Potato chips ought to be naturally gluten-free — after all, they're made with potatoes, right? Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way in practice, since some brands of chips contain gluten ingredients, while others are subject to gluten cross-contamination in production.
Fortunately, there are multiple options for gluten-free potato chips, some of which you'll likely find at your local grocery store. Here's the list:
• Frito-Lay Brand potato chips. As of 2011, Frito-Lay has begun testing its products for gluten, and reports that the products on this list, including many Lays, Ruffles and Stax potato chip flavors, contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Other products, including many flavored chips, contain no gluten ingredients but may be manufactured on the same lines as gluten products, and aren't tested to see if they meet the 20 parts per million gluten standard. Definitely exercise some caution when choosing Frito-Lay chips — while they're readily available almost everywhere, many people (both sensitive and not so sensitive) have reported getting glutened from them.
• Food Should Taste Good chips. Food Should Taste Good holds gluten-free certification for all its chips (including gluten-free tortilla chips and gluten-free multigrain chips in addition to potato chips) through the Gluten-Free Certification Organization, which tests to make certain products contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten. Its gluten-free potato chip flavors include sweet potato, barbeque sweet potato, salt and pepper sweet potato and salt and vinegar sweet potato chips. Food Should Taste Good produces both full-sized bags and snack bags; the latter make great additions to school lunches.
• POPchips potato chips. POPchips "pops" its potato chips as opposed to baking or frying them, which allows them to contain a lot less oil than regular potato chips. As of February 2013, all the company's chips are certified gluten-free (just make sure not to pick up a really old bag — only products with a "best by" date of August 2012 or later are certified). POPchips offers seven flavors, including original, sour cream and onion, barbeque, sea salt and vinegar, sweet potato, parmesan and garlic, and jalapeno. Some of the chips contain dairy ingredients, but none contain soy, according to the company.
• Kettle Brand potato chips. All Kettle brand potato chips are gluten-free and are processed in a gluten-free environment, according to the company's gluten statement. That includes the company's Kettle Brand baked, reduced fat, organic, and krinkle cut potato chips. The company recently received gluten-free certification for its potato chips and is in the process of updating its packaging. Kettle Brand TIAS, meanwhile, don't contain gluten ingredients but are processed in a shared facility and have a risk of cross-contamination. (Avoid Kettle Brand nut butters — they're processed on shared equipment.) You can purchase Kettle's gluten-free potato chips in regular-sized bags and in snack-sized bags, too. I buy these for my family, and I've had good luck finding them in the natural/health food section of my regular supermarket (as opposed to the regular snack/chip section).
• Eatsmart Naturals potato chips. Eatsmart Naturals produces one certified gluten-free potato chip — its Garden Veggie Crisps. The brand, owned by Snyder's of Hanover, also makes a variety of other potato chip products that don't contain gluten ingredients, but aren't guaranteed to be gluten-free (see list here).
Potato chips that are not gluten-free. Three popular brands of potato chips, Cape Cod, Garden of Eatin' and Terra, contain no gluten ingredients, but they are not certified gluten-free, nor are they tested for gluten. Therefore, I wouldn't consider them to be gluten-free; instead, I'd stick with the products on the above list.
Also, Utz brand snack chips maintains a list of safe products. However, I've read accounts from many people who have traced glutenings to Utz products. In addition, when you read the statement that the company publishes with its list, it makes no guarantees that the products, as manufactured, actually meet gluten-free standards. I wouldn't buy them.