20 Types and Flavors of Calbee Chips in Japan

By Camilla Chandra
Updated: June 14, 2024

If you’ve never heard of Calbee, chances are you’ve probably still grabbed their snacks during a quick convenience store run in Japan at some point. As a top Japanese snack producer, their chips are perfect for when the munchies strike or when you need a last-minute potluck hero. 

The magic lies in their universal appeal: everyone loves a good, crunchy potato snack, making them the perfect intro to Japanese flavors without getting too adventurous. And in the quirky world of Japanese treats — think limited-edition Pocky and bizarre ice cream flavors — Calbee reigns supreme in the savory category. 

So, forget the boring salt-and-vinegar chips. Whether crinkle-cut or straight, dive into Calbee’s eclectic lineup. Who knows? You might just fall in love with seaweed-flavored chips.

What is Calbee?

A pile of Calbee Chips, showing off all different kinds of flavors.

Calbee is one of the leading snack manufacturers in Japan. Known for its potato chips, crisps and savory snacks. The company is particularly famous for its innovative and unique flavors, often incorporating traditional Japanese tastes and ingredients. Some of their most well-known products include Jagarico (a stick-shaped potato snack), Kappa Ebisen (shrimp-flavored crackers) and Harvest Snaps (a snack made from green peas, lentils and black beans). 

History of Calbee

Calbee was created by Matsuo Takashi in 1949, who found success in inventing Japan’s first wheat cracker. During the post-war period in Japan, rice, which was then commonly used to make rice crackers, was rationed and expensive, while wheat flour, imported in bulk from the United States, was abundant and affordable. 

This large supply of wheat flour prompted Matsuo to explore its potential for food production. His experimentation eventually led to the creation of Kappa Arare, Japan's first wheat cracker, and paved the way for the development of other wheat-based snacks like Kappa Ebisen. 

The company later expanded into potato chips in 1975, becoming renowned for its savory snacks that are loved by both kids and adults.

20 types and flavors of Calbee potato chips

7 types of Calbee chips

1. Classic Potato Chips

A close-up of classic potato chips.

It all starts with the classics. Calbee’s potato chips are whisper-thin and airy — the kind you easily finish before you even realize it, leaving you with a satisfying layer of seasoning on your fingers. 

You can easily find them at almost all convenience stores in Japan.

2. Potato Chips Crisp

The name says it all: crispy, not crunchy. While they may appear similar at first glance, Calbee’s Potato Chips Crisps are created differently. They start by crushing dried potatoes into flakes, much like making mashed potatoes, then molding and frying them. 

The result? A thickness and sturdiness reminiscent of Pringles. Interestingly, they switched from tube packaging to chip bags in 2024. As for the flavor, it's delightfully simple: choose from classic salt or umami-filled consomme.

3. Kataage Potato

A selection of chips on a shelf at the konbini, featuring the kataage potato variety mentioned in this blog.

The word "kataage" means "hard-fried," reflecting the careful, slow cooking process that gives these thickly sliced potatoes their firm texture. Kataage Potato chips are a sought-after Japanese souvenir, often containing an array of regional flavors only found by traveling.

4. Hanamoshio Potato Chips (Craft Calbee)

While frying potato chips with their skin on may not be revolutionary (arguably, some people prefer them), it’s certainly a delightful departure from the norm. Hanamoshi Potato Chips offer a more earthy flavor, with potatoes cut thickly and fried slowly to maintain their natural taste. 

Seasoned with “Hanamoshio,” a special salt harvested from the waters of the Seto Inland Sea, these chips boast a subtle seaweed profile that reveals itself if you take your time to savor them — although, with their natural crunch, we wouldn’t blame you for devouring them quickly.

5. Potato Deluxe

We've been touting "thickly cut" potato chips a lot already, but out of all the thickly cut varieties, this one takes the crown — specifically, it's three times as thick as the usual chip, resembling a Japanese coin. 

The regular flavors include a more premium version of salt and black pepper; the salt used is Lorraine rock salt, while the coarsely ground pepper adds a deep, robust flavor complemented by the umami of beef.

6. Atsugiri Potato Chips

An open bag of crinkle-cut chips, with a few chips spilling out of the bag.

