Eating the best American chips is a guilty pleasure that makes us happy. Discover 15 of the best American chip brands and learn why they’re great.
Our love for chips is vast and varied.
We love eating chips of all shapes and sizes. We love both potato chips and corn chips. We love chips that are fried and we love chips that are baked. And we love chips in flavors that range from salty and vinegary to smoky and spicy.
This love is nothing new. We’ve been eating chips since we were kids in Atlanta and Philadelphia. But the options were basic then. Today, the world of chips is an open book with as many varieties of chips on supermarket shelves as there are books on library shelves.
While we enjoy eating chips wherever we are in the world, we especially love noshing on them in the United States. Maybe it’s nostalgia or maybe we simply love the chips we grew up eating.
Buy a chips sampler from Amazon if you love American chips too.
Our Picks For The Best American Chips
Always looking for a new challenge, we ate dozens of American chips in a one-week period to find our favorites. Our quest to find the nation’s best potato chips as well as its best tortilla chips was a culinary journey that took us down memory lane. It also launched us on a voyage of chip discovery
We bought bags of chips at convenience stores and supermarkets as well as from vending machines. Some bags were big while others were small. One bag was actually a tube. We then tasted the chips with equally open minds and mouths.
Read on to discover our picks for the best American chips:
Year Invented: 1964
These addictive, triangle-shaped chips leave a trail of orange dust that practically begs to be licked. And, while the flavored tortilla chip’s ingredient list is bigger than the chips themselves, it’s difficult to stop eating Doritos until the bag is empty.
The word dorito is a play on the Spanish word dorada which means golden.
Doritos debuted at Disneyland, one of the happiest places on earth. The happiness later continued at thousands of Taco Bell locations when the American fast food chain started selling Doritos Locos Tacos made with Dorito chip shells. They make us happy too.
Popular Doritios Flavors
Cool Ranch, Nacho Cheese, Spicy Nacho and Spicy Sweet Chili
Year Invented: 1968
Pringles are one of the greatest snack food creations. Sold in cylindrical containers, the curve-shaped ‘crisps’ were invented by scientists tasked with creating non-greasy chips that didn’t break in the bag. With modern flavor options like Hot Honey and Philly Cheesesteak, these stackable chips are the most popular American chips not manufactured by Frito-Lay.
We enjoy pulling stacks of Pringles out of their cylinder and popping them into our mouths wherever we are in the world. That includes countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Portugal.
The popularity of Pringles spans the globe with international sales exceeding sales in the USA.
Originally a Proctor & Gamble product, Pringles are currently manufactured by Kellogg’s, a conglomerate better known for manufacturing breakfast cereal. Ingredients include dehydrated potatoes as well as corn flour, rice flour and wheat starch.
Although the original name was Pringle’s Newfangled Potato Chips, it’s debatable whether Pringles chips are actually potato chips due to their non-potato ingredients. However, to us, this distinction doesn’t matter. What matters is how they taste and how fun they are to eat.
Popular Pringles Flavors
BBQ, Cheddar Cheese, Original, Pizza, Ranch and Salt & Vinegar
Year Invented: 1948
As we learned from vintage commercials, Ruffles have ridges. But not just any ridges. These ridges are deep with just the right texture for gripping old school dips like ranch and sour cream & onion. However, despite those deep ridges, we don’t need dip when we munch on Ruffles chips.
Ruffles are the official chips of the NBA.
We like that crunchy Ruffles (the original flavor) chips have just three ingredients – potatoes, vegetable oil and salt. To be clear, flavored Ruffles chips have additional flavor enhancers like MSG, essentially negating the need for the aforementioned dips.
Canadians go even further with their All-Dressed Ruffles – a flavor mishmash that includes barbecue sauce, ketchup, salt and vinegar. While this flavor isn’t available at most American stores, curious consumers can buy a bag from Amazon.
Popular Ruffles Flavors
Cheddar & Sour Cream, Flamin’ Hot, Original and Sour Cream & Onion
Year Invented: 1932
Not to be corny (ouch!) but we love munching on original Fritos chips. There’s just something comfortable and familiar about the classic corn chips. Knowing that the the original Fritos ingredient list has just three items – corn, corn oil and salt – adds to our comfort.
