Kale chips are all the rage, but not that easy to make. The recipe is simple and fast, yet tricky to master. Too much oil and they are soggy. Not enough spices and they are boring. Cooked too hot too fast, they can be quick to burn.
With these tips and a bit of practice, you can crisp your kale chips up to perfection. When done right, they will crunch like potato chips and melt in your mouth. A fun snack even the snackiest kids can't resist. Good enough for party appetizers, kale chips will be the talk of the party. Here are some kale-baking tips that will top those potato chips!
The most important tip is how to avoid burning kale chips. With popular recipes calling for 350 degrees for just ten minutes, they are quite easy to burn. The short baking time burns the delicate leaves before they crisp or even dry out. So mine would be either soggy or burnt. Now I go for more time with lower heat to crisp them up. I recommend 275 degrees for twenty minutes, but keep your eye on them and adjust for your oven.
Note: I gave my friend some kale and she made some wonderful kale chips. She bakes them for about ten minutes at 325 degrees, really watching them closely. So I'm not saying it can't be done. Experiment with what works for you.
De-stem the kale. We are working with just the leafy part, so you need to remove the tough stem or middle vein of the leaf. Rip the leaves off the stem or fold leaves in half and slice them off the stems with a sharp knife. Rip into bite size pieces.
The kale leaves should be dry. When they are freshly picked from my own organic garden and its not buggy season, I don't even wash them. If you wash your kale leaves, be sure to dry them in a salad spinner, roll them gently in a dishtowel, or give them some time to dry on the counter. And I mean really, really actually dry. Perhaps in a slower method, like a dehydrator, this might not be so important. It would be fun to try using a dehydrator, but I have not yet. For the purposes of this recipe, dry kale is key.
Don't use too much oil. Spray on oil or just a splash or two for a big bowl of leaves. I massage the oil into the leaves just a little bit, then add spices. The oil helps the spices stick.
Spices: My favorite magic melt-in-your-mouth ingredient is nutritional yeast. Good for you with iron and B vitamins (some are fortified with extra), nutritional yeast is delicious tossed on kale chips or popcorn. I also add salt and sometimes a dash of cayenne. Experiment with your favorite herb mixes.
Grow your own! The best kale varieties for kale chips are the curly ones. Curly kale holds the spices best and has more surface area to create more crispy edges. On our farm we planted Winterbor in the hoophouse for a crop of kale all winter long. Kale chips year-round!
Keep practicing! Kale chips take a bit of practice to master, so keep trying until they are perfect crisps.
• A big bunch of kale
• A splash of olive oil
• Nutritional yeast, a handful (or spice of your choice)
• Salt and cayenne, to taste (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Rinse and thoroughly dry kale leaves, if you are rinsing them.
3. Destem and rip into bite size pieces.
4. Toss dry ripped leaves in a bowl with a splash of olive oil, massaging in the oil just a bit (do not wilt the kale).
5. Add spices of your choice and toss until coated. Ilene's recommendations: nutritional yeast, salt and maybe a dash of cayenne
6. Spread leaves out on baking sheets. Bake at 275 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping leaves midway through. Monitor crispness near the end, adding a minute or two with observation, if necessary.
Note that the leaves will crisp up a little more as they cool on the counter, so its a bit experimental to know when they are done.
Ilene White Freedman operates House in the Woods organic CSA farm with her husband, Phil, in Frederick, Maryland. The Freedmans are one of six 2013 MOTHER EARTH NEWS Homesteaders of the Year. Ilene blogs about making things from scratch, putting up the harvest, gardening and farm life at MOTHER EARTH NEWS and the farm's Facebook Page. More about House in the Woods Farm.
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