Ranking The Best Utz Chips, From Worst To Best

In 1921, Bill and Sallie Utz began churning out potato chips in their Hanover, Pennsylvania, kitchen, and over the decades, their company, once known as Hanover Home Brand Potato Chips, made a name for themselves locally in the "Potato Chip Capital Of The World" as Utz Quality Foods (via Utz).

By the 1970s Utz started introducing new flavors, like Barbeque and Sour Cream and Onion, which found new mouths to feed by expanding their reach on supermarket shelves across America, and even worldwide thanks to mail order. The still family owned company also sells fantastic pretzels and other fine snack foods (and many other crunchy goodies from the chip makers they have since acquired, like Zapp's and Bachman), but it always comes back to those potato chips that started them all (via Utz).

Today Utz sells over 30 potato chip flavors under their brand name, adorned with an adorable smiling Utz girl on each bag, and we tasted as many of them as we could get our hands on. Our sharp tongued taste testers spanned generations, from ages 3 to 80, and from their taste buds (with a dash of history), we present to you a ranking of Utz chips, from worst to best!

Crunch! Crunch!

27. Grandma Utz Kettle Style & Grandma Utz Kettle Style BBQ

People often say, "they don't make them like they used to," but when it comes to the "Grandma" line of Utz chips, this is how they used to make them. "Grandma Utz" didn't bother with modern oils, and instead used lard to create these kettle style chips made from thicker slices of potatoes. Because lard is pig fat and Utz offers so many Kosher-friendly options, they are actually produced in a separate factory (via Philadelphia Inquirer).

Grandma Utz may have once been a winning softball team (via The Gettysburg Times), but for modern palates, these namesake potato chips are more a curiosity than a winning delicacy. While it's a bit unkind to say they taste "like shingles" (via The Morning News), these fatty Grandma chips should have perhaps been a thing left in the past. They also come in a Bar-B-Q style, but the flavoring doesn't help to mask its oily fattiness. We will give them bonus points for their attractive old fashioned brown bag design, trimmed with a homey pattern that looks straight off of Grandma's kitchen tablecloth.

26. Kettle Classic Sweet Potato

The Kettle Classic Sweet Potato chip was once featured as the snack of the day on Rachael Ray's eponymous talk show (via The Evening Sun), with the host saying they pair well with hamburgers, and her audience excitingly waving bags in the air (via Facebook). That's where the excitement ends, as these bright orange chips, which are made up of only sweet potatoes, peanut oil, and sea salt, come through on the potato end, but lack something to hit that "sweet" spot. 

The chips have no sugar added, but may have benefitted from just that, or go in a different direction and throw in a few more dashes of sea salt. The Kettle Classic line is home to many of Utz's finest creations, but the Sweet Potato version is sadly at the bottom feeder of the bunch.

25. Wavy Original

When strolling down the chip aisle at a supermarket and you see a bag of Wavy chips next to a pair of Rippled ones, it's sometimes hard to even tell if there's any difference. After all, they look similar and are identically made with potatoes, vegetable oil, and salt. Well, there is a difference (explained by Kroger) — Ripple ones are riddled (in a good way) with sharp ridges, and Wavy ones have fewer rounded ridges. Both are sturdy enough for dipping, but Utz's Wavy Original are a little too bland standing on their own, that you don't even need to make a choice between the two. 

24. Party Mix

In 1994, according to the Snack Food Association, party mixes made up a paltry 2% of the salty snack food market, and for Utz' contribution to the industry, it would be hard to say that they're helping to increase that percentage. Not for a lack of trying, as their Party Mix has everything one would look for in a (cholesterol-free) bag to party with — white corn tortilla chips, BBQ corn chips, crunchy cheese curls, nacho tortilla chips, and pretzel wheels. 

The problem is, one expects the corn chips to taste like Fritos, the cheese curls like Cheetos, and the nacho chips like Doritos, and they just don't. No knock against Utz, but those types of chips just aren't exactly in their wheelhouse, though the pretzel wheels are. What's actually missing here are some straight up potato chips!

23. Wavy Heluva Good Buttermilk Ranch & Wavy Heluva Good French Onion

According to Heluva Good!, they got their name during their early cheese selling days when a customer exclaimed, "That's a hell of a good cheese!" They are more known these days for selling their dips, that naturally pair well with Utz chips. A collaboration between the two companies that both date back to the 1920s would seem like a "Heluva" good idea, right?

