Pepperoncini Kettle Chips: Flavorful, But The Right Flavor?

A super tasty potato chip that fools the taste buds.

Pepperoncini kettle chips are one of a wide line of flavorful snacks made by Kettle Brand. If you’ve ever walked down a snack aisle in a grocery store (read everyone), you know the maker. Their chips are always crowd pleasers: big potato flavor, that kettle cooked crispiness, and a hearty cut for the crisp itself.

So we are excited that Kettle Brand has ventured down the pepper scale from their other spicy stalwarts like Jalapeño, Sriracha, and Jalapeño Jack. And after picking up a bag, we’re overall very pleased. These are very tasty chips perfect next to a hearty Italian sandwich. But there’s a definite twist to what brings the heat in these chips.

The ingredients: When is pepperoncini not pepperoncini?

When it’s not on the ingredient list. Yes, there is no mention of actual pepperoncini on the ingredients label. Instead Kettle Brand’s pepperoncini chips fool the taste buds by pairing bell pepper powder, jalapeño powder, and vinegar to create a mild heat with a definite earthy, fresh vegetable-like undertone. It’s surprising that actual pepperoncini didn’t make the cut in the chip, but how does this ingredient-foolery translate into your taste experience?

The flavor: Like a perfectly toned-down salt and vinegar chip with a tasty fresh kick.

When you think pepperoncini, you think pickled tang and a light simmering heat. These chilies, are after all, barely a tick on the Scoville scale (100 – 500 Scoville heat units). The simmer is here in these pepperoncini chips, but the pickled tang doesn’t quite match what many might expect. Maybe Kettle Brand was concerned that these chips would then be too close to their  “Sea Salt & Vinegar” offering. Or maybe enhancing the vinegar flavor removed the fresh garden pepper flavor. Whatever the reason, if you are expecting big pickled pepperoncini tang, you may come away slightly disappointed.

We say slightly disappointed because, when it comes down to it, the overall flavor is pretty darn great. In fact, these are now our flavor pairing of choice with any Italian sub or sandwich. We prefer them hands down to salt and vinegar chips. And it all has to due with their subtlety.

Salt and vinegar chips often overwhelm the mouth and mask the flavors of the other foods you are eating. These Kettle pepperoncini chips, though, are toned down enough to provide the vinegar experience without that overwhelming flavor impact. And the spice is just enough too. Not so big as to command a meal, but simmering enough to provide a unique eating experience. And let’s not forget that bell pepper powder which provides a fresh taste that you don’t typically get in a chip. It’s just a more complex flavor – and hands down more subtle – than a bold salt and vinegar alternative.

Worthy of the snack aisle grab.

Sure, it’s easy to scoff that Kettle pepperoncini chips don’t contain actual pepperoncini, but when it comes down to it, it’s all about the flavor. We are fans here. It may not be quite the bold pickled flavor that you expect by the name, but it’s still really, really good. Try them for yourself.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on September 5, 2019 to include new content.
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