More than half the chips purchased in the U.S. accompany a meal, according to the Snack Food Association, a trade group in Alexandria, Virginia. These all complement the hearty simplicity of a good burger.
Route 11 Dill Pickle The testers were initially put off by the idea of dill pickle–flavored chips. But once they had sampled these, the "intense pickle-juice flavor" made them converts. To buy: rt11.com.
Ruffles Natural Reduced Fat Sea Salted Surprisingly, these reduced-fat chips were among the testers' favorites. A handful and a burger are the perfect no-frills combination. To buy: at grocery stores.
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Best Potato Chips to Eat With a Beer
Every great beer can use a salty partner, something with enough flavor to stand up to the brew but not overpower it. These chips pass muster.
Mystic Sea Salt and Vinegar A lot of salt-and-vinegar chips are disappointingly mild or overwhelmingly acidic. Not these. "The vinegar is in perfect balance with the salt," one tester said. To buy: utzsnacks.com.
Cape Cod Whole Earth Collection Robust Russet These russet chips have a full-flavored authentic potato taste and a toasty hue that testers found impossible to resist. To buy: capecodchips.com.
Shearer's Jalapeno Kettle Cooked Testers commented on the "perfect amount of heat," which still lingered after a sip of beer. To buy: shearers.com.
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Best Potato Chips to Eat on Their Own
When all you want to do is sit down with a bowlful and that DVD you've been looking forward to, reach for chips with enough character to stand on their own. The following have plenty.
Kettle Brand Spicy Thai Testers raved about the mix of sweet, spicy, and salty flavors, including a "great ginger presence" and "a slight habanero kick." To buy: at grocery stores.
Jiminy Chips Kettle Cooked Mustard This boutique brand was packed with flavor and lacked the cloying sweetness found in most other mustard-laced chips. To buy: 888-546-4691.
Barbara's Yogurt and Green Onion Comparing these with more mundane sour cream–and-onion options, testers preferred the "smooth tang," "not-too-potent onion presence," and "thin, crisp texture." To buy: at grocery stores.
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Best Unflavored Potato Chips
Mystic Kettle Cooked A classic kettle-cooked chip: crunchy and a bit greasy but good. To buy: utzsnacks.com.
Rusty's Island Hand Made Maui Style "They pack tons of potato punch," one tester said. But the most remarkable thing about these little chips is their hefty crunch. To buy: rustyschips.com.
Terra Blues These stood out for more than just their (natural) bold blue color. Testers commented on the "great potato flavor," which came through thanks to the "minimal amount of salt." To buy: at grocery stores.
Utz Classic Russets Gourmet Dark Testers liked that these chips were noticeably darker in color and more robust-tasting than most. The combination of russet potatoes and peanut oil results in a rich flavor with a slightly sweet aftertaste. To buy: utzsnacks.com.