An Updated List of the Best Plain Potato Chips

We sourced a lot of bags of chips—more than 30!—to find the best plain potato chips in two separate taste tests. Hey, we take this job seriously. Also, we just really, really love potato chips, even if they aren’t blasted with smoky BBQ or tangy sour cream and onion flavoring. 

Here are the criteria we took into account when we set out to find the best plain potato chips: texture, oil, and taste. The texture should be crispy-crunchy, but it should also align with the type of chip. The best kettle cooked chips should have a bold, firm crunch, while regular chips (think: Lay’s) should be light and have an almost airy crunch. In terms of oil, most olive oil chips didn’t hit for us; they were just too bitter. The oilin which the chips were cooked shouldn’t overpower the flavor of the chips themselves—w e want good potato flavor. When we munch on chips, we want to taste that deliciously rustic, earthy potato. As for salt, salted potato chips should be salty without giving you instant hypertension—since sodium intake is an issue for a lot of people, we included unsalted potato chips and less salt potato chips, too. Make your favorite sandwich and grab a can of soda. These are the best plain potato chips you can buy.


best beef fat potato chips

Best Old Fashioned

Grandma Utz’s Handcooked Potato Chips

I love Grandma Utz’s potato chips, and if it were up to me, these would rank in the top five. However, several of my fellow taste testers had a visceral reaction to these chips. That’s because they’re cooked in beef tallow and have a distinct meaty flavor. Personally, I love that flavor. These chips are so fatty, salty, and crunchy, and Utz’s uses good quality potatoes, too. If you like how McDonald’s fries used to taste super beefy, you’ll love these. Out of the chips we tried that were fried in lard—Middleswarth, Gibbles, and Utz’s—I liked Grandma Utz’s the most. Try them, and you might have a new favorite chip. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Liv Averett / Utz

Rating:

7/10

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best potato chip for dipping

Best for Dipping

Boulder Canyon Avocado Oil Sea Salt Kettle Style Potato Chips

Avocado oil works really well with potato chips. It has ta distinct flavor that’s rich and vegetal but not bitter or overpowering. Cooking oil should hang out in the background of a potato chip’s flavor profile; it shouldn’t be the star. What we really like about Boulder Canyon’s avocado oil kettle chips is that they’re both kettle cooked and ridged. That makes them crunchy, substantial, and the best plain potato chips for dipping on this list. (And if you need some dip recommendations, we have you covered.) —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Liv Averett / Amazon

Rating:

7.5/10

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best plain potato chips

Best Greasy

Classic Lay’s

Classic Lay’s are so perfectly salty and greasy that they had to make this list. The only problem with these chips is that they don’t taste that much like potatoes. There’s not much natural flavor. Still, you’d be hard pressed to find a more snackable chip than Lay’s. I can take down a medium sized bag by myself no problem, and I do think there is a scientifically mastered, well-made quality to Lay’s chips that just works. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Liv Averett / Amazon

Rating:

7.5/10

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best plain potato crisp

Best (Not) Pringles

The Good Crisp Company Classic Original Potato Crisps

The Good Crisp sounds like a prestige drama on Max about a bunch of fried potatoes. But it’s actually a Pringles-esque potato crisp that, quite frankly, does the processed chips-in-a-can thing better than Pringles. It’s not a fresh-cut potato chip, no, but it is a well-done amalgamation of dried potato flakes that somehow tastes pretty natural and fresh. The salt flavor is great, and they don’t have that weird, off-putting “can taste” that Pringles sometimes have. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart

Rating:

7.5/10

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best plain potato chips

Best Junk Food

Munchos

Whatever the hell Munchos are, we love ‘em. They’re light and crisp, but not in a healthy way. These are salty, fatty, and airy. They’re not fresh-cut potato chips but instead made from a homogenous mixture of dried potatoes and potato starch. And yet, the flavor isn’t off-putting at all. Not everything has to be fresh cut. Munchos are junk-food science at work. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart

Rating:

