Food/ How-To/ Vegetarian

How to Bake the Perfect Kale Chips

Perfect Kale ChipsI almost feel silly writing a post titled “How to Bake the Perfect Kale Chips” because it sounds so simple, right? Wash kale. Toss kale in olive oil. Put kale on a baking sheet. Season. Bake. Mow down. However, if you’ve ever attempted to bake kale chips yourself, chances are you’ve ended up with a crap-batch at least once – and if you’re like me, you’ve sworn off of doing it again by chalking kale chips up to “just another kale fad” to make yourself feel better.

There is definitely a certain degree of care (and heck, patience!) that must go into turning vegetables and legumes into healthy, crispy treats. This is exactly why it’s so much easier to just grab that bag of chips in your pantry and crunch away with a mischievous grin on your face but hey – if I told you the care and patience was worth the end result, would you give this a go? Because not only are these crispy kale chips delicious, but they are so delicious that you won’t even make it to the couch; you’ll eat the entire tray while standing over the stove top as the tray cools. Therefor you’re snacking while standing as opposed to being sprawled out on the couch. Snacking while standing as opposed to snacking while laying down has to count for something, right? (I’m grasping at straws here, guys. Can you tell I’m one of those desperate snackers seeking justification in all the snacking I do?)

The first few times I made kale chips, the end results were on opposites ends of the spectrum: one batch turned into a tray of green slime (too much oil) while the other batch resembled the remnants of a burning newspaper pile (too much heat). Humiliated, I tried to pass it off as acceptable. “No these are fine, I love crispy. These will do, it’s no big deal.”  And then after a few hours of coughing up black bits, I made an angry Facebook status about how dumb these “turning vegetables into delicious treats that’ll make you forget actual treats” fads were.

BUT LET’S TALK ABOUT HOW WRONG I WAS!

Perfect Kale Chips 4

Kale chips, when prepared properly, are kind of a big deal. You can basically eat an entire batch of kale (and yes, I did) without hating yourself. You can season it however you’d like, but I like to keep is simple with kosher salt and ground black pepper.

First, let’s talk about the things you want to avoid because ultimately, these are the most important things to keep in mind and there are a whopping nine of them. Gosh, kale! You’re so high maintenance!

  1. Stems – Just chuck’em. Kale stems aren’t pleasant to eat in any way; the leaves are where it’s at.
  2. Small pieces – Kale shrinks as it bakes, so small pieces will shrink into nothingness and you’ll be left with what might be better off referred to as kale crumbs rather than kale chips. Tear your kale into nice large pieces.
  3. Wet kale  – You’re obviously going to wash your kale, just make sure that you dry it well. Invite some absorbent paper towels to the party; pat and press until you’ve soaked up any and all moisture leaving the leaves dry to the touch. Any water left will steam the kale chips and you’ll end up with mushy kale – not what you’re looking for.
  4. Too much oil – Too much oil sounds like an obvious one, but what isn’t obvious is just how little “too much” can be. For one large baking tray of kale chips, I only use 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but the key is to get your hands in there and massage the oil into the kale. After a few tosses and rubs, you’ll see that the oil is distributed very nicely and evenly. The kale will have a slight oily glisten, but the leaves aren’t completely wet. This is definitely what you want.
  5. Wet dressings before baking – Just don’t do it. Yes, of course I’ve imaged what kale chips might taste like tossed in Sriracha sauce – I imagine that about everything before I make it. But any added moisture, besides the little amount of oil you’ve already used, is a recipe for disaster – the disaster being slimy kale. You can drizzle whatever you want on your kale after it’s been baked (sparingly, though) and right before you eat it.
  6. Too much seasoning – I love seasoning – especially salty seasonings – but it’s easy to over-do it with kale chips because it’s easy to forget how delicate kale is in chip form. Really, it becomes thinner than paper, so what seems like a fair amount of seasoning can become really overpowering in the end. The best way to avoid over-seasoning kale chips is to use half of the seasoning that you’re tempted to use. Fight that temptation – FIGHT IT. If you feel the chips aren’t seasoned enough in the end, you can simply add more.
  7. Over-lapping on the baking sheet – Over-lapping kale leaves will leave you with an uneven bake. You want your kale to cook and crisp up evenly, so you need to spread your kale out evenly. If you have to use two baking trays, then you have to use two baking trays. If you have to bake the kale in batches, so be it! It will be worth the wait in the end when you have crispy kale chips. 
  8. High heat – In my early days of roasting vegetables, it wasn’t uncommon for me to smoke out the kitchen and set off the fire alarm. Oil + high heat, who would have thought, right? The best way to avoid this is to bake the kale chips at a low temp. Baking at 300° F for approx. 10-15 minutes (depending on your oven) has been perfect in my experiences thus far.
  9. Browned kale – I feel like with baking, I’m always looking for something to start “browning” as an indicator for it being ready (like the edges of cookies). This is not the case with kale. Kale can actually turn into a chip all while keeping it’s bright green color. Don’t base the readiness of your kale chips by eyeballing the color, because browned kale is nothing but overdone.

Unfortunately there is no TL;DR version of this. Actually, all of my failed kale chip attempts were because I skimmed the how-to’s, so hey – sometimes you have to take the time and actually read things in order to learn – again, that whole patience thing!

