If you’re a sour cream & onion chips-oriented human then you always have to come prepared. Pack some sort of hand-wiping device (sleeves at minimum) and gum, please. Though not a personal favorite in the flavored potato chip spectrum, I have certainly dabbled in the sour cream realm from time to time. And it strikes me that a particular hankering is required to savor this flavor, which can often wear out its welcome, especially if too strongly seasoned or too oniony, in general.
As a youngin’, the shiny green packaging of Herr’s lunch and family-size offerings burned an indelible mark in my psyche. For me, Herr’s was a case study of what sour cream and onion could be – almost milky in its sourness, the crisp peaks covered with flavor while the valleys offered a nice break from the sometimes-too-much zest of this now-classic, and ubiquitous, flavor pairing.
The sour cream & onion flavor and Herr’s competitors have evolved dramatically over the decades. While there are still local and regional brands like Herr’s, Wise, and Utz now more available nationally, there are also snack conglomerates that have consumed other smaller brands offering similar products, plus a wave of hipster brands that are still independent and doing it by their chip crumb and salt residue stained bootstraps. In many instances in samplings, buttermilk replaces sour cream to create a similar flavor profile, and the seasoning has been slightly tweaked to include other minor nuanced flavors.
In ranking the entries, we went off flavor alone. And boy did we go deep. So please read every word and don’t just scroll to the end — oh wait you’re doing it, you’re scrolling, I can feeeeeeel it….. HERE WE GO!
So there’s Joe’s, Guy’s, and Jay’s, and they all make sour cream & onion potato chips? Jay’s might as well be Ruffles, Utz, or Wise ridges, they’re essentially the same – pretty narrow ridges, thin crunchy chips, and near-perfect sour cream & onion seasoning, from salty and creamy to tangy and oniony, and potatoe-y – all in one bite. The biggest dig on Jay’s is their chips are not too huge or folded and the oil aspect in the aftertaste can overpower. Overall, still a party pleaser just like the previously mentioned competitors, but not necessarily the best of the pack.
It’s unfortunate Jay’s did not make our blind taste test (timing!) to fully compete in the real meat of this dog and pony show. However, Jay’s would have fallen middle-to-low in our rankings due to taste and size quibbles. These chips can still make you a hero at plenty of hangs or parties if chips are on the menu, and you live in the Midwest.
Wachusett is what Jay’s wants to be – possibly better than all of the traditional ridge options. Wachusett’s version of Sour Cream & Onion is aggressively creamy, possibly the creamiest in the narrow ridge category. The onion is tangy but not overpowering to the sour cream, the chips are modestly salty and accordingly crunchy, some more lengthy than others. Wachusett may make the best traditional ridge Sour Cream & Onion, the only slight being the overly creamy seasoning could border on sweetness on the extra flavor-y / overly seasoned chips in the bag.
Wachusett’s retro packaging is the best in the business, verging on Wes Anderson level whimsy. The bold red all-lowercase letter logo and silver pinstripe recall gas stations, bowling alleys, pizza parlors, and other New England haunts, where certainly these chips were once sold if they’re not still today.
Wachusett’s ridge Sour Cream & Onion are a crowd-pleaser that would sit in the upper middle tier of these rankings had they made the submission deadline. Some of the chips can be overly creamy, but in general, their take is one of the best in providing the flavor punch that the sour cream & onion flavor is known for. And the chips aren’t too bad either.
Part 1: The Tasting
Mm crunchy good sour cream flavor. Not too tangy, the crunch is just right super fresh. Nice fold on some of the chips. Taste more like kettle chips than anything else, but these are good.
These are littler chips, a little saltier than the first one. Not as strong on the sour cream flavor. Nice and subtle. These might be a tiny little bit too salty but still pretty good. Tangy. Got a good onion flavor. Not as much of a buttermilk or sour cream. A little too salty.
These are a little bigger and a little sweeter than the last ones, must be the onion. Not getting a lot of sour cream notes but got a good tang. Still. A good golden crispness to the chip. Has a little bit of a kettle flavor to it. These are delicious
Now these are definitely more of a sour cream flavor. Less of a kettle chip and more of a traditional potato chip. Perfect amount of salt. A light onion flavor, not too heavy.
From my notes: “Yep, these are pretty delicious.”
