Secrets to the PERFECT KALE CHIP


kale chips cooked on rack

kale chips cooked on rack

My kitchen is bursting at the seams with two things these days; delicata squash (more on this soon), and kale. This summer has been THE summer of kale in my life and although all these salads, smoothies, and cheesy kale won ton cups were delicious, I’ll admit the whole kale in everything bit was getting a little old. Until…. I did a little experiment.

My amazing CSA often offers all three types of kale and I did something radical- just for you, my readers! (all five of you). I tried purple kale, curly green kale, dinosaur kale, different temperatures, gas and electric stoves (I am a spoiled I admit it), convection versus baking, on a rack, on a cookie sheet, on parchment, on foil, curly side up, curly side down, with seasonings, just salted… AND I polled all 10 or so family members about which they preferred.

I knew I had a winner when my carnivore brother was poking around the kitchen after dinner asking “any more of those kale things?”

This is what I learned people, enjoy.

  • Dinosaur/Tuscan kale makes the BEST chips. Red/Purple
    Kale chips are pretty good too. Dinosaur kale (the best kale for salads) is surprisingly the best for chips too! All hail the winning kale!

  • Purple kale has a nuttier flavour and dinosaur kale has a more satisfying crunch.
  • No one prefers the green curly kale chips – save your green kale for smoothies, salads, and in cooked dishes
  • On a cookie sheet works the same as on a rack but the chips cool nicely on a rack
  • Oil each leaf evenly (after destemming) by rubbing briefly with oil and a bit of salt
  • Taste a leaf before you cook to determine if further salt is needed
  • It does not matter if the leaves are placed curly side up or down on the pan
  • Seasonings are overwhelming; let the kale speak for itself
  • Store in a jar and they will keep crisp for at least a day (if I could keep them around for more than 24 hours I could tell you if they keep longer)
  • Thank you to Oh She Glows for the kale chip tips and all dressed kale chip recipe which I used as a starting point the first time I made these.

my kale chip experiment

my kale chip experiment

Kale Chips

Purple or dinosaur kale (or combo)

oil ( a few tablespoons)

salt (to taste)

Preheat oven to 275 convection (or 300f if you don’t have convection). Pull chunks of kale leaves off stems and discard stems. Wash kale leaves and dry well. Pour oil and salt into a small bowl. Using your hands, rub a small amount of oil onto each leaf (both sides- make sure to get into the crevasses on the back of the dinosaur kale) which should only take a second or two per leaf. Lay on cookie sheet making sure leaves don’t overlap (1 bunch of kale will take at least 2 cookie sheets). Cook chips 1- 2 cookie sheets at a time (on the same rack) for 10-15 minutes or until crisp, cool on rack and serve immediately or store in jar.

crispy, perfect kale chips

crispy, perfect kale chips

Using the Right Kind of Kale for the Right Recipe

The Kale explosion continues! I am seeing recipes on a daily basis all over the blogosphere and often they don’t direct what type of kale to use. Until recently, the only type of kale I was familiar with was the one I didn’t pay much attention to that I often saw at the grocery store. Then I discovered a local CSA had a farm stand just a few doors down from me once a week! I bought a share (meaning I pay a set price to receive a share of all the crops weekly) and am now trying all sorts of new veggies, including various types of kale. 

At the grocery store, you typically see curly green kale (just called “curly kale”) and sometimes curly purple/red kale (usually just called “purple kale” although I have also seen it referred to as “red kale”). There is also the beautiful dinosaur (also called lacinato or Tuscan kale)  kale which is the hardest to find and my favourite. My lovely CSA farmer explained to me one day that they all have their best uses – here is a rundown for you.

types of kale infograph

types of kale infograph

Curly Kale

  • beautiful shiny green leaves, a little less hearty than purple kale
  • BEST FOR: cooked kale dishes, smoothies, and as a backup for salads or chips when you can’t find the other two kinds of kale

Purple Kale

  • hearty, curly, and fibrous 
  • BEST FOR: kale chips (recipe coming soon!)

Dinosaur Kale

  • smooth, tender, long leaves (not curly)
  • BEST FOR: raw uses like salads (check out this “kale hater`s“ salad!) Try making a caesar salad with half romaine, half dinosaur kale – delicious! Can also be used in cooked dishes and for smoothies. 
Storage Tips:

Tear leaves off stems, wash and dry well in a salad spinner, then store in an airtight jar. It will last up to two weeks this way! Alternatively you can also just throw it in a bag in the fridge, and if it is a little wilted when you get to it, refresh it like you would a bouquet of flowers by cutting a bit off the bottom of the stems and placing in cold water on the counter for half an hour (then eat it -don`t restore after the revival). 

My favourite thing about kale (other than it being a nutritional powerhouse) is how you can store leftover salads… even after they are dressed. In particular, creamy dressings are even better the next day. 

Preparation Tips:

Kale must be massaged during preparation for raw uses (like salads). This sounds strange but is so easy and quick – after tearing the leaves off the stems and washing in a salad spinner, place in your salad bowl and sprinkle with a touch of salt and oil (or some of your dressing) and rub/scrunch it into the leaves 5-10 times or until it begins to wilt. This rubs off the natural waxy coating on the kale, avoiding any roughness on your mouth. Dinosaur kale benefits from massaging but does not really have the same waxy coating as curly types of kale, so it is not as essential. 

Dissapointed that you can’t find anything other than curly kale locally? Grow your own kale next summer (it is a very hearty plant) or even indoors this winter!