Corn chips are a snack food made from corn. The corn is made into a dough and formed into shapes such as scoops or triangles, and then the corn chips are baked, deep fried, or simply dried. A closely related concept is the corn tortilla chip, a type of chip often served at Mexican restaurants. Although both snacks use corn, they are made in slightly different ways. Many markets sell corn chips, usually in the same area which holds other snack foods like potato chips and packaged cookies.
The corn in regular corn chips may be dried or used fresh, but it is not processed with lime to make masa. It usually takes the form of cornmeal, corn which has been dried and then ground into flour. The flavor of corn chips may be altered with additions such as chilies, herbs, vegetables, or juice of lemons and limes. Other ingredients such as wheat flour may be added to stretch the corn or achieve a particular desired flavor.
Often, corn chips come in the form of scoops or wedges which are designed to pick up sauces and dips which may be served with them. Corn chips may also be puffed, in which case they may be eaten alone or dipped in a sauce for a light coating of flavor. Many companies make baked or puffed corn chips because they tend to be healthier than deep fried versions. Like other snack foods, corn chips are often heavily salted.
In the case of corn tortilla chips, corn is made into masa and then formed into tortillas. The tortillas are cut into wedges or chunks and then baked or deep fried to make chips. These corn chips are a popular offering with Latin American cuisine, and they are often brought out with salsa or guacamole as an appetizer. Stale versions may be included in things like tortilla soup and Mexican-inspired casseroles. Tortilla corn chips are very easy to make at home, either from home made tortillas or store bought versions.
In either instance, corn chips are packaged tightly, as they will acquire an unpleasant taste and texture if they are allowed to stale. After opening, corn chips should be resealed tightly in their bag, or repacked in a fresh container which can be sealed. Some unusual variants on corn chips include chips made with blue corn, or chips dressed with lime and tequila for a particularly zesty eating experience.