These are our first ridges of the day. Super crunchy. The ridge is nice and thin. Good sour cream flavor. I can feel the powder forming in my mouth now. Good tangy onion flavor, not too strong. Good tangy onion aftertaste.
These chips are giant, they have a bit of a kettle feel to them. Good tanginess, not too salty. I think that sour cream is the tang. The onion flavor is pretty light. These are pretty perfect. Very tasty.
This is another crunchy kettlely chip. Good fold to it. Good flavor, Not really getting a lot of sour cream. Just a tiny bit. A little oniony. These are light in flavor, not overpowering. Not overly oniony. Just pretty mellow.
Another kettley chip. Very light in sour cream flavor. Very light flavor in general. Very light chip. I kind of want another one. Can you please pass me one? Thank you. These are almost a little too light in flavor. Not strong, but you do get the sour cream and onion.
Hard to tell if these are a kettle chip or a regular chip. They have a nice thickness to them, a good umami. Nice n’ crunchy. Not tasting major sour cream or major onion, a little oniony more than sour cream. But they are good just hard to kind of, they’re not overpowering. They’re light as well.
Another one that’s almost like a kettle chip. Not too sour creamy, not too oniony. Got a bit of a weird oil aftertaste. Other than that, really good. And got a little funky onion after, but that could just be me eating 10 different brands of chips.
These have a great crunch. In my opinion, a little too oniony. Have a good tang. Traditional potato crunch, definitely not a kettle or a ridge. They’re good, but nothing special.
Number 12 got a little overbaked, over-fried chip flavor. Actual chips have a good crunch. Getting more of an overbaked potato flavor than sour cream and onion. Not getting a lot of sour cream and onion flavor. They taste pretty plain almost. I don’t know if I’ve had too many chips but not getting sour cream and onion flavor right now.
Another ridge entry, this one with a very nice sour cream creaminess to it. Onion is present but not overpowering but tasty. The ridge is just how you want it, nice and crunchy. Overall pretty much what you want from a sour cream chip. Tasty.
These are gigantic ridges and they have a good sour cream flavor. I would say that the onion flavor is a little funky to me, like I’m eating onion grass. There’s something almost buttery to them. The actual chip has a good crunch. I’m not loving the flavor though, it’s overly onion to me.
15 is a thick ridge. Great crunch to it. Watch out if you have bad teeth. The actual flavor is a little mellow. Not in a bad way. It’s a little more oniony than sour cream. I’m not getting sour cream. But the crunch is really good, great texture.
Back with another ridge, number 16. Good sour cream, onion flavor is not too heavy. This is one of the best we’ve had so far. Potent in the flavor department.
This is another kettlely tasting one. This one got a good mix of cream and oniony. Really good crunch, good fold on some of the chips. Good tang. Pretty good.
More of a traditional but there are some giant ones here. Got good saltiness to it. good lightness. These are really good. Not too oniony, but it’s a little oniony. Not a lot of sour cream flavor but still really good.
Another ridge also got some tight ridges to it. Lot of good sour cream notes. Really good crunch. Got like a weird oily off-putting taste a tiny bit. Doesn’t compromise the overall flavor but the backend of the aftertaste is a little bit weird. But overall… good chip.
Got another ridge entry, this one with even tinier ridges. Not getting ton of onion or sour cream flavor. A little light on the onion, very light on the sour cream. Nice chip but not tons of flavor.
This is another ridge, this one is about the size of a small island. Probably the biggest ridge we’ll have. Saltiness as well as sour cream and onion flavor, not too oniony. Not really much sour cream. It’s got a little of a backend, not burnt potato but a more well-done potato flavor. This is okay, but doesn’t really go that well with the sour cream and onion flavor, in my opinion.
Overall good, but not great.
More of a traditional thin potato chip. Not super flavorful. Getting a very light flavor of both sour cream and onion, not overpowering. Easy to eat, but not getting tons of flavor.
Another more traditional chip, no ridges no kettle. Not a lot of flavor. These are alright, not at the top of the pick. Have some decent onion flavor, not much sour cream flavor at all.
These are some of the bigger traditional chips we’ve had. Again not tasting a ton of flavor, little bit of onion little bit of sour cream. Chip is really nice. These are definitely more on the lighter side of sour cream. They still have the flavor there. This is good, this is really good.
