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Grocery Store Tortilla Chips, Ranked By Flavor And Dip-Ability

The ideal tortilla chip needs to be able to handle a lot of abuse. Tough enough to make it home from the grocer in one piece, get dragged through salsa, and scoop up guacamole. It also needs to be tasty — with that distinct salty-corn flavor combo — but not so flavorful that it counts as a Dorito, forcing you to alter your menu lest it overpower other ingredients. Most of all, it’s got to be hearty enough to work in a nacho. If it can’t manage that, what are we even doing here?

Yes, I’ve thought a lot about the parameters for a good tortilla chip. It’s a subject I’m quite passionate about. And in my years of research I’ve discovered two options for acquiring the perfect tortilla chip for your dipping pleasure:

  1. Buy the type that comes in a large unmarked plastic bag from your favorite Mexican carniceria.
  2. Buy corn tortillas, cut them up into triangles, let them dry out a little, and fry them in a pot of oil yourself.

If you do one of these two things, you will always enjoy tortilla chips that taste better than anything you might find in mainstream grocers. Every time. Without fail (unless you… like… start a grease fire or something).

Of course, I realize that those aren’t viable options for everyone. And grocery stores have plenty of ready-made choices available on the cheap. These myriad brands are sometimes trash, often solid, and occasionally damn good — which means you need an expert like me to tell you what’s what. So I grabbed as many bags of tortilla chips from local grocery stores as I could and ranked them based on flavor, construction, and dip-ability.

Check my picks below. Then adjust your shopping list accordingly.

10. Whole Foods 365 — Organic Tortilla Chips

Whole Foods

Before I embarked on this journey of ranking grocery store tortilla chips, I knew I’d find a lot of bad bags, but I never imagined I’d find something quite this bad. Not only do these tortilla chips have almost no flavor — seriously they taste like salt and nothing else — they’re the flimsiest chips I’ve ever come across, which sort of makes them useless.

The ingredients include Organic Stone Ground White Corn, but the corn flavor here is way too faint. The chip is pretty much a way for you to eat textured salt.

The Bottom Line:

Easily the worst grocery store tortilla chip I’ve ever tasted. But hey, it’s organic!

Find Whole Foods 365 at Whole Foods.

9. Good & Gather — White Corn Tortilla Chips

Target

Tortilla chips in a non-see-through package are always something you should avoid. There is too much mystery here, in addition to the possibility of your bag being nothing but tortilla shards, it’s way too hard to judge how much of this bag is air.

Let me dispel that mystery for you with regards to this brand — it’s most of the bag.

As for the chips themselves, they’re very thick, which I like, but they have a stale crunch and a flavor that tastes under salted. The bag I got was mostly air, but the chips were in pretty good shape aside from their weak crunch.

The Bottom Line:

They’re not bad, but I can’t ever see a reason why you’d get these. There are too many better options out there for even cheaper prices.

Find Good & Gather at Target.

8. Tostitos — Scoops!

Tostitos

I want to like Tostitos Scoops! for so many reasons. They’ve been constructed into little bowl shapes with dipping in mind, and they even have an exclamation mark in their title, they’re just so much fun, but they absolutely don’t hold up, and the form factor is a real problem.

They taste great, with a subtle white corn flavor that has just a slight hint of salt and the chips feature a dusty texture that absorbs salsa fantastically, but they’re way too thin to handle the weight of anything you’d dip them in, especially a chunky salsa. While the bowl shape seems like a great idea, they actually force you to awkwardly dip them, which increases the likelihood of them breaking.

You’re better off using a spoon and spooning your salsa into the scoop, but that defeats the purpose — these should be easier to scoop, not harder.

The Bottom Line:

We know, they seem like a good idea, but actually, they’re incredibly stupid.

Find Tostitos here.

7. Mission — Tortilla Strips

Mission

Mission Tortilla Strips feature a corn-forward flavor and are topped off with the perfect amount of sea salt, with a great thickness that holds up to the abuse of the chunkiest salsas, bean dips, and guacamole. Having said all that, the “Strips” form factor is my least favorite.

You just don’t get enough surface area to get a good scoop, and because they’re so long you either have to take big bites, or triple dip just to finish a single chip. When they break into shards they’re almost completely useless.

The Bottom Line:

The worst tortilla chip form factor. For that reason alone they aren’t worth your time.

Find Mission here.

