Vegan Cheese Kale Chips Recipe

Mandatory recipe you must try — these are amazing chips!

There’s a Hot New Chip in Town

Baked kale chips are all the rage these days, it seems. After becoming addicted to the good store bought ones that cost around $5 a package, I knew I had to find a way to self support my habit; so I hunted down recipes. The method of just coating kale with some oil and sprinkling with salt before baking never worked for me every batch I tried turned into a bitter, crumbly mess.

But finally, I believe I hear angels singing–for I have found a delicious way to “beef up” those wimpy kale chips!

Crunchy Chipotle Kale Chips

Crunchy Chipotle Cheese Kale Chips Recipe

I hate to sound like I think I’m the Queen of Kale, but after making and eating enough kale chips to turn my eyes green, I believe I’ve worked this recipe down to its lowest common denominator (meaning “no more messing with the recipe; this is the one”).  It’s a simple prospect, really: blend up an easy vegan cashew cheese sauce in a VitaMix or other high-speed blender, mix it into some torn-up kale pieces, and bake on parchment paper at a low temperature until the chips are dry and crisp.  I’ve tweaked this recipe until the salt is enough but not too much, and it will start new kale chip makers off on the right chipotle foot and not overwhelm their palates with too much spice.

I also hate to sound like the Saint of All Things Healthy and Delicious, but when the vast majority of people past the age of not-yet-ready-for-nuts who try these kale chips tell me they’re surprisingly tasty, to me that’s enough of a sign from heaven to tell me I’m only one or two mothers away from giving Mother Teresa some stiff competition.

The secret to these chips is a non-dairy cheese sauce which will coat two or three bunches of kale with enough “beefiness” to allow the dried chips to hold up to gentle fingers and make it into the kale hole in one piece. You can choose to bake just one oven batch of chips and use the extra sauce for vegan mac and cheese by mixing it into some pasta, or you can continue coating and baking more kale chips.

The cheesiness factor is not rocket science; make your first batch and decide if you want the next one to be more or less cheesy, and adjust the amount of good stuff accordingly. (Note: Kale chips, like expensive wool sweaters people ruin in the laundry, shrink and will be more heavily covered when finished than they appeared before drying, so keep that in mind when gooping up the raw kale.)

Heads Up

*NOTE: It is VERY important to use curly kale and not the flat lacinato type! Curly leaves take up less room on the baking sheets as well as releasing much easier than flat leaves, which tend to–well, stick down flat. Not good. Curly kale kicks it, kids!

Ready? Prepare your taste buds for some fun!

Chipotle Cashew Cheese Kale Chips (Vegan)

Kale Chip Ingredients

INGREDIENTS:

2 or 3 bunches of organic curly kale, depending on the size
of the bunches and how heavily you want them to be
covered.

Vegan cashew cheese sauce (recipe below)

Let’s Get Ripping

Cut or rip the kale leaves off the stems (feed the stems to your compost bin!), then tear the leaves into good-sized bites.  Wash well and spin dry in a salad spinner.  Lightly pile the kale pieces into a very large bowl.

Kale Lettuce

Heat the oven to 175 degrees and position two oven racks so one is in the bottom position and one is near the top.

VEGAN CASHEW CHEESE SAUCE RECIPE:

Cashew Cheese Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

(Makes about 1-1/3 cup)

1 cup raw cashews (If you don’t have a powerful blender such as a VitaMix, soften the nuts by soaking them in water for several hours, then drain.)

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

3 to 4 tablespoons of avocado oil or another mild-tasting oil

Juice of 1 lemon (bottled juice works too)

1 medium red pepper, cleaned and quartered

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

TO MAKE THE SAUCE: Simply blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until very smooth.

The Sexy Part – A Light Massage

Using your impeccably clean hands, gently work a third to a half of the sauce into each bunch of kale.  Don’t rush, and don’t mash the kale into a limp mess– just carefully work it in until the kale pieces are evenly coated.  It’s even easier if you rub the sauce into those scrubbed hands a bit before mixing it into the kale.  Put some fun music on in the background and enjoy the process.

Kale Coated with the Good Stuff

Kale Coated with the Good Stuff

Things Will Be Getting Steamy!

Divide the coated kale pieces between two large (12″ x 17″) parchment covered baking sheets (it takes two sheets for each single bunch of kale), and spread them out in a single layer as much as possible–but don’t worry if they look a bit chummy; they will shrink as they dry.  Place trays in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, then rotate trays back to front and top to bottom and bake another 30 to 45 minutes.  You will be looking for the point when most of the chips release easily from the parchment.

Kale on Baking Sheets

At this point, remove the pans from the oven and “toss” chips lightly by lifting up the parchment and letting them fall in the middle so you can gently flip and reposition them.  (If the chips are still too moist to release, give them a little more time before doing the “parchment toss” maneuver.)

Wait For Them…

Return pans to the oven and watch the chips carefully so you can pull them out when they are all dry and crispy. This can take another 15 to 45 minutes. (Chill. Drink some tea. Watch the chips.)

The crispy kale chips will keep in an airtight container for several days or longer. I can’t say for sure exactly how long, because they’ve never lasted that long at my house!

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