Barbecue chips work surprisingly well. 

By Bridget Hallinan
May 02, 2019
Photo by Bridget Hallinan.

We’re all about high and low here at Food & Wine. For as many truffled pastas and wagyu dinners we enjoy, we’re just as happy downing boxes of Cheeze-Its and tubes of Pringles. The ultimate high-low marriage? Chips and caviar. One of our favorite-ever pairings, the salty, briny combination pops with each bite. With a dollop of crème fraîche, the snack becomes even more indulgent. 

While we have several caviar recipes on our site, we decided we needed to identify which chip flavor ultimately melds the best with fish eggs—classic? Salt & vinegar? Barbecue? Could .... gasp ... sour cream & cheddar work? So we shot over to the convenience store and snagged every chip flavor they had available. You know, for science.

With a generous supply of premium caviar from Petrossian, we picked up the following chips to cover as many flavor bases as possible: salt & vinegar, classic, sour cream & onion, Red Hot, cheddar & sour cream, barbecue, and crab. There were three kinds of caviar—Royal Ossetra, Royal Baika, and Daurenki—and we also had crème fraîche on hand, for texture and taste. Then, we tried them all, ranking overall flavor on a scale of one to five (five being the best, and one a no-go) and noting the variety of caviar too. 

Read on for our chip-by-chip breakdown of our favorite chips to pair with caviar, from best to worst.

Winner: Classic chips

Average Score: 4.71

"Tastes like the ocean, incredibly briny and salty. Would gladly eat again.”

“The best, perfect with Royal Baika.”

"Tastes like a summer day at the beach.”

“Very salty, but not overwhelming. Really good with crème fraîche!”

“Classic and boring.”

2. Barbecue chips

Average Score: 4.14

“Brine! Smoke! Spice! Great combination with the Royal Baika caviar.”

“Smokiness takes this to the next level—great aftertaste too.”

“Favorite! Smoky and delicious. Doesn’t overwhelm the caviar like salt & vinegar and sour cream & onion.”

“Very smoky! Tastes like smoked fish.”

“Totally lost the Daurenki caviar.”

3. Crab chips

Average Score: 4.13

“Old Bay and caviar = heaven.”

“I’m not a fan of any of these things individually, but this works exquisitely.”

“Double the fish, double the fun.”

“Really nice fishy seafood bomb.”

“I lost the Daurenki caviar.”

Photo by Bridget Hallinan.

4. Red Hot chips

Average score: 3.7

“The combination of chips and Daurenki with crème fraîche is so satisfying, and has a vaguely spicy fish taco on a beach vibe.”

“Very hot! I like the combo with the Royal Ossetra caviar but blows at my tastebuds with heat.”

“Surprisingly well balanced—though maybe better to use with lower quality caviar.”

“Fine with the Royal Ossetra, flavors taste very separate but not bad.”

“If you like heat, a good upgrade to normal potato chips with Royal Baika.”

5. Sour Cream & Onion chips

Average Score: 3.67

“Initially odd, but the aftertaste was oddly amazing with the Royal Baika. Aftertaste reminded me of a bagel with lox.”

“Weird at first, but the chive really comes through at the end and it’s pleasant.”

“Sour cream & onion overpowered the Royal Baika.”

“Caviar doesn’t make an appearance until the aftertaste.”

“Caviar gets lost.”

6. Salt & Vinegar chips

Average Score: 3.29

“Vinegar somehow cuts the salt. Not bad at all!”

“Perfectly acidic with the Daurenki.”

“Very savory, the salt pairs nicely with fish.”

“Nice overall taste—crème fraîche tops it off, acidic with cream is a winner.”

“Too fishy, like bad fish n’ chips.”

“Salt flavor and vinegar overwhelmed the caviar. Couldn’t taste the nuance.”

7. Cheddar & Sour Cream chips

Average Score: 1.33

“WEIRD.”

“Nah.”

“There’s a reason fish and cheese don’t often hook up.”

“NO—almost sour at end.”

“No. All wrong.”

“So wrong. gross. Makes beautiful caviar taste fishy/funky."

Results

The clear winner was classic chips, which offer a buttery, rich, just-slightly-greasy flavor that really amplifies the salt of the caviar. But we were also floored at just how much the barbecue pairing worked. So, the next time you're entertaining, ditch your traditional canapés and break out a bag of barbecue chips with a side of Royal Baika—while we can't promise they'll love it, your guests will definitely be surprised, at the very least.

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