There’s a solid chance that some of your favorite memories involve food. After all, it evokes powerful emotions, strengthens (or sparks) connections, and, well, can taste pretty damn good. What’s a dinner party without an eclectic cheese-and-cracker plate? Imagine sharing a tub of spinach artichoke dip with your loved one without a salty, crisp pretzel or chip. Dare we ask what the point of a movie is if you don’t have a bowl of tender, light popcorn gently resting in your lap?
That’s why we’re here recommending the best snacks—because what’s a life of joy without ’em? Below, you’ll find the 27 chips, crackers, popcorns, pretzels, nuts, bars, and other easy-to-love snacks that came out on top as part of SELF’s inaugural Pantry Awards.
Our reviewers put these goods to the test, whipping up charcuterie boards, protein-filled pre-workout treats, and breakfasts worth getting out of bed for. You can definitely dress these snacks up or down: Try creating a Michelin-worthy concoction, or munch on them right out of the package. No matter how you choose to feast, savor every bite.
Be sure to check out the rest of SELF’s 2023 Pantry Award winners, including sauces, spreads, and oils that add mouth-watering flavor and tinned, canned, and boxed goods perfect for any weeknight meal.
The Best Yogurt Bar: Clio Snacks Original Greek Yogurt Bars
Greek yogurt covered in dark chocolate? Say no more. Our testers appreciated the hefty amount of protein (9g) in each one of Clio’s creamy, mess-free bars, as well as the versatility of its flavor profile. With these in your fridge (or freezer—you can store them either way, depending on your preference), you’ll have no excuse to skip breakfast—or dessert.
The Best Protein Snack: Frooze Balls Plant-Powered Energy Balls
Whether you’re setting out on a hike or settling into your desk chair for a slog of a workday, you’re going to need snacks. Ideally, you’ll reach for something like these energy balls, which are decidedly more delightful to consume than a bar and packed with the sustenance you need to forge ahead. Made with nuts, seeds, fruit, and spices, they provide essential nutrients in flavors that are easy to love (like PB&J and chocolate-hazelnut).
The Best Protein Bar: Fulfil Bars (Variety Pack)
We’ll be blunt: There are so many protein bars to choose from, but surprisingly few that actually taste good. These from Fulfil are a part of that second select group, thanks to yummy flavors like chocolate-peanut-caramel and chocolate-salted-caramel. “With 15g of protein, these were a great in-between snack that kept me satiated and energized until my next meal,” wrote one of our testers. “I’m happy to have them in my pantry now for when I need a snack.”
The Best Multigrain Cracker: Breton Multigrain Crackers
For your future charcuterie board needs, we’re going to let you in on a little secret: If you swap in these Breton multigrain crackers for the ones that crumble as soon as they meet soft cheese, your dinner guests will be impressed. They’re light and flavorful—a true crowd-pleaser that you really can’t go wrong with.
The Best Crisps: Milton’s Craft Bakers Gluten-Free Crackers
If you don’t eat gluten, you know that finding truly satisfying snacks can be a Herculean task. Among a sea of bland, Eucharist-esque crisps, Milton’s GF crackers stand out as excellent alternatives. Our testers raved about flavors like everything bagel, fire-roasted veggie, and sea salt.
The Best Seed Cracker: Mary’s Gone Super Seed Crackers
Sometimes, you want your cracker to be more than just a vessel for cheeses and dips. Mary’s Gone Crackers answers the call with a seed-packed cracker that’s substantial, flavorful, and nutritionally quite dense. Our testers noted that flavors like everything bagel, jalapeño, and rosemary mean these seed crisps need no accouterments, but a little hummus or cheese slice does take them to the next level.
The Best Snack Pack: Pamela’s Gluten-Free Mini Graham Snack Packs
Who says you need to ditch the snack packs when you become an adult? These grahams are crunchy, sweet and salty, and fun to munch on when your sweet tooth hits. Our testers got experimental, sprinkling them on top of pudding, using them as the crust of a gluten-free pie, and more—and loved the results.
The Best Gluten-Free Cracker: Simple Mills Organic Seed Flour Crackers
A base of seed flour (instead of almond or buckwheat) gives these gluten-free Simple Mills crackers a flavorful leg up on the competition. “I am simply in awe that science has brought us gluten-free products of this caliber,” wrote one of our testers. That’s when you know a snack is good, folks!