6. Tostitos — Original

Tostitos

Tostitos Original Restaurant Style chips remedy the form factor problem I had with the Scoops and offer the same subtle corn and generously salted flavor. For whatever reason, these chips are a bit greasier than the scoopable version, and ultimately a little too thin for my liking, but they’re thick enough to hold up to most dips.

Just don’t try to scoop them, the chip’s build isn’t strong enough to bear a heavy load and you’ll lose your chip in the dip.

The Bottom Line:

A really great flavor, but just a little too thin to be in the top five.

Find Tostitos here.

5. On The Border — Cafe Style

On The Border

On the Border’s Cafe Style tortilla chips are easily the greasiest tortilla chips we tried for this ranking, but the flavor and build quality is great. The tortilla chips are well salted and feature a white corn flavor with a craggily surface that captures salsa perfectly, retains its crunch no matter how watery the dip, and has the structural support to handle heavy scoops of guacamole or whole beans.

Before you throw them in a digital cart, I’ve come across several bags with an abundance of crumbly chips, so this is definitely one worth examining first-hand before you buy.

The Bottom Line:

They have a great flavor but if greasy tortilla chips aren’t your thing, look elsewhere.

Find On The Border here.

4. Santitas — Tortilla Chips

Frito Lay

If On the Border is the greasiest tortilla chip, then Santitas is the saltiest, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The build is exceptional, when they aren’t broken in the bag, Santitas chips are large triangles, with a lot of surface area for scooping up salsa and a thickness that can hold up to any sauce and makes for a great base for nachos.

Yes, the salt will feature prominently and cut through your salsa or guacamole — so if you’re working with a heavily salted salsa, these might not be the best choice. But for dips lacking in flavor, Santitas is a quick fix.

The Bottom Line:

These chips are made by Frito Lay and are generally on the cheaper end, don’t let that dissuade you because these are a great tasting option.

Find Santitas here.

3. Juanita’s — Tortilla Chips

Target

Juanita’s has a bit of a cult following and I’ll agree, they’re good, but they’re a far cry from being as good as everyone says they are. Don’t buy into the hype or the look of the bag, these aren’t a dead ringer for Mexican restaurant tortilla chips like people say, they’re not even close — though they do feature a very natural corn-forward flavor that comes off a bit more homemade than a lot of the other brands.

One of the best features of this chip is its crispiness, they provide a nice audible crunch that makes eating them infectious. Even without a dip, a bowl of these is a winner and the sound of you eating them will inspire everyone in the room to go for a taste.

The Bottom Line:

The best crunch with a nice corn-forward flavor. But not the best of the best.

Find Juanita’s here.

2. Calidad — Corn Tortilla Chips

Target

Calidad puts me in a tough spot, I love the flavor a lot, they remind me the most of the type of tortilla chips you’d find at a Mexican restaurant, but the build quality just isn’t there. They’re on the thinner side and they break easily when you use them for scooping. Still, that heavy yellow corn flavor is so undeniably good that it feels wrong to rank them anywhere below second place.

If these were just a little thicker, I could use them for nachos, but as they are they’re perfect for runnier salsas. So long as you aren’t scooping, these are the best tortilla chips you’ll find on the grocery store shelves.

The Bottom Line:

Great flavor but on the thinner side. Don’t use these chips if you’re a heavier scooper, but for simple dipping these are the best-tasting choice.

Find Calidad here.

1. Mission — Tortilla Rounds

Mission

Mission Tortilla Rounds are not my favorite tasting tortilla chips on the market (see previous entry), they have a very heavy yellow corn flavor that remains prominent no matter how flavorful your dip of choice is, but they are hands down the best tortilla chips on the market.

The round form factor may not look the best for scooping, and the surface of this chip is a lot smoother than we’d like, but these chips are just so damn versatile. They’re thick enough to withstand dipping, scooping, and layers of beans, veggies, and cheese, and I’ve yet to find a bag that contains mostly shards. Hell, even when these are broken into pieces, those strips are still effective vessels for your salsas and dips.

I suggest grabbing a handful, placing them across a ceramic plate, and smothering them in refried beans, freshly grilled fajitas, Monterey Jack and Oaxaca cheese, and your protein of choice. Place that in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes and top with fresh cilantro, guacamole, and salsa and you’ve got homemade nachos that will rival your favorite taqueria.

The Bottom Line:

Mission Tortilla Rounds are the most versatile tortilla chip you’ll find. The flavor goes heavy on the corn, but the build of the chip can handle the heaviest of scoops, making them a great base for nachos.

Find Mission here.

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