Long-time readers of Keddels will know that we love chips (or, as our UK readers know them, crisps). Day One Keddelers also know that we’re potato chip purists and cannot tolerate anything on our tongues other than a kettle cooked chip. From Kettle’s’ bold blend of sweet and smoky Barbecue to the sharp tang of Dirty Chips’ Salt & Vinegar, and even the off-beat experimentations of Zapp’s’ Cajun Crawtators, we love it all. But, when it comes to the classic (plain, some might say) salt flavor, which kettle-cooked brand does it best?
Potatoes can be masked in all kinds of aromas and flavors, so a simple salt-flavored potato chip serves not just as the baseline, but the true test of a potato chip’s value. We decided to sit down with some of the most popular brands to really get a taste of which potato comes out on top. For this taste test, we mainly looked at crunch and flavor. We also rated each factor on a scale from 1 to 5.
This is what you expect a kettle-cooked potato chip to feel like—a hearty crunch that will have you orally fixated.
Not super greasy, and a pretty middle-of-the-road taste. This is what most people are familiar with. The salt was pretty inconsistent, however. Some chips barely had any salt, allowing the safflower oil to become more prominent, while others hit you with a nice amount of salt.
More inconstancy here than in any of the previous brands. Some chips were actually the crunchiest and hardest chips out of any while others felt thin and stale.
Zapp’s also uses peanut oil in their blend, but it’s sometimes blended with canola, corn, or sunflower oil. The batch that I got tasted like the oil blend, which I honestly enjoyed more than just the straight peanut oil used in Dirty chips. Oddly, it reminded me a little of communion wafers. The saltiness was spot on, though.
I wish the crunch was more consistent throughout the bag. When one chip was thick and rigid, it was spot on. The next chip, however, fell into thin and stale territory.
Not the saltiest of the lot, but not the blandest either. Some of the chips tasted like they weren’t prepared in the right temperature of water, though, leaving some chips with brown spots that weren’t so appetizing. The use of peanut oil really comes through (probably because we’re so used to vegetable oil in our chips). While it’s an interesting and uncommon flavor profile, it might turn some people off (and have life-threatening consequences for others).
Lay’s Kettle Cooked
Not the thickest or most jaw-tiring crunch, but it’s going to keep most people satisfied.
If you liked the true Lay’s Classic un-kettle cooked chips, you’ll like the flavor of these. Imagine taking the original Lay’s and making them crunchier and a bit less greasy. The oil they use is a blended vegetable oil (sunflower, corn, and/or canola).
A nice, stiff chip, these English potatoes have a fairly airy texture when you bite into them. That’s not to say that you’ll find sizeable air bubbles, but it’s almost as though they’re puffy. But again, a better crunch than most.
Nice, large slices of potato. The flavor is not overpowering, and there’s no funny business—snowden potatoes with sunflower oil and sea salt. Tyrell’s has a sophisticated balance of salt and oil where others tip the scales to their detriment. This was the best-tasting chip of the group.
Thick slices and the right amount of oil gave Luke’s chips just the kind of crunch I hope for with kettle-cooked potato chips. I might have given them a higher score here if it weren’t for a few chips that weren’t pulling their weight in this crucial department. I’ve seen better consistency with other brands.
Luke’s Organic really strives to push their crunchy (pun intended) leanings. Aside from hailing from Santa Cruz, the ingredients read as follows: “Luke’s organic potatoes, Luke’s organic sustainable oil blend (red palm fruit oil, and avocado oil), sea salt.” Though the chips themselves had a really nice crunch, the unique blend of red palm fruit oil and avocado oil gave such a unique flavor that I wasn’t sure I was eating a potato so much as tree bark. That being said, it did grow on me. But, there was a learning curve of sorts. Could have used a touch more salt, too. This was the worst-tasting chip of the group.
Above average crunch that’s really satisfying.
Similar flavor to Tyrell’s chips (they both use sunflower oil). But you can tell right off the bat that Deep River uses more oil and more salt.
Utz Kettle Classics
There was some good crunch happening with these Utz chips and the large slices of potatoes that I was getting in this batch only help. They were decently thick and the oil hadn’t oversaturated them.
The peanut oil here didn’t have such a strong peanut flavor like the Dirty chips had and I appreciated that.
Wise chips have a decent amount of crunch, but it felt like the crunch wasn’t as brittle as I’d like. Because these chips were more greasy, I suspect that the sheer amount of oil prevented a truly satisfying cronch. I wasn’t very happy with the size of these chips. Most chips were fairly small.
Though the potatoes were cooked decently, there was just bit too much oil and even more salt going on that made me feel like I wouldn’t have been happy eating even their smallest available size. This one should come with napkins and a water bottle.