Can you really make delicious healthy crispy snacks with vegetables? Or, do they taste like cardboard and send you running for your favourite potato chips?
Yes, you can. I’ll tell you what I’ve learned after dozens of recipe experiments, plus how to make chips from a variety of vegetables. Get ready to munch. There is hope.
Well, there’s good news and bad news.
Veggie chips can be a healthier alternative to other snack foods like potato chips or crisps.
But the bad news is, the best-tasting ones are made exactly like potato chips and therefore don’t have any valid nutritional or health bragging rights.
Deep fried is deep fried. It really doesn’t matter if there’s a green bean or a potato lurking in there somewhere. All things considered, the bad cancels out the good.
So, let’s move on and settle in on the next-best solution: baking.
I have been experimenting with baked veggie chip recipes for years. This comes up a lot in the fall when I have an assortment of odds and ends from the summer garden harvest to use up.
Often there’s not enough for canning or preserving but I want to use the scraps for something. Hence, veggie chip mania.
And yes, some of them are quite delicious.
Related: Think outside the carbs! Fresh recipes for zucchini, cauliflower, and broccoli.
Be Willing to Experiment
While veggie chips are very simple to prepare, it’s not so easy to provide exact baking instructions. You have to be willing to try stuff out.
Oven times vary a lot depending on the produce itself (and the moisture levels of that particular crop), how hot your oven actually gets, and random factors like altitude.
So even if you use other recipes (there’s lots online), be sure to watch your oven like a hawk. Because under-cooked and over-cooked veggie chips are not fun (or delicious).
Veggies for Veggie Chips
This is a short list. Do try whatever you like.
- Sweet potato
- Potato (but do try other veggies instead!)
- Chinese cabbage
- Fresh green beans also work but you need to blanch them first.
Blanching is a process where you briefly cook the vegetables in boiling water for a few minutes (2-4 minutes, depending on how thick the beans are), and then place them in ice water to stop the cooking process. This softens them up for baking.
Be sure to let them dry thoroughly before using them as described below.
How to Make Veggie Chips
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Before You Start
- Preheat oven to 350 (or 375F if veggies are more than 1/16″ thick).
- Total baking time will be between 10-20 minutes for most veggies but you have to monitor it.
- Do not leave the kitchen and check your first batches frequently.
- Bake one type of vegetable at a time to avoid baking time mayhem.
- Remove any unwanted peels. Wash and dry the veggies.
- Thinly slice the veggies into 1/16″ thick pieces. I use a mandolin (pictured above).
- Leafy veggies like spinach, Chinese cabbage, and kale should be torn up into small pieces.
Oil and Seasonings
- Lightly brush on oil, herbs, spices, (anything goes! Paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper, rosemary…).
The health goal is to use as little oil as possible while delivering taste and crispness.
- Place veggies in a single layer on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Phase 1: Bake in pre-heated 350 (or 375F) oven for 10 minutes.
Examine the chips.
- Phase 2: Most veggies will need turning over and another 10 minutes (ish) of baking.
Add another light brushing of oil/herbs if needed.
TIP: If you’re making veggies chips with root vegetables, during Phase 2, try adding a second baking sheet right on top of the vegetables. This extra heat can help crisp them up nicely.
Monitor While Baking
- Watch for edges to curl or brown slightly.
- Place on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. They will get crispy during this time.
- An extra dash of salt may be the key to deliciousness.
There’s only one way to determine your favourites. Experiment with different veggies, seasonings, and baking times and see which ones you like best.
Drying Veggies for Soups
- I use a food dehydrator to dry vegetables for soups.
- You can dry anything including sweet potatoes, beets, zucchini, carrots….
- Follow the instructions provided with the dehydrator.
- Depending on how you store them, they can last from 4 months to one year.
- There’s helpful information here on storing dried foods.
- Add to soups. They plump back up and provide lots of flavour.