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In this article, I show you how to make kale chips in a food dehydrator. Dehydrating kale chips is so much easier than making them in the oven. Since they are made “chippy” at a much lower temperature, they don’t burn, and yet turn out crispy and delicious. I can’t wait for you to see how easy it is to make kale chips in a food dehydrator, and how great they turn out!
How to Make Kale Chips in a Food Dehydrator
I started off with Prizm kale that I grew in my AeroGarden Harvest 360. I had about 4 “pods” of kale, which I estimate to be equivalent to a large bunch or bunch and a half of kale that you’d buy at the grocery store.
Pro tip: If you happen to be an AeroGarden lover like I am, I recommend Prizm kale. It’s a small variety that worked perfectly in my Harvest. It is small enough that it may even work in an AeroGarden Sprout, but I haven’t tested it in that.
Prepare the Kale for Dehydrating
So now let’s talk about how to prepare the kale for dehydrating.
First, I harvested the kale by cutting it with scissors, one bunch at a time. Obviously, you can skip this step if you buy your kale at the grocery store.
Wash and Pat Dry the Kale
If you purchased your kale at the grocery store, or if you grew it outdoors, you’ll want to wash it. Now it’s important to use a salad spinner or thoroughly pat it dry after washing, because you don’t want any moisture on the kale before making it into kale chips.
Now I didn’t wash mine because I had grown it indoors hydroponically and didn’t use any pesticides. The main reason I decided not to wash it is that it can be a bit hard to dry it completely, and since it wasn’t dirty I thought it would be easiest to skip this step, without any negative consequences.
Cut Off the Stems
The next step is to cut off the stems, including any thick parts that were part of the leaves. Since I used a small variety of kale, the stems weren’t as thick as with kale you’d buy in the grocery store, so I didn’t have to cut off too much.
Here’s what I cut off.
Now the good news is, there are actually a lot of nutrients in the kale stems. I make green smoothies every day, and use these scraps for my smoothies the next morning. You can also put them into the compost, stick them in the freezer along with other vegetable scraps to make broth, or simply toss them.
Cut the Kale into Bite-Sized Pieces
Next, cut kale into bite-sized pieces. You don’t need to be super precise here, but I’d recommend pieces that are 1.5″ to 2″ in size. The kale will shrink in the dehydrator, so you don’t want to cut them so small that they are mere crumbles when dehydrated.
Add Oil and Seasoning to the Kale
What I’m going to share with you here isn’t a precise recipe. You can see that I ended up with a nice-sized bowl of kale, from the four small bunches of kale that I grew in my AeroGarden. Keep in mind that these were very small bunches of kale, and probably equivalent to one to one and a half large bunches of kale from the grocery store.
To the kale, I added in a capful of olive oil, which was about a half a tablespoon.
I also added 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
If you’re on a salt-restrictive diet, you can use less salt, or you can use salt free seasonings such as Mrs. Dash. If desired, you can add other spices such as cayenne pepper, garlic powder, etc. I’ve had others recommend nutritional yeast to add a cheesy flavor, but I haven’t tried that myself.
Distribute the Oil and Seasonings Throughout the Kale
The best way to distribute the olive oil and salt is to just use your hands – just be sure to wash them thoroughly before using them!
Toss the kale with your hands until it’s all very saturated with the olive oil and salt mixture. You want each piece of the kale to be coated with olive oil, and yet not be dripping with oil. But the oil and salt is important because it’s what differentiates kale chips from plain old dehydrated kale.
Recommended: How to Dehydrate Kale and Make Kale Powder
Turn the Kale into Kale Chips in the Dehydrator
Now is the time when the real magic happens! It’s time to transform the kale that has been cut up and coated with oil and seasonings into wonderful kale chips.
Now is the time to pull out your dehydrator!
Note: If you do not have a dehydrator, you can make kale chips in the oven, but you have to watch them very carefully to avoid burning them.
I actually have two dehydrators, a Cosori Premium Stainless Steel Dehydrator and a Nesco stackable dehydrator. I love them both, but I generally like to use my Nesco when dehydrating kale or spinach because I put it on pretty thick, and there’s not as much space between dehydrator trays in the Cosori. But in this case, I decided to use my Cosori because I wasn’t overlapping any of the kale.
The bottom line is, whatever dehydrator you have will work!
My Cosori has metal trays, and the metal can get hot. To keep from scorching the kale while making kale chips, I decided to use mesh screens on the trays. The mesh screens are also helpful in that they keep the kale from falling through the trays. Remember, the kale will shrink as it dehydrates.
Don’t Overlap the Kale on the Dehydrator Trays
When you put the kale on the dehydrator trays, be sure not to overlap any of the kale.
You can have kale touching, but if you overlap any of the kale, it may not turn nice and crispy. Remember, we’re making kale chips, and you don’t want to do anything that will minimize that satisfying crunch! In addition to avoiding overlapping the kale, ideally leave some space in between the pieces of kale.
