I didn’t always love kale chips. Or kale. Or really anything green. In fact, I grew up like so many other American kids who only ate green peas or green beans out of a can, with butter on them. And even that was begrudgingly.
So, I do understand why so many people make that face when I say kale chips. But alas, after some time eating plant-based, our tastes changed. Foods that I used to eat taste like chemicals. And foods I never would’ve touched before taste fresh and healthy and amazing and I’ve actually come to crave them. Like anything, it’s a work in progress.
Somewhere along the way, we discovered kale chips AND discovered we actually like them. We love the kale chips at our favorite vegan restaurant in Madison, and we eat those the handful of times a year that we get there. And we found some bagged ones that are quite good that our daughter Lincoln is totally addicted to. But the bags are small and expensive. But we had lots of kale from our garden and CSA this year so we thoughts we’d try our hands at making it.
I will admit that at first it did not go well. Not for quite a few tries. I’m actually surprised we didn’t give up.
At first they were soggy/chewy. Yuck. Bad kale chips.
Then they were crispy but didn’t taste very good. Bland waste of effort kale chips.
Then we gave up consuming all oil and had no clue how we could make kale chips without oil.
But with a bounty of kale at our disposal, a little creativity and a stubborn woman who wanted her own damn kale chips (aka me!), we found our way. And we found the missing link we needed. It turned out to be tahini. 🤷♀️
Tahini, for any of you who don’t know, is just ground sesame seeds. Similar to it’s distant cousin sesame oil, but leaving all the fiber and nutrients in the final product. Its still high in fat, but in moderation, it’s fine. And a million times better for your heart and your A1C and your whole damn body than any kind of traditional oil.
And this is how our amazing kale chips were born.
I am going to warm you all right now that they shrink down and make less than you would imagine. And then they are so good and crispy and melty in your mouth that you may just stand at the stove and eat a whole pan. This is totally acceptable. And then the rest of them that do make it to the container may just get eaten the next day while your husband is as work. Less acceptable.
I recommend making at least 2-3 pans (I cook them all at once, alternating which is on top and which is on the bottom when I turn them). Doubling the batter and kale and making 4-6 pans is even better. Then you will have enough to share with your husband. And kids. And they will like that. It isn’t nice to eat all the kale chips yourself. Or so I’ve been told.
We use curly kale. It holds the batter in best and curls up so nicely when baked.
(makes 2-3 cookie sheets of kale chips)
One big bunch of curly kale (about a dozen stalks of kale)
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup water
1 TBS nutritional yeast
1 TBS garlic powder
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. You don’t really want to bake the kale chips exactly. This more accurately sucks the moisture out and dehydrates them.
Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper. This keeps them from sticking.
Wash and dry kale and tear into little pieces. Not too little but not huge. Quarter to half dollar size. They will shrink down during the baking process.
Dip kale pieces into the batter. I like to use my fingers and take two or three pieces of kale at a time and partially dip one into the batter, then use my fingers to coat the front and back of all the pieces until they are covered. You don’t want them dripping, just coated nicely. The batter should be thin enough be drippy, the consistency of pancake batter, or salad dressing. If its too thick, add a little water until you get it thin enough. Some of this depends of the consistency of the tahini. If you just opened the jar, it’s thinner. If you are towards the bottom, it is thicker and you’ll need more water.
Coat each piece in batter and lay flat on parchment paper. Fill the pan with pieces close to each other but not touching. Again, there will be shrinkage.
Once pans are prepared, I sprinkle each piece with a little pepper, garlic powder and a bit of nutritional yeast. This make them prettier, taste cheesier and we happen to love garlic. But you do you.
Place in oven for one hour.
After an hour, take out pans and flip chips over, rotating which pan is on top and which is on the bottom. In my reliable, heat-heavy old oven, the bottom pan cooks faster. After switching them out, that pan is moved to the top and may be ready in another half an hour. I start checking them 30 minutes after I rotate/flip them over.
They are done when they are papery dry, crumble easily and melt in your mouth. If they are at all chewy or wet, they need more time. You can take the ones that are completely done out to cool and put the rest back into the oven to finish.
Kale chips are a test of patience. This is good for you. Just like kale chips are good for you. Both will be worth the wait.
I store my kale chips (once cool) on my counter in a glass dish with a lid. They will start to get chewy-ish in 4-5 days but mine rarely last that long. We all like them too much to let them just sit there.
Let us know what you think!