The Best Spicy Snacks That Are Also Healthy
What is it about spicy snacks that make them so addictively delicious? Is it the crunchiness? The level of heat? The maddeningly tasty combination of limes, lemon, and jalapeños? These are the types of snacks where you say you’re going to have just one, and ten minutes later, there’s nothing left but an empty bag and the guilty-looking crumbs on your shirt.
There’s just something about hot snacks and spicy chips that make us want to keep munching and crunching along, even if our taste buds are begging for mercy. When you finally sip that ice-cold beverage to cool things down, it’s an extra satisfying part of the snack time experience.
Some of us take it a step further and put hot sauce on everything, from sriracha almonds and peanuts to cayenne pepper stir-fry or chili pepper pumpkin seeds. Heck, some of us even put chili powder in our salad!
However, spicy snack lovers might find themselves in a dilemma when it comes to snack selection. Most of those store-bought chips, puffs, and crackers are just not all that good for you when you run the numbers.
They tend to be high in carbs and cholesterol, low in grams of protein, and leave a lot to be desired in terms of extra nutrients like fiber - not to mention a series of shady preservatives that you’d rather not get involved with. As a spicy snack connoisseur, what are you supposed to do if you love the spice level but hate the empty calories and additives?
We’re happy to report that you’ve got more options than you might think when it comes to healthy, spicy snacks. In this list, we’ll walk you through some of the best options to look for in stores, and some tips for making spicy snacks at home that are easy on the wallet and satisfy everyone in the household. So let’s get to the spicy goodness, stat!
Spicy IS Healthy!
Let’s clear the air about spicy snacks before we get into our favorite foods. Spice is naturally very healthy and gives you a ton of great benefits for the body and mind - so long as you keep things natural and avoid the junk.
If you’ve been led to believe that spicy foods are dangerous or unhealthy for any reason, think again! Some of the world’s top nutrition experts at the University of Chicago say that spicy foods help us fight inflammation, boost immunity, and even prolong our lifespans. So...you might be able to say that spicy foods are basically magic.
The not-so-secret ingredient in natural spices are the chemical compounds known as capsaicinoids, responsible for overloading our palates with flavor and that “hot” sensation we crave. Black pepper, Jalapeno, Habanero - all the greatest hits we know and love - they each have unique compounds that offer unique tastes and benefits (and set your mouth on fire, but that’s kind of the point).
Spices have so many therapeutic benefits that they’re even sold in capsule form. Take some turmeric and you’ll feel the burn in a good way!
A little spice goes a long way when you’re cooking at home or grabbing a back of snacks from the store. Just be cautious if you’ve got stomach issues or you aren’t accustomed to eating these aggressive spices. You may end up with some discomfort in the lower regions, so start slow and work your way up the ladder of spice!
All in all, spice is great for the body in reasonable portions, and you’ll also end up drinking more water throughout the day to keep the heat at bay. More hydration, faster metabolism, reduced inflammation - that’s a win for your health on every front.
As we mentioned earlier, spiciness can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you eat it. Those bright orange, super-processed chips with unpronounceable ingredients? Maybe not the best way to heat up your snack situation.
A much better approach is to find snacks that are naturally spicy and don’t have to be put through the wringer to reach your plate or bowl. In other words, the fewer steps required to go from earth to table, the better.
As long as you remember that, there are some certified superfoods out there that pack their fair share of spice.
Wasabi peas rightfully earn the top spot on this list, offering an other-worldly level of crunch and plenty of heat to keep you munching. If you’ve never had this snack before, you might want to keep the fire extinguisher (or maybe just some iced tea) nearby.
Not all wasabi peas are going to set off alarms, and some even include a dash of sweetness to offset the heat. Nevertheless, you get a solid serving of protein in each handful, which means you don’t have to eat that many to be satisfied.
Spicy edamame is in a similar category, and this time, soybeans are the main event. There are many pre-packaged edamame products out there that will hit the spot without burning up your palate. Just keep an eye on those sodium levels, because these snacks can get salty!
Keep your eyes open for spicy versions of your favorite snacks as you browse the aisles and shop online, as well. Love to chew on beef jerky or a vegan alternative? Find a chipotle or jalapeno flavor to kick things up a notch. Are you an organic popcorn fan? There’s bound to be a chile-powder version that you can enjoy for your next movie night.
Once you expand your palate of spices, you’ll start seeing tasty, healthy snacks everywhere you look!
Sauces and Dips
Now and then you’ll just want to kick back with some tortilla chips or veggie sticks and do some good old-fashioned dipping. It’s fun, relaxing, and a great way to snack socially.
There are some great spicy sauces and dips out there, but once again, watch out for traps like saturated fat, sugar, and excessive salt. Just read a few labels to find out that those standard salsas have hidden ingredients that maybe aren’t the best for you.
We recommend sticking with organic salsas without additives and preservatives, or an all-natural hummus with some red pepper flakes for heat.
Better yet, make your own versions of these dips and spreads at home! If you have a food processor and some basic knife skills, you’re pretty much a pro chef—at least when it comes to dip. Not only do you make the most of your fresh produce, but you also know exactly how much heat is going into every batch. Total control over the spice = a much more satisfying snack.
Salsa is just the beginning. Try adding some heat to your next batch of guacamole or make a spicy yogurt dip with your favorite Greek yogurt or vegan alternative. Harness the power of the spice rack, and you can create the superheroes of the snack world—just remember, with great power comes great responsibility.
Seasonings that Satisfy
Let’s say you’ve only just begun your foray into the world of spices, and you aren’t quite sure where to start. We were once in your shoes (okay, not literally your shoes, unless you’re also wearing white sneakers), standing in the spice section of the grocery store with no idea what to do. Turmeric, paprika, cumin - different mixes of exotic spices we’ve never heard of - it’s not as easy as it looks!
Do your best to learn about all the amazing spices of the world, but in the meantime, you’ll want some reliable seasonings that you simply cannot mess up. That’s exactly why we created our variety pack of PigOut Pigless Bacon Seasonings - perfect for spicing up your next snack.
You read that right. These seasonings are formulated to deliver real bacon flavor with no piggies involved! If you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or have a close friend or family member who doesn’t eat meat, this is a meaty dream come true.
Our standard bacon flavor slaps, but the spice addicts out there will definitely want to try our Hella Hot flavor first. It’s loaded with big flavors - paprika, habanero, and even the legendary ghost pepper chile! Don’t worry; you can handle it.
The next time you air-pop some popcorn, make a batch of roasted chickpeas, or try out some homemade spicy trail mix in the oven, hit it with a generous portion of our amazing spices and get snacking! It’s never been so easy to up the spice factor without going overboard or dealing with annoying trial and error.
Level Up Your Snacks
When you first start spicing up your snack repertoire, it’s a ton of fun, and you can’t get enough. Maybe you’re baking your own kale chips, making spicy tofu crumbles, or creating tasty dips from scratch to share with your friends and family.
Sometimes, however, you just want to bust open a bag of tasty, spicy snacks and dig in, without all the extra work. That’s what our PigOut Pigless Pork Rinds are for! Vegan snacks packed with protein and so much crunch. Nacho Cheese, Texas BBQ, and yes, Hella Hot - they’re all available. You’re welcome.
Check out Outstanding Puffs if you want even more flavors and a classic puffy snack format. So much protein and so many key nutrients - this is a meal replacement you’ll actually want to eat.
We wish you the best on your snack journey. Stay spicy!