Kettle-cooked chips are one of our favorite snacks — and it’s no secret why. The extra-crispy texture produces a symphony of crunches that puts regular chips to shame. The hardy chips also hold on better to any seasoning so each bite is packed with flavor, and frankly, they just seem more “potato-y” than regular chips. We always feel like kettle chips are a healthy option, but how do they really compare to their standard cousins? Keep reading as nutrition experts reveal how healthy kettle chips are, plus find out how to make a good-for-you version right at home using a simple DIY recipe!
Are kettle chips healthy?
Kettle-cooked chips are unique in their own right, but store-bought versions are still processed foods. With a brand like Lay’s, the nutritional values of their kettle-cooked chips compared to their classic potato chips are more alike than different. Here’s a breakdown of how one serving (about 15 chips) of the snacks stack up against each other.
Kettle vs regular chips: Levels of acrylamide
Although both chip varieties are fried, the temperature-controlled frying process of kettle chips is what makes them extra crunchy and golden brown. “The potato slices are cooked in small batches in large, open kettles filled with oil at a lower temperature than traditional chips,” explains Mary Sabat, MS, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian and ACE-certified trainer. “This lower temperature allows the chips to cook more slowly and evenly, resulting in a thicker and crunchier chip.”
A common myth about kettle chips is that they’re more nutritious due to the low frying temperature producing less acrylamide, a chemical that forms in food during high-heating cooking and can negatively affect your nervous system and has been linked to cancer in animal studies. But extremely high levels of acrylamide have been found in Kettle Chips brand kettle chips, suggesting that kettle chips don’t come out on top here. It’s a draw.
Kettle vs regular chips: Calorie content
Both types of chips are high in calories due to the amount of oil absorbed by the spuds. In fact, a serving of the brand’s kettle chips contains 150 calories, while the same amount of classic chips has 160 calories. This is something to be mindful of when deciding which snacks to munch on regularly as the calories can add up quickly. It’s a draw.
Kettle vs regular chips: Fat content
In addition to increasing the chips’ calories, the frying process makes them high in cholesterol-raising saturated fats. The kettle chips contain 9 grams of fat per serving and a bag of regular potato chips has 10 grams of fat. Overall, the fat content of these chips make up over a third of the 22-gram daily recommended amount for a 2,000-calorie diet. It’s a draw.
Kettle vs regular chips: Sodium levels
A serving of the kettle chips contains 90 milligrams (mg) of sodium, whereas the sodium levels of the regular kind reaches 170 mg. Traditional chips being thinner than the kettle variety may cause them to absorb more salt and increase their sodium content. Kettle chips win.
Ultimately, it’s best to treat commercial kettle chips like any other processed food: enjoy in moderation. However, if kettle chips are your go-to snack, making them at home is a quick and healthy alternative. (Click through to learn about the link between frequent consumption of processed foods and increased memory loss.)
The #1 way to get a healthy kettle chip: Make your own
Simple tweaks are key for making homemade chips healthier than the store-bought kind. Below, Chrissy Arsenault, MBA, RDN, registered dietitian at AthleticMuscle.com, offers four ways to create nourishing chips without skimping on flavor!
- Don’t peel the potatoes. Potato skin is bursting with essential nutrients including fiber and iron to aid digestion and maintain healthy red blood cells. So keep the skin on to preserve the nutritional value of your homemade chips and save yourself prep time!
- Use these oils in place of the vegetable kind. Commercial kettle chips are often cooked in vegetable oil, which is a hydrogenated oil full of saturated fats. Instead, cook the chips in healthy oils like olive or avocado oil as they contain rich fatty acids that help lower cholesterol levels and support heart health.
- Forget frying and use these cooking methods instead. While the kettle frying process produces these chips’ signature texture, bake or air fry them to achieve a crunchy exterior with less fat. These cooking methods distribute heat evenly, which crisp up the chips without needing to use a ton of oil.
- Mix up your seasonings. Although salt helps season the chips, avoid overdoing it to control the snack’s sodium content. Try sprinkling the chips with a small pinch of salt followed by herbs or spices to produce healthier and more flavorful chips.
A recipe for DIY kettle chips
Arsenault’s foolproof recipe for kettle chips involves three core ingredients (potatoes, oil and seasonings) and only 30 minutes. What this approach leave out: the frying that produces acrylamide, hydrogenated oils, excess salt. Before you know it, you’ll have a delicious treat that’s good for you to munch on and share!
Healthy Kettle-Style Chips
- 2 to 3 medium-sized russet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
- Salt, pepper, and your choice of herbs or spices for seasoning
- Active: 10 mins
- Total time: 25 to 30 mins
- Yield: 3 to 4 servings
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Wash and scrub potatoes thoroughly. Slice potatoes thinly (around ⅛-inch thick) using mandolin slicer or sharp knife.
- In large bowl, toss potato slices with olive oil, salt, pepper and seasonings until well coated.
- Arrange slices in single layer on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
- Bake about 15 to 20 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown. Flip chips them once halfway through.
- Remove from oven and cool on wire rack about 5 minutes. Enjoy!
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This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.