16 Surprising Recipes with Salty Snacks as Secret Ingredients

Bronco Burger
Photo: Blaine Moats

Mindless snacks? Junk food? Not when home cooks put their brains in gear! These delicious recipes use your favorite snack foods in creative, surprising new ways that will have you thinking "What a smart idea!" Here are 16 fun ways to use snack aisle classics (potato chips, pretzels, crackers, and popcorn) to create something more exciting than the sum of their parts.

01 of 16

Pesto Chips

editedPestoChips
AR Cally

Fresh herbs and grated cheese elevates the common kettle chip to fancy cocktail party fabulous. Soup Loving Nichole advises not skimping on the greenery: "The chips and parm combo are a bit salty on their own, but the fresh basil ties it all together into perfection. Five stars all the way!"

02 of 16

Bacon Crackers

These candied bacon cracker bites prove the rule: Everything's better with bacon. Recipe contributor Gayle Woodle recommends buttery round crackers, but jw81 used rectangular Club as a "better fit for bacon" and JDVMD and BURTRAM chose Townhouse. Other reviewers advise baking them on a rack inside the cookie sheet; they'll come out "less greasy" this way.

03 of 16

Pad Thai Popcorn

Pad Thai Popcorn
Chef John

With this Chef John original, popcorn will never again be strictly a supporting player for your movie night or party bowl. Layered flavors, inspired by the classic Thai noodle dish, really make this corn pop, with peanuts, lime, chili paste, fish sauce, and brown sugar. "SO freaking good!" raves Swiftbanderilla. "Such an unexpected combo, but wonderful -- sweet and salty and spicy … I plan to make some for holiday gifts."

04 of 16

Pretzel-Coated Fried Fish

Mild-flavored white fish are a great blank slate, allowing distinctive flavors to stand out. Here crushed pretzels offer unique flavor and classic crunch to cod fillets. MIASMAMA found this recipe an easy sell to her children: "All I had to do was tell my kids that it had pretzels on it and they were all for it!" Tizzylizz adds: "The fillets came out nice and crunchy and perfect, not dry."

05 of 16

Bronco Burgers

Bronco Burger
Blaine Moats

This recipe uses Fritos corn chips in the meat mix, along with chopped jalapenos, hot pepper sauce, herbs, Worcestershire, and more. F88DLUVR says, "I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO POPULAR" after making this recipe "exactly the way it was posted" and winning a corporate picnic burger contest. Niecole used Garden Veggie Sun Chips and her husband did not complain, saying they were "the best burgers he has ever eaten!"

06 of 16

Potato Chip Chicken

This baked chicken recipe by Larry is easy to make and easier still to eat. Larry recommends using onion-flavored potato chips to create a satisfyingly crunchy and flavorful crust on buttery chicken breasts. Other chip choices? Reviewers suggest Cheddar and sour cream chips, sour cream and onion, barbeque, Old Dutch peppercorn ranch, and even Funyuns.

07 of 16

Cracker Pork Chops

This recipe uses simple saltine crackers to bread lean, boneless pork chops, and includes an easy sauce. A.S.G. used RITZ crackers and a few more seasonings and was delighted to find, "They were a big hit with my kids--even my two-year-old who refuses to eat any meat other than chicken nuggets!" Recipe creator LMAHONEY says of these juicy chops, "Some day, I want to own a truck stop and cook this for some drivers looking for a little home cookin'."

08 of 16

Baked Stuffed Shrimp with RITZ Crackers

RITZ crackers get the headline here, but classic saltines make an appearance as well. Together, they earn five stars as the perfect pair. "We love everything about this recipe and thank you for our new go-to when it comes to baked stuff shrimp," says Pam.

09 of 16

Isaiah's Pretzel Fried Chicken

"Easy to make, looks beautiful with its brown crust, takes very little time, and the meat eaters in my family really liked it," says susiekew. This recipe is also a great example of waste-reducing cooking. Pam Ziegler Lutz said, "I originally chose this recipe because I had some slightly stale pretzels to use up. It's definitely a keeper!"

10 of 16

Spicy Dorito Taco Salad

Spicy Dorito Taco Salad
Molly

Want to amp up the flavor of classic taco salad? This bold twist on taco salad uses one of the most distinctive and addictive snack chips on the market to liven things up. "This is one of those meals you wish you had more room in your tummy," raves Frank Barnett.

11 of 16

Walking Tacos

More taco twists? Por que no?! This recipe by Shawn Hoffman Zimmerman gives you that taco flavor without any of the clean-up. Eat your tacos with a fork straight out of individual bags of Doritos. "This is a great recipe for people on the go," says Soup Loving Nicole. "I don't even have kids and it was still a fun recipe that made me feel like a kid while eating it."

12 of 16

Black Bean Vegetarian Meat Loaf

Why settle on a black bean burger when you can make it a meatloaf? That was the "aha!" moment for contributor Val's Mom when she came up with this recipe, which uses RITZ crackers to bind the ingredients together. "This was a huge hit in our house," says Sadie. "My son was claiming the last piece, afraid he wouldn't get another bite after three pieces already."

13 of 16

Bethany's Frito® Pie

Of course, we can't talk about junk food revamps without mentioning Frito Pie! "I have been making Frito Pie for three generations," says Joyce Zimmerman. "The only thing I never do is use chili that contains beans. Also, I sort of crush the corn chips for the bottom layer before baking. This makes the bottom layer absorb the chili flavor a bit better."

14 of 16

Potato Chip Cookies II

Putting potato crisps in your cookies may sound controversial, but if you're a fan of salted chocolate, you get the basic idea. Connie suggests using a saltier brand of chips, like Lay's, while Nancy likes that brand for its flatter, thinner texture. "Do NOT overbake," says Sweet Dolly. "Dusting with powdered sugar is a must."

15 of 16

Judy's Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Judy's Strawberry Pretzel Salad
abapplez

Sweet and salty are a snack match made in heaven. Now add the tang and richness of cream cheese, and you have cloud nine in a dish. "This is definitely a five-star recipe that has been around for years," says Crystal S. "If it weren't offered during my family's holidays, they would protest in rebellion!" So keep those gatherings peaceful and go ahead and make this.

16 of 16

Saltine Cracker Pudding

Here's a cool, refreshing, and rich coconut-flavored treat featuring saltine crackers. According to Andy, this is a Pennsylvania Dutch Country classic: "This is one of my favorite desserts growing up in Lancaster County." It was more novel for Cook4men, who says, "Heavens, this was a surprise! … Who knew? Great texture, and I topped it with fruit to make it look prettier."

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