Nacho Cheese vs. Cool Ranch Doritos

Doritos are one of the most beloved snack chips around. With their crispy corn tortilla base and addictively flavorful seasoning, these triangular chips have become a widely known junk food.

Nacho Cheese vs. Cool Ranch Doritos

Two flavors in particular have emerged as fan favorites over the years: Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch. Both offer a bold, zesty flavor profile.

A Brief History of Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos

To understand the appeal behind each flavor, it helps to learn some history. Nacho Cheese Doritos made their debut in 1972 as Doritos’ first flavored tortilla chip offering. The blend of cheddar, Romano, and other seasonings aimed to mimic the classic bar snack of nachos loaded with melted cheese. It was an instant hit.

Cool Ranch Doritos came later in 1986, playing off the growing popularity of ranch dressing at the time. It delivered a blast of cooling seasoning with undertones of buttermilk and herbs. While some felt it didn’t pair naturally with tortilla chips, most fans were won over by the unique, tangy flavor.

Over the years, both Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch have become such ubiquitous flavors that no party or snack run feels complete without a bag of each variety on hand. Their distinctive seasonings are now deeply embedded into our cultural nostalgia and junk food cravings.

Flavor Profile Analysis

When it comes down to taste alone, how do Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos compare? Let's break it down by key flavor attributes.

Initial Flavor Impact

Right off the bat as the chip hits your tongue, Nacho Cheese makes a bold first impression. The bright, spicy blend of cheddar, spices, and tomato powder announce themselves loudly. You get an instant hit of salty, cheesy goodness.

By contrast, Cool Ranch starts off milder with cooling notes of buttermilk and herbs upfront. The seasoning has a more subdued intro, slowly building as you continue chewing. Those expecting a huge nacho cheese-like punch are often underwhelmed initially.

Key Takeaway: Nacho Cheese has superior instant flavor impact compared to Cool Ranch's slower build.

Depth of Flavor

While Nacho Cheese makes a big entrance, some feel it lacks the complexity and evolution of taste that Cool Ranch delivers. As you continue chewing each chip, Cool Ranch’s flavor develops across sweet, spicy, tangy, and savory notes. The buttermilk ranch blend unveils subtle layers over time.

On the flip side, Nacho Cheese’s boldness never wavers but it remains largely one-dimensional in taste from start to finish. It may satisfy cravings for salt and spice but fails to provide the dynamic flavor rollercoaster of its rival.

Key Takeaway: Cool Ranch has greater depth and evolution of flavor while Nacho Cheese stays flat in taste over time.


When it comes to which Doritos flavor you’ll be craving again and again, Nacho Cheese emerges as the winner for many. Its direct hit of salty cheese goodness is highly addictive. Even when trying other flavors, our mind and taste buds end up longing for the familiar comfort of Nacho Cheese time and time again.

While delivering initial intrigue, Cool Ranch’s peculiar flavor profile struggles to match that craveability long-term for most snackers. Some even report feeling “ranch flavor fatigue” after a serving or two of Cool Ranch chips. By contrast, we never seem to tire of nacho cheese’s reliable satisfaction.

Key Takeaway: Nacho Cheese rates higher in long-term snack craveability compared to the short-lived appeal of Cool Ranch.

Flavor AttributeNacho CheeseCool Ranch
First ImpressionBold, punchyMild, slower buildup
Depth of FlavorOne-dimensionalComplex, evolving
CraveabilityHighly addictiveDiminishing returns


Beyond pure taste differences, Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos each shine in certain snacking situations. Understanding their situational strengths can help determine which bag best suits your needs.

Party Pairings

Picture the chips and dips spread at your average party. You'll likely find nacho cheese sauce, salsa, guacamole, and other dips that pair fantastically with Nacho Cheese Doritos. The flavors complement each other perfectly.

Meanwhile, Cool Ranch chips tend to clash with traditional party dip pairings. The cooling ranch seasoning fights again the heat of salsa or richness of queso. Hence, when appetizers and dipping are involved, Nacho Cheese Doritos better suit the occasion.

