The Unexpected Ingredient That Will Majorly Upgrade Your Potato Casserole

The potato casserole, regardless of its ingredients, is a classic one-pot wonder. The vegetable-based meal can be modified in endless ways, such as adding meat for carnivores or being made vegan with plant-based cheese substitutes. And if you really want to switch things up, the potatoes are easy to substitute for other vegetables.

Because of these endless possibilities, making a potato casserole has no standard process. For example, Trisha Yearwood's potato casserole recipe includes mayonnaise, sour cream, and garlic with a non-crispy topping of bacon and cheese, per Food Network, and it requires that you prepare your potatoes from scratch. All Recipes, on the other hand, endorses a version that includes pre-made chicken soup and pre-cooked, frozen gratin potatoes. 

And the ambiguity doesn't stop with the base ingredients of the dish. If you love a crunchy topping on your potato casserole, we bet there's one ingredient you haven't tried before.

Potato chips add an unexpected crunch

As the first-century Roman Apicius put it, "We eat with our eyes as well as our mouths" (via Nuush). As such, what more do we require than a perfectly browned potato casserole to pique the appetite? And what better way to affirm the message the eyes convey to the stomach than biting through a layer of delicious crispiness?

In the quest for crispy perfection, potato casserole toppings include anything from bread crumbs with butter and olive oil to nuts and noodles, per The Kitchn. But as far as human innovation has propelled this dish, nothing can prepare you for how recipe developer and registered dietitian Kristen Carli, MS, RD, finishes her cheesy potato casserole recipe. All you need is a pack of potato chips to complement the casserole's flavor profile. 

To add potato chips to your casserole, simply crush them (do not powder them) with your hands. Sprinkle a layer over your casserole when the base is ready, and return the dish to the oven. Retrieve it when browned, and voila! You have a tasty, crispy topping that will thrill everyone from toddlers to gourmet cooks.