Lay’s Tastes of America chips ranked: Can fried pickles be topped?


Have you tried the new Lay’s Tastes of America chips yet? We’ve tasted them all and definitely have a few favorites.

Lay’s Tastes of America chips are on store shelves. Ever since the announcement last month, this year’s release has been highly anticipated. The various flavors represent the different regional favorite dishes. From classics to particular spices, these Lay’s flavors really do capture some iconic foods.

Before ranking the favorite flavors, there is one big difference in this year’s Lay’s Tastes of America offering. All the flavors come in one style of chip, the classic Lay’s style of potato chip. Previously, some of the annual offerings had different styles. From Wavy Lay’s to Kettle Style, this type of variety could have impacted fans perception of the chip and its flavor.

For example, some people prefer a wavy style chip. Some people believe that the waves bring a more robust flavor and better mouth feel. Could the chip style have impacted his favorite flavor vote?

With this year’s offerings, the same chip style puts all the flavors on an equal playing field. No one can be skewed by waves, kettle or something else. This year, the choice is all about the flavors.

Lay’s Tastes of America chips ranked, photo by Cristine Struble

Here are FoodSided’s Lay’s Tastes of America chips ranked.

8. Pimento cheese

The Southern favorite, pimento cheese is an acquired taste. While this flavor is great on a cracker, or even in a sandwich, the flavor’s nuances seemed a little missing in the chip version. It you like a cheese flavor chip, the pimento cheese flavor is perfect for you.

Personally, I would recommend this chip not necessarily as a bowl of snacks. Instead, incorporate this chip into a recipe or use it as a topping. For example, this chip flavor would be great on a burger. A bacon burger, with grilled onions, would be quite tasty with a handful of the pimento cheese Lay’s on top. The added crunch adds satisfaction and the cheese flavor balances the burger. Definitely a flavor combination to try.

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7. Cajun Spice

First, I love spicy foods, especially a good Cajun dish. This chip flavor had more pepper forward flavors that hit your taste buds first. Instead of the long linger, like some Cajun dishes, this chip brings the heat first and tapers off. While I could get hints of garlic and onion, I would have liked a little more paprika, to bring out the smoky heat.

Thinking about this particular Cajun spice chip, I would recommend enjoying the chip with andouille sausage or even a shrimp po boy. Particularly with the shrimp po boy, the sweetness of the shrimp tends to play off the heat from the Cajun spice. There is always something craveable about heat and sweet.

Lay’s Chili Con Queso chips, photo provided by Lay’s

6. Chili Con Queso

Who doesn’t enjoy a warm bowl of queso? This chip flavor brings that appetizer (or meal) to a portable snack bag. The queso aroma is quite apparent as soon as I opened the bag.

While this chip does have the richness of a queso flavor, I would have liked a little more heat. Granted, my spice levels might be more tolerant than others. Still, a little more heat or smoke would have balanced the queso a little more.

For this chip, I would recommend pairing it with a big burrito, or even topping the burrito with the chip. Similar to the burger example, the varying textures work quite well and the queso flavor enhances the flavor too. Unfortunately, don’t try to dip these chips in salsa. While it sounds like a good idea, a potato chip and salsa aren’t a good match.

5. Chesapeake Bay Crab Spice

I love a good fish boil and was excited to try this particular chip flavor. The flavor is definitely reminiscent of a traditional seafood seasoning that works great on crab. There are layers of flavors that seem to build as I ate the chip. I definitely felt a little transported to my memories of eating at a crab shack.

This particular chip was a little difficult to find a food pairing. Truthfully, the best way to enjoy this chip was as a side to a fish boil/clam bake. Instead of serving red potatoes and corn, throw in some bags of these chips. It might not be the exact same seasoning that is on the seafood, but it tastes quite good.

Lay’s Deep Dish Pizza chips, photo provided by Lay’s

4. Deep Dish Pizza

Having enjoyed many Giordano’s deep dish pizzas, I was definitely excited to try this particular chip. With first bite, I was instantly transported to the pizza brand’s sauce. That sweet, yet tomato forward taste completely enveloped my mouth.

Instead of trying to find a food pairing for this chip, I think that it is best enjoyed simply on its own. Grab a frosty beverage and dig into a bag. With this particular version of deep dish pizza, you don’t have to worry about spilling pizza sauce down your shirt.

3. New England Lobster Roll

Summer and lobster rolls go hand in hand. There is nothing better than a soft roll filled with luscious pieces of lobster. Lay’s captured one important nuanced flavor of a lobster roll with this chip. There is a brightness/freshness to the flavor; it is reminiscent of celery.

As unlikely as it seems, definitely eat this chip flavor with a lobster roll. Sometimes a lobster roll needs some crunch. This chip would definitely add the texture, plus it would add that bright, crisp flavor to balance the lobster. Even a delicious lobster roll needs a little texture to make it even more satisfying.

Lay’s Fried Pickles with Ranch chips, photo provided by Lay’s

2. Fried Pickles with Ranch

Deciding between the top two chips was definitely a hard one. Fried pickles are one of my absolute favorite indulgences. But, I don’t dip those pickles in ranch, which is why it is my second favorite Lay’s Tastes of America chip is Deep Fried Pickles with Ranch.

The dill pickle flavor is definitely the predominate flavor. It hits your palate with a big, bold punch. Clearly, if you don’t like dill pickles, this chip isn’t for you. While the ranch flavor is subtle, it does cool off the pickle flavor at the end of the bite. Unlike the previous fried green tomato chip, this version has less of the fried mouth feel, which makes for a better chip.

This chip works great with so many dishes. Instead of a pickle on a Southern style chicken sandwich, add these Fried Pickles with Ranch chips. It will change your mind about fried pickles.

1. Thai Sweet Chili

The Thai Sweet Chili chip is something special. While this chip is said to reference the Pacific Northwest food truck scene, I think that it captures the Asian flavors food trend. The chip has the right balance of heat and sweet. It is almost like your favorite Asian condiment but in chip form.

While I have been recommending a food/chip pairings, this chip is probably best enjoyed on its own. I tried to find a particular food to add the chip into and I found it took away from the chip. Nothing should take away from this particular chip and its flavor.

My guess is that America would choose this particular chip flavor as its favorite. With Asian flavors and foods being so popular, it was a smart choice for Lay’s. Hopefully, this particular Tastes of America flavor becomes a permanent Lay’s chip.

In tasting all these chips, I discovered an interesting scenario. Some of the flavors play off each other and could be an epic potato chip mix bag. Some snack companies are offering combination snacks. For example, a snack bag could feature a salty/sweet or spicy/ranch flavor combination.

If you are able to snag all the Lay’s Tastes of America flavors (which you can on Lay’s website), I would recommend an epic mix snack bowl. For example, the combination of pimento cheese and Cajun spice play well off each other. Also, the deep dish pizza and queso offers a fun play on flavors. It might seem a little unorthodox, but these chips are meant to be fun eating. Sometimes people should be encouraged to play with your food.

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Have you tried any of the Lay’s Tastes of America chips? Which one has been your favorite? Should Lay’s have picked different flavors? Share your thoughts with us either below or tag us using #FoodSided.