Taste Test: Spicy Chips

Serious Heat

Andrea Lynn, senior editor of Chile Pepper magazine, shares thoughts and observations from the fiery food world.


[Photograph: Bill Milne]

Between the abundance of college football bowls and NFL games on television right now, who doesn't want to dive into a bag of tasty chips while watching? And what could heighten the salty perfection of chips better than a dash of spice.

From a dusting of chipotle powder to the slow heat of salsa baked right in, these chips kept us reaching in the bag for more. And if you need some creative ideas to spice up chips, we have some recommendations. Irish nachos anyone? Check out our favorite spicy chips, after the jump.

Corazonas Salsa Picante: On first glance, we were dubious of this chip ultra-packed with oats—but we were happily very wrong. The added oats create a nutty, hearty-tasting chip, and with a little hint of salsa, this is both a great chip snack that's also a super-duper healthy alternative.

Food Should Taste Good Jalapeño: With bits of jalapeño and a gorgeous red color, these sturdy chips can stand up to the thickest salsa. Lower on the heat scale than some of our other samples, these chips still brim with a massive dose of jalapeño flavor.

Blair's Death Rain Chipotle: Use caution for this bold chip—it has a sneaky yet manageable heat. Packing a chipotle smokiness, this crispy wonder is still sweet and tangy without the powdery coating that plagues so many flavored chips. With a one-of-a-kind seasoning blend, the boldness adds just the right touch to your tongue—sweet and tangy with a prominent chipotle flavor.

Kettle Buffalo Bleu: The ripples in this chip make this thick, sturdy chip ideal for crunching. Tasters were amazed at how much these babies tasted like hot wings: "This honestly tastes like chips dipped in buffalo sauce with a hint of blue cheese." Is there an easier way to get that great buffalo wing taste than by opening a bag? We doubt it.

Mama Zuma's Revenge Green Chile Enchilada: Lots of bold spices dance together in this chip's homage to green chiles. The divinely mild but flavor-packed green chile combines with enchilada seasoning for a tangy, supercrunchy experience. Note to other chip companies: Why don't you have this flavor?

Zapp's Hotter 'n Hot Jalapeño: The aroma alone will get your tastebuds roaring. It's like the chips have been rubbed with fresh (and hot!) chiles for a combination of classic flavor with a zingy pop.

Think Outside the Bag

  • Use as croutons on a bowl of soup or salad.
  • Layer on a sandwich—we love 'em as a way to add crunch to a chipotle-tuna sandwich.
  • Crumble over a freshly baked casserole, like green bean or mac and cheese.
  • Drizzle with chocolate, let harden and enjoy the mingling of sweet, salty and spicy.
  • Grind into bread crumbs, and use in place of flour to coat chicken tenders.
  • Mash and mix into crab cakes.
  • Crush chips and stir into softened cream cheese.
  • Stuff into jalapeños for a new spin on poppers.
  • Purée in blender with a touch of butter, press into cupcake molds and bake; use as crispy cups for any fun appetizer.
  • Who's up for Irish nachos? Layer with meat, cheese, sour cream and chiles over sturdy potato chips, and bake in the oven.