Chips and dip. It's the official app of any great social gathering, Super Bowl party or awkward LinkedIn meet-up. When conversation lulls or as game-day excitement mounts, this trusty snack is there to keep you full until real food arrives. But if you're going to be dunking tortilla chip after tortilla chip into the dip of your choice, shouldn't it be the best?
With grocery store aisles packed with jars of salsa of all shapes and sizes, how does one know which to choose? Should you keep going back to old faithful or spring for something new?
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That's where we come in. We've taken on the task of ranking the most popular salsa brands in the store, judging them all on flavor, heat, chunkiness and dipability. To keep the playing field even, we went with the medium heat-level of each sauce, as well as the most "classic" flavor variety we could find. (No peach or mango additions here.)
The competition was tough (turns out we really love salsa), but a few jars soon found their way to the front of the pack.
Our Top Picks
In the end, it was old faithful: perfectly chunky, appropriately spicy and full of big-bodied tomato and vegetable flavor. Our testers almost unanimously loved classic Tostitos. This stuff is just what we think of when we think of jarred salsa, and it's just waiting to be scooped up in a complementary Tostitos chip.
② Mission Chunky Salsa, Medium, $3.50
Although one of the less mainstream brands we tried, Mission had a pronounced acidity and full oniony flavor that was a pleasant surprise to our testers. Although the texture was a bit thin for our tastes, our editors liked the visible chunks of tomato and significantly spicy heat. If you can find this brand at your grocery store, you won't be disappointed.
③ Ortega Medium Salsa, Original, $3.50
Although not a standout favorite, Ortega won the approval of our editors. They loved its classic, familiar taste and dipable texture. Chunky, sweet and spicy, this salsa delivered, save for its slight ketchupy/tomato sauce aftertaste.
This salsa stood out as having the most unique flavor from its competitors. Although it's quite thin (more like a sauce you'd put over huevos rancheros than a salsa you'd pick up with a chip), its smoky flavor is striking. Heavy on the cumin and with a distinct charred spiciness, this is perfect for the unconventional snacker.
Reviews were mixed, but most editors liked Frontera's thin but hearty texture and its level of heat. It has a distinct flavor that some testers identified as similar to soy, giving it an extra saltiness that went over well. While a bit more of a wild card, Frontera is still a solid choice.
For us, this brand fell to the bottom of the list simply because it was too sweet. The chunky texture and visible vegetables were perfect for chip dipping, but they didn't stand up to some of its more classic competitors.
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