Inside: Get a recipe for Crispy Nacho Kale Chips, a fun and tasty way for kids to get their leafy greens. Bake them up and watch them disappear!
Kale may still be a trendy veggie. But it’s not necessarily kid-friendly.
Don’t get me wrong: I like kale–raw, cooked, curly, dinosaur, baby, all of it.
But kale can also be bitter. And for kids who are still learning to like veggies–especially for picky eaters and super-tasters who are extra sensitive to bitter flavors–this leafy green may have been a no-go in the past. (Read: Your Kids Hate Vegetables. Now What?)
Kid-friendly kale chips change everything! Especially when they’re coated with savory nacho “cheese” flavoring.
Plus, these kale chips are also gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.
Ingredients You Need For These Kid-Friendly Kale Chips
- Curly kale (about 14 stems), removed from center stem: Avoid buying large bags of chopped curly kale. They often have the stem intact, and are typically meant for juicing.
- Olive oil
- Nutritional yeast: This might be in the “natural foods” section of the grocery store. It probably won’t be with the regular yeast used for baking.
- Kosher salt: This coarser texture is nice for these kale chips, but you can use regular table salt as well.
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Chili powder
7 Secrets to the Very Best Kale Chips For Kids
- Remove the center stems. They’re tough and unpleasant to chew!
- Tear kale into an even size. That means they’ll cook more evenly.
- Dry the kale well after rinsing. Otherwise, the oil and seasonings won’t stick well.
- Rub the oil into the leaves. Called “massaging” the kale, this softens the leaves and makes sure the oil is rubbed into all the crevices.
- Put kale chips in an even layer on the baking sheet. If they’re piled on top of each other, they won’t cook evenly and might steam instead of bake, which will make them limp.
- Go low and slow. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat! Kale leaves will quickly singe on high temperatures.
- Eat them right away. They’ll soften over time, so serve them right away for the crispiest results.
How to Make Kale Chips For Kids
Remove the leaves from the tough center stem of a large bunch of curly kale (about 14 stems’ worth). An easy way to do this is #5 on this list of My Favorite Kitchen Tricks. Tear leaves into large, chip-sized pieces (think large tortilla chips, not small potato chips) and rinse. Dry well with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel so the oil will stick well to the leaves.
Toss leaves with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and rub oil into leaves so they’re fully coated. This is called “massaging” the kale, and it helps soften the leaves and get the oil into all the nooks and crannies.
Arrange on two baking sheets in an even layer. Be sure the kale chips aren’t piled on top of each other, or they may end up steaming (which will make them limp) or cooking unevely.
Bake at 275 degrees F for 10 minutes. Stir. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until crispy. (You can bake both baking sheets at once if your oven can bake them evenly.) Look how much they reduce in size!
While the kale is baking, combine nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, and chili powder in a small bowl and mix well.
When kale chips are done baking, sprinkle the seasoning mixture over leaves and toss well to coat. Serve!
Questions about Kid Friendly Kale Chips
What kind of kale should I buy for this recipe?
Choose curly kale. It makes for prettier, crunchier chips. I use half a bunch of kale per batch (about 7 stems’ worth). You may also see lacinato (or “dino”) kale, which is better for salads.
What’s the quickest way to de-stem kale?
To quickly pull the leaves away from the tough center stem, hold the kale leaf in one hand and slide your other hand along the stem.
What is nutritional yeast?
Yes, nutritional yeast looks a lot like fish food. But it’s yummy, I promise! And your kids will like it too! Nicknamed “nooch” by its hardcore fans, nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of yeast (it’s not the same as the yeast you use to make bread) and lends a cheesy, savory flavor without any dairy.
Nutritional yeast is fortified with B vitamins including B12, which is especially helpful for vegetarians and vegans since B12 is primarily found in animal products. It’s also low in sodium and typically gluten free.
My kids love nutritional yeast sprinkled over stove-popped popcorn (here’s our easy popcorn recipe). You can use it to season roasted vegetables, potatoes, and scrambled eggs. You’ll also spot it in vegan recipes for dishes like this Vegan Power Mac and Cheese.
In the past, my kale chips have turned out limp. What’s the trick for making crispy kale chips?
The trick for crispy kale chips is to bake them low and slow. If you’ve made kale chips in the past and they’ve come out burnt and crumbly, the oven temperature may have been too high; 275 degrees F seems to be the right temperature for making crispy (but not singed) kale chips. But be sure to keep an eye on them in the last 10 minutes of baking so they don’t overcook.
How do I store these kale chips?
These crispy baked kale chips never last longer than 15 minutes in my house, and they’re best eaten right away. But if you have leftovers, wait until they’re completely cool and then transfer into a container or better yet, a paper bag, for a day or two. If they get limp or soggy during storage, pop them in a 275-degree oven for a few minutes to crisp up again.
Are these kale chips vegan?
Yes. Nutritional yeast may have a cheesy flavor to it, but it does not contain cheese or dairy of any kind.
Why is kale so healthy?
Kale is loaded with vitamin C and vitamin K, and contains calcium that’s well-absorbed by the body. Like all fruits and veggies, kale is also a source of antioxidants, which are natural compounds that can help fight cell damage that leads to disease.
Wait, isn’t kale on the Dirty Dozen List?
Yes, kale ranked third on this year’s Dirty Dozen list, which is compiled annually by the Environmental Working Group and is based on pesticide residues found on conventionally-grown produce.
If you want to choose organic kale, you can do that. If it’s not available, out of your price range, or you’d rather buy conventional, know that residues found on the conventional kale don’t come close to exceeding what the EPA says is safe.
The presence of pesticide residue doesn’t mean it’s unsafe or harmful in any way. As a dietitian, I can assure you: It’s SO much more important to buy and eat lots of fruits and vegetables than to avoid them out of fear and worry!
Recipe Card for Kale Chips For Kids
- 1 bunch curly kale (about 14 stems), removed from center stem
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1 pinch cumin
- 1 pinch chili powder
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Wash kale (and dry with paper towel) and tear into large, chip-sized pieces. Toss leaves in olive oil, rubbing with your hands to work the oil into the leaves. Divide between baking sheets, placing kale in a single layer.
- Bake 10 minutes. Stir. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until crispy. (You can bake both baking sheets at once if your oven can bake them evenly.)
- While kale is baking, combine nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, and chili powder in a small bowl and mix well.
- When kale is done baking, use spatula to place chips in a large bowl and toss with spices, doing this in two batches if needed.
- Serve right away.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 handful
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 78Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 275mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 2g