Fritos hail from the great state of Texas. Legend has it that the chip’s history started when Charles Elmer Doolin bought the fried corn chip recipe from Gustavo Olguin. The rest of the Fritos story became snack food history.
Casa de Fritos is the Disneyland restaurant where Doritos (see above) made their debut.
Other flavors and shapes have joined the Fritos fiesta over the past nine decades. There are low salt Fritos as well as Fritos flavored with tomato powder and cheese. There’s also a unique ‘scoop’ shaped Frito that’s ideal for scooping dip or chili. However, the best way to combine Fritos and chili is in Frito Pie.
Traditionally served in a Fritos bag, Frito Pie is basically chili served over Frito chips. Adding toppings like sour cream and jalapeño peppers amps up both the dish’s flavor and the fun.
Popular Fritos Flavors
Bar-B-Q, Chili Cheese, Flamin’ Hot and Original
Year Invented: 1985
Over a decade ago, when we first visited New Orleans, Zapp’s Voodoo chips put a spell on us. Back then, the Cajun-style kettle chips sold in colorful striped bags were regional to Louisiana.
Pennsylvania’s Utz Quality Foods later bought Zapp’s in 2011, a year after owner Ron Zappe passed away. And, while Zapp’s chips are still manufactured in Louisiana, they’re now sold at convenience stores in Philadelphia. Hooray!
The Zapp’s factory is located in a converted Chevrolet car dealership in Gramercy near New Orleans.
Zapp’s chips aren’t typical potato chips. The company thickly cuts potatoes and fries them in peanut oil. But the black magic, i.e voodoo, happens when Cajun spices are added. We liken the result to an edible Mardi Gras celebration.
Zapp’s chips aren’t uniform and their flavors are more intense than any other American potato chips we’ve tasted. We’re okay with the misshaped shapes and fierce Louisiana flavors.
Popular Zapp’s Flavors
Mesquite Bar-B-Que, Regular, Salt & Vinegar, Spicy Cajun Crawtators, Voodoo and Voodoo Heat
Years Invented: 1948 (crunchy) and 1971 (puffs)
While we agree to disagree about some aspects of eating Cheetos, we agree on others.
We both like eating the addictive cheddar cheese-flavored puffed corn snack and we’re not too proud to lick the orange residue that inevitably lingers on our fingers. There’s also no disagreement between us that the Cheetos brand ranks as one of the top American chip brands.
The American snack known as cheese puffs was allegedly invented by two different independent companies in the 1930s.
Our divergence in opinion is related to which Cheetos style is better.
While Mindi prefers the original crunchy Cheetos that debuted three years after the end of the second world war, Daryl is partial to the airier puffs that debuted more than two decades later. Don’t even get us started on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos which joined the party in 1989.
A Frito- Lays janitor created the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos flavor. However, Richard Montañez didn’t stay in his janitor position for long after he presented the super successful product idea.
We’re not sure what these preferences say about us. But we do know that Cheetos remain popular to this day. We also know that original Cheetos were invented by Charles Elmer Doolin whose prior claim to fame was introducing Fritos to the world (see above).
Popular Cheetos Flavors
Crunchy, Flamin’ Hot and Puffs
Year Invented: 1999
We never heard of Takis prior to our recent deep dive into the wonderful world of American chips. We’re not sure how this happened but we’re not too proud to admit our prior ignorance. We’re also not too ethnocentric to exclude Takis from our guide even though they were invented in Mexico. After all, Mexico is in the Americas.
Although Takis chips get their heat from chili pepper, they get their color from Red 40 and Yellow 6.
The bright color and odd shape of our bag of Fuego Takis chips threw us off until we realized that Takis are rolled tortilla chips coated with spicy red powder. But what did we think about the hot chili pepper & lime flavor?
Takis taste different from every other chip listed in this guide. The word fuego translates to fire and that’s exactly what our mouths tasted like after we ate our first rolled chips. Considering that we ate the entire bag, we clearly enjoyed our first experience eating Takis.
