How To Make Kale Chips You Actually Want to Eat

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Before you roll your eyes at the sight of another kale chip recipe, hear me out: I know kale chips aren’t exactly cool anymore. At this point, in fact, they could probably be considered retro — worthy of a #TBT.

But, as you may have guessed, I haven’t let them go. In fact, I’m bringing them back with the best recipe yet. This time, I’m not selling them to you because they’re of-the-moment. I’m telling you to make them because they’re so crunchy and salty and flavorful that you’ll want to eat them all straight from the sheet pan. They’re the best way to use the in-season leafy green, and the easiest way to eat a full bunch of kale at once, while also satisfying all your salty snack cravings.

Oven-baked kale chips are easy to make, but there are a few key steps that are crucial to their success. Here’s how to make super-crispy kale chips you’ll actually want to eat.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

4 Smart Steps for the Very Best Kale Chips

1. Opt for curly kale. I made batches of these kale chips with both curly and lacinato (or dinosaur) kale, and the curly leaves are much better suited for chips. All the little nooks and crannies make for a crispier snack, and just like a cheese sauce pools into shells and elbows better than spaghetti, the flavoring on these chips clings more tightly to the crimped leaves than it does to the flat.

2. Dry the kale thoroughly. If you’ve ever made crispy chickpeas, you know you need to pat the beans extremely dry before you toss them in the oven. The same principle applies to kale. Any residual water on the leaves will cause them to steam and wilt in the oven instead of crisp. Spin them dry in a salad spinner, then pat dry with paper towels for extra insurance.

3. Go bold with flavor. Most kale chip recipes call for a simple seasoning of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. But I found this combo to be quite boring, and honestly a bit bitter. Just like a raw kale salad can handle a bold, flavorful dressing, I knew kale chips deserved more than just a sprinkle of something from the spice cabinet. After a few rounds of experimenting, I landed on a combination of miso, soy sauce (or tamari), and canola or coconut oil. It’s this combination of umami-packed ingredients that give these chips their irresistible quality. Just the right amount massaged into the leaves ensures they soak up all the savory flavor without getting soggy.

4. Bake at 300°F. Baking kale chips at any temperature lower than 300°F will require a lot of patience. But if your oven is too hot, the kale will burn before it has a chance to get nice and crunchy. I found 300°F to be the sweet spot, transforming fresh kale leaves into crunchy chips in just 20 minutes.

The Best Ways to Enjoy Kale Chips

Kale chips are great as a snack, of course — eat them anytime you’d reach for potato chips or pretzels. But they’re also delicious served alongside eggs for breakfast, packed into a grain bowl for lunch, or served alongside a protein for dinner. Use them to top a pizza, as an alternative to croutons in a salad, or as a crispy garnish for soups. Crumble them up and toss them with popcorn. The possibilities are endless.

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How To Make Kale Chips

Serves4

Ingredients

  • 1

    large bunch curly kale (8 to 10 ounces)

  • 2 teaspoons

    miso (white, yellow, or red will all work)

  • 2 teaspoons

    soy sauce or tamari

  • 2 tablespoons

    canola or refined coconut oil

  • Flaky sea salt, for serving (optional)

Equipment

  • Salad spinner

  • 2

    rimmed baking sheets

Instructions

    1. Wash and dry the kale. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 300°F. Strip the kale leaves from their sturdy stems and place in the bowl of a salad spinner. Rinse the leaves under cool running water, then spin dry. For extra insurance, pat dry with paper towels — you want the kale to be as dry as possible in order for it to crisp.

    2. Tear the kale and place onto baking sheets. Tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces and divide between 2 rimmed baking sheets (you should have about 7 total cups of torn kale).

    3. Whisk together miso-tamari sauce. Whisk the miso and tamari or soy sauce together in a small bowl. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil and whisk until combined (it’s okay if mixture looks slightly separated).

    4. Coat and massage the kale. Drizzle the mixture evenly over the kale and use your hands to massage it into the kale, getting into every nook and cranny. Spread the kale into an even layer on each baking sheet.

    5. Bake until crisp. Bake, stirring the kale and rotating the baking sheets between racks halfway through, until the kale is crisp, 18 to 20 minutes total. Toss with flaky sea salt, if desired.

    Recipe Notes

    Storage: Kale chips are best eaten within a few hours, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.

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    (Image credit: The Kitchn)
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