In America, our salty snacks tend to feature a few choice herbs. There’s oregano in our pizza-flavored chips, dill in our pickle chips, and parsley in almost all Ranch-flavored snacks. Still, there’s a whole catalog of herbs we could be using in our potato chips that we just don’t. Tarragon, marjoram, sage, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, and basil simply aren’t spices we see very often, if at all. Luckily, the Lay’s factory in Thailand produces many chips that include basil, a strong flavor that I have high hopes will translate well into a classic potato chip.
I picked up these Lay’s Sweet Basil chips from my local Thai-run dessert shop, Bhan Kanom. In addition to many of the classic Thai desserts like mango sticky rice, salted egg yolk cookies, khanom chan, and Thai dessert tacos, the shop also carries green tea Kit Kats and a variety of Lay’s chips directly from Thailand.
As mentioned, basil has a rather potent flavor, one that can quickly overpower any dish it’s added to. So maybe fried basil is the move here. Fried basil tastes almost peppery, and when you combine that with some of that advertised sweetness, I think this could be a real winner in potato chip form.
What do Sweet Basil Lay’s potato chips taste like?
These chips are sweet, intensely savory, slightly sour, and with only a hint of basil. That basil flavor is cooling and a little cloying, but it plays in the background with a jam band of other flavors. These chips taste incredibly meaty, too, with a rather distinct chicken taste. This might sound strange, but I want to put these in the barbecue family of potato chips. And while they’re salty and maybe even a little smoky, I wouldn’t call them herby.
The sourness comes from the addition of lime and a bit of lingering heat from the chilis. The heat on the back end is really nice, and it lives in your mouth for a while after you’re done munching on these chips. All in all, this is a great potato chip that doesn’t get enough love when stacked up against other Thai Lay’s flavors.
It’s worth mentioning that basil is included in some other Thai Lay’s chip flavors like Basil Chicken and Green Curry, both of which consumers seem to prefer to the standalone Sweet Basil flavor. Much like in Thai cuisine, basil in these snacks is an integral flavor meant to be used alongside many other assertive ingredients, rather than stealing the show. Rarely is it the treated with a singular holiness like you see in Italian cuisine, where it’s carefully ripped and added to tomato sauce, cheese, and pizza. In Thai cooking, basil is a team player and carries great flavor when it’s fried, which makes it an awesome choice to include in the flavor alchemy of potato chips. Basil does its best work when it plays with others. Lucky for us, it does here.