Cheese

Hot Tip: Pair Your Favorite Cheese With Your Favorite Potato Chips

Food52's Resident Cheese Plater, Marissa Mullen, tells us why—and how—to do it.

August 22, 2020
Photo by Marissa Mullen

That Cheese Plate is a column by Marissa Mullen—cookbook author, photographer, and Food52's Resident Cheese Plater. With Marissa's expertise all things cheddar, comté, and crudité—plus tips for how to make it all look extra special, using stuff you probably have on hand—we'll be crafting our own cheesy masterpieces without a hitch.


I love exploring the vast world of cheese pairings. How about a slightly tangy, soft-ripened goat cheese with a fresh fig and honeycomb for a light, sweet, and refreshing trio? Maybe a nutty manchego with salty prosciutto and a cornichon for something more savory? Similar to wine, cheese has a wide variety of tasting notes, textures, flavors, and styles. Some cheesy sensory notes include: nutty, creamy, fruity, tangy, mineral, herbal, sweet, salty, and umami. How does one know what works best?

Take something like Alpha Tolman from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont. This is an alpine-style, raw cow's milk cheese. Jasper Hill describes it as having a tasting profile of “roasted meat and red wine” with dominant flavors of “herb-roasted nuts and soy.” Where does one even begin to pair something with those specific notes?

I’ve learned many cheese pairing tricks over the years and it all comes down to one burning question: Do you like it? Pairings are personal: Someone might love the manchego and prosciutto pairing while another person might hate the taste and texture. It’s all up to you and your personal preference. As a basic rule of thumb, sweet and salty typically work together as a balance. Salty and savory also complement each other well, blending nicely on the palate.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I guess the cheese has already been paired, but my favorite chips are Boulder Canyon's "Parmesan and Garlic" variety. My friends and I refer to them as CRACK chips. In a good way.”
— Lauren L.
Comment

I also like to consider popular food items that are typically paired together. In the example above, Alpha Tolman has notes of herby nuts and roasted meat. If I were to cook a roast for dinner, I’d want to pair it with something savory-sweet, like caramelized onions. So, I'd try pairing this cheese with something like caramelized onion jam!

Another important rule: Pairings do not need to be complicated. I love pairing nice cheese with simple items in the pantry. Something as basic as a potato chip can provide a tasty, savory crunch! You can keep it simple with a plain salty crunch, or add some dimension with all of the potato chip flavors in the world. Today, I’m here to show you my favorite chip and cheese pairings.


How to Pair Cheese With Potato Chips

Blue Cheese + Salted Ripple Potato Chip

Blue cheese has a strong and pungent flavor, capable of holding its own. Typically it’s better to keep the pairing simple so the intense tasting notes can shine. I paired this blue cheese with salted rippled potato chips. The salty potato cuts the strength of the blue, without altering the flavor. The texture of the rippled chips hold the crumbles of the blue nicely, adding a crisp crunch.


Bloomy Rind Cow's Milk Cheese + Sour Cream & Onion Potato Chips

Some common bloomy rind cow’s milk cheeses include Brie and Camembert. Bloomy cow’s milk cheeses are typically described as buttery and creamy, with tasting notes of mushrooms and leeks. I paired this cheese with my favorite, sour cream and onion chips. The sour cream notes complement the creaminess of the cheese, while the onion brings a vegetal vibe. This style of chip is a bit thicker than the others, providing a crunchy vehicle for the gooey cheese.


Aged Cheddar + Jalapeño Chips

Aged cheddar has a bold and sharp flavor profile. I didn’t want to completely overpower the sharpness here with something sweet. Channelling my favorite savory treat, jalapeño cheddar cornbread, I went with a spicy pairing. The jalapeño chips do a great job at expanding the depth of the cheese, opening up your taste buds to experience deeper layers of flavor. These chips are not too overpowering with spice, they offer just enough to kick to work beautifully with the cheddar.


Feta + Salt & Vinegar Chips

Fresh feta has a briny, funky flavor profile. This beautifully complements the tang of salt and vinegar chips. The tang cuts the creaminess of the feta while balancing out the robust aroma.


Next time you’re looking for a fun cheese pairing with simple pantry items, don’t sleep on the potato chip! The opportunities are endless. Potatoes are the most versatile vegetable, after all.

What's your favorite potato chip & cheese pairing? Let us know in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • mizerychik
    mizerychik
  • TMartin
    TMartin
  • Lauren Lange
    Lauren Lange
  • carswell
    carswell
Marissa Mullen

Written by: Marissa Mullen

Marissa Mullen is a Brooklyn-based food stylist, recipe developer, photographer and cheese lover. She is the founder of That Cheese Plate and creator of the Cheese By Numbers method. She is also the author of the best-selling cookbook, That Cheese Plate Will Change Your Life, a step-by-step styling guide for crafting beautiful and delicious cheese plates as a form of creative expression. Featured on The Today Show, The Rachael Ray Show, Business Insider, Vox among others, Marissa is dedicated to bringing people together through creativity, food and entertainment.

4 Comments

mizerychik September 11, 2020
A really sharp swiss with Cape Cod russet potato chips is great. The chips are sweet and almost caramelized and the swiss is creamy and salty.
 
TMartin August 31, 2020
Can people please comment/share the chip brands they like? I'm looking for higher quality chips.
 
Lauren L. August 23, 2020
Love these pairings! I'll be enjoying them outside this afternoon with a nice cold Pet Nat. I guess the cheese has already been paired, but my favorite chips are Boulder Canyon's "Parmesan and Garlic" variety. My friends and I refer to them as CRACK chips. In a good way.
 
carswell August 22, 2020
Those pairings actually make a lot of sense. I can see some chips and cheese in my future.