They teamed up in 2015 and released three Wavy styles — Jalapeño Cheddar, Bacon Horseradish, and French Onion (via Facebook). Today, French Onion still stands, and in 2018, Buttermilk Ranch joined it in stores (via Instagram). The two flavors certainly ring true to their dippy billing, but it's almost too much of a good thing. The French Onion is the more subtle of the two, as the Buttermilk Ranch feels overly seasoned.

While Utz recommends even trying these chips in the actual dips they hail from, it's perhaps best to keep them separated altogether. Dipping a nice Utz Ripple chip into a canister of Heluva Good! is perhaps the better option.

22. Ripples Cheddar & Sour Cream

Ripples Cheddar & Sour Cream chips date back to at least the mid 1990s, per an ad in the York Sunday News, and obviously have been popular enough to keep around in the stable for almost three decades. Although its bag states that it's "flavored with other natural flavors" (and if you check the ingredients, it does, including cheese and sour cream), the taste of the actual chips from within comes off more artificial than most of the other Utz flavors do. The cheddar is perhaps too cheddar-y here, and it would be interesting to see Utz try to pair sour cream with a milder cheese, like gouda or havarti.

21. Salt & Pepper

Salt is the most basic, yet most essential ingredient in any plain potato chip. One doesn't even need to bite into a plain chip to conjure up the magic that unlocks when the sodium hits one's tongue. The same can't be said of salt's dark partner, pepper, but when mixed together, they create a peculiar chip that has to be tried at least once.

Utz's Salt & Pepper chips debuted in 2000 (via York Daily Record), and years later topped a poll as the best in the industry by "Everyday with Rachael Ray" magazine (via York Daily Record). Pepper isn't even listed as an ingredient, but is filled in by a hint of onion powder and vinegar. However it's put together, the chip that's a rare sight in stores turned sweet toothed blogger If The Spoon Fits into a savory snacker thanks to its "seductive glory."

20. Kettle Classics Jalapeño

For a dash of spice, the Jalapeño edition of the Kettle Classics offers a gateway to get there without going overboard and leaving your mouth on fire. Per Utz, Jalapeño pepper and green bell pepper are a part of this chip's DNA, and while it oddly smells like lettuce, it luckily doesn't taste like lettuce, and sorta tastes like jalapeño.

It mostly works as a standalone flavor, although it also does wonders as a partner, as Utz previously paired up Jalapeño with Cheddar, and more recently spotted by The Impulsive Buy with one of their best flavors — Maui BBQ. These Kettle Classics can be used to top jalapeño poppers, or give a little kick as a delivery mechanism for salsa.  The flavor's very name once even brought about a large ovation by an audience. In 2020, the crowd when wild when Calvert Association of Student Councils' Student Member of the Board candidate Justin Wilson mentioned in a debate that it was his favorite Utz chip (via The Recorder).

19. Kettle Classics Smokin' Sweet BBQ

When it comes to BBQ chips that try to give off both a sweet and smoky flavor, it's hard to come up with a name that differentiates one brand's version from another. Ruffles sells Ultimate Sweet & Smokin' BBQ, Terra offers up Sweet & Smooth BBQ, while Utz counters with their Smokin' Sweet BBQ. Utz's stands out from the crowd, though, as it's backed by their excellent Kettle Classic chip.

The company describes their taste as "spicy heat with a kiss of sweet," and with accents of cheddar and blue cheese, Hickory smoke flavor, paprika, turmeric, and sugar, they are definitely a solid entry into this genre. Still, they're a notch below their hotter, less crunchier, similarly named older brother that also displays a BBQ brush on its bag — Southern Sweet Heat BBQ.

18. Red Hot

Have a glass (or three) of water handy when embarking on Utz's Red Hot poker chips, which have been around for a few decades. The brand does not mess around here, raising three alarm fire levels on their version that contain an unspecified array of "spices," as per Utz.

The bag's exterior has a nice calm purple color to try and offset the "Red Hot" logo that is literally engulfed in flames. The only problem here is, which also may double as a deterrent benefit for those watching their waistline, is that it's a challenge to have more than a handful of these chips before giving your mouth an extended break.

The Red Hot taste is also offered up by Utz in other fiery forms. They currently sell Red Hot Cheese Balls, and in the past, Red Hot Crunchies (via Twitter), Red Hot The Crab Chip (via GoPuff), and Ripples Red Hot Ranch (via Carrs).

17. No Salt Added Original

When Utz says they're selling you a bag of "No Salt Added" chips, they are not selling you a bill of goods, they are selling you a bag of surprising goodness. And what do these chips contain? According to Utz, the ingredients are potatoes and vegetable oil. That's the list. As simple as can be — and plain and simple, simply good chips.

