22 Potato Chip Hacks You Need To Know

In the grand culinary tapestry of America, few foods hold such universal appeal as the humble potato chip. Scarfing down some 1.85 billion pounds annually, its population enjoys an average of 6.6 pounds of these crunch-filled delights per capita. Potato chips are an evergreen food trend of the past 100 years: Once this enduring convenience food made its grand debut on supermarket shelves, it refused to fade into obscurity. Today, they lurk in every corner, from gas stations to restaurants, available in a dizzying array of flavors ranging from the tangy bite of Salt & Vinegar to the fiery thrill of Flamin' Hot Dill Pickle.

And yet, for a food we know so intimately, plenty remains to be discovered. Whether it's the question of what to do with the leftover bits, the art of proper storage, the magic of turning a bag into a bowl and bringing stale chips back to life, or the untapped culinary potential of using them as binder, breading, or seasoning — whatever your query, rest assured you'll find the answers here.

1. Seal the bag properly

There is nothing worse than biting into a chip from a leftover bag and not feeling a familiar crunch. To preserve it, your first instinct might be to go for a rubber band or a bag clamp to prevent moisture from getting to the fragile snack. Both are valid methods, but if you ever find yourself lacking those handy tools, a viral Internet hack can help you seal the deal without outside assistance.

All you'll need is to fold the corners toward the center of a bag, similarly to how you would start making a paper airplane. Then grab at the base of the resulting triangle and roll it up slightly. Next, tuck the top corner in, finish rolling the bag, and enjoy the crunch next time craving strikes.

2. Freeze half-eaten packets

Clips, folds, and rubber bands might be well and good for keeping your snacks crisp for a few days in the pantry, but what if you live in a humid place or need to store a half-eaten bag long-term? In that case, freezing your potato chips is the answer. It's unlikely you'll find a cooler, drier place in your kitchen, and in addition to reduced airflow, those are the main requirements for their proper storage.

And if you think they'll freeze and defrost like other foods, with excess water all around, you're mistaken. The potato chip production process leaves little moisture behind, so regular freezer rules don't apply to your favorite snack. Just make sure to place them inside an airtight container or secure them well with a clip, and they'll stay cool and crispy for weeks.

3. Flip the bag for a flavor boost

True potato chip lovers know the indulgent pleasure of sliding a line of ultra-flavorful bits and pieces from the bottom of the bag straight into their mouths. But you don't have to save the best for last: A simple flip can elevate your chip-eating experience.

At supermarkets, chip bags stand proud and puffy, with the top half full of nitrogen and the bottom half containing the snack itself. We're used to seeing them stored upright. As a result, the loose seasoning and crumbs accumulate at the bottom of the bag, and you can enjoy them first if you wish. Simply flip the bag upside down, open it from the opposite end you normally would, and get ready for an umami-packed mouthful.

4. Keep them organized with bins and hangers

In a snack-loving household, there might come a time when there are just too many half-finished potato chip bags accumulating around the house and cluttering the pantry. Fortunately, there are two easy ways to keep potato chip bags organized using everyday home items.

First, you can place them in airtight clear plastic containers — this way, you can prevent chips in open bags from getting stale, and if you employ a bag color-coordinated storage system, it will also be easier to find the snack you want. Another hack for storing chips in the pantry involves a pants hanger (the one that has clips on the sides). Attaching the folded chip bags where the fabric normally goes allows you to prevent airflow while keeping the bags visible and easily accessible.

5. Open the bag from the bottom for better presentation

From college parties to movie nights to Super Bowl weekends, potato chips are the universal snack for any occasion. There's no shame in eating them straight out of the bag if you're flying solo, but if you're entertaining, bowls are a must. The good news is that even an undressed bowl of plain chips can look more elegant if you play your cards right.

To avoid the bottom-of-the-bag bits and pieces from ruining your presentation, you'll need an unconventional approach. Instead of opening the bag at the top and turning it over into the bowl, hold it over the serving dish and cut through the bottom of the bag, allowing those crumbs to fall onto the platter first and hide under the chips to follow.

6. Use them as a crunchy topping in creamy dishes

One of the pleasures of cooking is mixing and matching textures as well as flavors. The humble potato chip can help you with both. Its perfectly crunchy mouthfeel and intense seasoning can enrich the experience of eating something as ordinary in flavor and uniform in texture as a pureed vegetable soup. Even a tried and true mac and cheese recipe can get a makeover if topped with some crushed cheddar-flavored chips.

But whether you choose to add potato chips to your mashed potatoes or top your favorite casserole with them, it's important to remember that they will soak up the moisture pretty quickly, and the magic will be lost, so it's best to add them right before serving.

7. Crush them to replace breadcrumbs

If you love the satisfying crunch of fried foods, you know it's typically owed to breadcrumbs. But if you're trying to stay away from gluten or just need a substitute in a pinch, you can always give your chip crumbs a second life as a delicious breading. Crush them to your preferred size using a rolling pin and a ziplock bag, or a food processor for finer crumbs.

