Taste Test: Baked Potato Chips

by in Taste Test, July 20, 2010
The Baked Chip Taste-Test Contenders
The Baked Chip Taste-Test Contenders

Looking for a lighter crunchy option for a weekend picnic or lunch at the office? We polled our Facebook fans, then tested five of their favorite brands of baked potato chips.

Baked Vs. Fried
Baked taters seem like a lighter alternative to greasy and salty fried chips, but you may be surprised at the minimal calorie difference.  Compare the nutrition info for the baked chips below to a 1-ounce serving of regular chips (about 15 chips), which has  150 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 180 milligrams of sodium. You’ll save some fat and a few calories, but whether you choose fried or baked chips, they’re all best consumed in small portions.

The Criteria
For our test, we looked at taste, texture and nutrition info. We rated the munchies on a 5-point scale (5 being the highest) and paid close attention to calories, fat, and sodium content.

Baked Lays
Rating: 3
Cost: $3.79 per 9-ounce bag
Nutrition Info (per 1-ounce serving): 120 calories; 2 grams fat; 180 milligrams sodium
Our Take: These were one of the first baked chips on the market. They are crisp and salty, which may be enough to scratch that potato chip itch. Since they’re made with dehydrated potatoes, modified food starch, and sugar, they don’t really taste anything like potato chips.

Baked Ruffles

Rating: 3.5
Cost: $3.79 per 9-ounce bag
Nutrition Info (per 1-ounce serving): 120 calories; 3 grams fat; 200 milligrams sodium
Our Take: With the same flavor (and ingredients) as the Baked Lays, the famous ridges give them better texture and crunch.

Baked Kettle Chips
Rating: 5
Cost: $2.33 per 4-ounce bag
Nutrition Info (per 1-ounce serving): 120 calories; 3 grams fat; 135 milligrams sodium
Our Take: The best of the bunch! Sadly, this was the only brand made with real potatoes and you could taste the difference. Very crunchy (almost too much so), but less light and airy than a fried chip. This would be the only brand of baked chip I would want to buy again.

Rating: 4
Cost: $1.99 per 3-ounce bag
Nutrition Info (per 1-ounce serving): 120 calories; 4 grams fat; 280 milligrams sodium
Our Take: Produced with the pressure of hot air (kind of like air-popped popcorn), Popchips aren’t technically baked, but they aren’t fried either. With faint potato flavor, they were tasty but not a good substitute for potato chips if you want something with that specific flavor. Interestingly, these were higher in fat and sodium than the other brands.

365-Brand from Whole Foods Markets
Rating: 3
Cost: $2.69 per 5-ounce bag
Nutrition Info (per 1-ounce serving): 110 calories; 2 grams fat; 160 milligrams sodium
Our Take: We try not to buy store-brands because we know not everyone has a Whole Foods nearby. The good news: if you can’t get them, you’re not missing out. Basically they taste like Baked Lays (without the sugar). They had a little bit of a harder crunch and overall, weren’t very tasty.

TELL US: Do you buy baked chips?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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