A few months ago, after enjoying store-bought kale chips immensely, I tried my hand at baking my own. They were gross. They tasted scorched and bitter and I was sad and disappointed. I might have cried a little. Come to find out, the store-bought ones are dehydrated. I don’t own a dehydrator and really don’t want to purchase another kitchen thing. So, I Googled the crap out of “baked kale chips” and “oven dehydrated kale chips”, and came up with several methods that either produced still-gross chips or were a very long process of cycling the oven on and off for over an hour, or leaving the oven door open (it was August!).
One day, in a huff about the process I threw my tray of prepared kale into an already hot oven and just turned it off. A random experiment born out of desperation. 30 minutes later I checked on them. They were perfect and so easy!
So, I present to you and all the kale-chip-lovers around the interwebs:
PERFECT 30 MINUTE BAKED KALE CHIPS
1. Select your kale
Choose a bundle of kale that is fresh, crisp, and “sturdy”. Nice broad, sturdy leaves. Any kind of kale will do. It all tastes about the same, from my experience.
2. Prepare your kale
Wash and DRY your kale. It must be dry or they will not get crisp, ever. One would think that being in the oven would dry them. It does not. They will be soft forever. I set mine out for a few hours on the cooking tray before seasoning and baking.
Tear the kale into very large chunks removed from the stem. They will shrink to about a quarter of their original size when finished.
Arrange them on a cookie sheet so that they overlap as little as possible.
Spritz ever-so-lightly with olive oil. (Or, oil of your choice, or Pam) You can buy it in a spray can at Trader Joe’s or you can get an oil spritzer bottle at your favorite home store.
Sprinkle to your liking with seasonings of choice. I like to use organic dressing mix powers in a shaker container. I’ve done french onion, pesto, ranch, and my favorite so far, Italian. You could also just do salt a paper to taste. Totally up to you.
3. Bake your kale
THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART: This is the magical part that makes them crispy without scorching!
Preheat your oven to 350-425 degrees F. (You might have to experiment, depending on your oven. My oven sucks so I make it a little hotter.)
Once your oven is heated, place your prepared kale on the cookie sheet into the oven. Close the door. TURN OFF THE OVEN. Walk away for about 30-40 minutes! Don’t you dare open the door and let the heat out. As the kale gets dryer, the oven gets cooler. By the time they’re dry enough to scorch, the oven is too cool to burn them. Voila! Perfectly crispy. Perfectly wonderful!
If they aren’t crispy enough, leave them in a little longer. If the oven feels too cool, take them out (don’t leave them in during the preheat process. The heating element with burn them.), preheat to 170 and repeat the process. Set your oven a little warmer next time.
I find this works best with one batch at a time. I tried two trays and I couldn’t get them to finish.
Make your kale chips right after baking something else. Your oven is already preheated!
Stick them in right before bed and leave them overnight. Since the oven isn’t on, they can’t burn. They’ll just be hangin’ out in your oven in the morning.