The Spiciest Chips You Can Get In America

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Spicy chips are one of the most craveable snack options around. Sometimes, we just need the full-body experience of eating something too hot. We want our mouths to burn, our foreheads to sweat, our eyes to water, and our mid-sections to warm. It's a dining experience like no other. Salty, sweet, bitter, umami, or even sour, do not deliver in the same way that spicy does. With spicy chips, in particular, eating them provides a separate moment within your day to be in the moment and feel the burn.

We've all noticed the growing popularity of spicy snacks. Frito-Lay, the company behind Flamin' Hot products, continues to expand its lineup as consumer interest in hot foods grows (via Eater). There are also newer companies like Paqui creating viral hot chip challenges. But not all products that claim to be spicy deliver on that promise. We're here to sort through the hype.

Everyone's spice tolerance is different, but we're looking at what effect each chip, in general, has on people. Does the chip produce a slow burn or an instant fire? Does it send you to the hospital, or does it allow you to finish a whole bag safely? Read on to learn about the spiciest chips you can get in America.

Paqui One Chip Challenge

The Austin-based snack maker Paqui continues to dominate the spicy snack market with its viral One Chip Challenge. You've seen it on TikTok, sometimes referred to as the "Hottest Chip Challenge," and on YouTube on popular shows like "Hot Ones." Upon eating the single chip — which comes individually packaged in a coffin-shaped box — diners become so sick they are sometimes hospitalized (via The Sacramento Bee). As far as chips go, this is surely the hottest you can get.

Paqui releases new chips every year as part of the One Chip Challenge, with 2021's chip being the fifth iteration of the challenge, per FoodBeast. In 2021, the chip was made with two different, extremely spicy peppers. The chip contained Carolina Reaper chili peppers, which typically rank higher than 2 million Scoville units on the spiciness scale. It also contained scorpion peppers, which rank at about 1.5 million Scoville units (per GoPuff). There is maybe only one hotter pepper in the world, the Dragon's Breath, which is basically inedible.

The One Chip Challenge might be the spiciest snack out there, second only to eating the peppers whole. Some say eating this single tortilla chip is the most painful experience of their lives. One Reddit user said, "I've broken bones before, I've gotten decently bad burns, I've been cut, and never before have I felt agonizing pain of wanting to jump out a window before, until I had this chip."

Takis Fuego

Takis are tortilla chips that have been rolled to achieve their final tube-shaped form. The chips are produced by Barcel USA, an American snack company that's part of Grupo Bimbo, a food maker based in Mexico (via Forbes). Takis have been an important part of American snacking culture since arriving in the states in 2001, according to a company press release. Takis flavors include Fuego, Blue Heat, Crunchy Fajitas, Guacamole, and Nitro. Takis Fuego, the flagship flavor, is the spiciest.

By name alone, you may be tempted to think that Takis Nitro are hotter than Takis Fuego. But you would be wrong to think so. Despite the fact that Takis Nitro are flavored with habanero chilis, they don't beat Fuego.

Tasters seem to agree that Fuego is the hottest. Serious Eats wrote that its tasters found Fuego to be significantly spicier than the other flavors. A food blogger said of the chips "You need to like the heat to eat a lot of them at once." Another reviewer said of Takis Fuego, "Your nose is running, your paper towels are red and the water bill will be exceptionally high."

Doritos Flamin' Hot Cool Ranch

Doritos makes its share of spicy flavors, including several Flamin' Hot ones. There's Cheetos-inspired heat inside of Doritos flavors like Flamin' Hot Nacho and Flamin' Hot Limón. Then, there is Mexican-inspired spiciness in flavors like Doritos Dinamita and Doritos Flamas. Some people even think the Doritos Tapatío chips (flavored with the famous hot sauce) are the spiciest. But our research points to Flamin' Hot Cool Ranch as the spiciest Doritos flavor.

But Doritos appears to be under-selling the heat in these chips by describing them as "Cool Ranch," as reviews show that it's one spicy chip. Taquitos wrote in its review, "Once the heat took over, it was difficult to notice any ranch, and the net result was a hot one, not a cool one." Brand Eating agreed, writing "The Cool Ranch portion doesn't do much to cool it down."