Last one is more of a kettle variety. Got a good crisp fold to them, nice and crunchy. Good saltiness, a good taste of sour cream. Definitely have an onion flavor. Nothing to really complain about here. Nothing overpowering, not too light. Kind of right in the middle. Right in the middle. Good stuff.
Part 2: The Ranking
There are no new jokes or jabs to be made about 365, as a frequent patron of their brick-and-mortar, it would be hypocritical to hate in general about the brand’s products, though some are better than others. Their sour cream & onion potato chips won’t scare any Frito Lay shareholders into giving up their nest eggs, though they are a worthy replacement when it’s a matter of convenience. The sour cream flavor doesn’t have much tang, but does have the rich, creaminess you expect. The onion flavor and aftertaste is middling, it doesn’t hit too hard or linger too long, and the chip itself is a standard traditional golden, thin chip. Overall, a solid play for 365 — just not flavorful or tangy enough to contend with the real studs (or… spuds).
Packaging is signature boring 365 white with minimal but stylized graphics and real-size potato chip imagery. The back is essentially the same, and there is a “funny” line comparing these chips to a potential wedding gift, which was a bit too cutesy to even register.
365 makes solid products, these Sour Cream & Onion chips included. However, the purpose of these rankings is to decipher the best of the best, and 365 falls waaaaaay short in the flavor department.
24. Mikesell — Green Onion
What does Mikesell? Mikesell’s potato chips since 1910. Another Ohio (this time Dayton) brand, another quality Ohio potato chip. This time, the chips are “Green Onion” flavor, so there is no actual claim to involve the close bedfellow of green onion, our friend and co-star, sour cream. However, there’s still consideration here due to the green onion aspect, and upon sampling, there’s a richness that resembles the same richness that some of the other brands exemplify, without the creamy signature tang of sour cream. Here, the sweet and tang of the green onion are somewhat singular, but because there is garlic powder and sugar involved, the taste isn’t far off from “sour cream & onion”. The chips themselves are distinguishable because some are a bit more well done than others, they’re thin, crisp and nicely salted.
Overall, Mikesell’s a solid green onion chip that will relieve any hankerings for the paired duo, though the sour cream’s rich tang may be sorely missed by purists.
From a packaging standpoint, Mikesell’s a modern retro take on the chip bag, classic font with a stamp style border, abundant pile o’ chips, portrait of the green onion with a basic maroon and yellow background. One iconic badge that is first seen on this bag despite reviewing other Ohio brands, is the historic “Ohio Proud” stamp under the nutrition facts. Every Ohio brand should be proud enough to feature this.
Mikesell makes a quality chip and is potentially the first onion-flavored chip in the land, but the lack of sour cream to round out the onion flavor makes them a bit one-note and tough to compare to the rest of the more balanced and dynamic brands.
Wegman’s sour cream & onion potato chips leave a great first impression. The chips are many sizes but some are unusually long and large, which never dampens the snacking mood. The sour cream taste is at first creamy and the onion taste is a very light tangy green onion note. On the back end, this rounds out and you get the earthiness of the chips and a sweetness in the seasoning, which is a bit off-putting like when you accidentally bite an uncooked corn kernel.
Wegman’s chip packaging has their signature slogan (that has been referenced before, and we can’t give them more free promo roasting it again), a wanting-to-be-gritty font, as well as the popular chip and sour cream portraiture (which has actually been called out as enlarged to show texture).
If Wegman’s could get their seasoning R&D in order, they could have a real banger on their hands. Until, then this play is just an okay one; mediocre in the sourcream & onion flavor department but better than average in the chip zone.
22. Utz Ripple
Another Pennsylvania entry, and the second from the Utz classic line, 3rd from Utz in general (counting Dirty), they’ve certainly weaseled their way via multiple entry points into the sour cream & onion rankings, but their Ripples, or ridged variety ranks lowest for a few reasons. First, despite covering both sour cream and onion flavors, the sour cream is too light to fully register on the palate beyond acknowledgment of the residue on the fingertips and the onion is the green-speckled variety with a nice perky tang and only a minor aftertaste.
Neither of these aspects are bad or great, they’re simply middle of the pack. Same with the ridges; the chips are good, narrowly ridged, crisp, and crunchy, but not overly large, folded, or special in any way. Another decent play from Utz, if you’re not in the mood for their kettle or traditional version of the same flavor.