The Best Bagged Popcorn: LesserEvil Organic Popcorn
Air-popped and flavored with ingredients like ghee, coconut oil, Himalayan pink salt, habanero-pepper powder, cane sugar, and strawberries, Lesser Evil’s array of bagged popcorn is expansive and delicious. “Anytime we have people over, I’d put a bag [of this popcorn] into a bowl, and it was emptied by the time they left,” one tester wrote. “We also loved the flavor varieties, which don’t taste chemical-y and artificial like a lot of popcorns do.”
The Best DIY Popcorn: Quinn Family Farmed Pop-at-Home Popcorn Kernels
Sometimes, homemade is truly better. (I mean, there’s nothing better than fresh, hot popcorn.) Quinn’s got you covered with these crafty kernels, which you can pop in a microwave popcorn bowl (like this one), in a popcorn maker, or on the stovetop. Tender, customized popcorn awaits! You homesteader, you.
The Best Vegan Popcorn: BjornQorn Classic
Meet your new movie night BFF. BjornQorn’s adorably packaged vegan popcorn is a delight to the tastebuds, whether or not you’re actually vegan. Nutritional yeast adds a “cheesy” and zesty flavor, plus, there’s a surprising amount of protein and healthy fat in each serving, which may help keep you satiated.
The Best Classic Pretzel: Snyder’s of Hanover Traditional Pretzels
Chances are you’ve noshed on these perfect little pretzels before. While they aren’t new, we firmly believe in the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” way of living—and that definitely includes the classic Snyder’s pretzels. These grocery store titans are salty, crisp, and endlessly versatile. In short, your pantry should never be without them.
The Best Snack Mix: Catalina Crunch Crunch Mixes
Road trips, park dates, and hours-long outdoor adventures just got an upgrade thanks to these mixes from Catalina Crunch. Nuts, cereal, legumes, cheese crisps, spices, and more create a zesty blend of textures that are both fun and satisfying to eat. “Honestly, it’s an easy 10,” one tester wrote. “Catalina Crunch’s original flavor is strong and delicious. My dad and I both agreed this is the kind of snack you could eat a whole bag of in one sitting. I like that there are nuts in it too.”
The Best Pretzel Sticks: Zapp’s Seasoned Voodoo Pretzel Stixs
If you like spice but could do without the heat, allow us to introduce you to these treasures from Zapp’s. “I thought these would be superhot, but instead, they just had a nice, seasoned kick,” one tester said. The strong and bold seasoning blend gives these pretzel sticks a boost of flavor without setting your mouth on fire.
The Best Potato Chips: Siete Foods Kettle-Cooked Potato Chips
What makes a kettle chip especially good? It should be substantial enough for dipping, supremely crunchy, and hold onto its oil flavor. If you couldn’t tell, I’m describing these Siete Foods chips, which come in flavors like chile-lime, queso, and chipotle BBQ. They’re good for in-between meal snacking, a sandwich companion, or an “Oh, my God, I forgot to bring crackers to the family Christmas dinner” alternative (all scenarios our testers cited).
The Best Tortilla Chips: Mi Rancho 7th Street Tortilla Chips
Pour these tortilla chips into a basket and you’ll have everyone at your table knowing they’re about to have a seriously good Mexican meal. Our testers note that these are the Goldilocks of tortilla chips: They’re the perfect heft, have a just-right amount of salt, and are packed with traditional corn flavor.
The Best Plantain Chips: Artisan Tropic Plantain and Cassava Strips
These plantain chips from Artisan Tropics are delightfully salty and a little bit sweet, with a thickness that can handle the weight of any homemade guacamole. The nice thing about these chips is that they don’t try too hard—they’re simple, and that’s their superpower.
The Best Chickpea Snack: Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas
One of our testers said they carried these crunchy morsels around “like a baby blanket,” noting that they have plenty of protein, make an excellent pre-workout snack, and are a fun and satisfying treat next to your desk. Flavors like falafel, Korean BBQ, and Bombay spice really took them to the next level.
The Best Grain-Alternative Tortilla Chips: Real Food From the Ground Up Cauliflower Tortilla Chips
May we all have the glow-up that cauliflower did. You’d never know these chips are cauliflower based; they have the texture of a Dorito (in the best way possible) and a dusting of yeasty, salty flavor. This tester put it best: “I loved the taste, crunch, and texture of these chips, so much so that I continued to eat, and eat, and eat….”