Flamin' Hot products are always decently spicy. But the Flamin' Hot Cool Ranch chips might be some of the hottest. Thrillist said, "These dusted tortilla triangles actually gave me a chili-induced coughing fit." On Reddit, one poster said "I like spicy, but I don't like things so spicy I can't taste the flavor. That's the situation here."

Paqui Haunted Ghost Pepper

In addition to the One Chip Challenge, Paqui makes more normal chips. By more normal, we mean that eating them is less likely to send you to the hospital. Also, you'll get a whole bag of chips, instead of just one. However, these tortilla chips are still spicier than most. Flavors such as Jalapeño Tropicale, Fiery Chile Limón, and Zesty Salsa Verde utilize natural spices like paprika and jalapeño. But no flavor is hotter than Paqui's Haunted Ghost Pepper chips.

These chips are made with real ghost peppers, which typically contain over 1 million Scoville units per pepper. These chilis are some of the hottest in the world, along with Carolina Reapers, scorpion peppers, and others. Paqui's Haunted Ghost Pepper chips aren't light on the peppers, either — the chilis are one of the top five ingredients on the package. Based on photos from Nachonomics, these chips are not as heavily coated in seasoning as the One Chip Challenge. But they still pack a punch.

Spicy Food Reviews said of the chips, "The average mortal will likely bow out after only one or two chips (or perhaps after their first sniff of the contents)." Since the chips are vegan, they made it onto the website Abillion. There, one person wrote, "Once you get used to the blazing fire on your tongue I think they taste pretty good ... Do not underestimate them." Proceed with caution.

Zapp's Hotter 'N Hot Jalapeño

Zapp's is a brand of seasoned kettle chips that was purchased by the American snack company Utz. The chips are inspired by New Orleans and even produced near the city, according to New Orlean's tourism website. You can perceive the Southern culinary hub's influence on the brand, especially in chip flavors like Voodoo and Spicy Cajun Crawtators. The spiciest flavor of Zapp's is Hotter 'N Hot Jalapeño.

Review website Taquitos said the smell of Zapp's Hotter 'N Hot Jalapeño chips alone was dangerous, writing, "Intense jalapeño smell, fairly hot. Made my mouth water a little." One reviewer on Influenster warned, "They are definitely spicy so don't try them if you don't want some heat." But overall, these chips are not going to cause serious injury. After all, jalapeños register at only 8,000 Scoville units at most (via MasterClass). This is a snack made for hot sauce lovers, not masochists.

Esquire noted that the heat from the chip's peppers tends to spread slowly around your mouth. For the novice, you can anticipate a prolonged burn. But for spice-lovers, these chips will have a manageable heat to them.

Mama Zuma's Revenge Hot Habanero

Mama Zuma's Revenge Hot Habanero chips are a spicy snack produced by Route 11 Potato Chips. This snack company is headquartered in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. All of the products made by Route 11 are kettle-style chips, including the spicy ones.

Per the chipmaker, Mama Zuma's Revenge Hot Habanero chips contain flavors of both barbecue and habanero. These dual elements are intended "to create a chip hot enough to satisfy most chiliheads, yet still be accepted by the public in general," as Route 11 says. Reviews seem to agree. The heat in these chips is more gradual, allowing you to control how hot you'll get. As Chip Review explains, "While these potato chips may not seem like they are the hottest chips at first, their sneaky, delayed, habanero heat brings the spicy vengeance!" You can play it safe with a few chips or turn up the heat with a whole bag.

There are fans of these chips — who appreciate the spicy nature of Mama Zuma's — across the internet. On Reddit, one person writes "I've always loved jalapeño potato chips, but more for the flavor than for the spice. My first experience with mama zuna's [sic] had me pausing to appreciate the heat." Another internet user said the chips are "one of the first Junk Foods on this site that promised HOT and delivered" (via The Junk Food Guy).