Popular Takis Flavors
Blue Heat, Crunchy Fajita, Fuego, Guacamole and Nitro
8. Sun Chips
Year Invented: 1991
Sun Chips, made with 100% whole grain, seem like a healthy chip option. We know this thanks to the factoid that’s ostentatiously placed smack dab on the middle of the bag. And, if that wording isn’t enough, Sun Chips bags also describe their chips as heart healthy and with no artificial flavors.
It all sounds too good to be true and indeed it is. Sure, Sun Chips contain whole grain wheat as advertised but they also contain whole corn. Other not-so-healthy ingredients include sugar and a processed corn product called maltodextrin.
Harvest Cheddar is the most popular Sun Chips flavor.
We’re partial to the Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips flavor that tastes like… wait for it…. cheddar cheese. While we like to eat them on their own, we like them better when they’re paired with grilled cheese and/or tomato soup. We may even dip the chips into the soup on occasion but that’s between us and our soup bowl.
Popular Sun Chips Flavors
Chili Lime, French Onion, Garden Salsa, Harvest Cheddar and Original
Years Invented: 1978 (triangles) and 2001 (scoops)
Tostitos are proof that there’s always a way to build a better tortilla chip. Impressively, Frito-Lay accomplished this feat with just three ingredients – corn, vegetable oil and salt.
The popularity of the Tostitos brand is so prolific that it’s not uncommon for people to refer to generic tortilla chips as Tostitos. We choose to refer to tortilla chips as tortilla chips.
In retrospect, it would have been easy for Frito-Lay to coast with it’s triangle-shaped Tostitos which pair perfectly well with salsa and queso dips. But no – the mega-company came up with Tostito Scoops, essentially revolutionizing the experience of scooping salsa and guacamole with tortilla chips, essentially negating the need for utensils.
Frito-Lay’s innovation didn’t stop with the shape of its Tostito chips. The company also sells a successful line of jarred salsas and queso dips under the Tostitos moniker and has recently introduced bottled sauces called Tostito Toppers.
Popular Toastidos Flavors
Hint of Guacamole, Hint of Lime, Mexican Style Three Cheese and Original
10. Lay’s Potato Chips
Year Invented: 1940
Simplicity rules the day when it comes to original Lay’s Potato Chips. The chip’s list of ingredients includes just potatoes, vegetable oil and salt. Then there’s the brand’s iconic slogan “Betcha Can’t Eat Just One” which isn’t hyperbole. We dare you to try eating just one chip.
While Lay’s potato chips span the globe, different countries have different names for the classic snack item. Some of these pseudonyms are Chipsy, Sabritas, Smith’s, Tapuchips and Walkers.
Lay’s potato chips taste like childhood in a bag. Well, they actually taste like fried potatoes but you get the gist if you’re a Generation X’er like us who remember pulling bags of Lay’s chips out of their Brady Bunch or Scooby Doo lunchboxes. At that time, Lay’s sold original potato chips as well as barbecue and sour cream & onion flavored potato chips in bags of various sizes.
Today, Lay’s potato chips come in a myriad of flavors that would likely shock Herman Lay, the company’s original patriarch. While some flavors like dill pickle are tailored to the American market, exotic global chip flavors include nori seaweed and spicy lobster.
Popular Lay’s Flavors
Barbecue, Cheddar & Sour Cream, Dill Pickle, Original, Salt & Vinegar, and Sour Cream & Onion
11. Cape Cod
Year Invented: 1980
Manufacturer: Cape Cod Potato Chips
Cape Cod potato chips aren’t the only kettle potato chips in our guide. However, these are the ones that re-popularized the batch-style process of frying potatoes using large cauldrons or kettles in the 1980s.
Jude and Steve Bernard started their chips business in Hyannis, Massachusetts with a shoestring budget, eventually selling their business to Anheuser-Busch in 1985. Today, Cape Cod Potato Chips is a subsidiary of the Campbell Soup Company.
The brand’s original chips are made with just three ingredients – potatoes, vegetable oil and sea salt. Thick and crunchy, these chips seem like they could be homemade due to their odd shapes and potato skin flecks.
While Cape Cod potato chips aren’t actually homemade, the inclusion of sea salt makes our taste buds happy. And who doesn’t like happy taste buds?
