How do I make BBQ flavoring for potato chips?
April 29, 2009 6:14 PM   Subscribe

How do I make BBQ flavoring for potato chips?

I love BBQ flavor potato chips. I've recently acquired a deep fryer, and would like to take a stab at making my own. I realize that every brand will have a slightly different formulation, yet there's something instantly recognizable as "BBQ chip seasoning".

The "Dirty" brand chips are pretty good, though not perfect. They all seem to be some variation on onion powder, paprika, salt, smoke flavoring and the like, but many of them also contain "spices", which is not helpful.

I think I tend to lean towards liking mesquite varieties better than other flavors.

I would like to do this without some of the more common processed ingredients, like maltodextrin.

Anyone have an actual recipe I can start from?
posted by Caviar to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You might luck out by trying a dry rub recipe. Also, you can buy mesquite powder, so you can experiment by adding it to the dry rub recipes until you find the right flavor combination.
posted by unassuminglocalgirl at 7:05 PM on April 29, 2009

You might need to add MSG to get the same chip-style intensity.
posted by adamwolf at 7:35 PM on April 29, 2009

Probably 90% of the flavor of commercial BBQ chips is salt and sugar, so start there.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:36 PM on April 29, 2009

Maybe popcorn seasoning? Or a BBQ seasoning from Penzey's.
posted by lakeroon at 7:38 PM on April 29, 2009

I wonder if tomato powder would be a good addition. Most bottled barbecue sauces are tomato-based (and you can make barbecue sauce by mixing spices/brown sugar/etc. with ketchup), so it would stand to reason that barbecue potato chips might also contain tomato, in dehydrated form. (Sadly, I don't have a bag of potato chips with me to consult.)

So my (poorly substantiated) suggestion: the BBQ seasoning that lakeroon mentioned, tomato powder, sugar, salt, maybe a bit of vinegar. Ooh, and some smoked paprika for a smoky flavor.
posted by pluckemin at 7:49 PM on April 29, 2009

I thought about a dry rub, but when you season potato chips, the standard practice seems to be that you do so after they're cooked by tossing them with the seasoning. Most dry rubs are intended to be cooked, so at the very least that would affect the flavor mixture. To the extent that I've tasted them, dry rubs usually don't taste very good right out of the jar.
posted by Caviar at 7:54 PM on April 29, 2009

Food Network has a recipe. Try This
posted by Plug1 at 8:09 PM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I had an "A HA" moment that worked pretty well for me. I had a bottle of BBQ sauce. I had split some on the roasting pan I made some chicken on. It was dried out and I noticed it turned to a crushable powder when I scraped it off. I took the pile, sliced up some potatoes and tossed them with the dried out BBQ sauce... pay dirt. It worked like a charm because when it hit the hot potatoes it adhered to the chips and gave them the flavor one would expected.

You have plenty of options for drying it out. I have to imagine you might be able to spread it thinly on a roasting pan, put it in a convection oven and let it dry out that way. You can also experiment with a microwave and some different surfaces to put the sauce on.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:16 PM on April 29, 2009

Follow-up to my previous post: I looked up the ingredients in Lay's BBQ potato chips and Cape Cod BBQ potato chips and they both contain tomato powder. I'm thinking I might be right about this being an integral component of the barbecue potato chip flavor.
posted by pluckemin at 8:27 PM on April 29, 2009

Here's the ingredients for BBQ seasoning for popcorn which they suggest using for chips. You could probably start there and ignore some of the additives. Here is some dry mesquite flavoring.
posted by barnone at 10:02 PM on April 29, 2009

Old Bay works well as a dry topper for popcorn, so I imagine it could be a good starting point, with some sugar thrown in for sweetness, and some other monkeying.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:04 AM on April 30, 2009

Unfortunately, I seem to be allergic to nutmeg, which is a prominent component of Old Bay (and also some of the other spice rubs).
posted by Caviar at 7:59 AM on April 30, 2009

I ordered roasted garlic powder, toasted onion powder, mesquite powder, and tomato powder from the Spice House, and I'm cooking up a batch today.
posted by Caviar at 12:13 PM on May 9, 2009

Okay, the first batch was good. Not great, but this is definitely on the right track. Tomato powder, mesquite powder, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, caster sugar, and salt is a tasty mix. It's okay plain, but much better on the chips themselves. This blend would probably also be good on chicken.

Now I need to get the proportions right...
posted by Caviar at 1:25 PM on May 9, 2009

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