I mentioned earlier that I have three mesh liners for my Cosori. I used those first, but in order to space out the kale, I needed to use a fourth tray. I used a fruit leather tray on the fourth tray.
Since that tray is solid, I knew that it would possibly slow down the process a bit compared to the trays that allow good airflow. But I wasn’t too worried about this, because after all, when I make kale chips in the oven, they are on a solid tray.
Here is what the dehydrator full of kale looks like.
As you can see in this picture, some of the kale is close to touching the tray right above it.
This is pretty typical when making kale chips in a dehydrator that is a cabinet style such as the Cosori or Excalibur. This is fine, but if you find there isn’t enough room for the kale on each tray, you can leave out some of the empty trays. For instance, if you have six dehydrator trays, and just three trays full of kale, only use three trays in your dehydrator, and leave extra space between each of the trays. In a stackable dehydrator such as the Nesco, you don’t need to worry about this.
Pro tip: My Nesco fits more kale and other leafy vegetables. Read my article, Nesco Dehydrator Review for my thoughts on the Nesco.
Dehydrate Kale Chips for 145 Degrees Fahrenheit for the First Hour
Set the temperature on your dehydrator to 145 degrees for one hour. You’ll want to check your kale chips after that first hour to see if they are ready.
I was surprised that mine were pretty much done after just one hour.
Reduce the Dehydrator Temperature to 115 Degrees Fahrenheit
If your kale chips aren’t quite ready after the first hour, reduce the temperature in your dehydrator to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, and continue dehydrating. It could take an additional three to four hours for the kale chips to be nice and crispy.
Since my kale chips were quite crispy after the first hour at 145 degrees Fahrenheit, I only dehydrated them for an additional 24 minutes at 115 degrees.
There are a lot of variables that impact how much time it will take for your kale to turn into kale chips. For instance, the size of your kale pieces, the amount of moisture in the kale, and even things like humidity in your home can impact the time it takes to make kale chips in your food dehydrator. Because of this, I recommend checking the kale once an hour.
Making Kale Chips in a Food Dehydrator – The Results
In this image, you can see how much the kale chips reduced in size.
Here’s a of the kale chips on a dinner plate give you an idea of the total yield after the kale was made into kale chips.
I divided the kale chips into three portions and we had them with our lunch.
If you want to make kale chips, I definitely recommend using a food dehydrator instead of making them in the oven. These are the best kale chips I’ve ever made, and my family really loved them.
In fact, it’s never been easier for me to make kale chips. They turned out better than the ones I’ve done in the oven and were easier because I didn’t have to watch them closely. I also didn’t accidentally burn any of the edges of the kale, which unfortunately happened to me when I made kale chips in the oven – even though I paid close attention to them.
Since these were so easy, and were so delicious, I’ll probably grow kale just to make kale chips!
Here are some of my favorite dehydrating tools
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you strive to stock your pantry with delicious home-dehydrated food! Here are some tools that I use that I’m hoping you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a commission. Please know that these are the tools that I recommend and believe in 100%!
The Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator was my first dehydrator, and still one of my favorites. I actually have two of them! If I was only going to buy one dehydrator and was on a strict budget, this would be it. I love it because it’s very reasonably priced, and is expandable up to 12 trays. I recommend starting with the basic system that comes with 5 trays. Then expand by buying additional trays, fruit leather sheets, and mesh screens.
The Cosori Premium Dehydrator is my most recent dehydrator purchase. In many respects, it’s superior to the Nesco since it is constructed with stainless steel, which is always a winner. I love the ease of use, and how precise it is when it comes to setting the temperature. It’s also versatile in that you can remove some of the racks. This makes it possible to use it for more than just dehydrating. As an example, you can use the Cosori dehydrator to make yogurt, something you definitely can’t do with any of the stackable dehydrators.
Nesco FD-1018A Gardenmaster Pro Food Dehydrator – I’ve had my eye on this dehydrator for a LONG time. I don’t have space for another dehydrator, so I’m just waiting for one of my dehydrators to die so I can buy this one! What I really love about this dehydrator is that it expands to up to 30 (yes, 30!) trays. At 1,000 watts, it’s more powerful than the two dehydrators listed above. If you only have the means to buy one dehydrator, and have limited space to dehydrate, I recommend this one since you can dehydrate a huge amount of food at a time.
The FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing Machine is a great way to preserve the food you’ve dehydrated. The machine I use is no longer available. I chose this one because it’s a great price and includes a port that makes it possible to use the accessory kit linked to below. Since I store all my dehydrated food in mason jars, the jar sealer attachments are a must. But with this device, you can also use food storage bags if you’re short on mason jars, or prefer to seal you dehydrated food in bags.
The FoodSaver Handheld Cordless Food Vacuum Sealer is a great option for those with limited space. I keep mine charged up in my kitchen, so I can easily reseal jars every time I use some of my dehydrated food. While I still love my larger FoodSaver, from a convenience perspective, this one can’t be beat.
The FoodSaver Accessory Kit is a must if, like me, you store dehydrated food in mason jars. You can use this kit with either of the vacuum sealers linked to above.