7.5/10

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best lightly salted potato chips

Best Lightly Salted

Great Value Lightly Salted

Great Value makes a lot of great-tasting products, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that when we taste tested less sodium potato chips, we liked theirs a lot. I tasted these against Lay’s Lightly Salted and decided that these Walmart chips have a much more compelling potato flavor. They also have less sodium. If you’re looking for the best lightly salted potato chips, you can stop searching. We found them. —Gwynedd Stuart

Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart

Rating:

8/10

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best air fried potato chips

Best Non-Greasy

Kettle Brand Air Fried Himalayan Sea Salt

Kettle Brand recently released a line of air fried kettle chips, and I absolutely love them. You get all the sturdy crunch of regular Kettle chips, but these are a little bit less oily. I love a food that comes off as a little bit healthier even if it isn’t healthy, per se. These Himalayan Sea Salt air fried chips just feel lighter, which makes them the best plain potato chips for lunchtime, in my opinion. I don’t know about you, but I don’t work well with a bellyful of oil. —Gwynedd Stuart

Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart

Rating:

8.5/10

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best dark russet potato chips

Best Unique

Trader Joe’s Dark Russet Kettle-Cooked Potato Chips

We absolutely adored the flavor of these Dark Russet potato chips. They’re so damn earthy and the flavor is so stunningly unique that it fills a hole in the chip world we didn’t know was there. To me, these are like the coffee of potato chips—bitter but pleasantly so. Plus, the added salt balances out that pronounced potato taste. I think these chips taste like potato skins. They also remind me of the fresh cut deep fried chips you get at a sports bar that were left in the deep fryer too long but actually taste great. Trader Joe’s dark russet potato chips are bold, salty, fatty, and crispy-crunchy. You can’t go wrong. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Liv Averett

Rating:

8.5/10

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best unsalted potato chips

Best Unsalted

Kettle Brand Unsalted Potato Chips

When we did our taste test of less sodium potato chips, we tried a few brands of completely unsalted potato chips. Kettle’s unsalted chips totally blew me away. I liked them even better than most of the lightly salted plain potato chips we tried! Besides being unbelievably crunchy and satisfying, these have an extremely compelling oily, potato-y flavor. They don’t need salt to be delicious. These are the best plain potato chips to pair with a super salty dip. —Gwynedd Stuart

Credit: Liv Averett / Ralphs

Rating:

9/10

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best plain potato chips

Best Salty

Late July Organic Sea Salt Thin & Crispy Potato Chips

These plain potato chips have such an organic, clean taste that they don’t feel like junk food. Still, they’re quite salty, which enhances the umami flavor of the potato itself. One taste tester noted that these have that earthy potato flavor we’re often looking for in a good potato chip. Late July makes a stellar potato chip that has all the attributes we’re looking for in a munchable snack. Plus, they’re fried in organic sunflower oil, which is better for the environment. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Liv Averett / Amazon

Rating:

9/10

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best plain potato chips

Best Regional

Herr’s Crisp ‘N Tasty Potato Chips

Everybody loved these Herr’s potato chips and it warmed my Pennsylvanian heart to see it happen in real time. Herr’s Plain Potato Chips hit every single criteria for good plain potato chips: They’re salty, fatty, and have a great potato flavor. These are what Lay’s potato chips wish they could be. The potato flavor is natural and almost earthy. You really feel like you’re eating a bag of fresh potato chips. Plus, they don’t skimp on salt or fat. They’re beautifully balanced and taste like they’re made with great quality potatoes. Herr’s rules. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Liv Averett / Target

Rating:

9.5/10

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best reduced fat potato chips

Best Texture

Cape Cod 40% Less Fat Kettle Cooked Original Potato Chips

It is astonishing that reduced fat chips are this good, but it’s undeniable that Cape Cod shines brightly. These chips have a noticeably unique texture that is crispy and light, yet still kettle-style crunchy. The potato flavor is excellent, and there’s just enough salt and oil that these don’t feel like “healthy” chips. You can eat so many of these because they aren’t overly greasy and salty. These are the best plain potato chips if you love good texture—and they just happen to have less fat than other chips. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Liv Averett / Target