Here are perfectly crinkle-cut chips with a sturdy build and satisfying crunch. These potato chips are made “atsugiri” style — meaning “thickly cut” — so they pair excellently with dips (think sour cream, salsa or avocado for a classic Americana twist). However, when enjoyed alone, there's a multitude of subtle flavor profiles to savor.

The lightly salted chips are crafted with two different types of salt, each with unique grain sizes, and boast hints of scallops, kelp and bonito. While the consomme flavor may seem familiar, there's a secret, borderline-questionable ingredient that sets it apart: cocoa. 

7. Thin Potatoes

Every once in a while, you crave something lighter — literally. Enter Calbee’s Thin Potatoes, the thinnest potato chips in their lineup. Fried with sunflower oil and packed into smaller sizes, these chips offer a satisfyingly crisp bite. We recommend trying the Golden Butter variety, which uses maple to complement the honey aroma and fermented butter.

13 flavors of Calbee Chips

8. Lightly Salted

The shelf of a konbini, showing the last bag of lightly salted Calbee Chips.

Just as a great restaurant's reputation often hinges on a single standout dish, potato chips are defined by their plain salted variety. Thankfully, Calbee passes the test with flying colors. 

Imagine perfectly crunchy, round chips with just the right balance of salt and enough umami to keep it addictive. The secret ingredient? A subtle hint of kelp that enhances the natural flavor of the potatoes.

9. Consomme Punch 

Consomme Punch and Honey Butter Calbee Chips on a konbini shelf.

It might take several munches before you can truly pinpoint the multi-layered flavor of these chips. The bottom line is that they are simply delicious. But for those wondering, Calbee’s Consomme Punch chips are liberally coated with beef, chicken and vegetable seasonings, with the exact recipe closely guarded. 

It’s a timeless taste that strikes a balance between the familiar and the refreshingly new. This flavor has evolved over the past 40 years through several recipe revisions. 

10. Seaweed Salt

Sure, seaweed may not be the quirkiest flavor anymore, but it’s often the first step you’d take before venturing to other atypical flavors. "Norishio" (meaning “seaweed salt” in Japanese) has been a long-standing product since its debut in 1976 for a reason. 

Picture just the right touch of sodium with a blend of umami-filled seaweed. There are undertones of scallops and rich green laver that add depth to the experience.

11. Honey Butter 

You want salty, they want sweet — why not have both in Calbee’s Honey Butter chips? The honey-butter duo is already a hit in Japan and Korea, and for good reason. The contrasting combination of sweet honey and buttery aroma makes each bite more addictive than the last. 

To make the flavor profiles more complex, Calbee adds seasonings of parsley, mascarpone cheese and lemon powder. 

12. Pizza Potato

Calbee Chips on a konbini shelf, featuring the pizza flavor at the center.

We have to admit, a cheese-flavored chip isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel — we're talking about the usual cheese powders here — but Calbee is onto something special with their Pizza Potato Chips. 

These crinkle-cut chips are loaded with actual cheese bits and packed with pizza flavor. It's a mini explosion of texture: you'll hear the rough, sharp crack of the chips, followed by the smooth melt of the cheese.

13. French Salad

The perfectly refreshing, slightly sour flavor can be found in a bag of Calbee’s French Salad chips. The thin-cut potato slices have a mild acidic vinegar tang and a burst of umami from olive oil, red pepper, parsley, black pepper and tomato. 

It might not be a salad in a potato chip bag, but it certainly stands out as a flavorful alternative that cuts through the usual high-sodium varieties.

14. Soy Sauce (Regional Specialty)

Warning: Once you try soy sauce potato chips, plain salted chips just won't hit the same. There’s both good and bad news in this revelation. The good news? There are several varieties of soy sauce from different regions to explore. 

The bad news? Calbee’s Soy Sauce Potato Chips are regional exclusives, meaning that depending on your location, you'll only find that specific variety. 

The White Soy Sauce is available in Chubu (Gifu, Aichi, Mie and Shizuoka); Kansai Dashi, infused with broth made from fish and seaweed stock seasoning, can be found in Chubu and Kinki regions; and Kyushu Soy Sauce is offered in Chugoku, Shikoku and Kyushu.

