Most mouth-puckering and best flavor balance
If you’re craving a spicy chip that will truly make you salivate, you’ve come to the right section. These chips have heat, sure, but they also provide more nuanced flavors: bright hits of lime, vinegar from pickles, and measured saltiness. These are the chips for people who don’t want to annihilate their taste buds, but do want to pucker up.
Lay’s Flamin’ Hot Dill Pickle
If you love pickles you’ll love these chips. They’re tart and the scent of dill is fragrant and present. One taste tester referred to these as the “pickleback version of a chip,” which is a great compliment if you love pickleback shots (I do). Although the flavor of vinegar is prominent, it doesn’t overshadow the heat; these chips are equal parts spicy and flavorful. Buy this for the pickle fiend in your life, even if that pickle fiend is you.
Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Limón
These are a classic twist on the original Hot Cheetos and one of the earliest spin-offs. The limón flavor is acidic, but partners with the spice well; it’s definitely not as sour as other hot chips on the market (specifically Takis Feugo). Even so, the lime flavor is prominent -- this chip feels like it’s equal parts salty, spicy, and sour.
Doritos Flamin’ Hot Limón
If you prefer a triangle of tortilla to the curly corn of Cheetos, then these are the preferable option over the Flamin’ Hot Limón Cheetos. The flavors are almost the same -- bright, sour, salty, spicy -- but the Flamin’ Hot Limon Doritos certainly taste the slightest bit cheesier and have the appealing snap of a typical tortilla chip.
Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Chipotle Ranch
This is kind of a bonus category. Though these chips didn’t necessarily make our mouths pucker, there was nuance to its flavor -- layers of smoky chipotle, creamy and cooling ranch, and garlicky herbs. It wasn’t overly spicy or too pungent with sour cream; instead, the flavors worked in tandem to provide a surprisingly complex chip. Our taste testers gave it a 10/10. We dug it, too.