The No-Brainer Tip For Choosing The Best Chips To Pair With Salsa

Whether the meal will be accompanied by margaritas or a giant plate of enchiladas, no Mexican dining experience is complete without endless baskets of chips and salsa. Chips and salsa are the benchmark of every Mexican restaurant, backyard barbecue, and Mexican-themed happy hour. They make for a tasty, cheap, and easy appetizer to serve at parties, and there are countless brands of both to choose from. The salsa you pick is a matter of personal preference, but choosing the best chips to pair with your salsa requires definitive, if not obvious, guidelines.

The no-brainer tip for choosing the best chips is a two-part rule: tortilla chips need to be salted and they need to be thick. These two necessities are functional for texture, structure, and flavor. Many gourmet brands offer super-thin tortilla chips, and while they are deliciously light and crisp, they won't survive a heavy, chunky salsa or guacamole. The math here is simple: The thicker the chip, the more salsa it'll support. Salt is the most fundamental seasoning for any dish, no matter where it lands on the flavor spectrum. The salt content on a chip is key to bringing out both the earthy, savory flavor of nixtamalized corn and complementing the spice and zest of the salsa.

More helpful tortilla chip tips at the store and at home

There's an overwhelming variety of tortilla chip brands to choose from, not to mention the line of chip options each brand offers. Some more helpful tips to consider when looking for the most dippable chip are in regard to surface area and scooping capability. The greater the surface area of a chip, the more salsa it can hold, so a large, thick chip is optimal; rounds or triangles are both fair game. Many brands offer "restaurant-style," "kitchen-style," or "cantina-style" tortilla chips, which is a way of vouching for their sturdiness and curvy shape for containing all of a salsa's chunks and juices. Tostitos has gone so far as to engineer a bowl-shaped chip called Scoops, which are to salsa what bread bowls are to soup.

If you're into authenticity and kitchen culinary projects, you can fry your own tortilla chips at home. Start by cutting soft yellow or white corn tortillas into quarters or sixths, then fry them in a pan with around ½ inch of neutral oil heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden. If you want to save the splatter and mess of deep frying chips, you can brush oil onto quartered triangles of corn tortillas on an oven sheet to bake at 375 degrees for between 15 and 20 minutes. Whether you bake or fry them, don't forget to salt your chips generously while they're hot!