I’ve suffered through one too many batches of burned or soggy kale chips over the years. It took me a while to master my baked kale chip recipe, but I’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way and I’d like to pass my tips along to you! From the good ‘ol Culinary School of Hard Knocks (aka: my kitchen) to you. Gotta love it.
The first time I made kale chips I remember thinking, “Should they taste burnt like this??” The easy answer is no. I’ve come to find a nice balance between crispiness and chewiness without any burnt edges. Yes, this is very serious business, this kale chip business. When baked properly, they really do make the perfect base for a satisfying chip alternative.
I know some people are eager to claim that kale is “over” due to its popularity in recent years, but seeing as it’s still rated number #1 (along with Mustard/Turnip/Collard Greens) on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI), I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon. At least not in my diet. Kale for life!
With these few simple techniques you’ll be well on your way to kale chip bliss. Or maybe you already are, in which case, feel free to skip ahead to my All-Dressed Baked Kale Chip recipe below and get crunching!
Ok, here are my top 6 tips for baking the perfect kale chips. No dehydrator required.
1. Remove the stems and tear leaves into large pieces
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of chewing through woody baked kale stems. I remove the stems very quickly by grabbing the base of the stem with one hand and pushing outwards along the stem to slide off the leaves. Works like a charm!
2. Wash and thoroughly dry the leaves before beginning
If the leaves aren’t properly dried, the water can “steam” the kale chips while baking and lead to the dreaded soggy kale chip! Be sure they are nice and dry before you massage in the oil. A salad spinner works great; just be sure not to overload it so the leaves can properly dry.
3. Don’t skip the oil, but don’t drench it in oil either
A little bit of extra virgin olive oil (or coconut oil, if you prefer) goes a long way. I like to use ½ tablespoon of oil per baking sheet of kale chips. “Massage” the oil into the leaves to ensure all the nooks and crannies are coated. Oil also helps the spices stick to the leaves.
4. Spread kale into a single layer on the baking sheet
I used to dump all the kale into a very thick layer on the baking sheet and hope for the best, but doing this tends to lead to soggy, unevenly baked kale chips. I’ve learned to be a bit more patient and spread them out into a thinner layer on each baking sheet. Be sure to rotate the baking sheet half-way through baking. There’s no real need to flip the chips unless you have the patience for it.
5. It’s all about the low-heat for even baking
As I wrote in my cookbook, I tested all kinds of kale chip recipes at different temperatures from very low to high heats. Surprise, surprise the batches that worked the best were the ones I baked at a very low temperature of 300F. Sure, it takes a bit longer to bake, but I can assure you it’s worth it because you don’t get any burnt pieces. Remember, the goal is to crisp the kale, not scorch it into smithereens! In my oven, I bake at 300F for 10 minutes, then I rotate the pan, and bake for another 15 minutes. So 25 minutes total for kale chip perfection in my oven. This will vary based on your oven, but it’s a good starting off point!
6. Cool for just a few minutes on the baking sheet
I’ve found that waiting just 3 minutes allows the kale chips to crisp up even more once they are out of the oven. Just like baked cookies or roasted chickpeas, kale chips really firm up even more when cooled. Those 3 minutes will feel like hours though. I won’t lie.
Bonus tips: Avoid adding liquids (such as vinegars or hot sauces) pre-baking as liquids can result in soggy chips. It’s best to add a light spritz of liquid seasoning after they’ve been baked, if at all. Also, if your oven has one, feel free to try out the dehydrator or convection setting.