kale chips

The Ubiquitous Kale Chip

There’s a nice restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland called “The Ubiquitous Chip.” Or at least there was when I lived there in 1996. I had no idea what “ubiquitous” meant before I ate there, but I looked it up and it’s been a regular part of my vocabulary ever since.  Such a great word! I mean, it just feels good in your mouth, you know? Ubickwituuuuuussss.

Ubiquitous – adj (yü-ˈbi-kwə-təs) – seeming to be seen everywhere

So, the restaurant name referred to the fact that chippy (or french fry, to us Americans) shops are found EVERYWHERE in Britain, but this restaurant was something different.

When I thought about doing a post about my experience with trying kale chips, of course “The Ubiquitous Kale Chip” is the immediate and only title that came to mind – because, like British chippy shops they are everywhere. If life was a B rated horror movie they’d be some sort of alien plan to infiltrate the world, they’re that common. Do a simple Google search for “kale chips” and you get 7,800,000 hits. Seven MILLION!

So, yeah. This post is not exactly earth shattering innovation or anything. You can find this just about anywhere. But this blog isn’t intended to be about innovative culinary discoveries, but a resource of food ideas for people trying to figure out how to eat on diets like this, so I figured it would be good to include it.

First, let me say that I don’t really like vegetables. With the exception of Sauteed Asparagus I mostly simply tolerate vegetables because I know they’re good for me, rather than that I actually enjoy eating them. So I didn’t really have high hopes for kale chips.

But since I kept reading about them, and since I’d gotten an enormous bunch of kale from my CSA, I decided to try.

The verdict: Kale chips are very edible and enjoyable…when they’re cooked right! Added bonus: My kids LOVED them. Like, scarfed-them-down-and-couldn’t-stop loved them.

They are not an exact replacement for potato chips. But they have a nice saltiness and kind of fall apart in a melty way in your mouth that I find somewhat addictive. However…if you overcook them even a little they’re very bitter, and if you undercook them they’re chewy and very kale-ish! As I mentioned above, my kids were going to town on these things…until they got to some overcooked ones and they immediately ran to the trash and spit them out!

So, cooking time with these is very important. They make all the difference between, “Hey, I actually kind of like these!” and “These are disgusting and gross!”

No one wants disgusting and gross. So watch your time!

For the one or two people out there who might have never heard how to make these things, this is the process.

Get a bunch of kale. It can be flat or curly, it doesn’t matter. Tear the leaves off the thick middle stem into bite-sized pieces and dry them thoroughly. They’ll be limp and gross if they’re wet. (This part took up the most of my time because I was paranoid about the wet and limp thing.) Stick them in a big bowl.

kale chips

Drizzle on some olive oil and sea salt and massage the leaves around until they’re all coated. I didn’t measure – I just put enough oil on until the leaves were coated.

kale chips

Line a baking sheet with tin foil or parchment paper (for easy clean-up) and lay the kale in single layer. Make sure none of the leaves are folded over or overlapping on other leaves or they won’t get nice and crispy.

kale chips

Stick them in the oven. I’ve tried hot and fast, and low and slow, and I’ve found that low and slow makes the best (not overdone) results. Cook them at 275 for 11-14 minutes. Set the timer for 11 minutes and check.

You want them to still be green, not brown or black, but perfectly rigid and crispy, with not even a hint of limpness or chewiness. They’ll be a darker green than they started out, but still identifiable as “green.” In this picture, there are some that are slightly overdone (but still edible) in the back left corner, some that are perfectly done in the middle, and some that are underdone in the front. I took off the ones that were done, and put the rest back in the oven to finish up. You can choose if you want to go through that bother, or just have some that aren’t that great.

kale chips

You want to remove them from the pan right away, or they’ll start to stick as they cool and they’ll fall apart when you try to pick them up. Store them in an airtight container. They last for a very long time this way.

kale chips

If you’ve been having a hard time getting kale chips to work out for you, hopefully this post clears some things up! Keep the oven temperature low, cook them just long enough but not too long (check on them!), make sure they’re still green and not brown or black, and make sure they’re very crispy and not at all limp. It’s all rather an exact thing to get them right, but when you do you find that – surprise! – you magically like kale!

If even non-veggie-loving me can like to eat kale this way, there’s hope for any other veggie-hating people out there. Give them a try! Join the ranks of ubiquitous kale chip eaters. (And start saying “ubiquitous” and confusing the people around you while you’re at it.)

The Ubiquitous Kale Chip
Recipe type: snack
  • One bunch kale, flat or curly
  • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil - enough to coat all the leaves well
  • 1-2 tsp sea salt
  • other spices or flavors as desired: cayenne pepper, soy sauce, lemon pepper, parm cheese, nutritional yeast etc.
  1. Preheat the oven to 275.
  2. Wash and thoroughly dry the kale, and tear the leaves off the thick stem into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Put the kale in a large bowl and drizzle in the olive oil and shake in the salt. Toss the leaves around with your hands and massage the oil into the leaves with your fingers.
  4. Place the leaves in a single layer, not overlapping, on a tin-foil or parchment-paper lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 11 minutes and check. Some of the leaves may be done, but others not done. Remove the ones that are done and return the tray to the oven for a few more minutes to finish off the rest.
  6. You know when they're done if they're still greenish but are completely stiff and crisp, with not a hint of limpness or chewiness.
  7. Remove from the tray immediately and store in an airtight container.