Popular Cape Cod Flavors
Original, Russet, Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper, Sea Salt & Vinegar, Sour Cream & Onion, Sweet & Spicy Jalapeño and Sweet Mesquite Barbecue
Year Invented: 1969
After debating classifying Funyuns, onion-flavored rings, as chips, we concluded that Funyuns aren’t just chips. They’re some of the best American chips we’ve tasted.
We’re not the only ones who love Funyuns. Breaking Bad character Jesse Pinkman validated his adoration when he declared: “Funyuns are awesome!”
Although Funyuns are shaped like onion rings, the extruded chips aren’t made with actual onions. Instead, they’re made with corn meal and get their onion flavor from onion powder. The concept is a bit strange but the end result is as fun as the name implies.
Popular Funyun Flavors
Flamin’ Hot and Original
Year Invented: 1921
Despite their centenarian status and regional popularity, Utz potato chips stay somewhat under the radar since they’re primarily sold on America’s east coast. However, if you’ve ever munched on Zapp’s (see above) or TGI Fridays chips, then you’ve indirectly eaten Utz chips since Utz owns those product lines as well as Boulder Potato Chips and Dirty Potato Chips.
Named after original owners Salie and William Utz, Utz’s roots are in Hanover, Pennsylvania, just 50 miles from where Milton Hershey created some of the most popular American candies.
Beyond its original potato chips, Utz sells flavors like Salt & Vinegar and Cheddar & Sour Cream. The latter flavor reminds us of a loaded baked potato.
Popular Utz Flavors
Cheddar & Sour Cream, Crab, Honey Barbecue, Original and Salt & Vinegar
Year Invented: 1946
Manufacturer: Herr Foods
Choosing a bag of Herr’s is challenging anywhere you happen to be in the USA. Sold in all 50 states, the privately held Pennsylvania company’s flavor roster is both comprehensive and diverse.
Sure, you could buy a bag of Crisp ‘N Tasty chips but that would just be boring considering Herr’s flavors like Baby Back Ribs and Fire Roasted Sweet Corn.
You can learn all about Herr’s chips during a tour of the company’s Nottingham, Pennsylvania factory. Tours are currently offered three days a week and advance reservations are required.
Herr’s excels in producing potato chip flavors like Creamy Dill Pickle which we bought at a Philadelphia Wawa. However, there’s no shame in serving their plain chips at parties.
Popular Herr’s Flavors
Baby Back Ribs, Barbecue, Cheddar Barbecue, Creamy Dill Pickle, Creamy Ranch, Dark Russet, Fire Roasted Sweet Corn, Honey Barbecue, Hot Sauce, Ketchup, Old Bay, Red Hot, Salt & Vinegar and Sour Cream & Onion
15. Stacy’s Pita Chips
Year Invented: 1998
While pita bread is typically associated with Mediterranean countries, Stacy’s Pita Chips is all-American. Its roots sprouted at a Boston food cart owned by Stacy Madison (the company’s namesake) and Mark Andrus (Madison’s former spouse). The company is now owned and operated by Frito-Lay, an American conglomerate.
Madison and Andrus originally made their chips with pita scraps and gave them to their food cart customers for free.
Stacy’s Pita Chips are baked instead of fried. Unlike other chips in this guide they’re made with sliced pita bread as opposed to potatoes or corn. The company also has a line of baked bagel chips made with sliced bagels.
Although Stacy’s Pita Chips (and bagels) are baked, they still contain high levels of fat and sodium. The sturdy chips are ideal vessels for scooping up dips like hummus and baba ghanoush. They’re also a nice addition to cheese plates.
Popular Stacy’s Pita Chips Flavors
Cinnamon Sugar, Fire Roasted Jalapeño, Garden Veggie Medley, Multigrain, Parmesan Garlic & Herb, Simply Naked and Toasted Cheddar
Additional American Chip Brands
But wait – there’s more. Consider the following additional chips in your personal exploration of the best American chips:
American Chips FAQs
American chips are snack food items typically made from potatoes, corn and even pita bread.
Doritos is the most popular chip brand in America. They’re produced by Frito-Lay.
The best American chips are made from potatoes, corn and even pita bread. The only way to find your favorite brand is to taste them all.
Hungry For More In America?
About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.
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Original Publication Date: March 26, 2023