You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

A Definitive Ranking of Kettle Chip Flavors

Spoon University logo Spoon University 4/19/2019 Ann Meyer

It's likely that you've heard of Kettle Brand potato chips, or more commonly known: Kettle chips. Kettle chips are widely known for their interesting and sometimes unusual flavors. Now, if you've spent your fair share of time in the chip aisle, you've probably wondered, well, which Kettle chip flavor is the best? 

In order to answer this question, I did something somewhat crazy and expensive that earned me some very strange looks at the store: I bought 17 different flavors of Kettle Brand potato chips and then gathered six friends to help me rank all the bags in one incredibly potato-y and contentious weekend.

Through our numerous disagreements, we found some new favorite flavors and learned a little too much about Kettle chips. Hopefully, our efforts can help save you time and money in discovering some new favorites of your own, or at the least, entertain you.

Note: not all Kettle brand potato chip flavors are featured. There are a few other cult classics and new flavors that were difficult to find but receive high praise across the internet. 

First, what's the deal with the Kettle brand?

a display in a store: Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Love this display from our friends @wholefoods 🌈🌈🌈 #lovewins” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Love this display from our friends @wholefoods 🌈🌈🌈 #lovewins”

Before I jump into the rankings, it's worth knowing a bit more about Kettle Foods and why their potato chips are so special.

The first bag of Kettle Brand potato chips was made in 1982 and have been blessing our taste buds ever since. Their philosophy was, and still is, to "use only the freshest, all-natural ingredients to create intensely flavored, wonderfully crave-able potato chips you can feel good about eating." 

This philosophy is evident in their dedication to both consumers and the planet. On their website, Kettle Foods offers information about where all of their potatoes are sourced, ranging from family-run Burch Farms in North Carolina to sustainability-oriented Castle Rock Farms in Oregon, exemplifying their commitment to transparency in production. 

Kettle Foods also prides themselves on their dedication to sustainable practices, ranging from use of biodiesel and renewable energy, protecting pollinators, and transitioning to less wasteful packaging. For example, this year they launched an initiative to use 43% less packaging which keeps over 2 million pounds of plastic waste out of the landfill annually.

Plus, if you're tired of eating your Kettle chips as just plain Kettle chips, the Kettle Foods website offers a wide range of recipes, from dips to desserts — yes, that's right, desserts — and beer pairings to help you take your chip game to a whole new level. I personally recommend putting potato chips (the salt and fresh ground pepper, in particular) in your mac and cheese.

#SpoonTip: Pay attention to the coloring of the tops and bottoms of the Kettle chip bags. If you notice that they're a shade of brown (not unlike an actual potato skin), you have stumbled across a krinkle cut style chip.

17. Spicy Queso

Kettle Brand on Instagram: “The happy hour helper we all deserve.” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “The happy hour helper we all deserve.”

Starting off our list at #17 is Spicy Queso. If you're feeling apprehensive about our judgement already, trust me: this was not a decision we made lightly. The emergence of this bright and intriguing bag to the Kettle chip showdown produced instant excitement. However, these quickly became one of the most disappointing flavors we tried.

The queso flavor and expected cheesiness came through for a couple people, but in general burned out too quickly and didn't match up quite right with the typical queso flavor. The spice, however, did leave a good burn, making this an interesting chip worth a try for lovers of smoky and spicy potato chips.

16. Pepperoncini

Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Put some pep in your step with classic deli-style flavor.” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Put some pep in your step with classic deli-style flavor.”

The main point of contention over this chip was how to properly pronounce pepperoncini. Otherwise, the six of us were in agreement that the flavor was decent but definitely suited primarily for die-hard pepperoncini lovers.

A couple of us had never eaten a pepperoncini, but everyone that had said that these Pepperoncini Kettle chips hit the mark reasonably well but made for an odd and slightly disappointing potato chip flavor. Most people said they would eat these if they were laying around but wouldn't buy them themselves.

15. Sour Cream & Onion

a stack of flyers on a table: Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Onion that will make you cry tears of joy.” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Onion that will make you cry tears of joy.”

When I think of sour cream and onion potato chips, I think of Lays, Ruffles and Pringles, some pretty fantastic versions of this flavor that are hard to beat. That said, sour cream and onion Kettle chips are nothing like any of those.

The flavor was much more sour cream dominant than any of us were expecting and accordingly seemed to lack the tang of the onion flavor to balance out all the extra creaminess. They were still an all-around good potato chip and I would recommend trying them — after all, not much can rival the thickness of that crunch — but they missed the mark on that traditional sour cream and onion flavor. A counterculture potato chip, perhaps?

14. Chili Lime

Kettle Brand on Instagram: “The ingredients to a successful summer are only a bag away 🙌” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “The ingredients to a successful summer are only a bag away 🙌”

When you see Chili Lime Kettle chips, you expect two things: chili and lime. To paint a pretty word picture, your mouth might start watering a bit at the idea of a collision between the spicy fire of an assortment of chili peppers and the unmistakably tangy sourness of lime. 