Although they do contain 5mg of sodium per serving, these chips have been around since 1993 as Utz has been "focused on meeting the snacking needs of today's more health conscious consumers" (via Food Channel). They're even recommended by nutritionists as a low-sodium snack that still tastes delicious (via Women's Health).

16. Reduced Fat Ripples Original

Like the No Salt Added chips, the Reduced Fat Ripples Original are a great addition to the Utz family for those who want to indulge, but not overindulge. Introduced in 1998 (via Intelligencer Journal), these slimmer Ripple chips contain 30% less fat than their original incarnation. How do they do it? Utz says they "make them with the same three high-quality ingredients, then use a special process to remove much of the oil after the cooking process. This leaves you with all the flavor, the taste and the crunch."

This is a solid chip that one wouldn't even notice that any fat was missing. And if you're feeling good about yourself, why not scoop up some dip with them? Either in one of Utz's own brands, like their creamy onion (via Utz), or with collaborator Heluva Good! (via Heluva Good!) and their spreads. Either way will work!

15. Onion & Garlic

Don't judge a flavor by its name or by its packaging cover. "Onion & Garlic" doesn't lend itself to sounding like a chip many would want to try, and that's probably the reason why so few chip makers (namely Wise and Old Dutch) produce them. Utz is unafraid to deep dive into any kind of flavor-town, and season their standard potato chip here with dehydrated garlic and onion.

Utz's Onion & Garlic chip debuted alongside Carolina Barbeque, per The Danville News, in 1997, following on the heels of the company's 75th anniversary celebration. Five years later, its tastes were confounding testers conducted for a 2002 Newsday article, who had trouble identifying either bulb vegetable in it. Regardless, it's a bizarre chip that is low on pungency, and remarkably smooth to sample. Crush and sprinkle some on top of a potato casserole, or mix them in a bowl with Utz' Salt'n Vinegar for pure craziness!

14. Southern Sweet Heat BBQ

The name confusion continues with Utz's Southern Sweet Heat BBQ, which should not be confused with Lays' branded one called Sweet Southern Heat Barbecue, or even with Utz's own Smokin' Sweet BBQ in Kettle Classic form. As previously mentioned, these Southern Sweet Heaters are a step up from those Smokin' Sweet BBQ ones, and make a good substitute for those missing the savory Utz Wavy Baby Back Ribs flavor they used to sell.

As per the back of the Utz bag, they are doused in sugar, brown sugar and plain old fructose, and the sweetness rings true here in these chips that match the "lip-smacking" Utz boasts them as being. And yet, the company still has another product that tops this one in its BBQ hierarchy — Carolina Style Barbeque.

13. The Crab Chip and Kettle Crab Chips

According to the York Daily Record, Bon Ton introduced the crab chip in 1974, but have since seceded their stewardship of their innovation to others  as they don't even appear to sell that flavor anymore. Their loss is Utz's gain, who has been making their own crustacean sensation since at least, per The Evening Sun, the early 1980s, and later added a fantastic Kettle version to the mix.

Even though Utz doesn't have the license to utilize the signature taste of Maryland crabs — aka Old Bay seasoning (Herr's does), whatever they're doing ("spicy rock salt," per Pottsville Republican) is quite crackin'. That's the reason they are able to call their product The Crab Chip. They made a cameo on "The Wire" (via Product Placement Blog) led to a sponsorship of Rusty Wallace's racing team because he was so smitten with them (via York Sunday News), and it even allows those who keep Kosher to get in on the taste of crabs without actually eating them. And beyond the chips, they make for a chic fashion statement, on turf or naturally surf, thanks to the fine folks at Route One Apparel.

12. Carolina Style Barbeque

Next up in Utz's robust line of BBQ chips is their Carolina Style variety. Packaged in Tar Heel baby blue, with an image of the orange colored chips busting out, this product debuted alongside Onion & Garlic in 1997 (via Danville News). To achieve the "sweet Carolina-style vinegar based barbeque flavor" provided, mustard and a rare appearance by tomato powder are mixed within the usual tangy BBQ ingredient list.

In 2021, a Carolinian detailed on their blog, Tales of the Flowers, doing a side by side comparison with actual Carolina style pork barbecue.  The results didn't exactly see an aligned taste, but his kids couldn't get enough of them. That hasn't stopped the fawning from everyone from Esquire (calling them "the Good-Time Cousins of Salt & Vinegar"), to HuffPost (a headline hard to top — "The Most Perfect Potato Chip On Earth"), and even us, The Daily Meal, who are ready to declare it the best chip named after a state, ever!