However, Cool Ranch redeems itself as a unique stand-alone snack. Its edgy flavor profile attracts attention and conversation without dips overpowering it. So for more casual grab-and-go snacking, Cool Ranch has flexibility on its side.

Key Takeaway: Nacho Cheese Doritos make superior party pairings with dips while Cool Ranch functions better as a solo snack.

Snack Session Length

Perhaps the most polarizing area where Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch fans spar concerns length of snack sessions. Devout fans argue one flavor has greater staying power and ability to deliver snack satisfaction marathon-style.

Members of Team Nacho Cheese argue it never loses its appeal, allowing you to keep reaching for more chips until the bag runs out. Its straightforward cheese flavoring never wears out its welcome. By contrast, some claim Cool Ranch’s initial appeal fades fast, leaving an unpleasant aftertaste by your tenth chip or so.

However, Team Cool Ranch disputes arguments about diminishing returns. They maintain Cool Ranch's depth of seasoning allows for long snack sessions without flavor fatigue ever setting in. Plus, they view Nacho Cheese devotees as trapped in lackluster monotony by comparison.

No consensus winner emerges here as personal preferences dictate ideal snack session duration. But matching chips to your snacking habits seems the best approach. Marathon munchers lean Nacho Cheese while those wanting variety tend toward Cool Ranch.

Key Takeaway: Preferred snack session length - marathon versus moderation - determines whether Nacho Cheese or Cool Ranch better satisfies needs.

Nutritional Value Comparison

Today's health conscious snackers want guilt-free indulgence from their junk food. How do Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos stack up nutritionally? Let's dig into the numbers.

Ingredients & Allergens

Both Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos stick to simple, familiar ingredient lists. But a few differences exist concerning potential allergens.

Nacho Cheese uses actual Romano and cheddar cheese products along with tomato powder and MSG for flavoring. Meanwhile, Cool Ranch relies on milk powder, corn maltodextrin, and yeast extract to emulate that dairy ranch taste without actual cheese ingredients.

Subsequently, Nacho Cheese Doritos contain milk derivatives while Cool Ranch chips have none. For lactose-sensitive snackers, this gives Cool Ranch the advantage. However, some object to its use of yeast extract as an additive.

Overall, both flavors avoid controversial ingredients but Nacho Cheese does carry more allergen risks. People with dairy restrictions specifically may find Cool Ranch the safer option.

Key Takeaway: Cool Ranch Doritos edge out Nacho Cheese in allergen considerations for containing no actual dairy products.

Fat, Sodium, and Calories

When comparing nutrition labels side by side, you may be surprised to discover Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos share near identical nutritional profiles.

Both flavors clock in at 140 calories per serving with 8 grams of fat and 270 milligrams sodium. Carb, protein, and sugar content are also essentially equal. These numbers classify both varieties as fairly indulgent snack options pamphlet equal guilt to Nacho Cheese devotees.

Ultimately, no clear healthier option emerges in the great Nacho Cheese versus Cool Ranch debate if using fat, salt, calories, and other common dietary factors as your guide. Indulge away in either flavor without nutrition-based remorse!

Key Takeaway: No measurable nutritional differences exist between Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos as both rate as indulgent snack choices.

Public Perception & Popular Opinion

With no clear consensus on the Nacho Cheese versus Cool Ranch debate based on taste and nutrition comparisons alone, it helps to examine outside opinions as well. Surveys and public commentary provide perspective into broader views.

Branding Associations

Walk down the chip aisle and you may spot a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos quicker than Nacho Cheese. The distinctive blue bag and bolder font catch your eye instantly. By contrast, the orange packaging of Nacho Cheese blends in familiarly with grocery store surroundings.

This aligns with broader perceptions of each flavor's branding:

  • Cool Ranch feels modern, innovative, and attention-grabbing
  • Nacho Cheese delivers classic, old reliable cravings

The approachability of Nacho Cheese makes it universally appealing. But Cool Ranch offers greater intrigue and snack style points for some fans. It risks turning away traditional palates but for nonconformists, that’s the attraction.

Key Takeaway: Nacho Cheese rates dependable and safe in branding perceptions while Cool Ranch wins points for edgy, contemporary appeal.

