Uncrustables Vs Walmart's No Crust Sandwiches: We Put Them Through The Ultimate Taste Test

Crust has been a real sticker for some sandwich lovers pretty much since the invention of bread — and the subsequent invention of the sandwich. It's enough of an albatross that the notion of cutting the crust off of someone else's sandwich is often seen as a gesture of love and consideration. So you can imagine how elated crust-haters must have been to discover two PB&J sandwich options on the market that do away the crust entirely, leaving nothing but the sweet, sealed heart of the sandwich for total enjoyment. Yes, we're extoling the virtues of both Smucker's Uncrustables and Walmart's Great Value No Crust Sandwiches, 21st century problem-solvers whose time has finally arrived. Whew!

Just as no two sandwiches are truly alike, we presume that no two crustless sandwiches are alike. But which of these brands hits the bullseye when it comes to the peanut butter and jam versions of a middle-only munchie of a meal? And just how much of a difference does a sandwich with the crusts removed make as far as taste, texture, and enjoyability? It's high time these two freezer-section competitors square off to determine which one dominates in a sphere of the grocery world that knows no borders.

Uncrustables are Smucker's version of a homemade PB&J

Smucker's captures the sweet spirit of childhood with its Uncrustables, which come in several varieties. What discerning young gourmet hasn't requested a parent remove the tough edges from a pair of white bread slices slathered in creamy peanut butter and sickly sweet jelly? It's a core memory-making experience that carries into adulthood, something heartwarming that Smucker's tapped into when introducing the Uncrustables in 1998. The company took the idea a step beyond simple crust-removal surgery by pressing the edges together like a giant ravioli, producing a pillow bite that doesn't make a mess when bitten into.

The circular pre-made sandwiches had actually been in play since 1995, when North Dakotans David Geske and Len Kretchman introduced their Incredible Uncrustables in Midwest grade schools. In true food titan fashion, J.M. Smucker Co. swooped in and bought the company and started turning out the flying saucer-shaped sandwiches for its own enterprise. Suddenly, lunch boxes and supper plates around the U.S. could indulge in PB&J discs that came pre-made and pre-crusted for the discriminating sandwich diner's enjoyment.

No Crust Sandwiches are Walmart's bargain version of Uncrustables

Walmart isn't a company that lets a trend go unnoticed, though sometimes its Great Value brand is a little slower on the uptake than expected. The retail colossus caught on and put its magical food factory to work designing a counterpart to join its signature label in a sweet, crustless stroke of commercial grocery one-upmanship. The world's largest retailer has done the same with everything from chips to salad dressing, slyly reworking the formula to come up with its own line of grocery offerings. Why would a potential crowd-pleaser like Smucker's Uncrustables escape this sort of scrutiny? Clearly, it's a winner of an icebox nosh, and one from which Walmart nicked the blueprint, crimped edges and all.

But not all things are equal in the struggle for consumer domination; that kind of thing usually ends up in court. Instead, by literally squaring the circle, Walmart sets its Great Value goodies apart from the Uncrustables pack and creates its own form of crustless cuisine. These straight-edged nibbles are shaped more like a traditional sandwich but seem half the size, giving them a mad tea party vibe that even the most cynical of rabbits would find adorable.

Both sandwiches boast pretty similar ingredient lists

There aren't many variations on the classic PB&J formula: a bit of bread, a generous portion of peanut butter, a sumptuous slathering of jelly or jam, usually in grape or strawberry flavors, and voila — classic cuisine for the pre-adult palate. This method carries through for both Smucker's Uncrustables and Great Value No Crust Sandwiches, with a three-point ingredient turn listing breakdowns for its bread-peanut-butter-and-jam combination. Great Value includes glucose syrup to help sweeten its strawberry jam, while jam and jelly giant Smucker's sticks with sugar only. Both products also use molasses in their peanut butter, an ingredient that helps ramp up the flavor.

