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These Are The Best Ranch Chips

Kettle Brand potato chips are the best equipped to recreate "wet" flavors. Let me explain.

Too often, ranch-flavored chips are a disappointment. (Yes, even Cool Ranch Doritos.) I don't really think the chip itself makes a ton of sense—ahhh, that classic corn and ranch pairing we all know and love—and although these Herr's Creamy Ranch & Habanero chips are very good, the habanero heat takes away from any chance at a pure ranch flavor. No, what I'm looking for is something virtuously ranch-like: creamy, tangy, herby, and rich. To be honest, I'm still looking for it.

Angela L. Pagán covered this conundrum beautifully in her discussion of pickle-flavored potato chips, correctly stating that most pickle chips amount to merely "a few flecks of dill seasoning."

"Actual pickles sit soaking in a bath of delicious acidic juices so sour my mouth is already watering," she explains. This illustrates the problem entirely: It's difficult to replicate the flavor memory of a wet food with a dry one. Sure, Cool Ranch Doritos have buttermilk seasoning and some dried parsley flakes, but is that it? Is that all ranch is? No. Ranch needs to feel creamy, and ranch chips, no matter the brand, are never really creamy enough.

But Kettle makes a potato chip that positively bursts with fat and oil—and as a result, it might best recreate that rich, smooth, creamy ranch flavor. Let's find out.

What Kettle’s Farmstand Ranch chips taste like

Out of all the ranch chips I've tasted, these Kettle Brand Farmstand Ranch chips are without a doubt the creamiest. My guess is that Kettle brand chips are among the fattiest because they're slow-cooked and thus retain a bit more oil; there's certainly a good deal of fat and saturated fat present in the nutrition facts. And because of that burst of oily fat, the buttermilk flavor comes through as both tangy and rich, not just a dry, tart flavor.

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However, unlike other ranch-flavored chips, there isn't actually buttermilk or even sour cream listed in the ingredients. Instead, Kettle's Farmstand Ranch chips list nonfat milk, whey, salt, vinegar powder, cream (emphasis mine), garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, spices, and citric acid. All of those combine to deliver a much more serious ranch flavor than the competition.

I am struck by the nonfat milk and cream that Kettle uses here. Cool Ranch Doritos, by comparison, list skim milk and buttermilk in the ingredients (in addition to a ton of other ingredients that just don't need to be there). Maybe the cream has to do with the intense flavor of these Kettle Farmstand Ranch chips; maybe it's the quality of ingredients or the slow cooking of the chips themselves. It's hard to know for sure, but what I do know is that these chips get the closest to replicating that pure ranch flavor. They're chips—a solid, not a liquid—but they provide hope that better flavors of hard-to-emulate foods can and will exist. Pickle chips, you're next.

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