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The Secret Ingredient In The Best Jalapeño Chips

The wallop of flavor in Tim's jalapeño chips doesn't just come from the chili pepper.

My name's Danny Palumbo, and I'm from Pennsylvania—home of Herr's, Utz, Snyder's, Wise, Middleswarth, Martin's, Gibble's, and many more. In short, this is where chips live, baby. And although I no longer live in the Keystone state, I still have a profound admiration for all things potato chips. In this column I will be reviewing some of the best the country has to offer. Welcome to Chip Country.

Tim's is a beloved Pacific Northwest chip company that has provided wonderfully crunchy cascade-style chips since 1986—so it's relatively new, by snack company standards. Though it's now another brand owned by Utz (seriously—Utz again), Tim's has a loyal if not downright fierce fanbase that always seems to be up my ass about not giving Tim's enough love. So, in the interest of dislodging several of you from my ass, I thought I'd take the time to write about one of the brand's sincerely marvelous flavors: this tantalizing bag of jalapeño chips.

What do Tim’s Jalapeño Chips taste like?

Tim's chips are crunchy like a kettle chip, and they always taste incredibly well seasoned. That's because MSG is used in many Tim's flavors. In the jalapeño chip, that MSG helps round out the spicy, dry heat of the jalapeño pepper. Other ingredients of note in this bag of chips: jalapeño pepper, onion powder, torula yeast, garlic powder, and paprika.


I was surprised to see torula yeast, which is also said to provide a savory, umami quality to many foods much like nutritional yeast does. It certainly explains why these chips taste so dang meaty, and apparently why they're kind of smoky, too. Torula yeast grows on wood alcohols; it's often used to convert wood products into paper. It's also edible, and it's why these chips have a smoked, wood-like flavor to them—their complexion is even a bit darker, almost like a barbecue chip. These aren't one-note, as other jalapeño chips can be. Tim's has a well-rounded flavor profile due to this alchemy of ingredients.

I also find myself needing to drink a lot of water with these chips, as they are incredibly salty and full of dry heat. The crunch of a Tim's chip is phenomenal, though I don't think the chips themselves are any more crunchy or thick than the Kettle brand. Kettle, though, doesn't include torula yeast or MSG in its jalapeño chips, and I doubt those ingredients are included in other Kettle flavors, either.


When I stack Tim's up next to a Kettle jalapeño chip, it's no contest. Tim's just packs an extra punch. Because its uses MSG and torula yeast, it provides a robust, smoky, spicy, salty flavor that's unmatched. If you're a fan of flavor enhancers, Tim's isn't afraid to use them, and the chips are better for it.