The front of the No Crust box calls out the use of no artificial colors or flavors while crowing that each sandwich includes 8 grams of protein. Similarly, Smucker's Uncrustables shout loudly and proudly about having no high fructose corn syrup and offering 6 grams of protein per sandwich. Smucker's also pats itself on the box for using fresh-baked bread for sandwiches "frozen on the spot," suggesting that flash-frozen sandwiches lock in freshness, maybe? We weren't sure ... maybe the company is suggesting that other brands like Great Value freeze their crustless sandwiches somewhere further down the production line.

Nutritional highs and lows volley between the two

Neither of these little nibblers is low-calorie by any means. A modest Uncrustables sandwich adds 230 calories to your daily consumption, along with 9 grams of fat (two of which are saturated), 220 milligrams of sodium, 10 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. A compact No Crust Sandwich rings up at 230 calories, 10 grams of fat (two of which are saturated here as well), 230 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of sugar, and 8 grams of protein. This isn't likely to be too far off from what a homemade PB&J would provide, and may even be more contained, considering the regimented amount of filling added to both options — a different experience from the slather-it-on process most of us use on our handcrafted sandwich creations.

We are talking about white bread sandwiches filled with sweetened spreads here, so there's no illusion that they'll be a healthful choice, even in their reduced sizes. But we were surprised to find both products include fully hydrogenated oils in their peanut butter, a nutritional no-no inherent in spreads to help them retain shelf stability and stay smooth and spreadable. While it's a part of the peanut butter world, it's something important to think about if nutrition is a top priority when making informed choices for yourself and your children.

Uncrustables offer a variety of delicious possibilities ... No Crust, not so much

You may have seen Smucker's Uncrustables in a vast array of flavors that take the brand well beyond its jam and jelly core collection. Eagle-eyed shoppers are sure to spot other species in the wild, savory takes on decrusted sandwiches like pepperoni pizza or turkey and Colby Jack. These imaginative pockets take on the persona of a pita or a calzone with the edges pressed together to lock in the fantastic fillings. There are even versions with chocolate hazelnut spread or peanut butter and honey squeezed into the space between the fluffy slices. But the most familiar Uncrustables by far are the classic peanut butter pockets, with grape jelly or strawberry jam. Freezer sections that don't carry the other possibilities have still been found to contain these lunchtime staples, a testament to the popularity of good old PB&J.

Great Value isn't nearly as ambitious with its No Crust Sandwiches, sticking to the grape and strawberry side of the playing field with its lunch pocket potential. This made determining which sandwiches to taste test a much easier task. It's also a sensible move from a company that likely watched sales figures for the Smucker's product then cannily planned a launch for its own variant based on where consumer money was spent most frequently. Keeping up in the prepared food game can really be squishy business.

These small sandwiches require similar patience for enjoyment out of the freezer

We made the mistake of thinking these frozen sandwiches required cooking before being served. Were we ever surprised when the instructions on the labels said to thaw for 30 to 60 minutes and eat. It makes more sense when you realize these are designed as an easy-to-eat option for school lunch bags or weekend snacks. Somehow, we pictured them being toasted until golden brown, with just a touch of crispness shading the contours. We tend to get a little bougie with our snacking. Truth be told, both brands could do with a little heat to bring a tougher texture to the too-soft white bread shell as well as to give the peanut butter a more luxurious smoothness.

Both sandwiches were smaller than expected, which made trying them all the more enticing. Though shape isn't usually a determinant of taste, seeing the circular Uncrustables did spark our imagination for what was inside with a bit more fire than the squared-off No Crust Sandwich. Something about food with unexpected geometry makes the experience more thrilling, a taste-testing aspect we hadn't really considered prior. We did think the diminutive size would speed along the unfreezing, but the package was right: It took at least 45 minutes for each to be thawed enough to enjoy. This makes the most sense when considering either option as lunch box possibilities, where thawing time is built into the school day.

