Barbecue Potato Chips

Barbecue potato chips are one of those things everyone indulges in but no one talks about. Which is just wrong because these are the best we’ve ever had and we want to tell everyone how to make ’em.

Barbecue Potato Chips

These barbecue potato chips are smoky and salty with a little tinge of sweet and, quite frankly, they’re the best darn barbecue potato chips we’ve ever had. Bet you can’t stop at just one. And if you just don’t have it in you to stand at the stove and fry batch after batch of chips, no worries. Just grab a few bags of plain salted store-bought potato chips and make this recipe. What results is still so good you’ll never go back to the flavored packaged barbecue potato chips. Not ever.  Originally published May 22, 2013.Renee Schettler Rossi

Barbecue Potato Chips

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 8
5/5 - 2 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Michael Chiarello’s Live Fire cookbook

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  • Two 10-ounce bags best-quality plain salted potato chips (such as Kettle Chips)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turbinado sugar, such as Sugar in the Raw
  • 1/2 tablespoon coarse sea salt, preferably gray salt
  • 2 tablespoons smoky paprika (such as the Spanish variety called Pimentón de la Vera)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 300°F (149°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • 2. Place the chips on the baking sheets and scatter in a single layer. Bake until hot, about 5 minutes. When you can smell the chips, it’s time to take them out of the oven.
  • 3. While the chips are baking, dump the sugar and salt in a blender, spice grinder, or mini food processor and process until finely ground but not powdery. In a small bowl mix the sugar, salt, paprika, and garlic powder (if using).
  • 4. As soon as you pull the chips from the oven, carefully transfer them to a large bowl. Pour the spice mix into a strainer and sprinkle it over the hot chips as you gently toss them to coat them with the spices. (We would caution you not to break any chips but if you do then you should just nosh on them because heaven forbid you serve a broken chip to guests.) Serve the barbecue potato chips warm or at room temperature. Don’t forget napkins—lots and lots of napkins.

Recipe Testers Reviews

Potato chips are my downfall. Barbecue potato chips are my real guilty pleasure (who knows what lurks in that bright red coating?). These are light years away from commercial barbecue potato chips. I’ll definitely make this recipe again. I didn’t want to make the large amount of chips in the recipe, so I used a 7-ounce bag of Trader Joe’s Hawaiian-style chips (they didn’t carry 10-ounce bags of chips). It took exactly 5 minutes to heat the chips through till you could smell them, as the recipe describes. Baking them on parchment makes it easy to dump them into a bowl. For the spice mixture, I halved the amount of Pimentón de la Vera, garlic powder, organic cane sugar, and kosher salt called for. The grains were fine enough to fit through my flour sifter, which worked like a charm to distribute the spice mixture on the warm chips. The finished product was very smoky from the paprika, pungent from the garlic, and salty-sweet. My taster and I ate the entire bag in one sitting after we added a tiny bit more sugar. I’d up the sugar in the full recipe to 2 teaspoons, which should be plenty to balance the flavors.

I went into this recipe not really expecting much. I was wrong to expect so little. For a minimum of effort we had the best barbecue potato chips I’ve had in years. (I don’t normally like potato chips.) They were smoky and salty with a little hit of sweet in the background. In short they were a big hit, better than anything purchased. And so easy to do. I used a plain low-sodium Kettle Chip. Since bags here are sold by grams, I used a 227-gram bag, which is about 8 ounces, so I only used half of the seasoning mix. It didn’t take long for them to disappear. I have a second bag put away so I know I will be doing this again later this week. Now my tasters are thinking about different taste combinations—onion powder, hot paprika, cumin, etc.—and how we can use them.

These are the best BBQ chips we’ve ever had. They weren’t at all greasy and salty the way many processed flavored chips are. That being said, I should probably add that we don’t buy BBQ potato chips. Actually, we don’t, as a rule, buy potato chips at all. That can be a slippery slope. Potato chips, if they’re good, aren’t something that I can be well disciplined around. And if I did buy them, I’d never buy BBQ “flavored” chips. After making these chips, I still wouldn’t purchase BBQ chips, but I sure would make them myself. I did use the very smoky Pimentón de la Vera, which I’m quite fond of. I blitzed the turbinado sugar and the sea salt until finely ground. I didn’t use the garlic powder. For me, it has a very metallic, unnatural taste. I only made half a recipe, not wanting 20 ounces of potato chips sitting around the house. The only problem I had with the recipe was getting the seasoning mixture to evenly distribute on the warm chips. I used a very broad bowl, thinking that there’d be more potato chip surface area for the mixture to cover. That might’ve helped a bit, but not much at all. The seasoning ended up clinging to some chips, and not to others. I can’t imagine doing that with twice the amount of chips. There’d be too many chips not getting any coating at all. I think that it would’ve been better to sprinkle the seasoning onto the chips while they were still spread out on the sheet pan. More chips would’ve gotten some coating. I’d also like to see if putting them into a paper bag with the seasoning mixture and shaking everything up would’ve worked a bit better. I did go into the kitchen a few minutes ago and tasted some of the chips, for research reasons only, of course. I needed to see how they fared the day after they were made. Unfortunately for my waistline, they were every bit as good as they were yesterday.

I used a very nice Spanish paprika that I had on hand. I decided to go with the garlic powder, and I think this added a little extra zip to the flavor. I realize that you can buy just about any flavored potato chip at the grocery store, but I really like the idea of having some control over the flavoring ingredients. It seems that with the flavored commercial chips you start getting a long list of very strange, artificial ingredients. Even though I used a plain chip, it was fairly salty, so I think the amount of sea salt was too much…tasted good, but just a little too salty for some. I actually left the chips in the oven for a couple of extra minutes; with the additional time, they started to brown just a little. I can see this being good with other types of flavoring, such as curry, Chinese five spice, and many dried herbs. I think these will make great little snacks this summer, to go with cocktails, beer, or wine on a hot evening on the patio. I did use a light brown sugar, but I wonder how much difference the type of sugar makes. Wonderful when served warm, but great the next day (if there are any left over)!

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