When we started working on this taste test, there was some speculation that baked chips were inherently healthier. Fried is bad, right? Not necessarily, we discovered after doing a little label reading. While the baked chips had less fat than the fried varieties, we were not satisfied with their flavors or textures, wondering how much cheese we’d have to melt on them to make them palatable (and that’s hardly healthy, right?). And that lack of corn flavor was masked with an excessive amount of sodium—the baked varieties had the highest sodium levels per serving. But what threw us most was the fiber content. Two of the fried varieties had 4 grams per serving, not bad for a snack food. And one of those fried varieties had only 40 milligrams of sodium and 4 grams of fat.
Now not all fried chips are created equally. Some varieties, especially flavored tortilla chips like our “bad boy”—Doritos Nacho Cheese—have more than 30 ingredients, including hydrogenated oil, artificial coloring, monosodium glutamate and added sugars. We tore open over 20 bags of tortilla chips and chose the following six. Our picks were based on taste as well as
a good nutritional profile—we selected brands with simple ingredients like corn, oil and salt, and avoided those made with hydrogenated fat. Here’s what we thought.
“Pale, bland and anemic” is how Carolyn C. described the baked version of Tostitos, while Jessie thought the texture was “alarming” and deemed them “certainly too lightweight to scoop up some bean dip.”
R.W. Garcia Stone Ground
We admired these chips for their wholesome look and great corn flavor, which Carolyn C. (our “expert” panelist hailing from El Paso, Texas) thought was “authentic.” With an impressive 4 g fiber and 40 mg sodium per serving, along with a simple ingredient list (corn, oil, salt, water and a trace of lime), we were happy to declare these our “Healthy Choice” winner. R.W.Garcia.com.
Guiltless Gourmet Yellow Corn
These organic yellow corn chips were pretty crunchy and corny, but Carolyn C. thought they tasted “fake,” while Carolyn M. thought they tasted burnt and stale. A dip in a jar of salsa would do a lot for these chips.
Santitas White Corn
We buy these chips regularly and like the salt level and crunchiness. Jessie thought these “were what chips should be.” Carolyn M. found them “corny and crunchy.”
Snyder’s Restaurant Style
Overall, we truly loved the corny appearance of these chips—and their nutritional profile (4 g of fiber!), but there was an unappealing oily taste. Though they had great crunch, Stacy and Carolyn C. noted a teeth-sticking residue.
Tostitos Natural Yellow Corn
“Cruncherama!” Carolyn M. exclaimed as she chomped on these chips. Made with organic yellow corn, these large chips are perfect for nachos.
Tasting Panel: Carolyn Casner, Recipe Tester, Stacy Fraser, Test Kitchen Manager, Carolyn Malcoun, Assistant Editor, Jessie Price, Senior Food Editor