The art of pairing chips with sandwiches is one that requires great attention to detail, like restoring antique oil paintings or designing a sound building that also boasts architectural excellence. It’s a balancing act -- walking across a tightrope of textures and flavors that takes two separate components and marries them as one masterful dish. Yes, you can just grab the closest snack-sized bag and come out with a decent lunch, but why settle for decent when you can have perfect?
Though it was strenuous, and took many hours of deliberation, we’ve created a guide to the ultimate chip pairings for different sandwiches so you’ll never have to panic when deciding which bag to snag at your local bodega.
Meet the Tramezzino
PB&J + Lay's Original
This one felt like a no-brainer because Lay's Original, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, are a necessary brown sack lunch component. Both PB&Js and Lay's Original ride on waves of nostalgia, and eating them together can transport you back to elementary school field trips. Emotional connection aside, the salty-yet-mild flavor of Lay's Original intensifies the nuttiness of the peanut butter while coaxing out extra sweetness from your preferred jam or jelly, and the thin cut of the chips mean they're wonderfully smashable, so you're not going to get jagged chunks of chips jammed into your gums if you incorporate them into the sandwich. And you should -- split your sandwich apart and cram some chips in there to get crazy textures all in one bite. It'll change you.
BLT + Hot Cheetos
BLTs are wholesome sandwiches. The combination of bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes is beloved and refreshing, albeit a little bit safe. Nothing about this sandwich is too bold or out there, which is why Hot Cheetos make for a welcomed foil. The spicy corn chips bring heat and additional crunch, while the crisp, fresh lettuce and tomatoes cool off your tongue if things get too fiery.
Meatball sub + Whisps
When it comes to Italian food, there is no such thing as too much cheese -- especially Parmesan. The same goes for saucy meatball subs. To intensify the flavor of marinara, hefty meatballs, and cheese, a side of Whisps Parmesan Cheese Crisps is mandatory. The crunchy baked Parmesan chips are made purely from cheese, meaning you can share them with your keto-obsessed friend who is very unfortunately stuck watching you suck down a submarine sandwich jammed full of meat spheres bound together by carbohydrates. Dip them (the chips, not the friend) in the marinara between bites of meatball or crush them over your sandwich and enjoy.
Bánh mì + jalapeño kettle-cooked chips
Though jalapeño kettle chips are arguably good with any sandwich, they’re especially delicious with bánh mì thanks to their complementary spice and intense crunchiness. Traditionally, bánh mìs are full of cold cuts and creamy mayonnaise, with slices of pickled carrots, radish, and fresh jalapeños throughout. The chips add additional spice and more bite that pairs well with the pillowy baguette.
Tortas + Takis Original
There is no one defining torta. Though the Mexican sandwiches usually arrive on oblong bread rolls and have assorted veggies inside, the fillings can range from chicken covered in mole sauce to carnitas or sliced steak. Regardless of the ingredients used, Takis are always a welcomed addition. The spicy rolled chips are doused in a peppery lime powder that tend to pair nicely with the chile, lime, and seasonings generally found in Mexican food.
Fried chicken sandwich + BBQ chips
Crispy fried chicken sandwiches are typically elevated with tangy slaw and creamy sauce. To round out the entire meal, sweet and smoky BBQ chips make for a great addition. The chips fill in flavor gaps that may be lacking in the sandwich without overwhelming your palate. You’ll get bites of refreshing slaw, juicy hot chicken, and notes of honey when pairing BBQ chips with fried chicken sandwiches -- everything you could want in a lunch, minus the two martinis.
Lobster roll + cream cheese and chive chips
The best way to deepen the rich, creamy flavors of lobster rolls is to incorporate cream cheese and chive chips into the meal. The chips make absolute sense; they add the much-needed crunch that is lacking in the buttery lobster and bread, while staying muted and letting the lobster -- the star ingredient -- shine. Cream cheese and chive chips are like the people who work behind-the-scenes to ensure everything goes miraculously without taking any credit or stepping on toes. They’re the good guys, even if it's sometimes hard to spot them.
Reuben + kettle salt & pepper chips
The Reuben sandwich has a lot going on. There’s the salty, smoky flavor of corned beef, the tongue tingling acidity of sauerkraut, and creamy Russian dressing all sandwiched between slices of rye bread, sour with caraway seeds. To balance it out, a simple bag of Kettle salt and pepper chips really does the trick. You still get the satisfying crunch, but aren’t overwhelmed with other flavors that will clash with the Reuben. Plus, they're strong enough to stay in tact while you use them to shovel up excess sauerkraut and dressing.
Egg salad + Gardetto’s
Egg salad’s intoxicating blend of creamy mayonnaise, boiled eggs, and fresh dill calls for a sturdy and salty chip to tie the whole sandwich together. Gardetto’s Original Recipe snack mix is the ideal suitor -- the garlic rye chips are perfect for scooping up egg salad drippings while pretzels and crunchy breadsticks make for a satisfying crunch in an otherwise soft sandwich.
Pastrami + dill pickle chips
Pastrami is a classic New York and LA sandwich where the inclusion of spears of pickles is basically mandatory. Paired with the spiciness of mustard and the tartness of rye bread, pickles add a refreshing tang. However, if you ever find yourself with a pastrami but without a pickle, the only obvious accompaniment is dill pickle chips. Opt for Kettle if you want some serious crunch, Lay's if you’re looking for something gentler on your teeth, or ridged Utz brand if you want something in the middle. Whatever the texture, the jolt of sour is sure to brighten the heaviness of smoked meat and make for a memorable pastrami experience.
French dip + Hawaiian Sweet Maui Onion Rings
The jus used in French dip sandwiches are so reminiscent of French onion soup that it’d be a shame not to pair the Los Angeles-born sandwich with some onion-flavored chips. Enter Hawaiian Brand Sweet Maui Onion Rings; they’re the perfect level of sweet and onion-y without being too overpowering and the rings make for easy-to-dip chips you can swirl around your jus. Just trust us on this one.
Grilled cheese + Zapp's Voodoo chips
The grilled cheese is like a blank canvas. It’s buttery, melty, and gooey, but doesn’t have any extreme flavor. This is where Zapp’s Voodoo Chips come in. The New Orleans-style kettle chips are smoky, sweet, spicy, and acidic thanks to the vinegar -- a lovely contrast to the mildness of grilled cheeses.
Katsu sando + All Dressed Ruffles
All Dressed Ruffles are exactly what they sound like: chips meant to replicate the flavors of all the dressings, like ketchup, mustard, vinegar, barbecue sauce, sour cream and onion dip, and other mystery flavors. Katsu sandos are dressed in a katsu sauce, which also has a combination of unidentifiable tanginess, salt, sweetness, and smokiness. The fried cutlet sandwich, paired with the All Dressed Ruffles, makes for a flavor explosion that touches on all the different taste elements.
Fried fish sandwich + salt & vinegar chips
There’s a reason that fish and chips and vinegar have inspired a classic American children’s song: The trio is an iconic British staple food that is as classic as apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Though chips actually refers to the British term for french fries (potato chips are known as crisps across the pond), salt and vinegar chips can still be an acceptable substitute to French fries when it comes to fried fish sandwiches. The sour nature of vinegar cuts through the heaviness of fried fish and creamy tartar sauce.
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Kat Thompson is a staff food writer at Thrillist who will shovel Hot Cheetos -- paired with any sandwich -- into her mouth with reckless abandon. Tell her your favorite pairing on Twitter @katthompsonn.