Utz’s most popular seasoned chips come in at least 3 formats, the Ripples being the least alluring. Perhaps it’s the ridges absorbing too much seasoning or Utz under-compensating for the inherent flavor of the ridges, but these seem to have the least sour cream & onion potency of the three Utz options.
A favorite of the populace, some of my loved ones and favorite people included, worship at the altar of Ruffles. This extends to sour cream & onion, which the Frito Lay brand creates in many different iterations, including Lay’s and Sun Chips. Ruffles’ RRRidges set an industry standard for what a ridge can and should be; thin rivulets covered in seasoning, golden fresh crispy crunch in every bite. The only downside here is the strong green onion flavor – the sour cream is a very light tang, but the onion element is a bit reminiscent of the taste of onion grass soaked in butter and stays on the palate enough to begin thinking about mints or toothpaste for a cleanse.
If these chips didn’t have a taste that requires a drink, a toothbrush, gum, or another snack afterward, they may be ranked higher. Raw green onion can be an assertive flavor, and here it outweighs the delicious crunch of possibly the best-ridged potato chips and places Ruffles further down in the rankings.
Hal’s sour cream & onion potato chips are like a New Yorker chipified; rich in flavor and high-quality ingredients, but also a bit too aggressively seasoned and salty in some instances. Hal’s are tasty kettle chips, and they have the trademark crunch, and oil-cooked bubbliness of the best kettle chips sampled. Flavor-wise, some chips are seasoned too salty, requiring a beverage accompaniment or interlude from munching to refresh. Some chips had too much sour cream, tasting too creamy and beyond rich in the umami note. The onion seasoning can linger more than desired on the palate, asking for refreshment. Hal’s Sour Cream & Onion potato chips may just be too much to eat alone but could be balanced out by something else flavorful and savory like a soup or sandwich to match their aggression.
Hal’s packaging resembles something made by a New York deli or bagel place, the design is clean and bold, but also incredibly mundane.
Hal is a character and he makes pretty good sour cream & onion crackers. Despite the great chips, these were not a favorite in the rankings.
19. Better Made
Detroit’s own Better Made make a product that is like its namesake, better tasting than a lot of brands out there. Their sour cream and onion have a great taste, a rich earthy potato flavor, a salty light yellow oniony flavor, and an overall rich MSG, soy umami style flavor. Better Made’s crisp thin traditional chips have a great flavor themselves and although these chips are delicious and have great flavor, they lack tang and any sort of sour creaminess.
Better Made’s been making better things since 1930, as their bag says so, and if you don’t believe it there is a dutch milkmaid looking young woman giving the choice hand sign to back it all up, no paperwork.
Though these chips would go great without a lot of things and are by no means to be ignored, Better Made’s version of sour cream and onion potato chips are not in the top of the Midwest’s stiff potato chip competition.
Wise has been in the game since any Millenial growing up in the Philly area can remember, another PA entry here and a solid ridge entry. Wise is typically known more for their basic and plain snacks than flavored, but the fact that they only make a ridge version of Sour Cream & Onion shows Wise’s commitment to their particular take on the Sour Cream & Onion chip, and they don’t fall short here. The sour cream flavor is tangy and rich, the onion flavor is light but there. The narrow little ridges make the chips super crunchy and the overall taste super savory.
The only knock here being that the strong seasoning borders on slightly too much at times, especially with MSG in play.
Wise’s bright metallic green packaging includes a billboard-size font announcing that these are true “Ridgies.”
If “Living Life Wisely” involves eating a few handfuls of their sour cream & onion chips during an afternoon post-lunch snack pick-me-up, then wise am I. Wise’s entry here is not tops in the rankings but good enough to pick up on your local chip aisle.
Not sure which came first from Joe’s, but my first encounter with Joe’s brand, a Dirty Jerz brand, was with their Iced Tea line, not potato chips. To sell both at a similar high-quality level is somewhat impressive considering the investment in space, equipment, and janitorial supplies to manufacture both products in potentially the same or separate facilities. Sounds like a logistical nightmare but Joe’s doesn’t care, their “Sour Cream & Toasted Onion” is on par with some of the best on the market. The toasted onion has a taste akin to an onion bagel, which is a more natural onion flavor, though not necessarily more pleasing to the tastebuds. The sour cream element is light and slight, but the overall taste does ring sour cream & onion, though in a subtle sense. The chip themselves have a solid kettle crunch, and the thick chips are not oily at all.
