in the same range of calories as most apple juices, but a little higher in the sugars, at 28 grams. The taste is, frankly, unremarkable, with nothing that makes it stand out from countless store brands. When it comes to price, it’s also not one of the better options.
The problem is the name: Mott’s. Well-known brands are well known because they advertise to get their name out there. According to The Penny Hoarder, you’re shelling out money to cover the cost of not just manufacturing, but of those obnoxious commercials, billboards, and print ads you’re bombarded with everywhere you look. With Mott’s, that can mean shelling out about $3 for 32 ounces of their 100% apple juice.
The worst part is that you’re likely paying extra money for the same ingredients when you go for the brand name. There’s often very little difference in flavor between the brands you know from ads and the ones you don’t recognize. When it comes to Mott’s apple juice, there’s nothing special about the flavor that you can’t find elsewhere at a cheaper price.
8. R. W. Knudsen
R. W. Knudsen is another company that makes both regular apple juices as well as sparkling ciders, both beverages made with the exact same ingredients. R. W. Knudsen Organic Apple Juice has the benefit of a few grams less sugar than many other brands, though it still has 23 grams per serving. As with many sweeter juices, it wouldn’t hurt if you watered it down a little, especially if you’re the kind of person who loves to down a daily glass of apple juice.
The biggest problem with R. W. Knudsen’s apple juice is the price. At about $5 for 32 ounces, it tends to run about $2 more expensive than your average apple juice, or even more if you buy it at a health food store. It tastes strongly of apples, with a natural, fresh flavor, so for some people it’s worth the extra cost. But if you’re looking for a more economical apple juice, there are plenty more options.
Langers Apple Juice is slightly higher in sugar and calories than some other brands, but that might be due to the fact that their ingredients include both juice concentrate and fresh-pressed juice. Juice concentrates sometimes contain more sugar than straight juice.
Because of this extra sugar, Langers apple juice has a sweeter flavor than your average juice. Whether or not that’s a good thing varies from person to person. If you’re looking for a juice that’s a sweet treat, Langers will hit the spot. If you’re after something with a less sweet taste, then you probably want to give this one a miss.
Langers does come at a reasonable price, though, at about $2 for 64 ounces, but it costs more than the average juice without offering anything too different in flavor from other brands. For us, the little extra sweetness of Langers apple juice isn’t worth those extra cents.
Welch’s originally came on the market and became known for its grape juice, but it turns out that the company makes a pretty good 100% apple juice, too. It’s a drink with no added sugars — artificial or otherwise — and a short ingredient list, plus it’s fortified with your full recommended daily value of vitamin C, which can aid the health of everything from your bones to your eyes. Best of all, it tastes delicious, with a full apple flavor.
According to the Welch’s website, the company is also committed to doing whatever it can to be sustainable, which is an important consideration. Welch’s ships its products by train instead of trucks, since that produces fewer emissions. Most of the packaging is recyclable and has instructions for how to recycle it printed right on the label. All of this and a good recipe for a tasty flavor makes Welch’s a good option for your apple juice, though, again, you might pay more for the well-known brand name, with each 10-ounce bottle ringing in at almost $2, even at Walmart.
If you like sparkling cider, you’re probably familiar with Martinelli’s. The brand boasts that its cider and apple juice are made with just apples, not even adding extra water. This is what gives it such a strong, irresistible flavor.
While the sparkling cider might be nice for a special occasion, it’s not the healthiest thing to drink every day. When you see that Martinelli’s also makes apple juice, you might logically conclude that it would be a smarter choice for a regular drink. Unfortunately, when you put these products side by side, you’ll see the nutrition information on both bottles is identical. Whether you choose the sparkling cider or the apple juice, in one serving you’ll be drinking 140 calories and a whopping 31 grams of sugar — more than the same amount in a same-size serving of Pepsi or Coca-Cola.