11. Kettle Classics Original

Utz made its mark in the industry and the delighted stomachs of its customers for decades on the strength of its plain original potato chip. Their game completely changed in 1989 when the company had a coming out party for their Kettle Classics (via Intelligencer Journal).

What's the difference between Kettle and regular chips, besides the use of peanut oil and sea salt? Utz explained to America's Test Kitchen that they're made the same way, but Kettle are "fried in batches in big vats," and must be moved around "to ensure that they cook evenly and don't clump." In a taste test by them, the Utz Kettle chip proved to be the best of the bunch.

The Kettle Classic crunchy beauties quickly became, per The Evening Sunone of Utz's best selling chips and spawned its own line of amazing flavors. They were so dang good that Rachael Ray requested them for her talk show, and ESPN personality and talk show host Tony Kornheiser couldn't stop talking about them on air – and Utz happily kept freely feeding his habit (via York Daily Record and Intelligencer Journal).

10. Honey Barbeque

The fine people at Utz take customer care and suggestions to heart, and in 2008 even retooled their Honey Barbeque chips to be even sweeter, based on feedback they received (via The Evening Sun). Whatever tweaks they've made to the already existing chip seems to have worked as it's a top notch option in the Utz's vaulted BBQ line now and before. In 2007, the chip was the top vote getter in an Utz barbecue taste test, held by the Franklin County, Pennsylvania, "chip lovers" (via The Public Opinion).

Seasoned with both honey powder and molasses powder, they have less of an edge than the Carolina style, and that makes for a great chip for everyday consumption. And they have fans in all walks of life — from a Long Island dental assistant to a teen at Vermont Juvenile Rehabilitation Center, where his mother brought him bags as a creature comfort from home (via Newsday and Valley News).

9. Kettle Classics Smokin' Sweet BBQ Crab Chips

Utz's Mash-Ups series entries seem to come and go, so when one comes, it's best to go and grab a bag to try these flavor overload experimentations. Sadly, it appears that the ship may have sailed to experience the marriages of Maui BBQ & Jalapeño, and TGI Friday's Cheddar & Bacon.

Luckily, the Kettle Classics Smokin' Sweet BBQ Crab Chips make for such a wonderful addition to the line that they're still kicking around since landing on shores in 2019 (via Facebook). Smokin' Sweet BBQ and The Crab Chip make for solid solo entities, but you put these opposites together and they not only complement each other's flavor, but they bring out the best in both of them. Per Twitter, Utz has long welcomed Mash-Up suggestions from fans, and we can't wait to see what they drum up next.

8. Ripples Fried Dill Pickle

By the mid 2010s, everyone and their mother seemed to be pickling snack foods. Utz entered the fray in 2015 (per Twitter) with their Ripples Fried Dill Pickle, which naturally includes dill weed, and a holy trinity of powders reinforcing its taste — vinegar, onion, and garlic. The results are pure dill-liciousness. While this particular flavor hasn't even been around all that long, these creamy, yet tangy chips almost give Utz's classic Sour Cream & Onion variety a run for their crunchy money.

The Utz folks were having such a pickle-ball that they made another flavor in 2022 — per Business Wire, a limited edition collaboration with Grillo's Pickles. With a strong hint of white distilled vinegar, these guys are simply ri-dill-culous as well!

7. Sour Cream & Onion

As per Old Dutch, they may have been the first company on this side of the Atlantic to pair up the potato chip with the popular dip flavor of sour cream and onion in 1970, but it was Lay's that popularized the flavor by selling it nationwide by the end of the decade (via The Los Angeles Times). Working its stealth flavor magic in the mid-Atlantic region was Utz, who has been selling Sour Cream & Onion chips, based on this ad in The Evening Sun, since at least 1974, if not earlier.

As Utz's footprint on shelves grew in the following decades, so did the appreciation of their Sour Cream & Onion, which has now rightfully become, per Utz, the company's "most popular seasoned chip." The now Rippled chip contains dehydrated sour cream and onion, as well as parsley and garlic powder, which makes for a best in zest. It's beloved by The New York Times, and even once led to a rather unsavory domestic dispute. In 2017, a Pennsylvania woman did not heed her husband's request to lay off his bag of Utz Sour Cream & Onion chips, and in retaliation he "bit off a chunk of her skin" (via WNEP).

6. Ripples Barbeque

In 1955, industry magazine "Potato Chipper" declared that the introduction of "Bar-B-Q" flavoring for chips was "the most sensational new development in the industry" (via The Guardian). Little did they know that the sensation has yet to die down, and has grown exponentially in new directions in the six-plus ensuing decades.

