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Tortilla Chips Taste Test
Cheap Tortilla Chips Comparison
Tortilla chips are a staple of social gatherings far and wide. From football Sunday to family get-togethers, these crunchy crisps make an appearance alongside guacamole, seven-layer-dip, queso, and the best cheap salsa.
We gathered a group of 11 hungry chip-lovers to taste-test 14 common brands of cheap tortilla snacks. The selection included six organic/natural chip 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. The results were interesting. Nearly everyone initially said "these all taste the same," but the bottom-line tally pointed to clear winners and losers in the chips segment of the market.
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.
|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|
Best Cheap Tortilla Chips
Santitas Tortilla Triangles
Santitas Tortilla Triangles, best known for the $2 price printed directly on the packaging, won over tasters with their flavor, crunch, and just the right amount of salt. Snackers overwhelmingly enjoyed both the white and yellow corn versions, giving them the No. 1 and 2 spots, respectively.Read more »
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Kirkland Signature Tortilla Strips
This Costco house-brand tortilla chip was acceptable to all of our testers, hitting the sweet spot for texture and thickness. The chip proved a good foil for salsa but its unusual rectangular shape drew mixed appraisals.Read more »
Good Cheap Tortilla Chips
Calidad White Corn Tortilla Chips
These white corn dippers are light and fully flavored and sat in a comfortable middle ground with our tasters for saltiness. Not one snacker disliked the Calidad chips, although they drew fewer raves than our top picks.Read more »
Calidad White Corn Tortilla Chips Review
Santitas Tortilla Triangles Review
Kirkland Signature Tortilla Strips Review
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