I’ve done a lot of experimenting with these veggie chips to achieve a crisp chip-like texture and can assure you that they are delicious! They definitely stand up to any gourmet store-bought variety for a fraction of the cost. And have I mentioned they are also healthy?
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, kale, and collard greens – and made my own veggie chips at home.
Tips for Making Veggie Chips
There are two types of veggie chips – chips made from leafy greens and chips made from root vegetables. They differ not only in terms of flavor, but also texture. Veggie chips from leafy greens are thin, crispy, and light as air. They still have a bit of a “green” flavor to them, but mostly they taste salty. Veggie chips from root vegetables are much more substantial, crunchy, and very close to regular potato chips in terms of texture. Their flavor is subtly sweet, but same as the leafy greens chips, they do taste salty.
Ingredients for Veggie Chips from Leafy Greens
Just about any leafy green can be turned into chips. Kale, spinach, chard, collard greens, beet greens, dandelion greens, you name it. I decided to go with kale, Brussels sprouts (the outer leaves), and collard greens. If you’ve never made veggie chips at home, I would recommend that you start with leafy greens because they are really easy to make.
I like to also add some olive oil and salt. If you’re not a fan of oil, you can skip it. However, I find that the oil helps the veggie chips cook more evenly in the oven and adds a nice, rich flavor.
Technique for Veggie Chips from Leafy Greens
- Keep the pieces large – this step obviously applies only to kale and collard greens. 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. Just be careful not to bruise the leaves.
- 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. The chips 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.
- Store – store the chips in an air-tight container to prevent the chips from absorbing any moisture from the air. If the chips lose their crispiness over time, you can put them in a warm oven to get the moisture out of them.
Ingredients for Veggie Chips from Root Vegetables
Have you ever had Terra chips? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Terra chips are veggie chips made from root vegetables, including sweet potato, yam, beet, carrot, taro, parsnip, yucca, and bataba. Not only do they have a very vibrant flavor, delectable crunch, and a very short list of ingredients, but they are also super expensive.
Terra chips were one of the reasons I started making my own chips at home. Making chips from root vegetables is a bit harder than making chips from leafy greens, but it is possible to make even root vegetable chips perfectly crispy by following the guidelines below.
Technique for Veggie Chips from Root Vegetables
- 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.
Baking & After Baking
The same steps from leafy greens apply.
If you’re wondering if you can also make homemade chips from fresh corn – yes, you can! And yes, they are as addicting as potato chips.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Food Processor (Breville Sous Chef) | 2. Cutting Board (24″x 18″, Michigan Maple Block, Maple) | 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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