Dark Potato Chips Tasting Panel

If you’ve ever wondered which dark potato chips taste best, our Dark Potato Chips Tasting Panel is here to help you out!

Dark Potato Chips Tasting Panel

Dark Potato Chips Tasting Panel (L-R) Mel J., Laura & Jim H.

Three dark potato chip aficionados gathered recently at a local Chicago area watering hole. Their mission? To form and carry out the duties of an official Dark Potato Chips Tasting Panel …

The “to do” list called for awarding a Best In Show in several dark potato chip categories. Approaching their work with equal parts fun and solemn responsibility (not really!), we offered up our opinions and we’re bringing them to you now …

Dark chips were rated in the following categories:

  • Darkest Color Chip
  • Most “Well Done” Flavor
  • Thinnest Chips
  • Thickest Cut Chip
  • Crunchiest Chip
  • Spiciest Chip
  • Best Overall Flavor
  • Before we get to the winners, first here’s a little bit about our Dark Potato Chip Tasting Panel Members …

    About Mel

    Native and long time resident of Detroit, Michigan. Hockey fan. Likes casual, comfortable taverns and favors Keystone Light. Won’t eat any other potato chips except the dark chips. Knows a lot about a lot of things, but doesn’t brag. Personally knew Motown legend Marvin Gaye. When eating breakfast out, will send hash browns back if they’re not cooked enough. Go To Meal: Natural casing hot dogs and dark potato chips.

    Better Made In Michigan: The Story of Detroit’s Best Chips

    About Laura & Jim

    Website owners and dark potato chip evangelists. Chicago area natives. Hold a soft spot for neighborhood dogs. Love taking weekend trips. Big fans of local independent taverns. In spite of all this, health conscious! Hockey fans. Go To Meal: Hamburgers and dark potato chips.

    Dark Potato Chip Tasting Panel Results …

    The panel proved to be very agreeable. After all, dark potato chips are meant to be enjoyed, not argued over! And so, here are the results for each category:

    Dark Potato Chips Tasting Panel: Zerbe Darks

    Darkest Chip Winner

    Darkest Color Chip: Not all dark potato chips are created equal, at least where darkness is concerned. How “dark” a chip turns out is primarily a function of the type of potato used, and possibly how long they’re cooked.

    The panel chose Zerbe Darks as the darkest chip. These beauties are cooked in small batches in lard and are exquisitely dark and tasty! They’re made in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and for decades have been a prized local area secret. Zerbe Darks are just now starting to garner the attention they deserve – we spotlight them in more detail on this page here on DarkPotatoChips.com …

    A few other dark chips received votes in this category. Brands whose color falls on the “darker” spectrum are Better Made, Saratoga, and Cape Cod …

    Order Dark Potato Chips: Delivery To Your Doorstep – Click Here

    DarkPotatoChips.comThinnest Chip: To clarify this category, “thinnest” means the chip that is sliced the thinnest …

    Some like a thicker cut chip that stands up to dips and toppings, while others prefer a thin, light in texture chip. This category was clear cut for the panel – Better Made Rainbow Chips won the Thinnest Chip category. Made in Detroit since 1930, Better Made has outlasted dozens of other snack manufacturers in the Motor City. Their line of snacks and chips is beloved all across Michigan …

    Rainbow Chips are one of the longest running dark potato chips. Introduced due to customer demand, they’re prized by chip lovers and in many ways set the standard for this variety of chip.

    “Thinnest Chip” isn’t the only category won by Better Made … read on!

    Crunchy, Spicy, & More

    Crunchiest Chip: So, when you think of eating potato chips, what comes to mind? The crunch, of course!

    The panel keyed in on brands of dark potato chips that are kettle cooked. You might ask “What does kettle cooked mean exactly?”

    Dark Potato Chips Tasting Panel: Crunchiest Chip WinnerWell, “kettle cooked” is a different type of cooking process. Most brands of potato chips are cooked in a standard manner. They’re typically fried all at once on a long conveyor belt-like machine, which allows manufacturers to produce larger quantities in shorter time intervals …

    Conversely, kettle cooked chips are cooked in small batches. A small quantity of chips are placed in oil to cook, then removed. The process is continued for each small batch.

    Why are kettle cooked chips crunchier? Basically, it takes longer to cook each batch. Let’s explain …

    The chips are cooked in small batches, then removed from the oil. The oil cools down a bit when each batch is removed, so it takes a bit longer for the new batch to completely cook. This slightly longer cooking process results in a more clustered texture and crunchier chip.

    A chip being kettle cooked has nothing to do with the darker color of a dark potato chip, though. The darker color, as noted above, results from the type of potato used. Most dark potato chip makers use russet potatoes, which are naturally higher in sugar content. Some manufacturers refrigerate potatoes for a month or so. The refrigeration process serves to increase the potatoes sugar content (we’re told this is what Better Made does for their Rainbow Chips) …

    All that said …

    This was a hotly contested category. Cape Cod Dark Russets, Zerbe Darks, Mrs. Fisher’s Dark Potato Chips, and Saratoga Dark Russets were all noted for their crunchy texture …

    After much discussion (and sampling), a winner was chosen – Cape Cod Dark Russets was voted the panel’s Crunchiest Dark Potato Chip!

