Hot dog, sour cream and cheddar, strawberry cake: Innovations in potato chip flavors sailed past barbecue long, long ago. Today, there are chips flavored with wasabi, hot sauce, brie cheese, and cappuccino — but none of these flavors have taken off like dill pickle-flavored chips.
Like salt and vinegar-flavored chips' older, more daring cousins, dill pickle-flavored chips have captivated consumers in recent years. So much so that nearly a dozen major brands now sell dill pickle potato chips. Some companies — like Tim's Cascade — began producing them years ago, while other, national brands (Lays, Pringles) only recently introduced them.
Making pickle-flavored chips is quite a different process from making pickles themselves. As Serious Eats explains, a common ingredient in dill pickle-flavored chips is maltodextrin, which is a powder derived from starch that has porous qualities and can absorb flavors such as vinegar. This gives pickle chips that mouth-puckering addictive quality that salt and vinegar chips have. Add to that some dill, garlic powder, and salt and a new classic is born. Another reason dill pickle chips might be taking off? America's obsession with high-quality, artisanal pickles shows no signs of waning. A pickle company — McClure's — even makes pickle-flavored potato chips. And something about pickle potato chips sounds better than salt and vinegar — or maybe that's just us.
Here’s a look at some of the companies that have jumped on board the dill pickle train:
Utz Ripples Fried Dill Pickle: According to the bag, this is meant to offer a juicy dill pickle flavor with a "straight-from-the-fryer" twist. Garlic powder and bits of dill weed are visible within the ripples. One reviewer described the flavor as a mix between pickles and sour cream and onion.
Lay’s Dill Pickle: Frito-Lay promises a "refreshing hint of dill hidden in every crunchy bite," but the ingredients look identical to other similar chips. This chip has its own fan page on Facebook.
Pringles Screamin’ Dill Pickle: Looks like "screamin'" is in reference to the sheer boldness of the pickle flavor. This version also seems to come with a few additional ingredients: Lactose, MSG, and two types of flour are listed in addition to potatoes and the other usual flavorings.
Tim’s Vlasic Dill Pickle: According to blogger Flavor Scientist, "the aroma of the open bag is fresh dill and the taste follows through." These chips are also described as crunchy, thick, and tangy. Plus, a flavor partnership with Vlasic can't hurt.
Doritos Intense Pickle: The Amazon reviews are actually overwhelmingly positive. They are only available in Canada which, according to one reviewer, is a problem (because they're so addictive and difficult to procure in the U.S.). They've been described as "very intense," "a delightful little snack," and "the Cadillac of dill pickle-flavored salty snacks."
McClure's Garlic Dill Pickle and Spicy Pickle: When you're already in the pickle business and pickle-flavored potato chips are all the rage, what's a company to do? Launch a new product line. McClure's, an artisanal pickle purveyor, now also sells two varieties of pickle-flavored potato chips.
Kettle Brand Thick + Bold Dill Pickle: Dill, onion, garlic ... all the standby flavors are here, plus ridges, which are somehow more fun to eat, and that "thick+bold" promise, whatever that means.
Herr’s Creamy Dill Pickle: The company says these come "with a touch of Zip and splash of Zing" which doesn't seem to mean much. Most reviewers say the chips don't offer much of a pickle flavor.
Route 11 Dill Pickle: After a series of taste tests, these are the real deal. Truthfully, if I buy a bag of these chips, they will be demolished (by me and no one else, save for my dog who gets to enjoy a few stray chips that missed my mouth) within the hour. Amazon reviews agree, calling them "bags of gold," "a Midwest phenomena," and "a teensy bit sweet."
Zapp’s Cajun Dill Gator-Tators: According to a reviewer at Serious Eats, these "combine the vinegary tang of salt and vinegar chips with a hint of dill." Plus, Zapp's adds chili spice, hence the "Cajun" description.
Uncle Ray’s Kosher Dill: Though these seem to have a cult following, the Detroit-based Uncle Ray’s has been criticized for not offering enough seasoning on its chips. They also aren’t kettle-cooked, so don’t expect too much of a crunch.
Old Dutch Dill Pickle: The critics on snack site taquitos.net call these "an excellent pickle chip," that tastes "like you had dipped your chip into some pickle juice." Which is kind of the point, right? Sounds like dill pickle is a flavor of potato chip that is here to stay.