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What are Pringles really made of?

Pringles are an iconic snack food renowned for their uniform shape, stackability, and addictive taste. But what exactly goes into making these crispy, flavored chips? While the specific Pringles recipe is a closely guarded trade secret, analyzing the ingredients list can provide some insight into how they achieve their uniquely consistent product.

The Basic Ingredients

The main ingredients in Pringles are typical of many snack chips: potatoes, vegetable oil, and salt. However, Pringles aren’t simply sliced and fried potatoes like traditional potato chips. Instead, they start with dehydrated potato flakes, which are then mixed with wheat starch and rice flour to form the dough.

This dough is pressed into the iconic saddle shape before being fried in vegetable oils like sunflower, corn, or canola oil. Salt and flavorings are then sprinkled on top. So while potatoes form the base, Pringles also contain other starches and grains to achieve their distinctive texture.

Potato Flakes

Rather than using whole potatoes, Pringles start with dehydrated potato flakes. These are made by cooking potatoes, then pressing them to remove moisture before drying them into thin, dry flakes. The flakes can be easily rehydrated by mixing with water.

Using potato flakes allows Pringles to achieve consistency with each chip. The moisture content and potato size doesn’t vary like it would with fresh potatoes. The uniform flakes also blend well with the other dough ingredients.

Wheat Starch

After rehydrating the potato flakes, wheat starch is added to the dough. Starch is a carbohydrate found in plants that provides structure and energy storage. Since potatoes contain their own natural starch, the additional wheat starch further modifies the protein and carbohydrate content.

This wheat starch contributes to Pringles’ crispness and allows the chips to pop up into their curved shape as they cook. More uniform starch content also aids consistency between chips.

Rice Flour

Rice flour from milled white rice is another key ingredient in Pringles. Rice flour is often used as a thickener in glazes and sauces, but also helps give Pringles their crunchy bite.

The rice flour boosts the starch content even further, allowing Pringles to stay crispy and dry longer than potato chips. The rice flour’s bland flavor also doesn’t add any unwanted tastes.

Other Starch Sources

While wheat and rice flours make up the majority of the non-potato starches, Pringles may also contain small amounts of other starchy binders. Corn starch or tapioca starch are sometimes used to supplement the main starches.

Exactly which additional starches are used varies between Pringles flavors and isn’t always specified. But any extra starches further enhance the crisp, crunchy texture.

Vegan Status

While Pringles have traditionally contained some animal derived ingredients, in recent years many flavors have been reformulated to be vegan. Pringles that are certified by vegan organizations do not contain any milk derivatives, eggs, animal fats, or other animal byproducts.

However, there are still some Pringles flavors today that contain small amounts of milk ingredients such as cheese powder or lactose. So veggie lovers need to pay close attention to the ingredients list when choosing Pringles flavors.

Fats for Frying

While potatoes, starches, and seasonings set the foundation of Pringles’ taste and texture, frying them in fat is what truly gives them their signature flavor and crunch.

Pringles are traditionally fried in a blend of vegetable oils including corn, sunflower, soybean, and/or canola oils. The type or blend of oils may vary between flavors. But no matter what oil is used, this frying process is vital to developing the savory, satisfying depth of flavor and crispy crunch that Pringles are known for.

Fat Source Description
Corn oil Neutral flavored oil extracted from corn germ
Sunflower oil Versatile oil with light flavor from sunflower seeds
Soybean oil Widely used oil with high smoke point
Canola oil Smooth oil from rapeseed, rich in mono & polyunsaturates

Flavoring Choices

The exact blend of seasonings and flavorings used varies significantly between the dozens of Pringles varieties on the market. But common additions include:


Table salt is added both as a main seasoning and to amplify other flavors. The salt content averages around 1.5 grams per ounce.

Onion powder

Onion powder provides savory, aromatic qualities and enhances overall flavor.


Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is often included as a flavor enhancer. It has an umami taste that intensifies the overall savory impression.

Spices and herbs

Spices like paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne, and black pepper add heat and dimension. Herbs such as oregano, basil, rosemary, and thyme also enhance certain varieties.

Natural and artificial flavors

Natural flavorings like lemon juice and artificial flavor compounds tailored to taste like cheese, sour cream, bbq, etc, get blended to match desired chip flavors.


Some Pringles include sugar or corn syrup solids to balance the saltiness and add sweetness.


To maintain freshness and prevent rancidity of the oils, Pringles also contain preservative ingredients including:


Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is an antioxidant that prolongs shelf life by preventing oxidation.

Citric acid

Citric acid is added as a preservative and to provide tartness.

Malic acid

Malic acid helps control pH and acidity levels to better preserve and stabilize the chips.


Added sugars like dextrose maintain moisture content and crunchiness.

The Manufacturing Process

While Pringles aren’t made from simply slicing potatoes and frying them like traditional potato chips, the manufacturing process still involves multiple steps:

1. Mixing

The dried potato flakes are rehydrated and combined with water and other dry ingredients like wheat starch and rice flour in large rotating drums.

2. Forming

The dough is pressed between two rolling drums into paper-thin sheets then cut into the iconic saddle shape with sharp edges using specialty rotary cutters.

3. Frying

The cut dough pieces are fried at temperatures around 350-375°F, first on one side then the other, using oils like sunflower or corn oil. The chips move through the fryer on a wire mesh conveyor belt.

4. Seasoning

After frying, the Pringles pass under seasoning sprinklers that coat them evenly with powdered flavors, spices, and other granulated ingredients.

5. Drying

A drying oven removes any excess surface oil and moisture to ensure a uniform crisp texture.

6. Stacking

Out of the fryer, the saddle-shaped chips are curved in one direction. Mechanized stacking equipment flips every other chip so they form a uniform, vertical stack.

7. Packaging

The iconic Pringles cans are manufactured separately then filled with stacked chips before sealing the ends. Cartoning machines then package the filled cans into cardboard boxes.

Quality Control

Throughout the manufacturing process, both human employees and automated systems inspect the chips for quality and consistency:

– Cameras detect imperfections and remove undercooked or broken chips

– Chips are weighed to ensure accurate quantities in each can

– Moisture sensors verify crispness

– Color sensors confirm uniform frying and seasoning

– Team members also visually inspect chips at multiple stages

This rigorous quality control ensures only perfectly shaped, crispy, flavorful chips get packaged into the final cans.


While Pringles may seem like an highly engineered snack food, at their core they start with simple potato flakes and vegetable oils. But it’s the proprietary combination of other starches, flavorings, and production steps that make them uniquely crunchy and delicious.

So next time you pop open a can of Pringles, you can appreciate the complex art and science behind producing these irresistible crisps!