    Mrs Fishers Dark Jalapeno ChipsSpiciest Chip: This category proved to be the panel’s easiest choice …

    Rockford, Illinois’ Mrs. Fisher’s took home the honor for Spiciest Dark Potato Chip for their recently introduced Jalapeno Dark Chips. Brand new to the market in 2018, Jalapeno Dark Chips are turning the dark potato chip world on its ear!

    We tell the whole story of these chips in our Mrs. Fisher’s feature. This beloved northern Illinois potato chip manufacturer tested and perfected a new jalapeno spice mixture for months on end, finally attaining the ideal taste. After testing it on their regular chips, the company found the jalapeno flavor best paired with Mrs. Fisher’s Dark Chips. Voila! A new dark chip sensation was born!

    Mrs. Fisher’s Jalapeno Dark Chips offer a pleasing bite of heat, but not overwhelming like some other spicy chips. We find these chips are the perfect addition to dark potato chip recipes, like our dark potato chip casserole. Typically, we like to add a little hot sauce to casseroles to liven them up. Using Mrs. Fisher’s Jalapeno Dark Chips gives the casserole just the right added touch of heat without the need for extra hot sauce. Give them a try and you’ll see what we mean …

    Thickest Cut Dark Chip: Continuing on the Mrs. Fisher’s train, their dark chips also won the Thickest Cut Dark Chip category. Sample Mrs. Fisher’s and Better Made side-by-side and you’ll really notice the difference …

    Mrs. Fisher's Dark Potato ChipsMrs. Fisher’s Dark Chips perfectly balance a thicker slice while offering a sturdy, crunchy texture. Some standard chips tend to be a little “soggy” in spots when they’re sliced thick but not Mrs. Fisher’s. In business since 1932, they clearly have the potato chip cooking process down pat!

    Mrs. Fisher’s is a shining example of a great American small business. Tucked away in a residential neighborhood in Rockford, the company serves the northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin area. Their bustling factory outlet store sells the chips to go and is in itself worth a visit to Rockford, an underrated city that’s embarking on quite an impressive comeback …

    Most “Well Done” & Best Overall Flavor Dark Potato Chip Winners

    Most “Well Done” Flavor: The Dark Potato Chips Tasting Panel took a brief cocktail break to discuss a burning question: How do you describe dark potato chips to those unaware of their existence??

    Dark Potato Chips Tasting Panel:  Most Well Done Flavor Winner Real life culinary comparisons ensued: Well done french fries. A plate of hash browns a little on the burnt side. BBQ brisket slightly charred around the edges. Anything cooked a little longer to make it crispy.

    When introducing dark potato chips to someone who has never tried them, our go to line is typically “if you like well done french fries, you’ll love dark potato chips.” The comparison seems to resonate. It stands to reason more people like crispy french fries vs. soggy french fries (duh).

    Dark potato chips are a pleasing anomaly of science, as it were. They’re really not cooked longer at all, at least compared to traditional potato chips. Dark chips sure do look that way, though. They’re darker … just like well done french fries or a plate of hash browns a little on the burnt side.

    The panel’s choice for Most “Well Done” Flavor?

    Better Made Rainbow Chips. Open a bag for yourself and you’ll know what awaits … a pleasing, light, crispy, “well done” flavor. It’s like the chips were cooked a little longer than normal (but they really aren’t).


    Take our word for it, or better yet, sample for yourself!

    Best Overall Flavor: By far the toughest category to judge, we’ll admit “best overall flavor” is a subjective term. Taste buds are affected by multiple factors … time of day, environment, drink accompaniment, etc. Plus, everybody’s tastes are different …

    Several contributing elements were considered, including a combination of many of the categories above. To our panel, Best Overall Flavor combined factors like crunch, amount of seasoning, aftertaste, and texture. In short, the overall experience of tasting the dark chip …

    Dark Potato Chips Tasting Panel:  Best Overall Flavor Winnerr

    Saratoga Dark Russet Chips

    After much deliberation (drum roll), the Dark Potato Chips Panel “Best Overall Flavor” nod goes to Saratoga Dark Russet Chips!

    In a way, the panel’s decision was quite apropos. Saratoga Chips, a New York state legend, are often credited with being America’s first potato chip. The chips and their company’s history is so prominent there’s even a published book about the whole story

    Saratoga Dark Russet Chips, quite frankly, have the “it” factor. The chips are nice and dark in color. They’re kettle cooked so you experience a wonderful hearty crunch. They’re lightly seasoned with some of the world’s finest salt, mountain pure Himalayan Salt. And finally, sometimes to our chagrin, they’ve got the scarcity factor – you can only buy them retail in the eastern portion of the U.S. and we’re still trying to nail down a mail order / internet option for our readers …

    But availability notwithstanding, Saratoga Dark Russet Chips are fantastic and a worthy recipient of the DarkPotatoChip.com award for Best Overall Flavor!

    We must say as a caveat, all the brands we sampled for this category were in the running. Not one variety was easily eliminated. We recognize the utter subjectivity in this type of category too …

    But that’s what makes enjoying dark potato chips so special. No matter the brand, you’re bound to enjoy something really good!

    Many thanks again to Mel for joining the Dark Potato Chips Tasting Panel and adding his valued input …

    We welcome your comments here at DarkPotatoChips.com . Head on over to our Contact page to let us know your favorites!