Seasoned breadcrumbs are one of the best additions to mac and cheese — or any creamy pasta dish, for that matter — so replacing them with crushed chips can be just as good, if not better since they hardly require any prep. An umami-packed crushed chip breading will also benefit your tofu katsu or vegan fried chicken — possibilities are endless.

8. Reuse leftover stale chips in cooking

The bad news is that potato chips are a somewhat high-maintenance snack: improper storage can easily ruin them. The good news is that while they may lack their former glory, stale chips can still be consumed. So instead of creating (however small, but still avoidable) food waste, experiment with including those leftover bits in your favorite comfort foods.

For example, you can include them in a number of breakfast recipes, from savory pancakes to frittata. Stale crumbs can be revived in a breading mix or when used to top an oven-baked dish. Additionally, potatoes contain a lot of starch, so chip leftovers can do a stellar job of thickening your favorite soup or act as a texture-adding filler in meatloaf. So don't be afraid to get creative and use up those crumbs.

9. Add toppings and seasonings straight into the bag

Did you know there are plenty of ways to elevate potato chips right in the bag? You can go the dry route with garlic powder, red pepper flakes, dried herbs, or nori. Alternatively, you can opt for a drizzle of hot sauce, maple syrup, or soy sauce. You can even do a spin on the loaded baked potato by adding sour cream and your favorite fixings into the bag.

Granted, it can get a little messy if you're using fresh ingredients, but the newly created flavor combinations can take you on a gastronomic tour of the world. A squeeze of lime juice and fresh cilantro can add up to a Mexican feel, or, if you want to enjoy your favorite snack with a British twist, follow the likes of Adele, who swears by pouring Worcestershire sauce into the bag.

10. Use paper to neatly get Pringles out of the can

In the endless sea of potato chip brands, Pringles clearly stand out. First, they don't legally count as potato chips since they're made from a dry potato mix. Technicalities aside, it's the iconic packaging really sets them apart: Pringles places its chips in a can to maintain their distinct saddle shape and prevent breakage.

Bo Burnham wasn't the first person to note the painful ordeal of getting your hand stuck in a Pringles can, but he immortalized the experience in his 2015 comedy special. Had he known that there was a simple way to help those crisps out, he might have sung a different tune. A folded sheet of paper inserted in the space between the chips and the packaging is all you'll need. Tilt the can a little, and they'll appear in a neat stack.

11. Turn them into a seasoning

Potato chips don't have to be kept inside the snack food realm; the many available flavors are fertile grounds for culinary experimentation. Not that any of us really need clever ways to incorporate more store-bought chips into our diets, but it's nevertheless fun to indulge and see where your imagination takes you.

One such way is turning your favorite chips into a versatile seasoning: you can pulverize, grind, or crush them to create an array of umami-packed add-ons. A food processor or a coffee grinder works best for larger amounts, but if you're working with leftovers and want variety, there's an even better way to go about it. Fill used-up spice grinders with your favorite chips, and enjoy a sprinkle of flavor over toast, soup, or anything your heart desires.

12. Transform chip bags into bowls in a pinch

Eating outdoors or too lazy to reach for a bowl? No problem: A few intentional folds will create a bowl out of thin air (i.e., the chip bag). This trick is performed in two simple steps: First, open the pack as usual, then turn it inside out at the top. You can either go with one big fold or keep rolling metallic-side down for a more neat presentation. 

Next, you'll need to push the chips up a little by pressing on the bottom of the package until they're easily accessible. As an added bonus, if you're throwing a party, using this hack can dazzle the guests with your sleight of hand and result in fewer dishes to clean.

13. Pair them with chocolate

As a society, we have long accepted fries and ice cream, maple bacon, chicken and waffles, salted caramel, and even donut burgers. Now it's time for the humble potato chip to enter the chat. Paired with chocolate, it becomes a force to be reckoned with. This combination works for the same reason every other one on the list does: Layering these two intense flavors, already enhanced with fat, creates a heightened experience for our tastebuds.

You can either melt chocolate with some coconut oil and drizzle it over a bowl of chips or dip them into the mix, finishing them off with some coarse salt or caramelized nuts. You can also add cracked black pepper to chocolate-dipped potato chips to make it a touch more savory.

14. Match the drinks to the chip flavor

The crunch of a potato chip might be the universally accepted foil for a swig of beer, but not all pairings are created equal. The robust flavors of a barbecue-flavored chip, for instance, demand a full-bodied porter or stout. Cheese-covered chips go well with carbonated, astringent Saisons, while a sour Gose serves as a flattering backdrop for a rosemary chip. Meanwhile, a plain variety pairs delightfully with a refreshing pilsner.

The interplay of taste and texture between the chip and beer can underscore the subtleties of each, creating a symphony of flavor that is far greater than the sum of its parts. So, the next time you reach for that bag of chips, remember that a properly picked pint can take their flavor to the next level.

15. Elevate your chip and dip experience with science

Dips wouldn't be the same without chips — although we could technically enjoy them with bread or sliced vegetables, that experience would be no match for the satisfying salty crunch underlying the rich, thick sauce. But as you might have learned from experience, not all chips are equally well-suited for the cause. The sturdy, corn-based tortilla chips are your best bet, but potato chips, however brittle, aren't hopeless.