Don’t be confused by the term "cider." As it turns out, most states don’t have any rules about what that constitutes. Brands like Martinelli’s use the names "apple juice" and "apple cider" interchangeably, using the same ingredients for both. But whether you like your apple juice with bubbles or without, you’ll never be disappointed by the taste of Martinelli’s. High in sugar, yes, but fantastic as a now-and-then treat.
4. Simply Apple
Simply Apple Juice lives up to its name with only one ingredient: the juice from pressed apples, with no extra sugars, no additives, no coloring, and no natural or artificial flavors. This commitment to natural ingredients pays off when it comes to flavor. Of all the apple juice brands out there, Simply is one that many people seem to think tastes the most like fresh apples. The rich, cider-like taste will make you feel like you’re sitting in the middle of an orchard in autumn.
The downside with this brand is the price, as it’s one of the more expensive brands out there. Besides being a little more expensive than its competitors, Simply’s apple juice also comes in a smaller container. Down the juice aisle, you’ll most often find apple juice in 64-fluid ounce bottles, which is half a gallon. The Simply brand sells their juices in 52-ounce bottles, so you’re getting less juice at a higher price.
We do, however, think Simply’s apple-forward flavor is worth the extra expense. You might not agree. But before you cross this one off the list simply because of the price, we recommend you give it a taste. You might get hooked.
3. Tree Top
If you’re looking for some variety in your apple juice, then you should check out Tree Top. There are thousands of types of apples grown around the world, and around 200 kinds are grown in the U.S., according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center. Each apple variety has its own flavor, which translates into different flavors of juice.
What sets Tree Top apart is that it makes apple juices featuring Cosmic Crisp apples, Honeycrisp apples, a three-apple blend, and a sweet and tart apple cider. Don’t be fooled into thinking all apples taste alike. With a variety of sweet, tart, and tangy flavors, you can really taste the difference in the apples, and that translates to these juices.
You don’t even have to pay extra for all of these flavors. Tree Top is one of the cheaper priced brands you can find. With so many different flavors at such a good price, you might become a loyal Tree Top customer.
What’s great about Lakewood Organic Pure Apple Juice is what isn’t in it. there are no preservatives, no additives, no colorants, no allergens, no pesticides, and, because it’s bottled in glass, no BPA. It’s kosher, vegan, and USDA-certified organic. This is just natural apple juice at its purest.
This juice isn’t the clear brown color that a lot of apple juices are. Lakewood apple juice is opaque. This cloudy appearance is from pulp that isn’t strained out during production. It adds extra flavor and also nutrients that clear juices don’t have. While no apple juices have the same fiber and nutrient content as an apple, the more of the apple that’s included in the juice, the more benefits you get.
Lakewood’s apple juice is also cold-pressed. This is a process that creates juice without heat, thus preserving a lot of the nutrients. This brand does everything it can to create a healthy juice and you can taste it. While Lakewood Organic generally comes at a higher price, it has a full apple taste that we feel makes the slight extra expense worth it.
1. North Coast
When it comes to brands that really pay attention to what’s in their juice, North Coast Apple Juice is one of the best. Making all of North Coast’s products solely with organic apples grown in the U.S., they can be sure that their apples are free from harmful chemicals and pesticides. And North Coast really does taste like freshly pressed apples.
North Coast’s careful attention isn’t only directed towards its juice production. This brand also cares about its environmental impact. According to the North Coast website, the company uses solar power to provide half of the energy to make the juice. The parts of the apples that can’t be used are provided to local farmers for livestock feed. And the company works with recycling program TerraCycle to recycle as much of its packaging as possible.
You get what you pay for, and you’re going to have to pay a little more for this juice. We’re convinced, though, that you’ll really enjoy the North Coast flavor. The company even has different varieties if you like to change up the taste of your apple juice sometimes. You can pick from original, Gravenstein, and Honeycrisp apples (which are one of the more expensive types of apples). It’s not hard to find a cheaper apple juice brand, but we don’t think you can beat the taste of North Coast, putting it at the very top of our ranking of the best apple juice brands.