We were pretty disappointed to find that while the flavors are there, they're very muted and don't meet the expectations of that picture, leaving you with a chili lime potato chip that isn't very spicy or very sour. The chip was generally liked but didn't do what we hoped it was going to do, which is why it comes in at #14 on the list. 

13. Fiery Thai

Kettle Brand on Instagram: “All chip diet? That's just nuts.” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “All chip diet? That's just nuts.”

I'm not normally a spicy chip kind of girl but these Fiery Thai Kettle chips were pretty tasty. Overall, they were a very flavorful chip and awarded a rather interesting sensory experience. They were simultaneously sweet and savory and spicy and refreshing, with some notes of ginger and pepper accompanied by a tangy citrus flavor from the lemongrass infused salt. 

If you're a fan of Thai food or complex potato chip flavors, I definitely recommend giving these a try and maybe even bring them to a party to shake up the normal chip flavors. Plus, if people aren't into them, then more for you.

12. Chile Verde

a stack of flyers on a table: Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Have you tried Chile Verde yet? It's a game changer.” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Have you tried Chile Verde yet? It's a game changer.”

The Chile Verde Kettle chips have a lot going for them, just not enough for them to rank any higher. As one would expect, they taste like salsa with a fairly strong spicy tomatillo flavor.

Our main and fairly unanimous critique is that the flavor was generally intriguing and good — despite being a bit odd since it's one normally associated with tortilla chips — but faded away too quickly. In this sense, it was perfect for those of us that aren't big fans of spicy chips and made them fairly binge-able, but left others wanting more.

11. Jalapeño

Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Can't say no to jalapeños.” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Can't say no to jalapeños.”

The Jalapeño Kettle chips hands down were at the center of the loudest and longest discussion, mostly surrounding the quality and delivery of jalapeño-ness.

Most of us came to the conclusion that these weren't that spicy, but that said, true to jalapeños, the more you ate the more the spiciness dominated your mouth. The flavor was also called into question; about half of us claimed it wasn't long-lasting or quite strong enough while the other half were adamant that it came through well and was a good execution on a jalapeño potato chip. Regardless, this chip made clear how truly diverse flavor palates can be and that what's for some people isn't for everyone.

10. Unsalted

Your first thought upon seeing the Unsalted Kettle chips in the #10 spot is probably somewhere along the lines of: unsalted potato chips, is she crazy? A few of my friends sure thought so, but a couple of us were in love with these. While they might seem unpleasantly bland, this flavor of Kettle chip is instead pleasantly simple. It's the perfect chip to celebrate any and all party dips and it tastes just like a french fry. I recommend trying them with a classic cheesy spinach artichoke dip or this Kettle Brand recipe for bacon beer cheese dip.

If you're looking for more bang out of your chip, these probably aren't for you but while these weren't at the top of my list when we binged the 17 bags, I've since bought these four more times and find them fairly addicting.

9. Dill Pickle

a stack of flyers on a table: Kettle Brand on Instagram: “We are relishing the day.” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “We are relishing the day.”

Dill Pickle Kettle chips sound very unusual and rest assured, they are. These weren't a particular favorite of anyone besides myself, but no one was upset about them. In fact, for such a seemingly weird flavor they scored pretty well when we individually ranked all the chips.

One unanimous comment was that these generally lean more into the dill flavor, which is very fresh and strong, and don't offer enough of the typically sour and juicy flavor you expect from pickles. They're maybe even a bit reminiscent of a slightly herbier version of sour cream and onion. I will credit my Russian background for my unprecedented fondness of these, as I've never encountered a dill-flavored potato chip and was excited to eat these. If you're into dill or are simply just curious about these, they're definitely worth a try. 

8. New York Cheddar

Kettle Brand on Instagram: “🎶This cheese will make you feel brand new 🎶” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “🎶This cheese will make you feel brand new 🎶”

At #8 on our list are the New York Cheddar Kettle chips which are just as delightfully simple and cheesy as they sound. Being Kettle Brand potato chips, which aim to use less ingredients that are generally whole and natural, these aren't necessarily the kind of cheese flavor you might get from Lays or Ruffles, but they're still damn good.

For those that aren't necessarily into the idea of a cheese flavored potato chip, these probably aren't for you. But for everyone else, particularly those that like a fairly neutral but not plain flavor of chip, they're pretty tame and tasty and make a perfect side to any sandwich.

7. Buffalo Bleu

a cup of coffee on a table: Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Hot buttered rum and buffalo bleu chips are keeping our game-day guests happy and cozy! #cozy #snack #gameday” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Hot buttered rum and buffalo bleu chips are keeping our game-day guests happy and cozy! #cozy #snack #gameday”

If you're a fan of bleu cheese or buffalo sauce, this Kettle chip was made for you. Buffalo Bleu is a very unusual flavor that none of us really expected but it sure packs a punch that proves to be rather enjoyable.

The flavor is a little bit spicy yet mostly tangy courtesy of the buffalo sauce and then has an extra kick and tang that comes in with the bleu cheese. I, personally, am not a huge fan of bleu cheese so this one was a bit too strong-scented and strong-flavored for me, but the buffalo sauce was really remarkable. Plus, these are crinkle-cut which gives the chip some added texture and an extra oomph of goodness.

