Which Over-the-Counter Potato Chips Are Gluten- and Dairy-Free?

Ham sandwich with potato chips and soup
Most unflavored potato chips are gluten- and dairy-free. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

While most varieties of potato chips are naturally gluten- and dairy-free, some flavored styles may contain varying amounts of gluten or dairy.

Potatoes, Oil, Salt

Potatoes, oil and salt are the most commonly used ingredients for most potato chips regardless of preparation methods such as kettle-cooked, wavy, thin or thick-cut. Regular potato chips' three ingredients almost seem like clean eating compared to the 20 or more ingredients in Doritos Nacho Cheese Flavored Tortilla Chips. The more ingredients in a food, the harder it is to determine if there are hidden sources of the ingredients you are looking to avoid.

Food Labeling

In 2004, Congress passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, which not only requires food manufacturers to list all ingredients by common or usual name, but also requires clear identification of the eight most common food allergens. Dairy and wheat -- the most common source of gluten -- are both listed on the food allergy warnings. However, since gluten can also be found in rye, barley and malt, looking through all ingredients is recommended.

Flavor Options

Many flavored potato chips contain dairy or milk ingredients. Common flavors you might want to avoid across the different chip companies include sour cream and chive, barbecue, cheddar and other novelty flavors. The Lay's brand specifically lists which of its products are free of milk and/or gluten as an easy reference for consumers. Within the Lay's brand of chips, there are still several flavored chips that are both gluten- and milk-free, including Sea Salt and Vinegar, Hot n' Spicy BBQ, Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper, and Dill Pickle.

Home-Cooked Chips

The safest way to ensure your food is free from allergens like gluten or dairy is to prepare them yourself. Homemade potato chips can be baked or fried with a variety of oils, and using your spice cabinet, you can create flavor options to suit your taste and dietary needs. Wash and slice potatoes to your desired thickness and use oils like safflower, peanut or canola oil to create your perfect chip. Drizzling the sliced potatoes with a small amount of oil and baking them allows you to have a lower-fat option.

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