cheezy oven-baked (or not) Kale Chips recipe!
Update: Due to the popularity of this recipe with my own family and friends, I’ve since been motivated to make kale chips on a regular basis… and to buy a dehydrator. Yes, this recipe can be done in the oven but if you find yourself making a lot of kale chips, I’m sure you too will enjoy investing in some kind of dehydrator.
Inspiration: Anyone who tries kale chips once is usually completely and deeply hooked. For me it happened when a not-so-frugal friend shared a bag he’d purchased at the health food store. At $8 per (100 g) bag, I’d lusted after these crispy raw organic vegan treats on many occasion but never dared spend the money. (that’s a whopping $80/kg!) Despite appearances (someone once said “These look like something you might scrape off the bottom of a boat.”) they are not made of seaweed, nor do they taste like a vegetable. One crispy bite is all it takes to shatter all preconceptions.
What happens when you eat kale chips? The first crunchy bite unleashes a mixed bag of sensations and questions that vie for position as new pathways are laid in the brain. “This can’t be KALE?!” (… but you know it is!) is followed by “OMG, how can KALE possibly taste like THIS?!”, and “I can’t believe this is SO good!” Most people are dumbfounded, “WOW — what a great CRUNCH — just like REAL chips!” and then, “This must be cheese!”. Sometimes, there’s even a hint of resentment, as in: “Hello…why didn’t SOMEBODY tell me about these sooner?!?”, “How can I sneak the last ones without seeming greedy?” and finally as the mind settles, the ultimate question… “What’s IN THESE???” (soon followed by a frantic search for ingredients and online recipe instructions.)
Why are kale chips so popular? A quick search on YouTube reveals many enthusiastic cooks offering mostly raw, mostly vegan recipes for this healthy alternative that can satisfy potato-chip cravings. Kale chips are non-dairy ‘cheezy‘ not truly cheesy. Creamed nuts blend with nutritional yeasty goodness for a cheese-like flavour that — with the subtle zestiness of lemon juice — is a knock-out hit with everyone who tries them. They are a healthy snack that successfully replaces fried potato chips. I fully expect those who haven’t tasted kale chips to be doubtful on reading this claim, so here is where Thermomix fans have a real advantage. Think back… waaay back to before owning your Thermomix. Remember how you felt when you first heard about the super kitchen machine? Do you remember thinking that such fantastic claims of easy, fun, multi-functionality must be exaggerated, hyperbolic sales pitches? I do! And do you remember the confusion you felt on first realizing that hey — this machine really IS that good! And remember wondering at “Its so great — how come more people aren’t talking about this?” Same thing with kale chips. Exactly.
The claim that a non-dairy, non-fried, leafy green alternative can satisfy cravings for traditional chips is hard to believe. But trust me. I am was a complete chip-a-holic. I would shun any and all sweet treats for just one handful of salty chips. I would rather eat chips for one minute than eat cake, donuts, or chocolate for a day. But all cravings for potato chips are now being satisfied by kale chips. Don’t just take it from me… there are many kale chip fans on YouTube who concur.
The recipe is easy. You don’t need a high-end food dehydrator, but if you have one, you will use it. (At low dehydrator temperatures these chips are technically ‘raw’.) I have tried many different recipes and techniques for making kale chips over the past month and what appears below is my preferred oven-baked method. (Not quite raw, but just as tasty!) The hardest thing about making kale chips is w a i t i n g for the chips to be exactly at the right consistency to remove them from the oven (about 4 hours). Resist the temptation to cook them at a higher temperature, as results will be compromised and you will be disappointed. Start these on a week-end morning and as they bake you can make bets with family members to predict how long they will last after being served.
This recipe is simple, forgiving and a little bit messy –> fun for kids of all ages!
- 1 large bunch curly kale (about 200g. after thick stems removed)
- 1 fresh red bell pepper, medium sized (sweet pepper, capsicum)
- about 20-25 g. nutritional yeast flakes (equal to one full measuring cap) (NOT baker’s yeast! and not to be confused with Brewer’s yeast)
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 100 g. raw cashews (soaked for at least an hour, and rinsed)
- 1 lemon (preferably organic)
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 25 g. light oil
- sprinkle of salt (optional)
- small or large pinch of chili flakes (optional)
- sesame seeds (plain or toasted) for sprinkling on top (optional but really nice!)
- Prepare ingredients: ensure your cashews have soaked for at least an hour and are rinsed before starting. Peel the lemon and cut in half (optionally you can first grate the skin and retain zest for sprinkling on chips later). Remove stem and seed from pepper and chop into quarters. Wash and dry kale in a salad spinner. Remove the thickest part of the stems. Tear the leaves into smaller pieces as shown in photos below. Place the cleaned and prepared kale leaves in your kitchen’s largest mixing bowl. Prepare two cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper and keep these close to your work area. Turn on oven to its lowest setting (about 70°C-80°C or 160°F-180°F)
- Put cashews, yeast flakes, pepper, garlic, oil, soy sauce, peeled lemon (chili flakes if using) into Thermomix bowl.
- Process 1 minute/speed 8. Carefully remove lid and using spatula push sauce down from sides of bowl and lid. Process again 1 minute/speed 8.
- Roll up sleeves because now the messy fun is about to start!
- Pour sauce onto kale in the large bowl. Use hands to massage and smush the sauce into the kale so leaves are completely coated. Stand back and admire your work. Resist temptation to lick hands.
- Use messy hands to place kale pieces on prepared trays ensuring there is only one layer of kale on each tray. Kale pieces should not overlap if possible so try to distribute evenly. (Here you may choose to add an optional sprinkling of salt, sesame seeds, and/or lemon zest.)
- As with comedy, so with kale chips: “Timing is everything!” Set kitchen timer for 4 hours. At half-way point remove trays and turn over each leaf. Notice they have started to shrink. They will appear cheezy and limp. Don’t even think about tasting now or you will be disappointed. Return trays to oven and continue baking for two more hours. The goal is to ‘dry’ them, rather than ‘roast’ them. After four hours your chips should appear dry and crispy. Do not let them get too crispy as they can quickly begin to burn. (To test, lift one off the parchment and check if it is stiff.) Allow chips to cool on trays. Prepare for the unexpected. Enjoy!
note about storage: not needed as they will almost certainly all be eaten immediately.
notes about substitutions: this is a very forgiving recipe I have done many substitutions with varying success: cream cheese instead of cashews, a whole peeled orange instead of lemon juice, balsamic vinegar instead of lemon juice, sea salt instead of soy sauce, coriander, oyster sauce, parmesan etc. Try if first as shown above and then play with the recipe to suit yourself. If you enjoyed these kale chips and can think of any other adjectives to describe them, please post below to inspire other readers.