Trader Joe's Ghost Pepper Chips

Trader Joe's Ghost Pepper Potato Chips may not look spicy with their yellow, Ruffles-like appearance, but you can be assured that these chips pack a punch. Ghost peppers, which contain an average of over 1 million Scoville units per pepper, are used to season these snacks. But are these chips just an advertising ploy by Trader Joe's? Or are they the real deal? Let's examine the reviews.

Mrs. Trader Joe's said there was heat, but it was manageable. "You'd think that these would pack a punch but unfortunately they didn't." The blog What's Good at Trader Joe's seemed to agree. They said that the heat "seemed to build a bit with each successive chip, but never to the point of unpleasantry." Even with a gradual burn, these two people aren't intimidated by Trader Joe's Ghost Pepper Potato Chips.

Everyone's spice tolerance is different. If you're someone who sweats when eating spicy ramen, swigs water when eating Flamin' Hot Cheetos, or stays away from Sriracha, these Ghost pepper chips might seem very hot to you. As Club Trader Joe's put it, "If you like your potato chips spicy hot, then these might be for you. They aren't really my cup of tea because they are pretty hot." Trader Joe's Grocery Reviews agreed that they were hot, saying, "I ate a bunch of them in a row and I definitely was feeling the heat all over my mouth and tongue."

Pringles Scorchin' Chili & Lime

Pringles Scorchin' is a line of spicy chips much like the Flamin' Hot series. The chipmaker is taking your favorite stackable, tube-packaged, salty snacks and adding a kick. In addition to Chili & Lime, the Scorchin' chips come in flavors like BBQ, Cheddar, and Wavy Loaded Nachos. However, only one version turns out to be truly scorching hot: Chili & Lime. Pringles Scorchin' Chili & Lime are some spicy, stackable chips.

This flavor of Pringles Scorchin' outdoes the other members of this line. One snack reviewer said, "The hot peppers and lime all hit the taste buds at the same time and brought on an intense burn, a nice hot taste. Have a cold beverage handy, because this one's a scorcher!" They added that the Chili & Lime was hotter than the Cheddar flavor. The Impulsive Buy also said it was hotter than other members of the Scorchin' lineup. 

Pringles Scorchin' Chili & Lime chips do more than outperform their counterparts. The chips impress hard-to-please chiliheads. On the Pringles website, one person said this flavor was "The only chip I've ever tried that I find too spicy to eat more than 10 chips." To spice-lovers, that is music to their ears.

Lay's Flamin' Hot Dill Pickle

Lay's keeps things interesting by releasing new flavors of classic Lay's all the time. One unique flavor is Lay's Flamin' Hot Dill Pickle. According to the Food Network, the chips joined the company lineup for good in 2019. The tart-yet-hot snacks have been heating things up ever since.

According to reviews, these potato chips are spicy to most, but not all. More advanced spice lovers, such as the blogger Bo Williams, will tell you that the Lay's Flamin' Hot Dill Pickle chips are not hot enough. But some people are hard to please. Others who've tried this chip say it's enough for them.

Someone who attested to this snack's power was Courtney In the Middle Seat. That blogger said "If you've got a low spice tolerance you will want to slow down. The 'flamin hot' will kick in, heating up your mouth with a nice back-of-throat tingle." She Speaks agreed, writing "These chips have a good balance between the pickle flavor and a bit of heat!" On Target's website, someone warned "These are ridiculously hot and tasty. Beware they are both very spicy and a lot like salt/vinegar potato chips." For people who want hot, sweet, sour, and salty — all in one snack — these chips are for you.

Utz Red Hot

The chips made by American snack company Utz are nothing less than national treasures. With their delicate crunch, any of Utz's potato chip flavors make for easy snacking. For fans of the brand looking for spicy chips, look out for Utz Red Hot Chips.

Spicy Food Reviews said these chips were perfectly hot, writing "They still have a nice, spicy kick and will satisfy if you are looking for a snack with some heat." One person on Influenster said "Red hot certainly describes these well. Some chips just have a hint of heat, but if you eat just one of these, you will feel the heat right away." Blogger Dave's Cupboard was even more affected by the burn. "They caught my mouth on fire and made my lips burn for at least ten minutes after I was done eating them," the review said.