The Best Puffs: Spudsy Sweet Potato Puffs
Move over, cheese curls. Actually, don’t. We need and love you. However, please make some room for these innovative sweet potato puffs. “The texture is a bit less crunchy than a traditional cheese puff, but they melt in your mouth like the classic version would,” one tester said. “As a mostly plant-based person who once survived almost exclusively on cheese, the cheddar flavor is on point too.” Another cool thing? The brand tackles food waste by upcycling “ugly” sweet potatoes to make these.
The Best Veggie Straws: You Need This Ranch Veggie Straws
Who doesn’t love a veggie straw? Though you may not have nibbled on one since childhood (or if you have kids, or spend time around them, perhaps you’ve come across them more recently), let me inform you: They’re even better than you remember. Particularly these from You Need This, which are coated in a perfect pinch of ranch. “They’re superlight and crunchy and have tons of flavor without punching you in the face like a certain type of ranch-flavored tortilla chip might,” one tester said. “I couldn’t resist grabbing a few every time I passed by the bag. I love that they’re plant-based, vegan, and gluten-free, which makes them easy to serve to anyone.”
The Best Dessert Nuts: SkinnyDipped Lemon Bliss Almonds
Imagine lemon squares, but crunchy. And nutty. That’s how our testers described these. With a bright and sunny flavor, SkinnyDipped’s Lemon Bliss Almonds are a sweet, tart, and genuinely delicious snack. Plus, the resealable packaging keeps the almonds fresh for weeks—though we can’t promise you won’t finish them in 24 hours.
The Best Bar Nuts: Matiz Nuts
These delicate, impeccably flavored nuts from Matiz, a Spanish brand new to the US as of 2022, will upgrade your basic snack place. “All of the Matiz snacks felt like fancy cocktail treats a really nice bar would serve,” one tester said. “I would serve them at a party or to friends I was having over for snacks and drinks. I also really loved the packaging; the products all come in clear plastic containers with lids that fit on in a really satisfying way (think Tupperware). I will definitely be rebuying these products when I get through all of the samples.”
The Best Meat Sticks: The New Primal Meat Sticks
You might think you don’t have many options when it comes to meat sticks (hello, gas station Slim Jims), but that actually isn’t the case. The New Primal’s sticks come in a variety of intriguing flavors—like Classic Beef, Spicy Beef, Lightly Peppered Turkey, Cilantro Lime Turkey, and Buffalo Chicken—and they make for a light pick-me-up before or after workouts. “I’m always trying to find non-gross, actually interesting ways to add protein to my diet, and these are a great solution,” one tester said.
The Best Splurge Jerky: Cattaneo Bros. Free Range 100% Grass-Fed Beef Jerky
One pack of beef jerky for $40? Probably not going on your weekly grocery list. But if you’re a true jerky lover and feel like splurging on a treat, we highly recommend this one from Cattaneo Bros. Their beef jerky is perfectly chewy, flavorful without being too salty, and individually wrapped for mess-free snacking. Our testers note that even the flavored varieties are balanced and don’t have an artificial taste, like many jerkies do. Serve this one on a charcuterie board, and savor every single bite.
The Best Classic Granola: Bob’s Red Mill Maple Sea Salt Homestyle Granola
A few years ago we hit Peak Granola—as in, there was an influx of bespoke granola brands priced at $11 per bag. We’re pleased to let you know, then, that the best granola is actually from pantry mainstay Bob’s Red Mill—and it’s on the affordable side too. The Maple Sea Salt flavor sits at the crux of sweet and salty, and its crunchy clusters are just as tasty on their own as they are on top of yogurt or ice cream.
The Best Chunky Granola: Stellar Granola Golden Milk Granola
Sometimes, you just need giant chunks of sweetened, crunchy oats and grain to satisfy that craving to munch down on something substantial. This concoction from Stellar Granola, inspired by golden lattes, is gently spiced with turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. It’s chunky, it’s tasty, it’s perfect. •
We can’t talk about food without talking about food access, which is why we put together this guide to redistributing food to the people in your community who need it. As part of the 2023 Pantry Awards, SELF has made a $2,500 donation to God’s Love We Deliver, a New York–based non-sectarian organization that prepares and delivers meals to people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other serious illnesses. We also donated the unopened items from our photoshoot for this project to New York Common Pantry.