Joe’s Retro packaging is consistent with its retro chips claim. They use a green bag for sour cream, which is decorated with a Green “OFF ROAD” truck in the middle, suggesting potential rugged means to tote your bag of chips around in.
Joe’s potato chips are just as good if not better than their tea (which is typically overly sweet, and more Southern style than for anyone who grew up drinking unsweetened tea at home), and their entry into this rankings is solid, even with the toasted onion aftertaste.
16. North Fork
North Fork is a high-quality high brow potato chip. Kettle style with an almost sweet sour vinegary aftertaste that lacks the traditional creamy element of the sour cream & onion flavor. North Fork’s rendition is also a tad too salty, though the actual potato chip is of high-quality deliciousness and crispness — some even have a bit of a wave to them and browned edges: divine. There is also minimal onion flavor, making this more of an “oniony” than onion-forward and gum/toothbrushing-required-afterward version. So despite all of the flaws, North Fork still makes a delicious version of the classic, just missing some of those classic elements enough to tumble and crumble down the ranks.
Martin Sidor’s Long Island-based chip company does not come with hair gel/wax or a factory car with ground effects but still is a bit basic in its design, using retro-looking graphics and text alone to sell their kettle-cooked sour cream chips with a vintage Restoration Hardware looking ceiling fan graphic.
North Fork’s sour cream and onion is like Long Island, high in quality, a pain to find, in some ways right on target, in some ways misses the mark, but definitely is trying to do something and succeeding on some levels.
15. Great Value
The desire to hate on Walmart’s sour cream and onion chips and Walmart in general is a cross that’s at times quite weighty. Ideological differences aside, these chips are way better than they should be. There is a real tang and creamy note from the buttermilk element in the sour cream, the green onion speckles and seasoning are piquant but not bad breath-inducing. The chips are large and golden crunchy with some a bit brown on the edges and many folded. Generally, Great Value’s sour crem and onion potato chips are great for any cookout, campout or smokeout, all of which you could probably accomplish while still inside a Walmart.
The packaging on Great Value, like the name, is about as generic as you can get in good ole Merica. Picture of chips, check. Dish of sour cream next to animated green onion, check. Logo that a 5-year-old could create in any design application, check.
Walmart is a great place for many things and a terrible place for others. Their in-line brand Great Value turns out a very solid chip, in the traditional style of thin chip. Despite this revelation and the satisfaction of the chips of what a basic sour cream & onion chip should be, there is really nothing special about these chips.
14. Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon makes a great ridge entry with their “Canyon Cut Sour Cream & Chive” potato chips. Though originally from the hippie, college kids and board sports enclave known as Boulder, Colorado, the company has relocated to sunny lizard-laden Arizona (or maybe is just using a distributor based there) and created some super thick and crunchy chips, many in the folded like a taquito category, with great flavor, as well. The sour cream is tangy and the chive is light and tangy too. The sea salt adds a richness and a bit bolder flavor than other brands, but the sunflower/safflower oil blend used to make the chips has a bit of a disagreeable aftertaste that knocks these chips down a few notches in the ranks.
Boulder Canyon’s packaging is pretty fun, showcasing their Canyon Cut chips cast against the Boulder Mountain range with little animated evergreens appointing them, is delightful snackscape imagery.
Boulder Canyon’s entry into the Sour Cream & Onion lineup is admirable in most key elements, however the aftertaste falling a bit short due to oil selection is a factor that cannot be overlooked in such a tight competition.
13. Cape Cod
Cape Cod is an OG in the space, the first kettle chip in chronological memory encountered, the first chip brand that had some darker chips, and a lot more crinkly chips than some other brands. Cape Cod was premium before there was really a premium lane in chips. Cape Cod’s sour cream and onion hits on the all the notes you want in a sour cream & onion chip, there’s just not a ton of flavor there. There is a very light onion taste and almost no onion aftertaste (hurray, you don’t need a Mento).
The sour cream is almost parmesan-cheesy in taste, definitely creamy but no real tang – it almost has more of a dill pickle-y chip vinegary aftertaste than what you typically expect from the sour cream & onion flavor. On the flip side, the potato chips are the classic Cape Cod chip.