6. Sea Salt

Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Celebrating HBD with our OF (original flavor) 🎈Join the party by following the link in our bio!” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Celebrating HBD with our OF (original flavor) 🎈Join the party by following the link in our bio!”

You can never go wrong with classic sea salt potato chips. When comparing these to Classic Lays, these are a more substantial and hefty chip with less oil that won't leave you feeling sick after binge-eating them, or at least proportionally less sick, in my opinion. To a couple of us they were a bit bland, but that's reasonable considering the simplicity of the flavor overall in comparison to the complexity of all the others.

Like the unsalted, these also perfectly complement a wide array of dips and Kettle Brand even recommends them in sweet and salty desserts, like this 5-ingredient Kettle chip chocolate fudge or this chocolate peanut butter swirl tart.

5. Honey Dijon

a close up of food: Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Every little thing is gonna bee alright.” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Every little thing is gonna bee alright.”

Have you ever had those Snyder's of Hanover honey mustard and onion pretzel pieces? Well, Honey Dijon Kettle chips taste exactly like them. And in case you couldn't guess how I feel, both are delicious. 

These were widely popular among us, even among a couple people who weren't fond of mustard. There's good reason for that, as we noted that these potato chips come in more strongly on the honey rather than the dijon, and are a bit more on the sweet side than the spicy. That said, there is still a definitive mustard element that adds a nice sharp tang to the flavor, complementing the honey rather nicely.

4. Backyard BBQ

Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Bust out the barbeque!” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Bust out the barbeque!”

In case it needed to be said: you can never go wrong with BBQ potato chips, which is why these come in at #4 on the list. Kettle Brand offers a variety of BBQ flavors, including bourbon and country style, but we ended up trying their backyard style and it was everything you'd want out of a solid BBQ potato chip.

Perhaps one of the best party chips, this was an overall crowd-pleaser and left everyone feeling a bit nostalgic for summer. The combination of the thicker and crunchier kettle chip with the sweet and tangy flavors of BBQ sauce added up to a classic and hearty potato chip that easily bests other common BBQ flavored potato chips, *cough* Lays. 

3. Korean BBQ

Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Turn the flame on high with smoky and roasty-sweet hoisin and garlic. YUM.” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Turn the flame on high with smoky and roasty-sweet hoisin and garlic. YUM.”

Kettle Brand has done something beautiful and delivered a true gift to humanity: Korean Barbeque potato chips. If you haven't tried them, you truly must because they are quite a flavorful experience. 

These were love at first sight (and taste) for pretty much all of us. They smelled and tasted like a whole damn meal, literally, and had the most complex and interesting savory flavor profiles out of any of the chips we tried. Those of us that have had Korean BBQ said these hit the mark with a fair amount of accuracy. For a couple of us, they were too intense for a potato chip and the aftertaste was unusual. Overall, though, these are some legitimately tasty chips that are likely to excite your friends and family. 

2. Sea Salt & Vinegar

a close up of a logo: Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Weatherman: There may be a light dusting. Us: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. ❄️” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Weatherman: There may be a light dusting. Us: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. ❄️”

Coming in at #2, this classic potato chip is almost unbeatable but not quite. Sea Salt and Vinegar Kettle chips are insanely delicious and frighteningly easy to binge-eat.

If you're not a fan of vinegar, these probably aren't the chips for you as they're very acidic which can become overwhelming the more you eat. Otherwise, they're generally well balanced between salty and bitter and have the typical mouth-watering effect, all while the thickness and crunch of the kettle-style chip works to the flavor's advantage. All-around a very tasty salt and vinegar potato chip, and hands down my favorite out of any others that I've encountered.

1. Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper

a close up of food: Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Fresh ground don't mess around.” © kettlebrand on Instagram Kettle Brand on Instagram: “Fresh ground don't mess around.”

Voted the best all around chip, the Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper Kettle chip was the top Kettle chip out of the 17 flavors we tried, and for damn good reason.

There's something about this potato chip that is very rich and comforting and leaves you filled up and satisfied. If I had to eat one flavor of Kettle chip for the rest of my life, these would probably be it. The combination of salt and pepper is so unbelievably well-matched and makes for an all-around pleasant experience; they not only taste amazing but they smell incredible too. They're also a rather versatile chip — good for dips and other recipes and on their own. 

Perhaps one of the most important things about these chips, however, is that like dill pickle or buffalo bleu, the Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper Kettle chips are crinkle-cut. This pushes them even further ahead of their competition, adding a texture that empowers the overall flavor and satisfying crunch. 

If you've made it to the end of this long and flavor-packed journey, thank you and congratulations. Now it's time to buy some Kettle chips. What flavor are you hungry for?

Related video: These Oven Fried Pickle Potato Chips Are The Ultimate Snack Food [provided by Delish]

UP NEXT
UP NEXT
AdChoices

More from Spoon University

Spoon University
Spoon University
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon