Obviously, you can just straighten out the bag and pour those remaining chip fragments into your mouth. Wasting food is terrible anyway, and that’s only become more true now that we’re trying to minimize our trips to the grocery store by making the most of our stashes at home. But if you can’t get past that feeling of gluttonous shame one gets when emptying those paltry scraps of chips down one’s gullet, you do have a few options.
Born for Breading
“Leftover chip crumbs make a delicious breading for your favorite protein,” says Hayley Sugg, blogger at Gallivanting Vegan and associate editor of Allrecipes.com. Indeed, the internet is full of recipes using leftover chips in place of breadcrumbs, like potato chip chicken fingers, potato chip-crusted fish fillets and chip-crusted chicken, which sounds pretty amazing to the grossly indulgent side of me. It’s not just for meats, either — you can also make stuff like potato chip zucchini sticks, onion rings, mozzarella sticks and even macaroni and cheese.
Sugg says, “Basic chip varieties, such as potato or tortilla, will pair well with almost any savory dish.” But if you’ve got crumbs from flavored chips leftover, Sugg says you’ll want to be careful about your combinations. cheesy-chip-crusted chicken will probably be amazing, no matter what flavor you’ve got leftover, but when it comes to zucchini sticks, if you bread them with any strong flavor, you won’t be able to taste the zucchini. Sour cream and onion chips are also really strong in flavor, so Sugg says that rather than use them as straight-up breading, use them in place of fried onions instead, like on a green bean casserole.
When using any kind of chips as breading, Sugg says that timing is everything, as breading something at the wrong moment can lead to soggy chips. Be sure to have your oven preheated for baking recipes and make the breading the last thing that you do before placing them into the oven (also, don’t let them sit before putting them in). The same goes for frying: Have the oil ready and hot, then bread ‘em and fry ‘em. If you’re using chips for breading on casseroles, Sugg says to bake them without the chips, and then add them in the last 10 minutes or so, which stops them from absorbing excess liquid.
Take It From the Topping
Chip crumbs also make an awesome topping for savory dishes. Much like you’d use sour cream and onion potato chips on a casserole, Sugg says they’re great sprinkled on top of a burger in place of fried onions. Plain and salted potato chip crumbs are also a nice sandwich or burger topping. Hell, putting chips on a burger has even become a signature staple of some celebrity chefs.
While burgers are good, Sugg says that her personal favorite use of chip crumbs is to use them on a taco salad. “That extra crunchiness elevates it from a basic salad, so I always wait to add in the chips until the last minute to maintain their crisp texture. I usually stick with plain tortilla chips, but if I have [sweet chili chips] I’ll happily throw those on too,” Sugg says. To take this inspiration even further, Sugg adds, “leftover [nacho cheese chips] can be added to anything Tex-Mex, from burritos to seven-layer dip.”
Wake and Shake
While most chip-crumb recipes are for savory dinners, there are a handful of options for using them at the start of your day too. While shaking those chip crumbs out of the bag may not be the first thing you think of before the coffee kicks in, they can serve as a replacement for home fries and the like, which is why you’ll find recipes like steamed eggs on potato chips and this potato chip omelet.
Chocolate “Chip” Cookies
Those potato chip crumbs can also be used in the most surprising place of all — dessert. Sugg explains, “They add a bit of crunch and saltiness by being sprinkled atop chocolate chip cookies just after baking or atop a bowl of vanilla ice cream.” There are even some recipes online that call for chip crumbs to be included inside the dough, for a baked-in salty/sweet kind of dessert. In this case, though, the flavor combinations are more delicate than ever, so save those cheesy chips for a taco salad instead.
With all this, perhaps you can now change your perspective on potato chip crumbs. While they may seem like the sad end of something — being that they’re all that’s left of a delicious bag of chips — you can now embrace them as the start of something new and exciting. And Sugg says they need not be a “last resort” ingredient to just throw on top of something in the quarantine end times; if you really embrace the flavor and texture profile of those chip crumbs, you can make something delicious, even fancy, which is a hell of a lot more dignified than pouring a bag of crumbs into your mouth.