Cape Cod’s recognizable packaging has the traditional lighthouse logo branding with bright green color coding for this variety, as well as artsy graphics of the green onion-speckled chips.
Cape Cod has never taken a full L and sour cream & onion won’t be their downfall, but these great crunchy little kettle chips lack the punch of flavor or oniony tang that you get traditionally from the pairing. That’s not to say this isn’t a great chip or a great pickup, they’re still really good, just not flavorful enough in a traditional sense to rank higher here.
Though Dirty chips have been sampled umpteen times before this article, it only dawned during this drafting that Dirty is Utz’s kettle chip line. No wonder this is one of the best sour cream kettle chips out — some of these chips are so crunchy and large, you have to turn up the volume or you’ll drown out whatever you’re watching or listening to while you munch down.
The sour cream on these is light and slightly sweet, the onion is not super aggressive but definitely lingers on the back end.
Dirty’s packaging is identically classy and simple for every flavor, just different colors accent each layout and they all mention the benefits of the chips being “partially peeled” and “thick cut kettle style” — which give the chips a large part of their delicious appeal.
Dirty have one of the best kettle chips in our rankings with little oil flavor. They’re perfect kettle chips with present, but not aggressive, sour cream and onion seasoning.
11. Herr’s Kettle
Herr’s Kettle chips appear to be a lighter, milder option to their standard fare. The chips are slightly thicker than most of their offerings, and they’re more buttery, but less aggressively flavored in general. Their sour cream element is a smidge lighter and less tangy, the onion is not as full-flavored and they’re definitely not as salty for the most part. Unlike the standard sour cream chip, there is no ridge, so you don’t find the same flavor burst pockets and there is more of a robust cooked potato flavor, which kettle chips traditionally contain. Overall, these may be easier to eat than the original Herr’s Sour Cream & Onion, but they’re also less crave-able and classic.
The hallmark of the Herr’s kettle bag is the subtle landscape of a farm captured on the top ¼ of the bag. It is a bucolic wonderland described by many an American literary classic.
Herr’s kettle chip line is a solid alternative to their more delicious and flavorful regular product, the chips are thicker, more earthy, tasty, and fresh – just missing the knock-your-tastebuds out umami and tang of the ridges.
10. Route 11
Route 11 chips are an NYC and sandwich shop staple, pretty sure they’re in Potbelly’s as well as bodegas, mom & pop markets, along with high-end grocers and provisions stores, all over our fair land. It’s no mistake. Their chips are really good, sometimes browned, sometimes different sizes and/or folded, kettle-style and great with, or on, any sandwich. Not oily at all. Their sour cream & onion falters in similar respect to Cape Cod, but here there is a bit more true sweet and slightly tangy sour cream flavor, as well as aftertaste (that also has a strong potato earthiness).
They’re still a great chip, just not as strongly seasoned as some of the others.
Route 11’s signature packaging is Sour Cream & Onionified for this flavor, which means green and yellow accents and scribbly lines, potentially from an EKG machine readout.
Route 11’s entry is really good within the kettle category and beyond – a delicious chip with some onion and sour notes, but not truly flavored or seasoned with enough of either flavor to overpower the true umami of the potatoes themselves. Route 11 is still a premium product worthy of munching down at any time as needed and tasty chip, but in a contest so closely contended and lacking some of the traditional punch of a sour cream & onion chip, Route 11 falls slightly lower in the rankings.
Utz chip is a thicker shade of Lay’s, but very similar in terms of fresh crisp thin chipness. Utz, a Pennsylvania pillar in the snack game, presents a totally tasty sour cream potato chip product. The sour cream is slightly tangy with the light onion seasoning hitting strong on the finish. The thin chips mixed with the mellow flavoring make a deadly sour cream combo, making high volume intake a potential.
The presentation is vintage Utz; little girl with rosy cheeks logo, a fresh photo of the goods, a small dish of sour cream with chopped green onions on top and let’s not forget Utz has been serving up snacks for over 100 years (101 to be exact).
Sour Cream & Onion is Utz most popular flavored chip for a reason, they deliver strongly on every facet you want in this classic flavor.
