These kale chips are delicious, oil-free, nut-free, and can be made without a dehydrator.
Most kale chips require a dehydrator, and many recipes also include oil.
These kale chips are incredibly tasty and crispy – without needing any oil – AND without needing a dehydrator.
Now, you do have to use a particular method of baking with the oven. Because it’s very easy to burn kale chips in the oven. When they overcook or burn in spots, they lose that gorgeous vibrant green color and taste bitter. The taste is just not the same. It’s not fresh and clean, but rather bitter and sulfurous.
See, most recipes for kale chips in an oven have the setting WAY too high, usually around 400 degrees. But even in recipes that bake chips at a lower oven temp for longer (ex: 300 degrees for 30+ minutes), your kale chips will “cook” rather than “dry”. A dehydrator is so effective because it dries the foods, it doesn’t cook them. That’s why the chips taste so fresh and the greens taste more sweet than bitter.
I don’t have a dehydrator so I started experimenting, to get these crunchy-munchy bites of deliciousness. And this is what I discovered…
The trick is to mimic dehydrating in your oven.
To do that, you need to use the lowest temperature setting possible for your oven, and then alternate turning the oven off and on. For my trials, this took about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. The result? Crispy, irresistable kale chips!
Healthy Kale Chips: Seasonings
Before I jump to the recipe for these healthy kale chips, let’s talk about seasonings. In my experience, kale chips can be too heavily overseasoned, or seasoned with just salt and oil.
This recipe gives you an oil-free ‘dressing’ for the chips that is flavorful but not sickly or hot-spicy. Remember that the kale becomes smaller, and more concentrated with this drying method or with dehydration. So, be somewhat conservative with assertive spices and also with the salt. Try the recipe as-is first, then add your spices to personalize the next time round (see note about seasoning).
And finally, this ‘dressing’ uses some nooch (nutritional yeast). I promise it tastes good. It’s the combination of the ingredients together. Give it a try, even start with a touch less at first to get the idea.
Let me know if you’ve made these, share in the comments. x Dreena
Oven-Dehydrated Kale Chips
- Wash the kale leaves. Strip the leaves from the stems and place the leaves in a salad spinner. Spin to remove as much water as possible. If leaves are still damp, use a kitchen towel to blot dry. Turn oven to lowest setting possible (ex: 170F). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the tahini, lemon juice, tamari, and maple syrup. Stir or whisk through until fully smooth in the bottom of the bowl. Add kale leaves and toss through with your hands, gently incorporating the sauce through the leaves. Add the nutritional yeast, and continue to work through the kale leaves. Transfer the kale leaves to the prepared baking sheets, spreading out. Sprinkle the leaves with the sea salt. Place the baking sheets in the oven on 2 racks. Bake for an hour. Then, turn off oven, rotate trays, and then let sit in the oven for 30 minutes. Then, turn oven to 170F again, and bake for another 15–20 minutes. Check kale: if completely dry and crispy, remove from oven. If not, turn off heat and let sit for another 30–40 minutes. By then, the kale should be crisp and ready to eat!
- If your oven can go lower than 170F, the process may take another 20–30 minutes.
- To re-crisp leftovers, reheat at same low temperature until flaky again.
- Do not add extra wet seasonings or it will make the leaves soggy.
- If you want to add other flavors, stick with dry seasonings, and remember the flavor intensifies with drying.
This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated for 2023.