This started when I’d bought a 10 lb bag of organic carrots from Costco. At about $5, the price certainly wasn’t a problem. No, the problem became that I had to figure out what to do with so many carrots. This shouldn’t have been too much of an issue since they’re one of those all-around vegetables, tasty in so many things and cooked every which way: roasted, steamed, soupified, muffin-ed, caked, and more.
BUT I recently completed the Les Mills 21-Day Challenge, a diet that restricts your consumption of grains, dairy, fruits, and processed foods in favor of animal protein and leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables. I’ve since been trying to follow a diet similar to what was prescribed during this challenge. One sticking point is that if you eat carrots, they should be RAW.
I do like raw carrots, but there must be something more creative to do with raw carrots than simply eat them 5 lbs of them as raw sticks. Or raw cubes. Or raw disks. Searching the ‘raw’ category to find raw carrot recipes I found lots recommending using a dehydrator for all sorts of goodies, one of them being carrot chips.
Now why would I be telling you a story about carrots when this post is titled “kale chips”? Because I didn’t end up getting a dehydrator—they’re expensive yo! I couldn’t make the investment just yet on the basis of a 10 lb bag of carrots from Costco.
Anyway, let’s make a long story slightly less long. Among the recipes for dehydrated carrot that popped up on my searches, were recipes galore for KALE CHIPS, including how to make them in the oven. This, I did try.
There is a lot of variation as well as lots of unnecessarily intimidating pieces of advice. Some recipes recommend high temps of 350 degrees and a quick 10 minutes in, with which you must be vigilant, lest they burn in their 11th minute. Others recommend your oven’s lowest possible setting: 175 degrees, “or as low as your oven goes” (makes me think of the limbo… “how low can you go?”) for about an hour, with instruction to turn the oven on and off every 15 minutes. There were those advising you to make sure none of the kale leaves touch—if they could fit on two racks instead of one, you surely wouldn’t regret it. At the very least you should toss the leaves halfway through the oven roasting process.
I disagreed with all of it. Surely, I thought, none of that can be absolutely mandatory. More importantly, this would be too much kale babysitting for a lazy Sunday.
I kept searching and found a recommendation posted in a thread on Chowhound that referenced Jacques Pepin’s kale chip instruction: 250 degrees for 25 minutes. Perhaps this wasn’t the whole recipe, but this was all I needed to read in order to decide the course I’d take for my kale chips.
And this is what I did.
The Kale Chip, Uncomplicated
- Salt, or other flavoring agent (optional)
- Rinse/clean the kale. I used dinosaur kale, also known as Tuscan kale or lacinato kale.
- Dry the kale. This can be somewhat laborious because kale have lots of little crinkles and hiding spots for water droplets and humidity. Paper towels, however, are pretty good at soaking up the soggy.
- Cut the leafy green part from the tough stems, then into manageable pieces. Kitchen scissors make these cuts clean, but you can use your hands too.
- Massage oil onto both sides of the kale pieces. Enjoy the added bonus of moisturized fingertips. (I used coconut oil for this, but you could use olive or another oil)
- Optional: Sprinkle with salt/other flavoring agent (I used Hepp’s black truffle salt in one batch and parmesan cheese in another)
- Pop these chips-to-be in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes*
*I recommend you use the 250 degrees and 20 minutes as a starting point. Find out what works for your oven and your tastebuds.
Ok, so the reality is that I popped these chips-to-be into TWO ovens. I did this to try and be more efficient, but it ended up being a great experiment with oven variance.
Oven 1: The oven that comes with my stove, preheated to 250 degrees. I used one aluminum cookie sheet on the top rack and a glass casserole dish on the lower rack. After 25 minutes the chips on top rack/aluminum cookie sheet ended up much crispier than the ones in the glass casserole dish. Not quite sure if this was a result of the glass side walls of the casserole dish or the fact that it was on the second rack.
Oven 2: My smaller, countertop convection toaster oven preheated it to 225 degrees. I used the small aluminum toaster tray that came with it. These kale chips became crispy much more quickly! They start being ready-to-eat chips at around the 15 minute mark but aren’t burnt if they’re in there for 25 minutes either. No one will judge you if you can’t wait and want to start eating them early. Nor will anyone judge you if you forget and leave them in an extra 10 minutes either. I certainly won’t because I was on both ends of the spectrum (yes, in a single cooking episode).
Again, take the liberty to experiment with your oven temperature, timing, and flavoring for your kale chip creations. Perhaps you like your kale chips at the point where they just start to become crunchy. Or maybe you prefer that they crisp up until they nearly dissolve at the touch. I didn’t flip them over halfway through the cooking process and they still turned out great! I also have a tendency to burn myself when I need to reach into the oven, so I try to avoid it when possible. I still managed to burn myself when removing one batch of kale chips from the toaster oven, as small and shallow as that appliance is. Sigh.
Have lots of kale ready (it shrinks tremendously). And be warned: they’re addictive.