It has recently been discovered that potato chips with ridges are scientifically better for dip. In fact, a sturdier ruffle chip variety is a brainchild of a group of food scientists who, a little over a decade ago, set on a mission to create a perfect potato vessel. Thanks to their efforts, today, you can enjoy a creamy vegan dill dip without leaving any crumbs.

16. Reuse silica gel packets to keep chips crisp

Sometimes, no amount of clipping, folding, or rubber band securing can prevent potato chips from going stale — especially if you live in a hot and humid place. As we strive to perfect our crisp-preserving techniques, the humble silica gel packet emerges as the unsung hero. These tiny, typically discarded sachets are the single most effective way of extending the crispiness of your potato chips.

You might hesitate to put something that screams "do not eat" into your food, but as long as the package is intact, there's nothing to worry about. Silica gel is a powerful desiccant, preventing the insidious creep of moisture that threatens to rob your snacks of their satisfying snap. Placed inside an open chip bag, it'll wage a full-on battle against staleness, ensuring that each bite delivers an explosion of crispness.

17. Incorporate them into cookies

At first glance, potato chips seem an unlikely ally for the sweet, buttery cookie. Yet, this audacious combination falls perfectly into the widely accepted duality of salty and sweet. The humble potato chip, with its savory flavor and satisfying crunch, brings an unexpected twist to the traditional cookie landscape, should you choose to top your chocolate-glazed cookies with it.

But you don't have to stop there: Incorporating crushed chips into the batter works just as well, and you could even work with stale leftovers! Just make sure to not use any intense flavors, a plain salted chip works best. So next time you're whipping up a batch of cookies, consider joining the flavor-forward rebellion against the ordinary and add some potato chips to the recipe.

18. Revive stale chips in the oven or microwave

If you don't feel like reusing stale chips in your cooking, you can always perform the magical act of potato snack resurrection. Whether you're working with homemade or store-bought leftovers, there is likely at least one appliance in your kitchen capable of bringing them back to life.

Microwaving is the best method for a small amount of chips: 30 seconds on a high setting should do the trick; if not, keep trying with 10-second intervals. If you need to revive a bagful, it's best to use the oven: spread the chips on a baking tray and let them regain their crispiness in a few minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. And if you bought into the air fryer craze, it can revive your chips in about four minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

19. Up the ante with fancy toppings and plates

What if we told you it's possible to transform even the most basic bag of chips into an elegant dinner party-worthy appetizer? The secret lies in the toppings, as well as your table setting.

The key to fancying up your potato chips lies in pairing this lowbrow snack with rare delicacies. Aside from freshly sliced truffles, there is hardly anything more luxurious than caviar (or chia seed caviar for a vegan and more budget-friendly alternative) to top your chips with. Alternatively, you can give it a low-maintenance cacio e pepe twist by microplaning a sturdy cheese like Parmesan or pecorino over the bowl, together with some cracked black pepper. Whichever toppings you choose, make sure to serve your enhanced chips the Ina Garten way by placing them on a pretty (perhaps even silver) dish.

20. Layer them into sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs

Potato chips are not just a sidekick anymore; they're seeping into your favorite comfort foods, bringing an element of surprise and a flavor boost. Chef Mason Hereford believes adding potato chips can save even the most tired bologna sandwich. The British took it one step further, making the "crisp sandwich" with no other filling between the bread slices a nationwide staple.

When added to burgers, they introduce an unexpected crunch that complements the succulent patties. And if you aren't putting crushed potato chips on your hot dog, you should start now — they're the perfect foil to the soft buns and juicy sausages. So, next time you're crafting a sandwich, burger, or hot dog, don't forget to toss in some chips for that game-changing crunch.

21. Turn chips into mashed potatoes

Is it possible to make mashed potatoes out of potato chips? Yes. Is it necessary? Probably not. Is the Internet obsessed with it? Most definitely. The impending sense of doom brought on by the climate crisis, economic recession, and military conflicts capable of interrupting the global food supply forces many of us to look into Depression-era-style scrappy cooking, just in case. But for now, it's all a game of online culinary experimentation, and potato chip mash could be one of the best hacks born out of it.

To try this novelty dish for yourself, you'll need to break down potato chips in boiling water, add some milk and cream and cook until creamy and uniform. Serve it up with cracked black pepper (no extra seasoning required), butter, and chives, like you would regular mashed potatoes.

22. Make them yourself

Whether you're aware of the rising food prices or simply in pursuit of a healthier snack option, your trusty home appliances can help you make your own potato chips. Before you proceed, however, ask yourself whether you're willing to put in the work: Any standard homemade potato chip recipe requires really thin slices (and lots of them), which are impossible to achieve without a mandolin.

If you're positive, then the easiest way to make homemade chips is in small batches in the microwave. Ensure your potato slices are whisper-thin, thoroughly soaked multiple times, and impeccably dried before their six-minute microwave journey. As you can see, creating your own potato chips can be labor-intensive. But the reward? Unparalleled flavor and the satisfaction of a snack crafted by your own hand.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table, Mashed, and The Daily Meal.