Ranch has always struck me as the dark horse of snack food flavors. It’s not cheesy; it’s not spicy; it’s not many people’s first choice; and yet, those who love ranch-flavored things really love ranch-flavored things. It is to those people, therefore, that I dedicate this post: Ranch-flavored Cheetos exist. Or, more precisely, spicy ranch-flavored Cheetos exist. They’re called Flamin’ Hot Chipotle Ranch Cheetos — meaning they’re part of the infamous Flamin’ Hot line of Cheetos — and if you happen to be a ranch connoisseur, you might want to consider throwing these in you basket the next time you go shopping for snacks.
Flamin’ Hot Chipotle Ranch Cheetos made their initial debut at little more than a year ago at the 2017 Sweets and Snacks Expo, according to Delish. Held between May 23 and 25 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, the expo that year — which, by the way, was also its 20th anniversary — saw the arrival of a variety of treats that have gone on to become candy and snack aisle mainstays, including Caramel M&Ms, Sweet Heat Skittles, and birthday cake-flavored Red Vines. Flamin’ Hot Chipotle Ranch Cheetos, however, seem to have flown somewhat under the radar; indeed, despite being barely a year old, they’re nowhere to be found on the Frito-Lay website. Additionally, the Influenster page for them notes them as being “discontinued.” Whomp, whomp.
However, they’re still readily available online via Target, Walmart, and Amazon — and it’s a good thing, because apparently they’re awesome. Snack food website Junk Banter, who taste-tested them in July of 2017, called them “exceptional”; according to that particular review, the Cheetos were “very spicy,” but not as spicy as original Flamin’ Hot Cheetos due to the ranch seasoning “[mellowing] the heat simply by offering some balance rather than a distinct cooling sensation.”
The Chip Review examined the treat more recently — in May of 2018 — but also noted that the “zest” of the Flamin’ Hot spice worked well when “mixed with a cool salad dressing kick.” The Impulsive Buy, meanwhile, was slightly less complimentary overall, largely because the reviewer over there simply has a preference for original Flamin’ Hot Cheetos; that said, though, the snack still earned points for the flavor, which the review favorably compared to Fritos Honey BBQ Flavor Twists.
While Flamin’ Hot Chipotle Ranch Cheetos might be a little difficult to come by these days, the good news is that they’ve got a cousin who is bountiful in today’s market: Summertime Ranch Cheetos Stars made their debut earlier this year as a seasonal specialty for 2018. According to Junk Banter, this new snack is sort of like what might happen if Flamin’ Hot Chipotle Ranch Cheetos “lost the hot, lost the chipotle, and gained some stars” — and even though they’re not spicy, they still bring the cool, creamy appeal of ranch dressing to crispy, crunchy Cheetos.
Noting the similarities between the ingredients list for Doritos’ Cool Ranch powder and the ranch powder used on Cheetos’ Summertime Ranch Stars, Junk Banter praised Cheetos as a “more neutral canvas” for the powder to adorn, which “really [allowed] the Ranch flavor to take command.” Snack Cellar similarly described the star-shaped, ranch-flavored Cheetos as “[edging out Cool Ranch Doritos in terms of actual ranch-iness,” although the site found the puffy stars to be “too light and airy to really hold their own against the bold Summertime Ranch seasoning.”
Anyhoo, if you’re looking for the OG ranch Cheetos, Flamin’ Hot Chipotle Ranch Cheetos will set you back around $3 for an 8.5-ounce bag via Amazon; you’ll pay a little more at Target (they’re around $3.80 in my neck of the woods), although the benefit here is that you might be able to pick them up in-store, rather than having to wait for them to get shipped to you.
Can’t find ‘em? Go ahead and dunk regular Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in a bowl of ranch dressing. Weirder things have happened in the snack world before.