Utz Red Hot Chips are more well-rounded than most. Sometimes the spiciest chips are so hot they lack flavor. Utz aims to please your taste buds and bring the heat, and with the brand's Red Hot Chips, customers end up satisfied. Your mouth will feel red hot and your thirst for a tasty, spicy snack will be quenched.

Lay's Stax Xtra Flamin' Hot

One famously spicy flavor of Lay's Pringle competitor was Lay's Stax Que Rico Flamas. However, these chips are no longer listed on Lay's website. For the time being, we'll recommend another hot flavor of these chips that's been known to burn a few mouths. Spice fans, meet Lay's Stax Xtra Flamin' Hot.

As you can tell by the name, Lay's Stax Xtra Flamin' Hot are meant to have a higher level of heat than plain Flamin' Hot products. For some reason, Lay's Stax line does not include a regular Flamin' Hot flavor, but it does have an Xtra Flamin' Hot one. All the better for us fans of spicy food.

The heat of these chips are similar to other Flamin' Hot products. Capsaicin and chili powder are used to spice up Flamin' Hot Cheetos. A similar recipe is also likely at play in Lay's Stax Xtra Flamin' Hot, but the ingredients list provides no clues other than "natural flavoring." Whatever is in there, it's going to burn. Chip Review said the powder was strong, saying that the chips "bring a lot of that unmistakable Flamin' Hot flavoring! And, they most certainly, without a doubt, bring a lot of XTRA heat on them." Another snack expert described their experience, writing "When I ate a whole bunch of them in a row, the heat lingered for quite a while, even after drinking some lemonade. Fairly hot, and quite good!"

Kettle Brand Krinkle Cut Habanero Lime

Kettle Brand is a potato chip maker. The company makes two types of spicy chips: Hot Jalapeño and Krinkle Cut Habanero Lime. Based on our research, the Habanero Lime is the spicer chip between the two. It's not surprising. One habanero's Scoville rating is significantly hotter than a jalapeño's (via Pepper Scale). Habaneros are typically rated between 100,000 and 350,000 Scoville heat units. Jalapeños have between 2,500 and 8,000 Scoville units. A chip made with habaneros would be much hotter.

On its website, Kettle Brand hypes up the heat level of these chips. But do heat lovers really love them? Based on online reviews, it appears that they do.

Spicy Food Reviews said "The average mortal will struggle with these, but chiliheads will gobble them down." One person on Amazon warned "I wasn't expecting this level of hotness. Almost too hot. My nose was running after eating a few." Not only are these chips satisfyingly hot, but they also taste good, too. "This one brought on the heat, but not just the heat, as the flavoring was strong and quite tasty even beyond the heat," said Taquitos. Kettle Brand's Habanero Lime Chips are not just another hot-and-sour chip. The amount of habanero in these chips will have you sweating, yet the flavor will have you reaching for more.

El Sabroso Baja Limón Chile & Lime

El Sabroso is a Los Angeles snack brand that features Mexican-inspired flavors. These flavors are incorporated into tortilla chips, pork rinds, pork cracklins, corn chips, Cheeto-like products, and other snacks. El Sabroso even makes Takis-like rolled tortilla chips that come in a similar Chile 'N Lime flavor. But the brand's spiciest chip has to be the Baja Limón Chile & Lime Seasoned Tortilla Chips.

This chip offers an opportunity to indulge in that chili powder and lime juice flavor in the form of a flat tortilla chip (instead of a rolled one). It's not the only chance you'll have to taste this type of chip, but El Sabroso's products are higher quality than most. Not only are these chips spicy, but they are full of flavor. Every tortilla triangle is dusted in the full-bodied flavor of chilis, limes, and salt. On Influenster, one person agreed, saying "These chips are so rich ... every chip is full of chili that's a beautiful thing to see."

Per the snack company, red chile extract is responsible for these chips' spicy flavor. Taquitos described the chips as having "lots of hot sauce flavor mixed in with a middling helping of lime and chili, for a strong, intense, excellent taste."