With two bank holidays in May, the chances are you’ll be attending a barbecue, meeting friends in the park, or just settling in for a big day of telly. And there’s one crucial element you need to augment those bank holiday plans: chip and dip. C&D is an integral part of any occasion. It helps line your stomach while the drinks are flowing but the barbecue won’t light. It gives you something to do with your hands while you make awkward small talk. And it keeps your energy levels high when you reach the mid-season lull in your Netflix binge.
A few basic principles before we begin:
Of course you can eat crisps on their own, but without the dip, there is no sense of occasion, no intrigue, no pairing notes and no discourse.
C&D is a delicate balancing act of cost and taste. There are any number of available combinations, but there is almost always a £1 special offer on some crisps and a 2 for £2 dip offer, so you’d be a fool to stray too far from that.
The classic setup is 2C, 2D, totalling £4. This may seem like a lot of dip, but there is always one person who views the chip purely as a vessel for scooping as much dip as possible into their mouth.
Ridged crisps always score highly. They have the advantage of both a greater surface area for flavour, and also more structural integrity, thus reducing the likelihood of snapping during a particularly vigorous scoop of dip.
In a post-covid world, I think we should all be able to agree on no double-dipping. Once your chip’s been in the dip, only one trip to the lip.
In this guide, some options are brand-specific, while others are flavour-based, as there are too many salt & vinegar or cheese & onion varieties out there to review them all individually.
So, to help you create the perfect platter, here is my ultimate guide to chip and dip:
Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli
A classic, and for good reason. Excellent crunch, lots of flavour and surprisingly spicy after a while. It’s not revolutionary, but nobody is going to complain if you turn up offering these as a contribution (although three other people at the BBQ will likely have already brought them).
Salt and Vinegar
S&V is a precarious flavour when it comes to dipping. The fancy brands often come with a really overpowering amount of vinegar, and when your mouth feels like it’s being disinfected, there’s no amount of dip that can pacify that.
Doritos Tangy Cheese
Absolutely not. Get out of town with these. The weird artificial cheese flavour is bad, but the worst part of this flavour is the neon orange cheese dust that ends up being deposited into all of your dips and other crisp flavours.
Popchips are one of those brands that try and give their product a fun, playful personality. I’m kooky and I’m different: I’m Popchips. Despite the yuck marketing, these chips are actually pretty tasty, especially the BBQ flavour.
Yuck. Under no circumstances should this be your chip of choice in a sharing environment. Honestly what is the point of Twiglets? Who thought that ‘oh they look a bit like sticks’ was enough of a selling point to base an entire brand around?
Perfect pairing: supermarket taramasalata. Serving suggestion: arrange the sticks in a neat circle around your dip and then deposit both directly in the bin.
Cheese and Onion
Even though it’s often phrased to sound boujie (caramelised onions, vintage cheddar etc.), cheese and onion is cheese and onion. Some brands (kettle) can be a little heavy on the flavouring which can overpower the dip, but C&O is a fan favourite. You do need to be careful of a lasting cheesy taste in your mouth though.
Walkers Max Paprika
This crisp actually came out top in almost all of our tests. Its flavour is strong but not overpowering, meaning it pairs effortlessly with any dip. The ridges allow for extra flavour, crunch and structural integrity. Although perhaps not as common a sight as a Kettle or a Sensations, this option comes with a strong personal recommendation.
Doritos Cool Original
These were a panic buy. You didn’t want to commit to a flavour so played it safe and got Blue Doritos. That’s not to say they aren’t nice, but your decision betrays your lack of personality.
I’m actually going to stick up for plain salted crisps. Provided you’ve got a good variety of dips, the salted chip allows you to appreciate a dip to its fullest by not cross-pollinating with other flavours. And when paired with a bolder flavour chip, salted provides much-needed balance on your C&D platter.
An all-round excellent (and often neglected) option. Generally commands a price premium, but you do get plenty in a tube. Beware the sour cream and onion however, as they produce a lingering smell and taste that is hard to get rid of.
Sensations Roast Chicken and Thyme, and Balsamic Vinegar & Caramelised Onion
These other two Sensations options just try a bit too hard and fail to keep up with their sweet chilli sibling. The amount of thyme overpowers all nuance in the former, and the latter has tried to mix two classic flavours, without success.