 

Perfect Kale Chips 3

Perfect Kale Chips 2

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Perfect Kale Chips

10Prep Time

15Cook Time

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups of raw kale, torn into leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300° F.
  2. Chop the stems from the kale leaves and discard.
  3. Wash the kale and lay it flat on absorbent paper towels. Pat and press with more paper towels until the kale is completely dry.
  4. Tear the kale leaves into large bite-size pieces (consider that they shrink as they bake) and place into a large bowl.
  5. Drizzle 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over the kale.
  6. With clean bare hands, toss the kale and gently massage the oil into the kale leaves. Do this until all of the kale leaves are evenly coated with a very thin layer of oil.
  7. Place the kale leaves on a baking sheet, spread out evenly, no over-lapping.
  8. Lightly season the kale chips with kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper. Season sparingly - you can always add more later, but you can't remove what you've already added.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet and bake for another 5 minutes, or until the kale has reached a good level of crispiness.
  10. Remove and let stand for a few minutes.
  11. Eat ALL the kale.
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https://www.killingthyme.net/2015/12/16/perfect-kale-chips/

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Amanda
    December 24, 2015 at 9:53 pm I have never tried kale chips...it just seemed like to much work, but this seems so simple I may just give it a try! I love this tutorial...I would have tried the siracha, now I'll leave it alone!
    • Reply
      danakristen.b@gmail.com
      December 28, 2015 at 2:32 pm Hey Amanda, I'm glad you found this useful! They do sounds like a lot of work, and honestly, they are a bit of a commitment since you want to take your time and ensure everything is done correctly - but it's so worth it. And yeah, I'm one of those people who would have totally thought it genius to add Sriracha (because, Sriracha on ALL THE THINGS!) but definitely skip that. I wonder if I can come up with a way to create a Sriracha salt. You've got my wheels turning now, girl!
  • Reply
    Willow
    December 23, 2015 at 7:46 pm I love kale chips! It is so easy to eat an entire head of kale when they are made into chips!
  • Reply
    Diane
    December 21, 2015 at 9:50 pm Yes! I can relate! We grow our own kale. I was quite looking forward to kale chips until I made a batch. We had the 'burning newspaper look. They were charred and yucky. Never tried them again! We love them fresh. Maybe,with these great instructions, I will give it another go!
    • Reply
      danakristen.b@gmail.com
      December 23, 2015 at 10:29 am Awesome, I hope these tips work for you, Diane! For some reason I don't enjoy kale raw. I think it's the texture - I wish I loved it, though. But as chips, or thrown into a smoothie, game on!
  • Reply
    Renee
    December 19, 2015 at 2:14 pm I am right there with you!! I've skimmed the how to's, thought how hard can it be?,and ended up with things that in no way resemble a chip and crumble to ash before I can taste them. I think you may have inspired me to give it another try. At least I now know what to do with all that kale in my backyard!
    • Reply
      danakristen.b@gmail.com
      December 23, 2015 at 10:28 am Hey Renee! I'm so glad that I was able to spark your interest in trying these once again. I'm so so glad that I did, and glad that I ended up featuring this on the blog after all. I wasn't sure if the kale chip idea was too "2013" for me to both - but it seems as though people are still interested. Probably people like me...who failed at kale chip during the peak of it's craze.
  • Reply
    khadija
    December 19, 2015 at 12:26 am I have made kale chips once in my life! when they were the pinterest craze, rem? and yes they failed. i'll pin this for the next time i want to attempt to make them, especially for my friend who loves chips, make him eat some healthy chips instead
    • Reply
      danakristen.b@gmail.com
      December 23, 2015 at 10:22 am Oh yes - the Pinterest craze of Kale chips! I really hope that these work out well for you, Khadija. Warning - they are addicting. You may not save any for that friend of yours :P Haha.
  • Reply
    Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy
    December 18, 2015 at 9:44 pm I LOVE kale chips....and have a hard time sharing them when I make them...that is why I have to make a huge batch. Certainly a great and healthy snack!!
    • Reply
      danakristen.b@gmail.com
      December 23, 2015 at 10:20 am Haha, oh Gloria, I'm the same! I have a hard time leaving the kitchen until the tray is completely empty!
  • Reply
    Laura
    December 18, 2015 at 6:32 pm You are so right about them being tricky! I have had mixed results and your tips will encourage me to try them again. Thanks!
    • Reply
      danakristen.b@gmail.com
      December 23, 2015 at 10:18 am Hey, Laura! I'm glad that you find these tips encouraging. I hope they work out for you!
  • Reply
    Brittany at I Love Vegan
    December 18, 2015 at 1:19 pm Okay, I totally needed this. I love kale but I've been too scared to try making kale chips. I definitely would have screwed it up without your tips. Thank you!!
    • Reply
      danakristen.b@gmail.com
      December 18, 2015 at 4:40 pm Hey Brittany, I'm so glad this post was able to help you out :) I hope you enjoy them when you make them!
  • Reply
    janet @ the taste space
    December 18, 2015 at 9:59 am I love your detailed how-to post. Sometimes you need all the tips possible. I like to make mine in a dehydrator - less prone to difficulties. If I need an oven method, I'll be right back here. :)
    • Reply
      danakristen.b@gmail.com
      December 18, 2015 at 10:43 am Thanks, Janet! I'm definitely the type of person that just needs it spelled out to me sometimes, haha. I get impatient, especially when hungry!
  • Reply
    Marie
    December 18, 2015 at 9:47 am I also was dubious about the kale chips fad. Plus, the first time I tasted them, they were store-bought and awful. One night, a friend coaxed me to make some, and it was a revelation! I'm addicted to them now and I love to flavor them different ways: lemon zest, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper are frequent additions. Your tips are great and I'm sure they'll contribute to bring more people into the kale chips bandwagon ;) Happy Holidays!
    • Reply
      danakristen.b@gmail.com
      December 18, 2015 at 10:41 am Thanks, Marie! I haven't tried the store-bought ones, but I figured they'd be just as you described. Haha. I'll definitely have to try those flavors! I'm so addicted to the simple salt + ground black pepper flavor (even with other snacks) but I really need to play around. Happy holidays to you as well!

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