How to Make Japanese-Style Potato Chips

Our attempt to add Japanese-inspired flavors to our Crunchy Kettle Potato Chips yielded delicious results.

Published June 3, 2021.

Sour cream and onion, barbecue, cheddar—these are the potato chip flavors most Americans are familiar with. But if you expand your chip-craving palate beyond our borders, there’s a whole host of unique, amazing varieties awaiting your tastebuds.

Japan, for instance, is home to many potato chip flavors you don’t usually find in the West. But boy, are they tasty. Take Calbee, one of the most notable Japanese chip companies: Popular flavors include honey butter, seaweed, and curry, not to mention plum and cod roe butter. 

Unless you live near a Japanese grocer, brands such as Calbee can be hard to find in the United States. (The best bet online is Amazon, though you’re paying a steep premium for the convenience.)

Undaunted by their relative rarity, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Inspired by some of my faves, I set about making my own Calbee chips, replicating two of their most popular flavors—honey butter and seaweed

First things first, I had to lock down the seasonings. I started with the most challenging one, the honey butter. While some recipes basically have you build a honey-butter glaze in which you toss the chips after frying, I decided to go for a more traditional dry seasoning mix. I combined a tablespoon dehydrated honey powder (I used Hoosier Hill) with dehydrated butter powder (also Hoosier Hill), a tablespoon of sugar, and a half teaspoon of kosher salt. 

For the seaweed flavor, I ground three sheets of nori (dried seaweed) in a spice grinder until it was a coarse powder. I combined this with a half teaspoon of kosher salt. I then made a third batch of seaweed chips using furikake, a Japanese condiment composed chiefly of sesame seeds, dried fish, nori flakes, sugar, salt, and monosodium glutamate (MSG). You can also make your own!

Next came the frying. I based my chips on our Crunchy Kettle Potato Chips recipe, a relatively simple but foolproof process that results in a crispy, crunchy chip that’s not too thin and not too delicate. Watch below to learn how to fry these chips, step by step.

Crunchy Kettle Potato Chips

  • 2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, unpeeled
  • Seasoning powder of choice

1. We strongly recommend using a mandoline to slice the potatoes. A heavy 7-quart Dutch oven safely accommodates the full batch of chips and helps the oil retain heat; do not use a smaller, lighter pot. Stirring the potatoes during frying minimizes sticking.

2. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and line with double layer of paper towels. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat to 375 degrees. While oil heats, slice potatoes crosswise 1/16 inch (1½ millimeters) thick. Carefully add all potatoes to oil, 1 small handful at a time, separating slices as much as possible (oil will bubble vigorously). Cook, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until bubbling has calmed (it will not completely stop) and slices begin to stiffen, 2 to 4 minutes.

3. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until shape of chips is set and slices are rigid at edges (chips will make rustling sound when stirred), about 5 minutes longer, adjusting heat as needed to maintain oil temperature between 240 and 250 degrees.

4. Continue to cook, stirring and flipping potatoes frequently with spider skimmer or slotted spoon, until all bubbling ceases and chips are crisp and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes longer, adjusting heat as needed during final minutes of cooking to maintain oil temperature between 280 and 300 degrees. Using spider skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer chips to prepared rack. Sprinkle with seasoning powder, or salt. Serve. (Chips can be stored in zipper-lock bag at room temperature for up to 5 days.)

While I’ll never achieve the factory-perfected formula of a lacy-thin Calbee chip, I adored this homemade kettle-cooked version of the honey butter and seaweed chips. The honey butter mix, in particular, came extraordinarily close to capturing that sweet and savory flavor of the Calbee chip without being too cloying. (The sugar helps; as sweet as the honey powder can be, it needs that hit of sugar to bring it to the forefront.)

Both seaweed varieties were also nice—the seaweed and salt combo is simple but elegant, adding a subtle, vegetal note to the traditional salty kettle chip. And of course, furikake makes everything taste better. It’s harder to get the sesame seeds to stick to the chip, mind you. But when you get a bite that has all the flavors in the furikake mix (including that blessed MSG, praise be its unfairly maligned name), it’s absolutely worth it.

If you’re ever craving the mouthwatering novelty of Calbee potato chips, fear not: You don’t have to wait for the Japanese grocery store near you to finally get it in stock. You can just whip up a batch on your own.

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