Prices and availability vary significantly between the two

As with Smucker's jarred jams, jellies and ice cream toppings, Uncrustables are available in freezer sections of most retailers, in PB&J form at the very least. Some of the more questionable savory selections are a tad elusive, indicating that J.M. Smucker Co. knows where its bread is (peanut) buttered. With four-packs of Uncrustables costing $4.18 and 10-packs for $9.48 at Walmart, it's somewhat of a pricey affair to keep your freezer stocked with these bento box stuffers. They come to a little over a dollar per sandwich. For that price, you can buy entire loaf of bread, enough to knock out a slew of sandwiches sans crust with a little more added to your bill for peanut butter and jelly. Great Value reduces the price per piece by a little, at $3.74 or so per four-pack and $8.44 per 10-pack of No Crust Sandwiches. Prices for both brands will vary by location, of course.

Naturally, you could always go the DIY route by buying your own ingredients and investing in a sandwich sealer of your very own to churn out as many uncrusted sandwiches as your heart desires. Depending on your grocery budget and your schedule, a box of frozen sandwich solutions may be a more favorable purchase. Isn't it nice to have options?

Each sandwich is tasty in its own way

Please excuse us while we recover from the syrupy nostalgia of enjoying a pair of PB&J sandwiches with the crusts lovingly removed. Maybe we take our food a bit too seriously, but there was something joyful about sinking our teeth into not one but two culinary time machines that sent us hurtling back to the simple happiness of a 4-year-old's world view. Uncrustables and No Crust Sandwiches are equally matched in the power to evoke comfort, a feature we found oddly surprising. Though grape jelly would have been the preference, we could only find both brands featuring strawberry jam in our local Walmart. Strawberry jelly would have been even better, but you can't have everything.

Maybe it's been too long since peanut butter and jelly was on the menu, but the giggle-inducing glee these products produce is an unmitigated treat all its own. As for flavor, we noticed a more robust, almost smoky quality to the peanut butter in Uncrustables. It may sound like a luxury moment, but more than anything, it distracted us from the excitement and made us wonder why Smucker's would aim so high with a product intended for simple palates. Great Value gets it right by sticking with a more straightforward form of peanut butter, creating a pleasing partnership of flavors that was easier to recognize.

Verdict: No Crust Sandwiches edge out Uncrustables in the crustless sandwich hustle

Call us lunch snobs, but we fully expected Smucker's Uncrustables to outrank Great Value No Crust Sandwiches for no reason other than brand reliability. We've had our share of GV products that fall short of hitting the mark that the bigger names are capable of reaching. Why would squished sandwiches without crusts fare any better? What a pleasant surprise to discover the lower-priced option recreates the experience of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on soft white bread with the crusts sliced away more faithfully than the higher-priced Smucker's Uncrustables. From the texture of the bread to the taste of the fillings, No Crust Sandwiches somehow captured more of the magic than its supremely similar competitor.

In our estimation, it is largely the peanut butter that helps Great Value pull ahead. It's creamier, sweeter, and truer to the template of what a satisfying PB&J should offer. Smucker's gets a little too big for its britches by sneaking flavor enhancers like molasses into its peanut butter, a move that might impress ivory tower gourmets but does nothing to fulfill the nostalgic appetites of ground-level sandwich lovers. We would absolutely opt for Great Value again, for both the reduced price and the quality of the sandwiches in the box.

How we taste tested Uncrustables and No Crust Sandwiches

We chose two comparable flavors to snack on side by side to give both sandwiches a fair shake. There were too many versions of Uncrustables to tackle, and with only the grape jelly and strawberry jam options from No Crust Sandwiches, the pool was drastically reduced from the beginning. Finding only strawberry jam available for both and sitting side-by-side in the Walmart freezer section made the choosing even easier.

We set one of each sandwich on the counter for quicker thawing, since this is a pre-cooked product that didn't require cooking or refrigeration for food safety purposes. When everything was softened and reduced to room temperature, we ripped open the cellophane and tried a single bite of each. Our palates got to work separating peanut butter from jam to discern which product was most pleasing. We also noted the softness and chewability of both, aspects that were too close to call.

Side note: It turns out that shape really doesn't affect flavor. Boy, is food science going to be surprised to hear about this.