8. Deep River
Deep River may carry the strange title of thickest and crunchiest ridge chip (they call them krinkle cut, which spell check does not like), as well as possibly the lightest seasoned chip in this entire Sour Cream & Onion potato chip list. Oddly, this works. Shoddy orthodontia beware, the girth of these ridge kettle chips could dislodge a filling on any given bite. Personally, there is nothing better, and the almost non-existent sour cream flavor and very light onion flavor, passively ask for non-stop munching. The Deep River chips also often curl and overlap, and stick together, creating extra layers of crunch, but still the sour cream & onion seasoning never overwhelms.
Despite these achievements, it’s hard to rank Deep River too high because they’re so sneaky in the flavor department (i.e. subtle) even if they may be the best-ridged potato chips on the shelves and end caps.
Deep River’s packaging is blue, for unknown reasons perhaps as they say “because we give a chip,” which is a cute way of not putting a cuss word on a snack bag and is apparently because the bag has a charity component.
Deep River’s deep ridges make a deep run in the sour cream & onion potato chips rankings because they’re deeply crunchy and crave-able. They don’t make the top because they skate by on taste and texture. The actual seasoning is more passive than aggressive, which actually favors those who don’t love the flavor.
Ballreich’s Marcelled Potato Chips are yet another Ohio brand’s delicious take on the sour cream & onion chip. Large, ridged, and full of flavor, Ballreich hits a flavor trifecta with their salty, sour creamy and onion-speckled potato chips. Each note is distinct and rich — the word umami cannot be avoided in describing Ballreich’s flavor. Their large, thicker ridged chips are full of crunch. With Ballreich’s, the mystique of Ohio’s potato chip and snack legacy continues to build layers like a Gobstopper.
Ballreich’s basic old-school design gets the job done with minimal fanfare. You won’t get an explanation of what “marcelled” means, but you will get multiple shoutouts to Tiffin, Ohio, and a “locally owned for 100 years” stamp, both pretty cool tidbits of info.
Ballreich’s Sour Cream & Onion hits the crave in a major way with punchy flavor and thick crunchy “marcelled” chips to awaken the senses and give a pop of umami.
Guy’s have been around since 1938, so please forgive the tardiness on the first sampling of this “legendary” potato chip brand. Guy’s are another Midwest chip, this time from the heartland of Kansas City (still eagerly anticipating a BBQ coma-inducing first trip). Guy’s are a thin crisp chip similar to Lay’s, but with some way bigger than any Lay’s and a bit thicker and flakier as well.
Basically, they’re really good.
The flavor is a punch; a nice dusting of oniony powder on the chips segues into a creamy finish. The only knock on these chips is that the flavor may be too assertive for those with only a passing interest in sour cream & onion.
Guy’s packaging is a yellow ray of sunshine that permeates the entire green bag design. The back tells the story of Guy Caldwell, quite the enterprising ray of sunshine himself, who sold potato chips and nuts all over Kansas City, all from a jerry-rigged cooker.
Guy’s hustle has led to a Midwest snack empire surely envied and copied by many, as well as a sour cream & onion potato chip that could compete with any for a spot on your snack table.
Though around since the 1980s, it seems like Kettle has really exploded in the past decade – making their way into airport kiosks, kid’s lunches, convenience stores, sandwich stores, and pretty much every market’s “Natural Foods” chip section. Bodegas and gas stations have Kettle chips in 2022. The Salem OR-based chip brand makes about 40 different flavors, and typically almost everything they do is quality at the minimum and deliciously crave-worthy at the maximum.
Their sour cream & onion is no different, their chips are huge, thick, and rarely too oily. A lot of their chips curl into cocoon form, which is the best kind of crunchy. Flavorwise, theirs is a mellow Sour Cream and a pungent but also fairly mellow green onion, melding into a pleasing chip that is easy to consume subconsciously during any other primary activity that has at least one hand free for mindless snacking.
Kettle’s bag is standard Kettle, two-tone green color with the non-GMO and gluten-free bag badges on front. The back reiterates the badges, along with everything being natural.
Kettle is a trusted high-end potato chip brand for 40 years now, their sour cream & onion variety is an example of what any chip should strive for — a lot of flavor balanced flavor on a fresh, crisp, and crunchy chip.
