Homemade “Cheesy” Kale Chips: Dehydrator & Oven Instructions
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Learn how to make your own cheesy kale chips at home with this simple tutorial that includes instructions for using either a dehydrator or an oven.
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When I was growing up, “kale” wasn’t even part of my vocabulary, let alone my diet. Not even close. In fact, I had never even heard of kale until a few years ago when it started being hailed as the new “superfood” du jour. And I’ll admit, at first I wasn’t exactly a fan.
In fact, I hated kale. I figured it was just for vegans and health nuts anyways, and at the time, I was definitely neither.
But as time went on and kale became more and more mainstream, I started to venture out of my comfort zone. Then one day I picked up a bag of kale chips and decided to give them a try, and I was hooked!
That was my green eggs and ham moment right there. As it turned out, I did like kale! I did like it, Sam I Am! Or at least, I liked kale chips😉
But OMG, kale chips are EXPENSIVE at the grocery store! So I refrained from enjoying them too often because I just couldn’t afford them.
Naturally, when I started growing my own kale, I knew I wanted to try making my own kale chips at home. At first I tried tossing them in a little olive oil and salt and drying them in the oven, but they dehydrated unevenly and tasted nothing like the cheesy, crunchy kale chips I used to get from the store.
Then, a few Christmases ago, I got an Excalibur dehydrator from my mother-in-law, and a whole new world of possibilities opened up!
Related: Dried Cinnamon Apple Slices Recipe
Again I tried making kale chips with just a little olive oil, salt and seasonings, and again they fell short of the crunchy, nacho cheese-flavoured kale chips I used to buy for $7 a (small) bag at the store. So I decided to find a recipe that would mimic the cheesy store-bought ones.
I soon learned that what gave these kale chips their crunch and signature cheesy taste was a combination of blended cashews and a little something called nutritional yeast. Finally, not too long ago now, I got my hands on some nutritional yeast of my own and decided to try making a batch of homemade cheesy kale chips in the dehydrator.
What is nutritional yeast and where can you buy it?
Nutritional yeast is simply an inactive form of yeast that grows on top of molasses (of all places). And yet, it doesn’t taste anything like molasses! Instead, it tastes a lot like -you guessed it- cheese!
Nutritional yeast is the perfect flavouring for cheesy kale chips since real cheese doesn’t dehydrate well (due to the fat content), and using nutritional yeast also makes these kale chips vegan-friendly, which is rather important when it comes to anything kale, don’t ya think 😉
I was able to find nutritional yeast in bulk from our local Bulk Barn store (I think it’s a Canadian chain). But if you can’t find it locally, you can purchase some online here.
How to make cheesy kale chips at home
Once you’ve got your kale, some cashews and nutritional yeast, you just need a few more simple ingredients to make some killer homemade cheesy kale chips. Here’s everything you’ll need for a batch:
- One large bunch kale
- 1 cup cashews
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 large garlic cloves (raw)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt (I use fine sea salt)
Start by soaking the cashews in water for at least an hour or two to hydrate and soften them. While they’re soaking, wash your kale, remove the leaves from the stems and tear the leaves into smaller, chip-sized pieces.
Make sure to dry the kale really well. Any amount of moisture left on the leaves can prevent the sauce from sticking. I like to spin mine in a salad spinner and then place it on a paper towel to dry.
Next, it’s time to make your “cheesy” sauce…
How to make cheesy cashew sauce for kale chips
Drain the cashews and set them aside. Then, add all of the ingredients (except the kale!) to a food processor or high-powered blender (I use the chopping bowl that comes with my Breville immersion blender set and love using it in place of a regular blender or food processor for quick, small-batch recipes like this sauce).
Blend on high until the ingredients are well combined and start to resemble a thick, creamy sauce.
You may need to add a little more water to the mixture to get it to blend to a creamy consistency. Add one tablespoon at a time so that you don’t overdo it and end up with a watery sauce that won’t stick to the kale leaves.
Once your sauce is well-blended, place the kale leaves in a large mixing bowl and add all of the sauce. Then, using your hands, toss the kale in the sauce and massage it into all of the leaves, making sure to coat each one.
Once your kale leaves are well-coated in cheesy sauce, you’re ready to lay them out on trays and start dehydrating them!
How to make kale chips in a dehydrator
Lay your coated kale leaves out on your dehydrator trays in a single layer and place trays in the dehydrator.
Set the dehydrator temperature to 135ºF and set a timer for 6 hours.
That’s it! Pretty easy, eh?
How to make kale chips in the oven
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can dehydrate your kale chips in the oven instead.
Preheat the oven to 200ºF. Place coated kale leaves on a baking tray lined with parchment paper in a single layer. Bake for roughly one hour. Check kale chips at about 45 minutes to see if they’re done as everyone’s oven runs just a little hotter or cooler than others.
Likewise, make sure they’re dry enough if you’re planning to store them for any length of time as any amount of moisture left could cause old to form.
You can also set your oven to the lowest possible temperature if it goes below 200ºF. (Mine goes down as low as 170ºF). If dehydrating at a lower temperature, you might need to dry them for a little bit longer. Make sure to check your kale chips every 15 minutes or so past the hour to see if they’re dry.
How to store homemade kale chips
If you actually manage to make a big enough batch of kale chips that you don’t eat them all within a day or so, you’ll want to know how to store them. The good news is, as long as they’re completely dry, they’ll be shelf-stable for a long time and you can store them in a Mason jar, Ziplock bag or even a FoodSaver bag to make sure they’re well sealed and stay fresh. I like to store them with an oxygen absorber to help extend shelf-life.
* Moisture can cause the chips to go moldy so make sure that your kale chips are really well dehydrated as any residual
Honestly, this is another reason I prefer using a dehydrator over the oven, because no matter what, I always find that there are a few kale chips that are just a little less dehydrated than the rest.
That’s it! Pretty straightforward, however I’ve created a full video tutorial too if you want to see how I make mine in both the oven and the dehydrator.
If you’ve ever had cheesy kale chips from the grocery store before I would LOVE to know how you think these ones compare! Let me know in the comments below if you try this recipe out!
I’d also love to know your favourite ways to enjoy kale! Because I just made two batches of these kale chips and it doesn’t even look like I made a dent in our plants outside 😂
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