Rating:

9.5/10

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best plain potato chips

Best of the Best

Trader Joe’s Ode to the Classic Potato Chip

I know you probably wanted to see your favorite, hyper-regional potato chip brand in the number one spot, but we wanted to take availability into account when we were looking for the best plain potato chips. Trader Joe’s is a nationwide chain, and they absolutely nailed it with their plain potato chips. TJ’s Ode to the Classic Potato Chip is everything a plain potato chip should be: light, crispy, and crunchy. The potato taste is fresh and not at all processed, and they have a lovely salty and greasy quality that every potato chip should have. The earthy, fresh, potato-skin flavor of these really sent them over the top for us. Managing editor Gwynedd Stuart said they taste like “bowling alley fries,” which is somehow frighteningly accurate. If you have a TJ’s nearby, buy these.—Danny Palumbo

Credit: Liv Averett

Rating:

10/10

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Other Products We Tried: Ruffles, Pringles, Cape Cod Original Sea Salt, Extra Virgin Olive Oil Chips by José Andrés, Spud Love Sea Salt, Good Health Kettle Style Avocado Oil and Sea Salt Chips, Clancy’s Original Chips, Clancy’s Stackers, Whole Foods 365 Kettle Cooked Sea Salt, Whole Foods 365 Original Sea Salt, Gibbles, Middleswarth, Wise, Trader Joe’s Kettle Cooked Olive Oil, Tim’s Original with Sea Salt, 7/11 Original Potato Chips, 7/11 Kettle Potato Chips, Dirty Sea Salted Potato Chips, Zapp’s Original Potato Chips.

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About the Author

Sporked Staff

The Sporked Staff tastes everything and anything. They are obsessive about groceries and finding the best of any type of food or drink, from frozen fried shrimp to Dijon mustard to gummy candy. And they're always on a hunt for the best new products. When they aren't eating professionally, they're eating recreationally. And often they're browsing grocery store aisles, just for fun.

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  • Well..Trader Joes doesn’t have a potato chip factory,so these are definitely sold as someone elses as well,do some detective work on that as well,or make your best guess.

    Reply
  • Trader Joe’s chips are amazing! You should the Simply Lays. Very similar to Trader Joe’s, but maybe more widely available.

    Reply
  • Where’s Wise, the best of the bunch?

    Reply
  • You missed out by not trying Better Made

    Reply
  • I would agree on the Grandma uTZ brand being the (my) best pick! I do take exception to the inclusion of potato slurry “crisps” in this category! THEY ARE NOT potato chips!!! ;z HaHa, good reviews 😉

    Reply
  • Thank you for agreeing that grandma utz chips are good that beef flavor is shocking but grows on you lol

    Reply
  • Every time I go home to Pitt, I stock up on Wise and Herrs because I have a problem.

    Reply
  • Your title says you’re ranking the best plain potato CHIPS. Munchos and The Good Crisp crisps are NOT potato chips, no matter how much you pretend they are.

    Reply
    • really because it says potato chips on the package

      Reply
      • They both clearly say “potato crisps”, and they aren’t UK brands.

  • I’m sure you’ve gotten this comment before but at least in the Midwest the Dark Russet chips are discontinued, as a current employee of TJ’s I’m pretty sure they will eventually be back because they’re a beloved chip but at the moment they are discontinued.

    Reply
  • UTZ chips are THE BEST. I originally found and tasted these at the Pennsylvania farm show. None better,

    Reply
  • It bothers me that you don’t list the other brands you tried.

    Reply
    • oh shoot, this was a mistake. it’s been updated with all the brands we tried.

      Reply
  • I kept scrolling, and scrolling, and… Danny comes through! I adore Grandma Utz chips, they’re what a plain potato chip should be! But I get how they could be divisive. Got a trip to TJ’s scheduled, going to have to try those.

    Reply