Utz has come out with what seems like every BBQ interaction imaginable, but it's hard to try and top their original one that hails back, based on an ad in The Evening Sun, to at least 1971. Like with Sour Cream & Onion, these Barbeque chips also come in the rigid form of their Ripples, and are topped with their "signature barbecue flavor," which includes horseradish and tomato powders. With natural coloring consisting of paprika, annatto, and turmeric extractives, these orange babies are well worth getting your hands dirty for. They pair well with white bread sandwiches, which can double as a napkin you can wipe the spices onto, and then enjoy the flavor all over again!

5. Original and Ripples Original

Lost in the shuffle of endless chip choices is the one that started it all — The Original Utz Potato chip. According to Utz, the company is still following the very same classic recipe Bill and Sallie Utz used starting in 1921. Potatoes, cottonseed oil, and salt is all that's needed here for potato chip perfection, and people have been saying as such since its inception. The original chip also comes in an equally righteous Ripple form, which are made instead with vegetable oil, and started being advertised for sale in the 1970s (via The Cumberland News).

A 1926 article in The News Comet extolled the Original chips' virtues by saying such things that still hold true, like, "No picnic meal is complete without them," and they are "A delicacy liked by practically everybody. Children are especially fond of them." Although we're not sure if they "are an excellent dessert." They said it best when they added, "Make it a rule to always have a supply on hand."

4. Kettle Classics Maui BBQ

Based on fanatic feedback on Facebook, The Kettle Classic Maui BBQ chips have been making quite a lot of beautiful noise since at least as far back as 2011. One fan was so distraught at them always being sold out in stores that they were willing to "destroy" those responsible for the sellout.

The chips, like Hawaii itself, are like an American dream that seems both so exotically foreign and native... all in the same crunch. Utz inscribed the anonymous quote "A Fusion of Sweet & Sour" on their not-so-tropical packaging (unless you count palm leaves), but they're more than free to replace it with our better descriptor quote — "A fusion of deliciousness and awesomeness."

Out of the eight Utz BBQ flavors taste tested by us, these Maui ones all dressed up in Kettle Classics are the best of the bunch. That is truly saying something, as a majority of their barbecue line are all winners! Mahalo.

3. Kettle Classics Dark Russets

Utz made a wise decision earlier this century when they went into business with Ben Greenfield to license his line of popular New England style Mystic Chips, which included his kettle-style dark russets (via The Hartford Courant and Newsday). The "Drive-Thru Gourmet," a self-described "chip freak" wrote in The Republican and Herald that they were, "quite simply, the most delicious potato chips I've ever eaten."

Based on the current Utz roster, the "Mystic" name appears to have been since been retired, but the spirit of the chips live on in an Utz package. The company brands them these days as Kettle Classics Dark Russets, and what looks like unappetizing, burnt chips are the furthest thing from it. Utz says, "The natural caramelizing of the sugars in the fresh potato slices creates a gourmet snack like no other," and a chip unlike any other they sell.

2. Salt'n Vinegar

Thanks to the British crisps maker Smith's for unleashing the very first salt and vinegar flavored potato chips to an unsuspecting world back in 1967 (via Saga). 50-plus years on, it's hard to name a more addictive chip flavor — or flavour, for our British friends out there — that has come along to replace it.

The word "vinegar" does not appear on the ingredients list for Utz's version of the popular chip, which has been making heads sweat since the early 1980s, per Newspapers, but it doesn't even matter what's inside when these unholy chips are so rock 'n' roll that they too had to use a shortened form of "and" to name them — "Salt'n Vinegar." The company touts them as a "fan-favorite," and one such fan is multi-hyphenate Lazarus Lynch, who wrote in his book "Son of a Southern Chef," "I would literally lick the inner lining of the bag so I didn't waste a single crumb."

1. Kettle Classics Salt & Malt Vinegar

How do you dethrone a long time Utz chip champion like Salt'n Vinegar? You stick close to its winning formula, but you harken back to the flavor's original British roots by dousing them with malt vinegar, and then break out the crunch by outfitting it with your exceptional Kettle Classics contours.

Once tagged as "Old English Style" on their bags, Utz's Kettle Classics Salt & Malt Vinegar are such serious business that they didn't even bother with a slangy "'n" in their name this time around. They are not only Utz's finest work to date, but one of the finest chips ever made by any company ever (with apologies to Fritos' Limón y Sal from Mexico).

But is it too much to ask for an Utz Mash-Up of Kettle Classics Salt & Malt Vinegar and Salt'n Vinegar?