November 5, 2012

No-fuss Kale Chips in the Oven

While I said the next 30 days would be about my Whole30 (my last two posts are coming up soon), I did want to create this blog for a reason. One of those reasons is share my passion for enjoying real food, free of processed ingredients. One of the easiest, cheapest switches you can make is to eat kale chips instead of potato chips. If you've never had kale before, it might sound crazy. Just wait; you will soon be a believer. I’ve convince some devout potato chips eaters to try this, with success. Okay, so they still buy chips too. But they try them and even make the chips themselves. And that makes me happy. 

Speaking of, two of them just asked me for my kale chip recipe. One of them was tired of burnt kale and after I gave her my tips, she said her chips were “perfect.” The other…well, impatiently Googled it. She ate burnt chips. (I'm kidding.)

No-Fuss Kale Chips in the Oven
Kale chips with red and curly kale

The first time I bought kale, it was specifically to make chips. There was no way I was going to pay over $8 for a bag of kale chips (okay, $6 if you buy them here). A head of kale usually costs $2-3. After seeing kale chips take over the internet, I figured I need to go out and buy this weird green plant. I mean, there was nothing else to use it for (oh, but there is).  I viewed many recipes and the general procedure was the same: wash, dry, oil, salt, bake, and eat. Or sometimes the salt came after baking.

The first time I made them, afraid to burn them; I ended up with steamed-like kale. I tasted one and thought “Um, okay.” Not exactly what I was looking for. Sure I could have left them in longer and just watched them. So I did. Burnt kale doesn’t taste good. Or smell good. Eventually, I perfected the timing based on my ambivalent oven. Obviously if you have a dehydrator (lucky you), you don’t have this problem, so carry on with your perfectly crunchy chips. But for us oven users, especially the ones that have tossed many a bunch of attempted kale chips (or have eaten less than perfect ones), there has to be a no-fuss way to make them. After many experiments, and a lot of kale, I think I've finally got it.

Just a note: While this recipe might look complicated, trust me, it's not. Once you learn your oven's perfect temp (low!) and timing, you can throw this in the oven, set the timer (don't forget to set it!) and you don't have to keep checking for burning chips. The time in the oven after it's turned off is to ensure you get all perfectly crunchy chips. 

No-fuss Kale Chips
Printable recipe 

What you need:
No-fuss Kale Chips in the Oven

1 bunch of kale (any type will work)
1-2 tbsp of coconut oil (olive oil or another favorite fat/oil)
Optional seasonings

Seasoning options:
Garlic or onion powder
Cayenne pepper or black pepper
Curry powder
Nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
Vinegar or lemon juice 
How to make:

1. Move oven racks to highest positions in oven. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. (Anywhere from 200 to 250 degrees F works, but the lower the better.). Wash your kale, If you have a salad spinner, spin dry. If not, just pat dry with paper or other towels. The drier, the better.

2. Take a knife and slice along the hard stem on each side, removing the leaves from the stem. Discard the stem or save for broth or smoothies. Tear kale into potato chip size pieces. (Or use your hands to tear potato chips sized pieces directly off the stems. That is what I do.)

3. Place kale in a bowl or on cookie sheet and add oil (I do this directly on my cookie sheets because...dishes. Don't like them.). You can lightly oil or line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle approximately a tbsp of oil over the kale. Now get your hands in there and gently massage the kale (Gently. It's kale. Not a person.), adding more oil if needed to coat all kale.  

I use coconut oil. I drizzle or just drop a tbsp (or more) of the hard oil (depending on my coconut oil's mood that day) on the kale and gently massage the kale with the oil. You want the kale pieces to be lightly coated with oil, but not dripping with it. (Bonus: the oil will make your hands silky smooth.) 

4. Add your seasonings (except salt) and rub into kale. Make sure kale is coated with oil and seasonings and spread out on baking sheet in single layer. Try to spread in one layer the best you can. I use two baking sheets per bunch of kale.

No-Fuss Kale Chips in the Oven

5. Bake chips at 200-275* degrees F (225-250 works best for me). Set your timer for 15-30. Once you find your perfect low temp and timing, you will know exactly what to set your timer for. Timing depends on temp and oven. I do around 250 degrees for 20 minutes or 200 degrees for 25 minutes. (My oven tends to run a little warmer than most.)  After your timer goes off, if kale is still soft, bake another 5 minutes. Lacinato kale seems to crisp faster.

6. Once kale is mostly crispy (some still soft) after 20-30 minutes (possibly up to 40 min), lightly salt the chips. Salting after keeps the chips from shrinking. If your chips are all crisp, you can eat them now. If you have a few somewhat soft pieces or want them a little crunchier, turn the oven off and walk away. Leave the chips in the oven (off) for about 15-20 minutes. (Longer is fine. I've left mine in there for hours.) When you come back, you will have perfectly crispy, crunchy, salty kale chips. Lightly squeeze lemon juice over the chips (optional).

Note: *Ovens vary. For mine, I do 250 degrees for 20 minutes or 200 degrees for 25 minutes. Once you learn the time and temp that works best for you, you won't have to constantly check them. Start with 15 and check every 5 until you learn your best temp/timing. Then you can just set a timer and walk away (just don't forget the timer). Once you get the method down, you can make these very quickly (and probably eat them even quicker) with no fussing over watching them before they burn.

If you go any higher than 250 (300 at the most), I take no responsibility for burnt chips. You can make these at a higher temp without burning them. But don't leave the house. Don't leave the room. They will go from crunchy to burnt as soon as you turn your head. Don't say I didn't warn you. (I prefer the low temp to avoid this happening and so I don't have to keep a close watch on them (or maybe I'm just lazy...)

You can store these sealed at room temp. Reheat in oven if they lose crispiness. However, I have found that when storing them in refrigerator (in bag or container), they keep rather well and stay crunchy. Though, most likely, you won’t have any left to store. 

For the best no-fuss results:
  • Set oven to 250 degrees or less (Learn your oven's best temp and timing. I don't go higher than 250).
  • Gently massage kale with the oil (I like coconut).
  • Salt after baking.
  • Bake 20-30 mins, turn oven off, leave in oven for 20 mins (if necessary).
  • Eat them in one sitting, before anyone else sees them.

Try out some Brussels Sprouts Chips too...find them HERE.

And how about some homemade French Onion Dip (Heluva Good-style)? Find it HERE.

No-Fuss Kale Chips in the Oven
Those aren't burnt chips. I used curly and red kale. :)

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