Root Veg Crisps
These provide a visually appealing mix of colour when presented in a bowl, but they tend to be quite greasy and lack any real flavour. If you want to feel smug about eating extra veg then they are a good option.
Doritos Chilli Heatwave
Definitely the most interesting of the three standard Doritos flavours. The chilli flavour is a bit inauthentic, like it was made by someone who has never eaten chilli, but instead had the flavour of chilli described to him by someone else. Despite this, it is surprisingly tasty as a flavour.
Salt and Black Pepper
This is a safe second option on a platter. It provides balance when paired with a strong flavour like cheese and onion without being completely plain. It is also versatile enough to go with almost any dip.
You feel like these should be well-designed for dipping because of the natural cavity. Unfortunately, it’s hard to utilise this scoopability without also dunking your fingers in the dip, which, I’m sure we can all agree, is less than ideal.
Kettle Sweet Chilli and Sour cream
These really are a high-level crisp. Anything sweet chilli flavoured is pretty good, but the way the spice of the chilli dovetails with the cooling effect of the sour cream is nothing short of exemplary.
These are an excellent option as a variation from your classic potato chip. They feel less indulgent because they taste like crunchy air, plus their natural curvature makes them an excellent vessel for dip transportation.
Taste the Difference, Tesco Finest, Coop Irresistible, Asda Extra Special, Morrisons the Best etc.
These are actually a great option. They provide good crunch and cover all of your classic flavours, usually with a curveball or two thrown in, like Sainsbury’s Baked Camembert and Rosemary offering. And at only 80p for a 150g bag in ASDA, get over your brand snobbery and you are absolutely onto a winner.
A strong option. Texturally it offers something different to most of the other dips. It does, however, need to be paired with a structurally sound chip, otherwise the increased viscosity of the houmous is going to cause crisp casualties.
Soured Cream and Chive
This is a choice that screams lack of personality. You were so worried about choosing a flavour that people might not like that you opted for the most basic dip around. This dip is okay. Nothing more, nothing less.
Perfect pairing: Doritos Cool Original for a bland and inoffensive day out.
Guacamole is usually exempt from the 2 for £2 dip deal that should be a staple for your C&D plans. However, if you can cope with the 50p price premium, this dip provides both visual and textural variety to your arrangement, which is warmly encouraged.
Onion and Garlic
The superstar of dips, O&G pairs beautifully with almost any crisp. If your crisp is full of flavour, O&G is happy to play second fiddle, but if you have a less flavourful crisp, the dip is able to embellish it with its own flavour. In a 2 for £2 deal, this should absolutely be the first name on the team sheet.
Despite being delicious in a nice Greek restaurant, taramasalata is a bad choice for your C&D combo. The fishy flavour of the supermarket pots doesn’t pair with crisps of any flavour, and the oceanic waft that begins to permeate after a while should be enough to make you steer well clear.
Flavoured Houmous (Red Pepper, Caramelised Onion, Sweet Chilli etc.)
If you’ve tried and enjoyed regular houmous, go wild on these. They give you a bit of variety in taste, which pairs well with a less flavourful chip. Don’t run before you can walk though. Engage with the regular houmous before progressing to these flavours.
Supermarket salsa is always a tempting option, but one that is usually disappointing. The bright red colour will pull you in, but the reality is usually a bit of a limp, watery, flavourless slop.
The most out-there of the white creamy dips, the yoghurt and mint taste works well, particularly with a less flavourful crisp. It is also versatile enough to enhance a veg platter and lubricate a wrap.
Cheese and Chive
Cheese and chive is a tricky one. It feels like it should be sour cream and chive but with a discernible personality, but actually it is just sour cream and chive with weirdly large lumps of grated cheese in. It is liable to make you feel quite sick quite quickly.
This option is particularly yuck. It usually comes as part of those 4-pack selection dips or neon orange in a Doritos branded pot. It bears absolutely no resemblance, in either flavour or appearance, to cheese.
So there you have it! The ultimate guide to chip and dip. Now you can go ahead with your bank holiday plans knowing exactly which C&D combos will make your state-sanctioned socialising a success.
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