15. White Shrimp Flavor

Supermarket shelves filled with different types and flavors of Calbee Chips.

It's a blend of land and sea for this one. This unique flavor draws on the essence of white shrimp from Toyama Prefecture and the delicate touch of white soy sauce brewed in Aichi Prefecture. 

Available in: Chubu (Toyama Prefecture, Ishikawa Prefecture, Fukui Prefecture, Gifu Prefecture, Aichi Prefecture, Mie Prefecture, Shizuoka Prefecture)

16. Kansai Dashi Flavor

Kansai-style dashi stock is the main flavor profile. There’s a deeper, more subtle taste enhanced by savory notes of bonito and kelp. The result is a gentle-on-the-palate snack that doesn’t numb the tongue. 

Available in: Chubu (Toyama Prefecture, Ishikawa Prefecture, Fukui Prefecture), Kinki (Shiga Prefecture, Kyoto Prefecture, Osaka Prefecture, Hyogo Prefecture, Nara Prefecture, Wakayama Prefecture)

17. Sakura Shrimp Kakiage Flavor

Drawing inspiration from kakiage, a traditional tempura dish known for its mixture of small seafood or vegetables, this chip carries flavors of sakura shrimp from Suruga Bay in Shizuoka Prefecture. The savory essence evokes memories of indulging in sakura shrimp tempura at Yui Fishing Port.

Available in: Chubu (Shizuoka Prefecture)

18. Shikuwasa Flavor

A konbini shelf filled with Calbee Chips.

If you’re into zesty chips, grab this one. Shikuwasa limes are a citrus fruit unique to Okinawa. These limes are smaller than most varieties and boast a distinctive sour taste that combines elements of sweetness, tartness and refreshing acidity. The lime essence is matched with a ping from Ishigaki salt. 

Available in: Okinawa Prefecture

19. Kushikatsu Sauce Flavor

For this Kansai-exclusive item, each bag of chips comes with a packet of kushikatsu sauce, a Worcestershire-sauce-based condiment commonly used for dipping kushikatsu. Originating from Osaka, kushikatsu is a beloved street food consisting of skewered and deep-fried battered meat or vegetables.

Available in: Kinki (Shiga Prefecture, Kyoto Prefecture, Osaka Prefecture, Hyogo Prefecture, Nara Prefecture, Wakayama Prefecture)

20. Hot Chili Flavor

Calbee's Hot Chili chips are the real deal. They don't fall short on their spicy claims, and they pack a punch with garlic and enough kick to make your mouth water and your face hot. Not that it matters — you'll be reaching for another piece with red-dusted fingers either way.

The next time you’re on a midnight snack run at Family Mart, grab a pack of Calbee’s potato chips. They won’t disappoint. 

If you want to learn more about popular Japanese snacks, check out our blog on must-try snacks in Japan or put your taste buds to the test with this expert guide to spicy Japanese food.

Calbee chips in Japan FAQs

A handful of chips on a wooden serving tray.

Are Calbee chips Japan only available in Japan?

While Calbee chips originated in Japan, they are now popular in many parts of Asia. You can find them in specialty Asian grocery stores, online retailers, and even some mainstream supermarkets.

Are Calbee chips Japan gluten-free?

While not all Calbee chips are gluten-free, they do offer some options that cater to those with dietary restrictions, such as the Baked Pea Crisps in their Harvest Snaps range. Be sure to check the packaging for specific information on ingredients.

Are Japanese Calbee chips suitable for vegetarians or vegans?

Calbee offers a variety of chips that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans, but many flavors include extracts of animal or dairy byproducts, such as cheese, seafood or meat. Always check the packaging or contact the manufacturer for specific dietary information.

For information on what to look out for when checking the ingredients, read our guide to finding vegetarian and vegan food in Japan.

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Camilla Chandra
Originally from Indonesia, Camilla now lives and works in Tokyo. She writes about the Japanese language, food, travel — and just about anything that connects readers to Japan. On weekends, she's either running her 15k around the Imperial Palace or checking out the city's latest exhibitions.
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