A tortilla chip never disappoints. It’s a perfect, sturdy, salty vessel for practically anything worthy of being poured into a serving dish and scooped into a mouth. It can also make a fantastic chicken coating (when crushed), and don’t even get me started on loaded nachos and perhaps brunch’s best dish of all: chilaquiles.
But the range of tortilla chips is vast, extending beyond corn and flour varieties to cassava, quinoa, lentil and even chickpea, as so-called "healthier" alternatives.
For the sake of not upping my blood pressure during this next taste test, I limited the selection to corn (excluding blue) and brands that you can find in practically every major supermarket. I even held a blind taste test among 10 participants at a last-minute house party I threw, and the results were pretty unanimous.
Check out the results below.
6. Frontera Thin & Crispy Tortilla Chips
The group appreciated the authenticity of Frontera by using stone-ground masa, but the smell of these chips was very off-putting. I didn’t mind as much, but you’d think that someone practically farted into the bag based on how often people were talking about its peculiar scent. For that reason alone, I had no other choice but to place these dead last. Also, I’m a bigger fan of the taqueria-style chips that are a tad thicker. We purchased these because we wanted to see how they stood up to Mission and Xochitl (which are similar in ingredients and style). The result: a fracaso (flop in Spanish), unfortunately.
5. Tostitos Original Tortilla Chips
These are solid. They’re a staple at most picnics and barbecues because they always deliver in lightness, salt content and size (where they excel most, actually, since they’re quite large!). But when stacked up against other options on this list, the overall taste kind of paled in comparison. In fact, they made us realize that they’re a helluva lot more artificial-tasting than the norm with a somewhat bland flavor that lacks any trace of real corn. With all that said, Tostitos Hint of Lime chips are stellar and the brand’s salsa is one of the absolute best on the market. But did the latter take top honors? You’ll have to tune in next week when we rank jarred salsa varieties in a battle for the ages.
4. Santitas Tortilla Chips
This was one of the sturdiest chips of the bunch, so if your guacamole is practically avocado chunks with a little bit of lime juice and chopped onions thrown in, then this is the chip for you. They’re also priced affordably ($2.29 is printed directly on the bag!), so you can take comfort in knowing that you won’t be a victim of price gouging by greedy companies (or my local bodega, which sells a small bag of off-brand tortilla chips for a whopping $7).
3. Mission Tortilla Strips
Some people say Mission is a budget Xochitl and I say it’s more like a fraternal twin. It is extremely corn-forward (which I love), but a bit flimsier than its sibling (which would actually make it an amazing soup topper for a delicate crunch). The salt to chip ratio is also perfection and these taste authentically Mexican with a straightforward ingredient list and zero hard-to-pronounce preservatives. I have absolutely no problem with these landing a permanent spot in my pantry (along with Jif peanut butter and Rao’s tomato sauce, of course) and you won’t, as well.
2. On the Border Cafe Style Tortilla Chips
On the Border takes home the prize for Surprise Hit on this list. Other than our No. 1 choice, it was the chip that guests finished immediately as they raved about its crispiness and the fact that it was the only chip you could munch on without a sauce or dip. And since I’m a self–proclaimed sauce-and-dip aficionado, that’s a pretty big deal, folks. Like, something-I’d-write-in-a-journal-to-document levels of big. No, I don’t have many hobbies. Yes, I’m fully aware.
1. Xochitl Mexican-Style Tortilla Chips
Surprise, surprise (said no chip enthusiast ever). Xochitl earns top honors in this taste test with a high-quality chip that wows in authentic corn taste, balanced texture, the presence of sea salt and even a hint of lime. These are the ones you’ll want to bust out for the dips and salsas that are only worthy of a pairing, much like your fine china with an expensive home-cooked meal. I, frankly, have nothing bad to say about these, and will probably nosh on these consistently until the day I die (if my dentures can handle them).