Flavor Popularity

Surveys and sales data provide perspective into real-world perceptions of Nacho Cheese versus Cool Ranch Doritos’ popularity. The numbers vary between region and demographics but some clear winners emerge.

A poll by Pickle analyzed responses from 655 self-identified Doritos lovers nationwide. It found 46% favored Cool Ranch chips compared to just 28% who ranked Nacho Cheese as their top pick.

This suggests that among diehard snack enthusiasts who eat Doritos routinely, Cool Ranch holds an edge in overall flavor favorability. However, Nacho Cheese likely maintains higher general brand awareness and sales volume thanks to its historic first-to-market legacy.

Analyzing the data shows a blurrier picture than definitive overwhelming support on either side. Preference depends much on individual taste buds and snack habits. Both Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch have carved out solid fan bases over decades.

Key Takeaway: Cool Ranch rates a slight majority favor with dedicated snackers in flavor popularity polls while Nacho Cheese leads historically in universal recognizability.

The Final Verdict

Factoring in all evidence on taste, branding, nutritional value and real-world reception, what’s the final word on the Nacho Cheese vs Cool Ranch debate?

Which Doritos flavor reigns supreme comes down to personal priorities more than measurable superiority in any one area. Those wanting dependable indulgence can rely upon Nacho Cheese for the win. But fans seeking bolder, more complex flavor turn to Cool Ranch first.

For versatility, Nacho Cheese functions better as party food and satisfies cravings long-term. Yet Cool Ranch takes the lead in visual branding impact and delivering evolving depth of taste for those wanting excitement from their snacks versus plain reliability.

Comparing strengths and weaknesses shows both Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch hold legitimate claims to greatness. There’s no consensus champion flavor given the diverse preferences and situations people eat Doritos. Nacho Cheese offers classic nostalgic indulgence while Cool Ranch provides contemporary twist. Determining the better flavor ultimately lies with each individual snacker’s own taste buds.


Which flavor was created first?

As noted in the history overview earlier, Nacho Cheese Doritos first launched in 1972, preceding Cool Ranch by 14 years. Nacho Cheese was the brand’s inaugural flavored tortilla chip. So by longevity metrics, it claims original status.

Where is Cool Ranch called something else?

Americans know it as Cool Ranch but abroad the flavor goes by Cool American in Europe and some other regions. The name change owes to ranch dressing being a largely American culinary phenomenon that much of the world hasn’t adopted.

Do other countries have different Doritos flavors?

Yes, both the United States and international markets sell exclusive Doritos flavors. Some examples include Salsa Verde Doritos in Mexico, Crispy Chicken Doritos sold in China, and Chilli Heatwave flavors popular across Europe and Australia.

Which actors or celebs love each flavor?

Various celebrity Doritos endorsers have singled one variety or the other as their favorite. Actor Ryan Reynolds and comedian Ali Wong both proclaimed fandom for Cool Ranch. Meanwhile stars like Mindy Kaling and Lil Nas X declared Nacho Cheese as their Doritos flavor of choice in interviews when asked to weigh in.

Do Doritos sell more Nacho Cheese or Cool Ranch overall?

Unfortunately exact sales data by flavor isn’t public information. But most industry analysts estimate traditionally popular Nacho Cheese continues to edge out Cool Ranch in overall lifetime units sold. However, Cool Ranch has closed the gap significantly in recent years thanks to its surging popularity with newer generations of snackers.


The debates and comparisons explored here around Nacho Cheese versus Cool Ranch Doritos just scratch the surface on this beloved snack food’s passion and history. Whichever side you land on, just remember: flavor preferences remain deeply personal.

Rather than feuding, we should celebrate having two great options to suit moods. Nacho Cheese satisfies our cheese cravings while Cool Ranch cools us down with its herbs and spices.

Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀
Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀

I'm a total cheese fanatic! When I'm not busy studying to be a cheesemaker, you can find me scouring local farmers markets and specialty shops for new and exciting cheeses to try. Brie is my all-time fave, but I also love exploring aged goudas, funky blues, and rich creamy camemberts. Looking forward to sharing lots of melty, gooey cheese pics and reviews!