I never used to make veggie chips at home. All the peeling, slicing, oiling, baking, and flipping just seemed too intimidating and time-consuming. Why wouldn’t I just go to a store and pick up a bag of veggie chips instead?
Well, that’s exactly what I intended to do for a dinner party my husband and I hosted a couple of weeks ago. Except that as I browsed through the healthy aisle of the grocery store (looking for baked rather than deep-fried veggie chips, ya know), all I could find was a little tiny bag of veggie chips filled with air that cost $6!
So I headed back over to the produce section , picked up a few different veggies – beets, sweet potatoes, yams, Brussels sprouts, and kale – and made my own veggie chips at home.
Tips for Making Crispy Beet, Sweet Potato, and Yam Chips
If you’ve ever tried making veggie chips at home, you probably know that it’s a bit tricky to achieve a crisp chip-like texture. I haven’t tried making chips out of every vegetable that is out there, but I’ve tried a lot.
By far, the easiest is to make veggie chips out of kale or Brussels sprouts because they’re paper-thin. Making veggie chips out of root vegetables, such as beets, sweet potatoes, or yams is a bit trickier. Unless sliced really thinly, root vegetables tend to turn out soggy once baked. If you try to bake them longer to get the right texture, they often burn, even under low temperatures. However, it is possible to make even root vegetable chips perfectly crispy by following the guidelines below.
Technique for Root Vegetable Chips
- Slice them thin – the thinner they are, the easier it will be to get them crisp. Water needs to reach the surface in order to evaporate. So the larger the surface (more area for the water to evaporate) and the lower the volume (less water overall), the better.
- Soak them in water – this technique works surprisingly well for the sweet potatoes. You simply soak the potatoes for about 10-20 minutes to help release some of the starches into the water. The starch in potatoes hinders moisture from evaporating and prevents the potatoes from getting crispy. Just keep in mind that the longer you soak the potatoes, the more nutrients you lose. So soak them briefly, swirl them around, and give them a good rinse.
- Get as much moisture out as possible – moisture plays a big role in how crispy the veggies get. It’s difficult to get anything crispy if it contains a lot of water. That’s why dehydrators work so well. So pat the soaked veggies dry with a paper towel.
- Sweat – sweating in culinary lingo means to cook something on a very low heat to release the moisture. But according to Sommer from Spicy Perspective, you can use salt to achieve the same result. So toss the sliced veggies with salt and let them sweat to release any excess moisture.
- Use a parchment paper or an oven rack – both parchment paper and oven rack work well because they allow water to escape. On the other hand foils or waxed surfaces (e.g. baking sheets) trap water and the veggies steam instead of crisping up.
- Space them out – make sure the veggies aren’t touching. If you crowd them, there will be too much vapor surrounding them and they’ll steam rather than bake into crispy chips.
- Use low temperatures – oven temperature is probably the trickiest part. My experience is that the lower the temperature, the better. They might take a little longer to bake, but at least you don’t get any burnt pieces. I bake the chips at 200 °F first and then increase the temperature to about 220 °F. You can achieve crispy chips with higher temperatures, but it usually means a lot more browning than baking at low temperatures. While some browning is inevitable, browning usually equals carcinogens.
- Rotate – whether surface you’re baking the chips on, rotate it half way through baking so the veggies crisp up evenly. There’s no need to flip the chips.
- Cool for a few minutes – cooling the chips after they’re out of the oven helps them firm up even more. A few minutes is all that’s needed.
Technique for Kale & Brussels Sprouts Chips
- Keep the pieces large – this step obviously applies only to kale. The reason you want to tear the kale into large pieces is that it will shrink quite a bit when baking. Also, the smaller the pieces are, the easier they’ll burn.
- Wash – the best way to wash leafy greens is to get a bowl of water and let the veggies soak for a few minutes. This will allow for any dirt to sink to the bottom of the bowl.
- Dry thoroughly – once washed, place the veggies onto a dry paper towel and pat them dry. Remove as much water as possible. If there’s any excess water, the water will steam the veggies while baking.
- Massage – rather than just coating the veggies with some oil, massage the oil into the leaves to ensure that every piece of the vegetable is evenly coated. Not only does oil help the Brussels sprouts and kale cook more evenly and crisp up in the oven, but it also adds a rich flavor.
Baking & After Baking
The same steps from root vegetables apply.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Food Processor (Breville Sous Chef) | 2. Cutting Board (12″x 9″, Midori Way, Bamboo) | 3. Knife Set (6 Pieces, Utopia, Stainless Steel) | 4. Mixing Bowls (Set of 3, Pyrex, Glass) | 5. Cooling Rack ( Stainless Steel) | 6. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel)
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