Crispy, Crunchy Kale Chips (The Easy Way)

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Warning! Kale chips are highly addictive. By sharing my secrets for crispy, crunchy kale chips I am basically becoming your enabler. I can live with that.

Kale chips are a great alternative to potato chips because they deliver a satisfying crunch and can be flavored with many potato chip style flavorings. The best part is they are good for you. Rich in antioxidants and loaded with vitamins K, A and C, kale packs a healthful punch.

There are many varieties of kale including green curly kale, black kale (also called lacinato or dinosaur kale) and red curly kale. They can all be used to make kale chips but from experience I find the lacinato and red curly varieties to be a bit more delicate and therefore require more attention while baking. Because I am easily distracted I tend to use green curly kale for my chips.

In order to ensure perfect kale chips every time follow these five principles:

  1. Always start with fresh kale. Unfortunately, baking wilted kale won’t resuscitate your kale, you’ll just end up with limp kale chips.
  2. Thoroughly dry your kale. After washing you must completely dry your kale or it will steam rather than bake.
  3. Completely coat with olive oil. Olive oil will help prevent burning. It’s culinary rust protectant.
  4. Bake at a lower temperature for a longer time. You may be tempted to bake at 350F for a shorter time, but it is so easy to ruin the chips this way. In a matter of seconds kale chips can go from crispy and crunchy to crumbly (great big mess) and they can burn right before your eyes. Slow and steady wins the race.
  5. Don’t expect the chips to be done at the same time. You will need to pull out the chips that are done and put the rest back in the oven until they are ready. If you wait until the ‘stragglers’ are crispy then you will end up with a mixture of perfectly crispy and overdone and crumbly chips. You want crispy, not crumbly.

Crispy, Crunchy Baked Kale Chips Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Kale, one bunch
  • Olive oil, ~1 tbsp
  • Seasonings

To make things easier we’re going to break things up and make our kale chips over two days.

Day 1: Wash the Kale

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Drying Time: 12 – 24 hours

As previously mentioned, it’s so important that your kale is completely dry before baking. You can make yourself crazy spinning and spinning with your lettuce drier and then dabbing with paper towels, but this way is so much easier.

Wash your kale and tear into bite-sized pieces. Remove the central ‘spine’ and any tough stem bits.

Dry in a salad spinner as best you can.

Line a colander or large pot with two pieces of paper towel. Add a single layer of kale and then another double layer of paper towel.

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Repeat until all the kale has been layered and finish off with a final paper towel layer.

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Place a lid on top, put your container in the fridge and forget about it for a day. The paper towels will draw out the excess moisture from the kale. Just don’t leave it for more than 24 hours or your kale will start to wilt.

Day 2: Bake the Kale

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Baking Time: 20 – 25 minutes

Transfer your kale to a mixing bowl and add the olive oil. The exact amount will vary with the size of your bunch of kale. You’ll need to thoroughly mix in order to coat all the kale leaves. Don’t be afraid to get in there with your hands and ‘massage’ the oil into the leaves.

Once thoroughly coated – but not dripping – add your seasoning (see list below).

Transfer to foil lined baking sheets (you’ll need more than one). Arrange in a single layer.

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Make sure you don’t overcrowd your kale. It’s tempting to try to fit as many pieces as possible onto your tray but the kale will cook faster and be crunchier with a little space.

Bake at 250F for 20 – 25 minutes. Swap the trays around at the 10 minute mark and start checking them at 18 minutes. You’ll need to physically touch the leaves because they will still look wet even when dry and crispy.

Remove any baked kale chips and return to the oven. Check at 1 minute increments until done.

Kale Chip Flavor Ideas:

  • Sea Salt
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Honey Garlic – mix a drizzle of honey with the olive oil, sprinkle leaves with garlic powder
  • Magic Dust
  • Paprika
  • Honey Soy – replace some of the olive oil with soy sauce and add a drizzle of honey
  • Chili Lime – sprinkle the kale with lime zest and chili powder
  • Curry Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper

The possibilities are endless. You can also experiment with different oils. Try using sesame or avocado oil instead of olive oil.

What’s your favorite kale chip flavor?

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