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what makes a good tortilla chip?

in honor of the weekend, my coworkers and i got into an interesting debate. what makes the best tortilla chip? we've got bets on the answer (but more importantly i want to be able to host a great july 4th!)

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  1. Many are too salty for our taste. They need to be strong enough to hold the salsa or hummus or whatever. We get TJs tricolor (veg/flax) chips and blue corn unsalted. We're vegan and I'm gluten-free so nothing with cheese, dairy, wheat, etc.

    1. Personally, I like the Santitas brand white corn restaurant style. They seem to have better corn flavor and texture than many. They're made by Frito-Lay ans should be available nationally. I believe they were also the favorite of America's Test Kitchen.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Billow Fair

        Santitas are my absolute favorite! I love that they are super light and impossibly crunchy yet firm enough to pile guac on without breaking.

        Now if I make them at home I deep fry corn and flour torts in old fry oil and salt the devil out of them while they are still greasy. I pile them up on a cookie sheet to degrease.

      2. Corn, oil, salt.
        You add the flavors.

        1 Reply
        1. thick. strong corn taste.

          i LOVE the tostitos golds.

          4 Replies
          1. re: beelzebozo

            funny beelzebozo, i was thinking "not thick" ;-) so i don't care for the tostitos golds. great thing we have consumer choice.

            1. re: alkapal

              indeed, the power of choice!

              for the record, i also like a good thin chip. i actually think chili's--yes, the chain, chili's--has some of the better thin chips i've ever eaten. they're paper thin, but very tasty. the salsa is watery and poor, though.

              1. re: beelzebozo

                I can't believe I'm sharing this info, but, if you order chips and salsa to go from Chili's, the chips will come in a microwaveable bag, so you can heat them at home (found this out by accident, when they gave us the wrong app. in our take-out order). We actually never did end-up eating them, so I can't comment on flavor.

                1. re: ElsieDee

                  Actually you can 'refresh' stale store bought chips in this manner. Using a microwave that is. A handfull or two spread out on a microwave safe plate and 30 seconds (+ or -) or so in the mircrowave should do it. Times may vary, as all microwaves are the same.

          2. I discovered that I could buy them from the restos I liked the best so for me first place goes to a thick corny crunchy one about a 20 minute drive from me (El Indio in Redondo Beach California) and second place is a 5 minute drive (The Original Red Onion in Rolling Hills Estates, California) The coolest part is that I get them hot from the fryer and they are cheaper than those bagged chips. I make my own fresh salsa.

            1. Freshness.

              I buy Solena brand chips. They are so light and fresh tasting. Stone ground corn, oil, water, salt, trace of lime. YUM.

              1. I was always indifferent about corn chips until I had them at Primavera in San Francisco. I think they made the tortillas with fresh masa -- it made all the difference in the world. This was a chip you could eat plain.

                1. I really like Bearitos brand yellow corn tortilla chips. They're stone-ground for a lovely texture, substantial, and earthy tasting. If you like a more delicate chip, the white corn tortilla chips are good as well.

                  i don't think i've ever had a chip made out of fresh masa, but i'd like to!

                  1. For salsa I prefer thin tortilla chips but find they are too delicate for guacamole or bean dip. So we buy chips that are a bit heavier than I prefer, but they work for more applications.

                    As for flavor, I like to taste a bit of the corn, along with plenty of salt. Not enough salt earns a trip to the garbage can. There's nothing worse than so-called "healthy" junk food :(

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: odkaty

                      And just to round out the picture, I come down exactly opposite - any salt at all and they're garbage. Trust me, this is not "health food," this is sublime slightly greasy goodness. Fresh, still warm, preferably homemade, perfectly crisp and tasting of toasted corn and nothing else. They're dead easy to make, just cut fresh corn tortillas into wedges and pan fry them. Takes literally seconds to cook. Perfection!

                      1. re: BobB

                        I agree. I don't want salt on my tortilla chips, especially if I'm going to eat them with salsa. And I'm usually the one writing in defense of salt!

                        1. re: jlafler

                          Yeah, I realized that after I wrote the above - I love really salty stuff too (old-fashioned belly lox, for example), but salt just does not belong on chips where all it's going to do is distort the taste of whatever you're dipping into. If I were to eat them by themselves, perhaps - but for that type of snacking I prefer potato chips, or even better, potato sticks.

                    2. A good crunch, a good amount of salt, and a hint of corn taste!

                      1. For thick ones used in dipping, I like Superior Super Warehouse chips.

                        For thin ones that are pre flavored, I'm liking the crispy Fresh & Easy ones.

                        1. The best tortilla chips are those that are deep fried, salted and served up immediately thereafter. Period. Here in the OC we have a restaurant, California Fish Grill, that serves them this way. Your order is not pre-made corn chips sitting in some heater hopper. They are hot and fresh and cooked after you order them and brought quickly to your table. And they use a rather thin tortilla which comes out extra crispy and tasty when done this way. They're the best tortilla chips I've ever eaten.