Photo: Taste of Home
We all know the saying: When it comes to potato chips, bet you can’t just eat one. Well, recently at Taste of Home HQ, we put our own spin on that phrase—this time daring ourselves that when it comes to Lay’s potato chips, bet we can’t just try one flavor.
For those of you not intimately familiar with your grocery store junk food aisle the way I am (I’m a sucker for store bought cookies), potato chips don’t begin and end with classic and sour cream and onion anymore! It turns out that Lay’s offers dozens of varieties—everything from traditional to kettle to wavy—and all in assorted flavors. While I definitely don’t have any problems trying every potato chip out there, I also know there are only 24 hours in a day. So in the end, I grabbed all the varieties of traditional Lay’s potato chips that I could find—that’s nine different flavors—in efforts to find out which ones tasted best and which ones were surprisingly satisfying.
While my appetite for snacks knows no bounds, I figured it was best to sort out the best chips with some a little help. The result is our definitive ranking of the best Lay’s potato chips. Check out where your favorite fell on our list!
9. Flamin’ Hot
Who among us hasn’t enjoyed a Flamin’ Hot Cheeto on occasion? They’re cheesy, spicy, crunchy—everything you want in a road trip snack. My testers and I were all hoping that same satisfying heat would come through on these chips. From the looks, they definitely had the classic Flamin’ Hot color. However, we found that without that cheesy Cheeto flavor to temper the heat, Flamin’ Hot wasn’t our favorite. Instead of reading as tasty potato chip with a spicy kick, they just read as generically hot. We were pretty bummed, but luckily, there are plenty of spiced-up recipes that have a more well-rounded kick.
8. Southern Biscuits & Gravy
Next up was a truly uncanny biscuit and gravy-flavored chip. I’ll be honest, most of us were pretty skeptical of this chip—how could it actually taste like biscuits and gravy? But the second we dipped into this bag we were believers. These Lay’s actually tasted so much like their real life counterpart. We picked up a lot of herb flavors like sage and thyme that perfectly encapsulated the gravy flavor. While this ranked toward the bottom of our listing, it doesn’t mean that this flavor was unappealing—in fact, the testing crew called these satisfying and savory—it’s just that we couldn’t imagine buying bag after bag. Psst! This southern celebrity loves biscuits and gravy, too.
Talk about bold! This barbecue flavor was probably the most potent flavor of all those we tested. The majority of the panel really enjoyed this chip’s savory barbecue sauce taste with a kick of smoke. One tester summed up this Lay’s potato chip pretty well: “this is a summer party packed into a chip.” Get a taste of summer with our best BBQ recipes.
However, this chip did come up a bit short because a few folks found the flavor to be a bit overpowering after just a few chips. So we’d say this one’s great for a picnic, but maybe not heavy snacking (you know, when you settle in to watch a whole season of Parks & Recreation on Netflix). Reach for these snacks instead.
6. Honey Barbecue
I know what you’re thinking—two barbecue flavors?—but trust us, there is a difference! While the classic version really hit us with a powerful sweet and smokey flavor, the honey barbecue was a bit more subtle. Instead of that bold smokey flavor, the honey barbecue flavor had a little more sweetness to give us that great sweet-and-salty combo we all love. This being said, some testers thought this chip was too mild. Maybe the best solution is to grab a bag of barbecue and a bag of honey barbecue and mix them? It wouldn’t be the weirdest food combo we’ve ever tried…
5. Cheddar & Sour Cream
Right in the middle of the pack was Lay’s cheddar and sour cream option. As die-hard cheese lovers and (mostly) Wisconsinites, this chip gained big points for big cheddar flavor. We found that the sharp cheddar was really balanced out by a light sour cream flavor. In the end, we know why this Lay’s variety has stuck around—it’s perfectly snackable. Love cheese as much as we do? Try the cheesiest recipes we’ve ever made.
4. Dill Pickle
For most of us, pickle was a pretty new flavor! In fact, none of the testers had tasted this chip before, however plenty of us have stacked sandwiches high with pickles (and stuffed a few chips in there for crunch)—this had to be a pretty good combo, right?
Definitely right! These crispy, salty chips had a mild vinegar flavor with just a hint of dill. One tester remarked, “this is like my chips met pickle juice only they didn’t get soggy.” I’d say that encapsulates the flavor perfectly! So pickle lovers, be sure to grab a bag of these (and check out our favorite pickle brands).
3. Salt & Vinegar
Taking the bronze was salt and vinegar—one of the most polarizing flavors! For those out there that love salt and vinegar chips, our judges said that these were an amazing option. Very flavor-forward, these chips had that distinctive vinegary tang with just the perfect dash of salt. While this powerful bite was much beloved by a lot of testers, we know that not everyone’s a fan. So proceed with caution if you’ve never tried this variety before!
2. Sour Cream & Onion
Nudging out salt and vinegar for second place was snacking classic sour cream and onion. Our squad of professional snackers ranked this flavor high for how it managed to balance a great onion flavor with the mellowness of sour cream. It’s that great chip and dip flavor but without all the mess (well, just the crumbs!). So many judges remarked on how these chips brought back fond snacking memories—road trips, parties, nights with friends—and we think that’s part of the appeal of this variety.
In the end though, nothing could beat out the classic potato chip. We all loved trying the different varieties of Lay’s potato chips, but nothing could beat the light, thin crisp of a perfectly salted chip. Of course homemade chips are always a favorite, but when you’re craving the perfect crunch with your sandwich or to heap into bowls for a party, these classics are your best tried and true option.
In the end that ranking from top to bottom is: Classic, Sour Cream & Onion, Salt & Vinegar, Dill Pickle, Cheddar & Sour Cream, Honey Barbecue, Barbecue, Southern Biscuits & Gravy and Flamin’ Hot.
After this extremely crunchy and salty test, we came to the main conclusion that you can’t beat the classics. The more traditional flavors all came in toward the top of this test—though the pickle flavor gave the others a run for their money! So unless you’re a more curious snacker, your best bet is to stick with a few of the traditional options and maybe spring for a fun flavor for your next party!