Kale chips are so easy, delicious, and nutritious, I feel sure everyone must have them as part of their standard CSA repertoire by now. After all, they are so amazing that even my picky eater—the one who has yet to voluntarily eat a vegetable in his entire 6 years—will devour a whole plateful of them by himself and then ask for more. (I don’t think he realizes kale is a vegetable.)
But in case you haven’t yet found a recipe that produces flawless kale chips every time, let me share my secrets, which I discovered through many years of trial and error, and many burnt batches of kale.
6 Tips for Flawless Kale Chips
1. Use the right kale.
This week’s flat-leaf, Dinosaur kale is the perfect kale for chip-making. In my experience, the curly kale burns on its frilly edges before it has cooked in the center.
2. Make sure your kale is completely dry.
Kale that is still wet from washing will turn into a steamy mess in your oven. I don’t even bother washing my CSA kale. But if you do, dry it well in advance of baking.
3. Make chips of equal size.
De-stem the kale and tear it into pieces that are roughly the same size, about 3 inches square. The chips only spend a few minutes in the oven, so they need to all bake at the same rate. The best way to achieve that is to start with pieces that are all the same size.
4. Use oil sparingly.
I’m not a fan of canned cooking spray in general, but it is the only oil I will use for kale chips. To get the chips to turn out crispy and dry, you need the oil to be really light and evenly distributed. I spray my cookie sheets with Pam, then spread out the pieces of kale and spray again. Finally I sprinkle with a generous amount of sea salt.
5. Do not over-pack your cookie sheet.
The kale pieces need space from each other in order to burn-off their moisture. I leave spread my kale out in a single layer, leaving about an inch of space around each piece (see photo below). This means I always need two cookie sheets full of kale pieces (about one CSA bunch) to make enough chips for 2-3 people.
6. Watch your chips closely.
Bake in an oven that has been pre-heated to 300-degrees for about five minutes. I wish I could be more specific about the time, but everyone’s oven cooks differently. And given that kale chips need to bake for only a few minutes at low temperature, it’s best just to watch them closely. I take mine out after 5 minutes, once they are just starting to brown on the edges, but may still be slightly moist-looking in the center. In fact, they are not moist in the center, they just look it. And even if they are a little chewy at first, they will “dry out” and “crisp up” after a minute of cooling on the cookie sheet.
These chips make a great take-along snack and will keep for a couple of days in a ziplock bag—if you can keep from eating them all up at once. Mine always disappear within seconds!