Kale, as most of you probably know, is a really healthy dark green vegetable that is loaded with nutrients and vitamins, but the taste can be a bit strong for some taste buds, including mine!
I’ve tried eating kale in smoothies, salads, and other recipes, but it didn’t quite cut it for me taste wise. Then I heard about kale chips, which are very popular in health food stores, but they are ridiculously expensive.
So I decided to try my hands at making them myself at home, but I don’t own a food dehydrator, and most recipes that I’ve seen either call for one, or recommend using an oven at too high of a heat setting.
I figured I could use my oven to make these kale chips, but I wanted to somehow mimic the slow drying process of a food dehydrator, which would be a bit tricky because my oven only goes down to 170 F.
After a bit of research, and some trial and error, I finally found the perfect way to set the oven and time it for the most amazing, crispy kale chips you will ever eat!
Homemade Crispy Kale Chips
I must warn you, these kale chips are insanely addictive, and it took all the will power I had to not eat the entire batch before I had a chance to take a picture, ha ha!
The great thing about these kale chips is that you can literally dress them with whatever seasoning you choose, whether you keep them simple with just a bit of salt and pepper, or spice them up with chili powder and paprika (my fav!).
Just don’t make the same mistake I did and add too much salt to these, because once they dehydrate, that salt will be intense. I had to toss out my first batch because I overloaded it with salt. 🙁
Types Of Kale To Use
There are several different varieties of kale you can use for this recipe, but my favorites are the classic curly style kale, and the super dark green dino kale, but you can use whatever kale you fancy.
Kale is super healthy for you, and is loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and so many more benefits that you just shouldn’t pass up, but whichever kale variety you choose, just make sure it’s organic and fresh.
How To Use Your Oven As A Dehydrator
The trick to this recipe is how you use your oven, which will take a bit of patience and some attention, as you’ll be needing to adjust the temperature a few times during the process.
You’re going to set your oven at the lowest possible temperature it goes, which in my case is 170 F. The kale chips will slowly start to dehydrate in this temperature for about an hour, then you’re going to turn the oven off for another 45 minutes.
Once 45 minutes have passed, turn the oven back on to its lowest setting, and let the kale continue to dehydrate for another 20-25 minutes.
What this does is allow the moisture to gently release from the kale leaves, without actually “cooking” the kale. There are many recipes out there that call for much higher temperatures like 350 F or even 400 F, but the problem with these temps is that it actually “cooks” the kale instead of dehydrating them, which can leave them tasting bitter.
My method is to simulate a food dehydrator where the kale can slowly dehydrate, but retain its slightly sweet flavor, resulting in a super crispy kale chip!
Homemade Oven Crisped Kale Chips
Now I must say that this isn’t a quick process by any means, but if you’re looking for a really healthy snack option that will cost you pennies on the dollar to make, the time it takes is well worth it.
What You’ll Need
- 1-2 bunches of organic kale (any kale of your choice)
- 1-2 cookie sheets or sheet pans
- Seasonings of choice (I use Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast for a cheesy, nutty flavor)
- Pinch of salt
- Parchment paper or non-stick foil
- Olive oil or Avocado Oil
What To Do
- Preheat oven to 170 F, or the lowest setting it will go.
- Prepare your kale by stripping the leaves off the stalk. Break leaves into medium sized pieces, about 2-3 inches in diameter.
- Toss leaves into a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water.
- Dry off as much water as you can from the leaves (this is important!). If you have a salad spinner, use that, or you can use a few clean dish towels to absorb as much moisture as possible. The drier you can get the leaves, the better.
- Place the clean dried leaves into a large mixing bowl, and drizzle about a tablespoon of oil over top. You don’t want to over saturate the leaves, just coat them lightly so your seasoning has something to stick to.
- Add your seasonings of choice, then use your hands to gently squeeze the kale leaves together, almost massaging them with the seasoning. This helps break down some of the tough fibers in the kale making it easier to digest.
- Spread the kale out on parchment or foil lined baking sheets, making sure to have a nice even layer with some space between the leaves.
- Place the baking sheets with the kale in the preheated oven for 60 minutes. Set your timer!
- Once 60 minutes has passed, turn off the oven and leave the kale in for another 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, check the kale to see if it’s crispy yet (most likely it’s not). If it’s not dry and crispy, turn the oven back on to 170 F, or the lowest setting you had it on. Leave kale in for another 20-25 minutes.
- Check the kale periodically during this time for crispness. The timing will really depend on how much moisture was left on the leaves during prep. If you find that they kale is still a bit soggy, add another 10-15 minutes and repeat until done.
- Once done, the kale chips will be very light and airy, and super crispy with no sogginess.
Note: If you choose to add salt to the kale, I recommend adding a tiny pinch of it during the last 15 minutes of cook time. This will help prevent over salting as the kale dehydrates and concentrates the flavors of the seasoning.
Don’t Want To Make Your Own?
Even though I highly recommend making your own kale chips, I also understand that not everyone wants to sit around waiting for the oven, and I’ll admit that I do have a few backup bags of kale chips in the pantry for my uber lazy days.
Here are a few brands that I have tried, and feel taste pretty good:
- Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips, Variety Pack – I like these because they come in 4 different flavors to try like zesty nacho or jalapeno, so there’s something for everyone.
- Curt’s Classics Kale Chips – These have a nice nutty flavor to them due to the nutritional yeast and cashews they use. Very simple, but great flavor.
- Alive and Radiant, Kale Krunch – This is another one that I love because it has a smoky, cheesy, chipotle flavor.
Do you eat kale? Have you ever tried making your own kale chips? How did it go?