This was a fun little project I set out on the other day. I had a huge bunch of kale, and decided to make these kale chips everyone and their brother has been blogging about. But since I’d never made these before and there were so many variations, I decided to do several little batches in all different flavors. That way if I burnt the kale, or I didn’t like the taste of the seasonings I chose, I wouldn’t be throwing out an entire bunch.
My very first batch was spent hovering in front of the oven with the light on, timing it precisely, and sweating it out that I would burn them. Since all ovens cook so differently, I went on the cautious side from the various timings I’d seen on this. I can tell you now that my oven crisps these babies up perfectly at 5 minutes per side, providing you didn’t add any liquid type seasoning, such as lime juice. Those batches took 2 minutes more to dry out the extra liquid.
It was fun to photograph them with all their seasonings. The hardest part was finding enough little bowls for them. I even resorted to a vintage Melamine avocado green dish that survived all my moves and clean-outs that I somehow acquired over the years. It’s possible it was given to me when my mom got rid of all her Melamine dishware and sent me off to college with them. I have two of those little bowls left, I guess they are considered “chic” now, huh?
I’ll give you my rating and my daughter’s rating for these after each recipe and photo. I could only get my husband to taste my first batch, and he said “well that’s interesting” and opted out of tasting all the other flavors. I suppose I can’t count on these to replace his love for potato chips. Ah well.
Kale Chips Method
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Tear off all the kale from the rigid middle stem, then wash thoroughly and drain. Pat dry real well with paper towels to absorb any moisture left. Add whatever amount you want to bake to a bowl. Spray the kale with olive oil, then rub it in thoroughly with your hands all over. Next add whatever ever seasonings called for “to taste” in the recipe and distribute evenly. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and space the kale evenly apart so it’s not crowded. Since I did such small batches, that was not an issue. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn kale over and bake 5 minutes more, or until dried and crispy.
I had seen some websites say it can take up to 10 minutes per side, but not in my case. I’m wondering if it also has to do with how well you pat them dry, as my oven tends to cook cooler than most. I was also warned on several websites that these burn easily and fast, so monitor your oven for your first batch to get the timing down.
Parmesan Kale Chips
Light dusting of sea salt
Shredded Parmesan cheese (add after the first 5 minutes)
After taste testing all the batches, this was my Numero Uno pick! It had the perfect balance of crunchy/cheesy/saltiness. Next time I will add twice the Parmesan. Some of the cheese came out nice and brown, and somehow those ended up at the bottom of the bowl and didn’t make the photo. Those were my faves. This came in third for my daughter.
Cajun Kale Chips
Store-bought Cajun seasoning (I used Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning)
This one came in dead last for both of us. I have my suspicions I was over-zealous with the seasoning. Zatarain’s is pretty spicy and salty, and it was just overbearing. If you try the Cajun route, use sparingly! I might try them again sometime, with about half the seasoning, and perhaps some lime juice or cheese to mellow it out.
Lime and Crushed Red Pepper Flakes Kale Chips
Fresh squeezed lime juice (this took a quarter lime for my teeny batch)
Crushed red pepper flakes (some of them fell off, so sprinkled more on after turning them)
And this one was came in First Place for my daughter! It was second for me. I like me some spicy, and the lime really balanced it out. I did have to bake a little longer to get them crisp because of the lime juice.
Garlic and Sweet Hungarian Paprika Kale Chips
Minced garlic from a jar, with a little of the juice
Sweet Hungarian Paprika
This was my third place pick. My daughter said I should not make them again, but that they weren’t as bad as the Cajun ones, which made them fourth place for her. I think I should have added a lot more minced garlic than I did, because the pieces with the most roasted garlic had a really nice flavor. It seemed to be missing something, not sure what. Maybe a little salt? Or maybe my tastebuds were burning out at this point, not sure!
Balsamic Vinegar and Sea Salt Kale Chips
My daughter chose this as her second place pick, and this ended up being my fourth. Before she took a bite, she said, “You know mom, vinegar can be real iffy. This could be either really good or really bad.” She took a bite, and her eyes lit up. “I really like these!” So this goes to show that taste buds can vary as much as the spices. Once again, since you are adding a liquid, bump up the cook time for a couple of minutes.
So there you have it, my Kale Chip Round-Up. It was a lot of fun, and this only took me just over an hour to achieve. If you make a single batch, you are done in no time! Now we have our winners and losers, and I can confidently make a few variations in the future for a healthy, low-fat, crispy snack. By the way, being the internet sleuth that I can be, I tried to find the origins of this recipe. Although I never came across a definitive source, I can say these “chips” have been in the published realm (online or paper) since the mid- to late-90s. It appears they first started as a recipe in the food dehydrator industry, then evolved to the oven. Either way, they are a yummy snack. I plan on making a nice big batch of the Parmesan ones for myself next time around.