Southwest Kale Chips

Crispy kale is a hugely popular snack with many varieties available in stores and with many recipes online. This recipe is a fairly low calorie snack and it is also vegan. There is no gluten or dairy. This recipe has a tangy, “cheesy”, southwestern flavor, with some spicy habanero chili pepper. It contains some nutritional yeast which gives it the cheesy flavor.

This crispy kale recipe is easy to make. You will need a food processor and a dehydrator. Try to use good quality organic ingredients whenever possible. Insist on organic miso paste to avoid GMO soy. You can adjust the spicy hot flavor by using more or less habanero pepper. Habaneros come in small sizes if less hotness is more desirable.


  • 2 bunches organic kale, chopped, stems removed
  • 1 cup raw organic cashews
  • 1/3 cup hulled organic sesame seeds
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tbsp organic white miso paste (Sweet White miso)
  • 1 tbsp organic chia seeds
  • 1 tsp organic apple cider vinegar (with the mother)
  • 3/4 tsp minced onion flakes or powdered onion
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 large clove fresh garlic
  • 1 medium habanero pepper
  • Pinch sea salt (about 1/8 tsp)

For each kale leaf, remove the stem with a chef’s knife then cut or pull apart leaves into chunks. First, slice it along one side of the stem and then along the other side, then cut it away from the leafy part at the tip. Place into large (8 qt) mixing bowl.

Make a wet paste from the remaining ingredients with a food processor. Mix thoroughly for several minutes. You don’t want it too thick and heavy like nut butter or tahini. That’s too heavy. You want it thinner but still a little pasty. Add some water to thin it. After everything has been processed and ground up and mixed thoroughly, gradually add water a little at a time to reach the desired consistency. The amount just depends on the batch.

Add the mixture to the chopped kale in the mixing bowl. Set aside some of the chopped kale beforehand to use as a broom to sweep out the food processor. Use a stiff plastic spatula and toss it all around, mixing everything together so that the paste is distributed evenly all over the chopped kale.

Prepare three or four dehydrator trays with a non-stick sheet on each tray. Using a pair of stainless steel tongs, divide up the mixture evenly between the dehydrator trays and spread the mixture out over them. Dehydrate at 115°F for about 12 hours.

Note: The best workflow I’ve found is to use one rounded 8 quart mixing bowl full of kale chunks for the amounts of ingredients to make the wet paste. You never know how much you get out of a bunch. I usually put some water in the sink to rinse off the kale pieces after cutting it or pulling it apart. Then I will use a salad spinner to spin off the water. I will layer the kale pieces into the bowl a little at a time to make it easier to distribute the paste. Then I use a pair of stainless steel tongs in one hand and a stiff plastic spatula in the other to mix it all up a layer at a time.

Shown below is a photo of the ingedients for the paste after mixing in a food processor. You can get the idea of the desired consistency from the photo.

Note: The key is for the paste to be a wet enough consistency to allow it to easily be distributed evenly over the kale but not too wet to extend the dehydrating time.

First remove the stem from the kale leaf. This is red kale. I am making this batch with one bunch of red kale and one bunch of green curly kale.

After removing the stem, slice up each leaf into chunks and scoop them into a large mixing bowl.

Tip: After removing the stem, you don’t have to cut the kale, instead you can just pull it apart into pices of the desired size.

Add the paste from the food processor to the chopped kale.

Thoroughly toss the chopped kale in with the paste and make sure to distribute it evenly so all the leaves are covered. Make sure there aren’t any lumps, otherwise you’ll have some gummy parts that won’t completely dry out in the dehydrator. You can always sprinkle a little water into the mixture to help spread the paste.

Tip: Pull all the cut Kale out on the cutting board and layer it in a little at a time while adding the paste. Gradually distribute the paste over the kale a layer at a time. This will make it easier to spread it evenly all over the cut kale.

Place a non stick sheet on each dehydrator tray, then using a pair of stainless steel tongs, spread the kale over each tray.

Note: Take you time spreading the kale on the sheets. Shake apart clumps that are stuck together and spread them out so there is adequate air space to circulate around the kale. This will tend to prevent gumminess or parts that remain moist after dehydration and will ensure a more uniform and quality finished product.

Place the trays in the dehydrator and set the temperature for 115°F.

Dehydrate for about 12 hours – or overnight. This batch was started a little after 6:00 p.m. and was done by morning.

Crispy kale makes a delicious and very healthy snack.

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