The reason Lay’s is Lay’s is because of the quality of their basic product. A Lay’s chip is nothing to scoff at and their sour cream & onion is no different. Hate or love the Frito Lay snack empire (they’re responsible for Cheetos and Doritos, what’s to hate?), but the Lay’s line is one of their flagships and the sour cream & onion is right near the top. It’s no surprise, many articles with limited source information and few annotations credit Lay’s with introducing the flavor to the American market.
Boasting a somewhat muted creaminess and salty but fairly light onion flavor, Lay’s traditional chip with its crunchy thin textbook potato chip texture, satisfies any sour cream & onion cravings. Surprisingly, there are no artificial flavors in play with these Lay’s, which makes them even more guilt-free. Being a GMO king is no longer a humble flex these days, so thanks to Lay’s for supporting lifestyle changes.
Lay’s packaging hasn’t changed in the last decade or more — it’s green, there are chips on the bag, a suggestive ramekin of sour cream to dip your sour cream chips in, and a beautiful bulb of onion.
Hardly the new kid on the block, possibly the originators of sour cream & onion seasoning on chips, Lay’s is still a power player in the potato chip universe.
3. Hen of the Woods
Ohio may be the home to the most potato chip brands in the United States and Hen of the Woods may be the newest and possibly the best from the Buckeye state. Seasoned with slightly serious-about-your-food pantry ingredients like thyme, sage, bay leaves, and marjoram and made with large kettle chips, the Hen of Woods 3 chefs from Cincinnati created a crave-able product with high-end quality. Though more peppery and spiced than most sour cream and onion chips, the spice gives the chips a toastiness that doesn’t overpower the chive and buttermilk-forward chips – culminating in a unique and well-balanced flavor.
The chips themselves are thick and very flakey, as well more sizeable than most. Although these are not traditional sour cream and onion chips, the flavor profile is close enough and they’re good enough to be high in the rankings.
The packaging is memorable with its large animated hen with the ice grill (you don’t scare us chicken), shiny green circular metallic patterns and bold font.
Though questions remain as to why a potato chip brand is called “Hen of the Woods,” the quality and taste of the product belie any questioning of brand names or origins. Just keep eating them until you should probably stop.
2. Herr’s Ridges
The green metallic Herr’s Sour Cream & Onion bag always stood out as a kid, back in times when there weren’t 20+ flavors of Herr’s potato chips. You could buy Herr’s almost anywhere around, the aforementioned Rich’s Deli, any hoagie shop, pizza slice slinger, or convenience store. But Herr’s didn’t even make regular Sour Cream & Onion chips, only the ridges (called ripples for good measure) – clearly, there was a reason. Herr’s iteration came to be the standard of what a sour cream & onion chip should be and in 2022 that hasn’t changed. The ridges crest and descend like the frozen ripples in a motorized infinite pond, the sour cream dust is sweet, tangy, and creamy, while the onion aftertaste is strong enough to have a presence but subsides just as quickly as to not impede the next chip.
And the chips! Some of them are gigantic, some are curled and some are shards of delight but all are fresh, super crunchy, and actually have an earthy potato taste to them that is welcoming. Lastly, there is MSG and artificial flavoring, but these are one of the few chips where those elements are not taste-detractors.
Herr’s has changed their packaging over the years, reducing the simplicity of the old days to a more modern design bearing bold font, the signature red Herr’s logo, a portrait of the chips, and the onions and dip they get their flavor from.
Herr’s is, has been and keeps doing it right. Their riff on this style is a gold standard for any chip brand looking to make a mark with this classic flavor. Don’t sleep if you’re late.
Keogh’s makes a craveable product that can be polished off in a single sitting. Naturally, an Irish brand of potato chips is superior to almost anything on the market when it comes to sour cream & onion. A master class in what potato chips and sour cream & onion can be, Keogh’s chip is crunchy and crumbly, studded with proper salt, a light but piquant onion note (with little green speckles), and a creamy finish.
Keogh’s chip has a light flakiness to it that is more kettle than traditional, but unlike most kettle chips, Keogh’s is still very thin. The chips range in size from little to giant, all equally tasty.
Keogh’s packaging notes the chips are “small batch,” “grown and cooked on our family farm,” and contains “real shamrock”– all of which seem believable by the quality and taste of the product – pretty sure shamrock is the Irish equivalent of MSG.
Keogh’s may make one of the best potato chips in a bag anywhere, no surprise that their sour cream & onion option is tops.