When we first discovered microwave potato chips four years ago, it was nothing short of a revelation. Even now, the fact that a short spin in the microwave can transform slices of potato into crispy (truly crispy!) chips without needing a drop of oil still seems like magic. Here's how to make them. The key to these microwaved chips is slicing them very thinly. Between 1/8-inch and 1/16-inch is ideal, and this is easiest and most quickly done on a mandoline. If you don't have a mandoline, use a very sharp chef's knife and get those slices as thin as you possibly can. If you get a few thick slices in there, no worries; they still crisp up on the edges and take on a toothsome chewy texture in the middle.
I've tried a few different potatoes and root vegetables with this technique over the years, and they all seem to work uniformly well. A soak and a rinse in cold water helps remove the starch in tubers that have a lot, which in turn helps them to crisp more quickly in the microwave.
These chips are surprisingly good all on their own with no adornments, but they also take very well to seasonings. I like to sprinkle a few pinches of sea salt over the tops just before they go in the microwave. A few shakes of chili powder or dried dill also make a fun change from the usual. If you'd like a richer flavor, brush the potato slices with olive oil before putting them in the microwave and before adding any spices.
While this is an easy technique for making a crispy low-fat treat, it's not the quickest. One potato makes 4 to 5 batches, and each batch takes about six minutes. Which is to say, these chips are much more suited to a snack for one than a big dinner party appetizer. If potato chips are normally off-limits to you, this snack certainly hits the spot when you want something crunchy and light.
How To Make Microwave Potato Chips
What You Need
1 or more potatoes or other root vegetable, scrubbed clean
Salt and other seasonings, optional
Olive oil, optional
Bowl of cold water
1. Thinly Slice the Potato - Cut the potato in half. Slice one half on a mandoline, aiming for slices 1/8 to 1/16-inch thick. Immediately put the slices in cold water. Repeat with the other half of the potato and any other potatoes you are preparing.
2. Soak and Rinse the Slices - Rinse the slices in cold water until the water stays clear. If you have time, let them soak for a few extra minutes before rinsing.
3. Dry the Slices - Dry the slices between two clean dish cloths or spin them in a salad spinner.
4. Season the Slices - Arrange as many slices as will fit in a single layer on a dinner plate lines with a few paper towels. Make sure the slices do not touch or else they stick together. If desired, sprinkle with salt or other spices. For richer-tasting chips, brush the slices with olive oil first.
5. Microwave the Slices - Microwave the slices at 100% power for 3 minutes. Flip them over and microwave at 50% power for another 3 minutes. Remove any chips that are starting to crisp and brown. Continue cooking the remaining chips at 50% power in 1 minute intervals until they are all crispy and golden.
6. Repeat with Remaining Batches - Transfer cooked chips to a bowl and repeat microwaving with the remaining slices of potato.
Storing - Chips will stay crispy for a few days if kept in an airtight container or zip-lock bag. You can also prepare the raw slices ahead of time, store them in cold water in the refrigerator, and bake them off as you want them.
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(Images: Emma Christensen)