Some time ago, I went to a farmers market where a local vendor offered me a sample of raw vegan kale chips. I had never had raw kale chips before — oven-baked ones, yes, but raw ones with all the glorious nutrition intact, no — and so, intrigued, I selected a pizza flavor for my first experience with raw kale chips. I’m so glad I did.
The raw kale chip was crispy and crunchy with thick layers of pizza-flavored cashew cheese. I was instantly hooked. I bought some of the kale chips to take with me hoping that I’d be able to recreate the flavor profile at home.
It’s taken me a few years and several hundred delicious tries before I’ve gotten the same type of flavor as those chips I found in the farmers market that day, but I’ve finally hit the right combo of spices.
My chips get their cheesy flavor from raw cashews and nutritional yeast, the crunch comes from dehydrating them to perfection. And if you are a kale chip lover, you’ll appreciate that you can make these at home saving you tons of money since store-bought kale chips tend to be pricey.
To test the yum factor of this recipe, I served a big batch of pizza kale chips to a few friends over the weekend. I took it as a good sign when the bowl of kale chips disappeared in the blink of an eye, but an even better sign when I caught my friend using their finger to wipe up any leftover cheese bits left at the bottom of the bowl.
What I’m saying here is that these are pretty damn good. Bonus, they’re pretty damn healthy too.
Pizza Kale Chips
- 2 bunches of clean, washed curly kale
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 + 1/2 tablespoons pulverized or finely chopped fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
For the cashew cheese
- Soak the cashews in a bowl of filtered water overnight.
- The next day, drain and rinse the cashews, place them in a food processor or high-speed blender, and process them into a paste.
- Once the cashews are in a paste, add tiny amounts of water as the processor is running to smooth out the paste into a thick cream. Be careful not to add too much water because you don't want a runny cheese. Only use the amount of water that you need.
- Add spices and continue to mix until fully combined.
For the kale chips
- Wash the kale and tear the leaves into large pieces and set aside to dry. You can also use a salad spinner to dry the leaves. Don't skip this step. If you skip drying the kale, the cheese mix won't stick to the leaves.
- Place the kale into a large mixing bowl. Add the cashew cheese mixture and massage into each of the kale leaves until each leaf is heavily coated. Massaging the kale helps break down the fiber in the leaves, so don't be afraid to rub the cheese mixture in. Make sure to get the cheese mixture in all the nooks and crannies of the leaves.
- Line the dehydrator tray with a Teleflex sheet. If you don’t have a Teleflex sheet, go ahead and use an unlined tray, they’ll probably be okay. I only use a lined sheet so that I can catch any cheesy “drippings.”
- Set the dehydrator to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and dehydrate until fully crisp, approximately three hours.
I tried this today, I forgot to completely dry the kale after washing. Actually turned out ok though b/c I had caked on that cashew mixture pretty thick. But I only have an oven, no dehydrator, and even at the low setting they dried very quickly, however I burned the second batch. Oh well. They taste great – as good as what I get in the bag at the natural food store for $8, and it costs pennies on the dollar to make it myself.