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Cheap Tortilla Chips Comparison

The selection of tortilla chips in our taste test included six organic/natural varieties and eight traditional, all either national name-brand or store-brand products that sell for the equivalent of up to 19 cents an ounce (prices may vary by locale). We presented the chips in unmarked paper bowls, each labeled with a different reference letter, to keep testers in the dark about which brands they were eating.

We asked each participant to rate the chips based on appearance, texture, and taste. Nearly everyone initially said "these all taste the same," but the bottom-line tally pointed to clear winners and losers.

The tasting panel settled on two best tortilla chips. Reviewers "enjoyed the crunch and salt mix" of both the yellow and white corn Santitas Tortilla Triangles ($2/11 ounces for both the white and yellow varieties) and gave these Frito-Lay products top billing for their balance between texture and "good taste." Kirkland Signature Tortilla Strips ($3.59/48 ounces) from Costco came in a close second, although several participants declared them "very salty." Calidad White Corn Tortilla Chips ($1.99/12 ounces), carried by Walmart, Sam's Club, and other grocery outlets, emerged as a second-best tortilla chip despite what several testers described as a somewhat "bland" taste. Some of the cheap chips we sampled were docked points for being overly salty or lacking in a conspicuous corn flavor, but only Trader Jose's Salted Tortilla Chips ($1.99/12 ounces), a Trader Joe's exclusive, offended the taste buds of our entire panel with their "bad taste."

Other tortilla chip brands we checked out included O Organics from Safeway, Archer Farms Organic from Target, Simple Truth and Kroger from Kroger, Great Value from Walmart, and 365 from Whole Foods, most of which were available in several varieties that rounded out our selection. There was little per ounce price difference between the organic and regular chips in our sample, with most clustering in the 17-19 cents range. The highest per ounce cost was registered by O Organics Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips with Flax Seeds, clearly out of the cheap zone at 30 cents, while Kirkland Signature Tortilla Chips set the floor in our price niche at about 7.5 cents an ounce.

The best tortilla chips seems to be a category of food that delivers rich rewards to frugal consumers. The current zeitgeist often considers high-end, restaurant-style tortilla chips to be the best. But our research shows that isn't always the case. Expert reviews found online at one consumer product site indicate that pricier specialty chips often crumble against the competition, which includes cheaper alternatives like Santitas.

Whether you're planning a shindig for family or friends, there's no reason to overspend your budget for the chips portion of the menu. Our tasting panel easily named clear favorites among the tortilla chips arrayed before them. The highest approval ratings were reserved for the traditional varieties; none of the cheap blue or cheap organic/natural chips we sampled was judged a best tortilla chip. In particular, the level of support for the "healthy chips" in our sample was quite weak.

Tortilla Chips We Tested
Brand Price Ounces Price Per Oz.
ORGANIC & NATURAL Tortilla Chips
Kirkland Signature Organic Tortilla Chips $4.79 40 $0.12
O Organics Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips with Flax Seed $3.00 10 $0.30
Archer Farms Organic Restaurant-Style White Corn Tortilla Chips $2.50 14 $0.18
Simple Truth Natural Blue Corn Tortilla Chips $1.69 9 $0.19
Simple Truth Natural Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips $1.69 9 $0.19
Simple Truth Natural White Corn Tortilla Chips $1.69 9 $0.19
REGULAR Tortilla Chips
Calidad White Corn Tortilla Chips $1.99 12 $0.17
Santitas Tortilla Triangles, Yellow Corn Blend $2.00 11 $0.18
Trader Jose's Salted Tortilla Chips, Yellow $1.99 16 $0.12
Kroger 100% White Corn Traditional Tortilla Chips $1.69 10 $0.17
Great Value White Tortilla Chips $1.68 13 $0.13
365 White Corn Restaurant-Style Tortilla Chips $2.99 16 $0.19
Kirkland Signature Tortilla Strips $3.59 48 $0.07
Santitas Tortilla Triangles, White Corn Blend $2.00 11 $0.18

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In this review:
  1. Tortilla Chips Taste Test
  2. Tortilla Chips Reviews
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