Crunch, Crunch, Crunch
Serious Eaters are not satisfied with consuming massive amounts of kettle chips; we need to consume massive amounts of the best kettle chips. Our blind taste test of 17 brands revealed a wide variety in preferences, with many strong options coming to the fore.
Most Classic Kettle Chip
Tasters praised this chip's "good balance" and "clean potato finish." One taster called it "the conventional pick." While this was our most popular chip, there were many other raves for some of the more unusual options.
For Lard Lovers
Lard-fried chips proved divisive among panel members. Reactions ranged from "LARD! Sweet!" to "hate the fish oily aftertaste." Tasters who liked chips fried in lard preferred this brand for its "totally delicious" and "odd in a good way" flavor and "thin, crispy" texture.
A Solid Crowd-Pleaser
Though not quite as popular as Madhouse Munchies, Dirty chips won much praise and inspired little derision. Tasters liked their "good level of salt" and found them to be "really crunchy... thin and crispy."
If You're Into That Classic Lay's-Esque Taste...
Not everybody is koo-koo for kettle chips. If you prefer a light, palatable chip to a more robust snack, we recommend the chip that tasters described as "light tasting" and "clean, not too dark."
Calling All Avocado Enthusiasts
Keep an eye out for Good Health chips, which are fried in avocado oil. Tasters said it "tastes like vegetable... sweet! avocado?" One taster who rated it highly wondered, "It's different... do I like it?" After some consideration, we believe the answer is yes.
Tasters praised Boulder Canyon trips as "nice and crunchy" and "heavy on the bite." One taster even awarded them a five out of five for texture, citing the tiny air bubbles that dotted the chips' exteriors as an integral part of the crunch factor.
For Salt Lovers
In an office full of salt fiends, North Fork chips did quite well. One taster opined, "Mmm... salt!" Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Avoid these chips if you have a low salt tolerance though. What's glorious for one potato chip eater might be an unappetizing salt lick for another. "You just taste the salt" wrote one taster.
For Salt Haters
Shop Rite chips occupied the opposite end of the spectrum. Though most tasters found them undersalted, Serious Eaters on low-salt diets and food lovers with extremely sensitive tastebuds may appreciate this chip, which is advertised as "lightly salted."
Most Thoroughly Cooked
If you love the dark, almost-burnt potato flavor of dark brown french fries and roasted potatoes, these are the chips for you. Tasters with this proclivity found these chips "caramelized" and "a little dark but not over the top." Others, however, complained that it "tasted like burny."
Love or Hate It
The only non-kettle-cooked chips in our tasting, Terra's Yukon Gold were among the most divisive varieties we sampled. While some praised them as "the unconventional pick" for its "very yummy... hint of burntess," others found it "too potatoey" and "thick, not that crispy."