Photo courtesy of Tom Schierlitz/Trunk Archive
21 Great Snacks from the Alt-Chips Aisle
Potatoes fried in high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, grain-free tortilla chips, coconut chips, vegan white cheddar puffs, and cassava galore. It’s great to see more chip options becoming available for different dietary needs, lifestyles, and taste buds. But as we’ve seen with plant-based meats, vegan cheese, and gluten-free pasta, the alternatives aren’t guaranteed to deliver on flavor (a deal breaker) or wholesome nutrition (not that we need our chips to have supplement-level vitamins and minerals, but we’re interested in the possibility of a healthyish option).
Our senior director of science and research (Gerda Endemann, PhD) delivered some back-pocket tips for shopping the alt-chips aisle, and our food director (Caitlin O’Malley) set out to pick the best-tasting ones out there.
TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU START SHOPPING
LOOK FOR WHOLE FOODS
Generally speaking, the closer you can get to a whole ingredient, the healthier. Less processing typically means more nutrients are retained. And it can mean slower digestion. Super processed ingredients can digest into sugars really quickly.
BAKED, PUFFED, AND POPPED, WHEN POSSIBLE
This category is huge right now, with lots of tasty options. It’s a great way to enjoy a satisfying crispy or crunchy treat that isn’t cooked in oil.
IF IT’S FRIED, CHECK OUT THE OIL TYPE
Fried food is indeed delicious, and there are some healthier oils we go for when they’re available. Olive oil, avocado oil, and high oleic sunflower oil are all monounsaturated fats, which means they are less likely to oxidize than polyunsaturated fats (like corn and cottonseed oil). Without getting too granular and scientific, it’s worth noting that all oils will eventually oxidize over time or due to exposure to air and heat (check out our olive oil guide to learn more about that), so it’s not a perfect rule, just something to be aware of. More important, perhaps: Chips fried in olive oil taste really good.
Potatoes get a bad rap (Gerda wrote about that here). Just because we dabble in paleo/keto/grain-free doesn’t mean classic potato chips don’t hold a special place in our hearts. When we’re in the mood for spuds, these are the ones we like to go for.
José Andrés Himalayan Pink Sea Salt Potato Chips
These seem impossibly thin and crispy. And you can really taste the high-quality extra virgin olive oil used to fry them.
Boulder Canyon Avocado Oil Canyon Cut Kettle Chips Sea Salt
A ridged chip made for all your dipping needs.
If you’re avoiding corn and vegetable oils because of food sensitivities, tortilla chips could be hard to find. But we have three favorites we think you’ll love.
Siete Fuego Grain Free Tortilla Chips
Siete never disappoints—we’ve long been fans of its grain-free tortillas and vegan queso dip. These chips make us nostalgic for the ones we had in the bagged lunches as kids, but with an improved spicy flavor dust and a crisp, airy crunch. These are GP’s fave.
Sana Coconut Flour Tortilla Chips Himalayan Sea Salt
Formerly known as The Real Coconut, which was one of the first grain-free tortilla chips we remember showing up on the scene. They’re a sturdy vehicle for heartier acts, like guac and bean dip. Try pairing these coconut chips with a mango salsa to play up the tropical flavors.
More chips that are either whole foods or are mostly made up of plants.
Good Roots Lotus Chips Wasabi
A top-notch crunch, and that wasabi heat clears your sinuses and keeps you going back for more.
Artisan Tropic Cassava Strips
These are the closest to regular potato chips texture-wise. We like seeing cassava used in its whole form versus as a flour or a starch, which is overwhelmingly the ingredient in healthy chip alternatives right now.
Pulp Pantry Jalapeño Lime
Pulp Pantry chips are brilliant because they’re made from the vegetable pulp left over from cold-pressed juices. They’re low-waste and fiber-filled, and they taste great, too.
Sweetpotato Awesome Dill & Garlic
Because these sweet potato chips are freeze-dried, their texture is different from that of regular chips, but the sweet potato flavor is sweet and clean.
12 Tides Puffed Kelp Chips Everything
There’s a lot to love here. Kelp itself is an ocean regenerative food and a zero-input crop. It has vitamins and minerals and an umami flavor that goes so well with the everything bagel spice. Bonus point for compostable packaging.
A surprising number of contenders in this category—seems like we all need grown-up versions of the cheesy puffs of our childhood. You can get that and more with all of these.
Lesser Evil “No Cheese” Cheesiness Paleo Puffs
Another GP favorite. These puffs have a cassava-flour base and are paleo-friendly. The texture is crisp with that familiar cloudlike melt-in-your-mouth quality.
Spudsy Sweet Potato Puffs Vegan Cheesy Cheddar
Sweet-potato-based puffs with a slightly more tender texture and a nice clean finish (which can be hard to do with a vegan cheese flavor). This mix also includes pea protein.
POPCORN AND PRETZELS
The iconic duo. Required snacking for sleepovers, movies, and road trips.
Bjorn Qorn Classic
Solar-powered popcorn—sign us up. Somehow every kernel is popped to that perfectly tender-crisp texture. The original with salt and nutritional yeast has become our go-to, but the spicy is really good and has some serious heat.
WILD CARDS: MEAT CHIPS AND SWEET CHIPS
Not your typical chips-aisle fare, but highly snackable nonetheless.
Wilde Protein Chips Sea Salt and Vinegar Chicken
One of the more unusual chips we came across. It’s quite literally a chip made of chicken—it’s crisp and light like potato chip, but with a very subtle chicken flavor. This is a nice high-protein alterative to jerky, and the salt and vinegar seasoning works well.
4505 Chicharrones Classic Chili & Salt
If you’re eating mostly keto or paleo and looking for a wholesome snack with just one ingredient instead of thirteen different starches and gums, a salty, crispy, rich chicharron is a no-brainer. Sourcing is of the utmost importance at 4505, which uses only top-quality humanely raised meat.
Siete Grain Free Churro Strips
Siete has done it once again. These chips are not too sweet, and the cinnamon level is spot-on. It can take care of a churro craving when you are churro-less.
We hope you enjoy the products recommended here. Our goal is to suggest only things we love and think you might, as well. We also like transparency, so, full disclosure: We may collect a share of sales or other compensation if you purchase through the external links on this page (including links to Amazon).