Have you tried crispy kale yet? It is ridiculously easy to make and tastes so good, you might be mistaken for thinking you’re eating junk food as you greedily stuff more and more into your mouth. Momentary guilt, then the delightful realisation that you’re actually eating one of the healthiest foods on the planet! So gorge away on this delicious healthy snack! 😋
My kids absolutely love crispy kale and they associate those dark green curly leaved stems with this yummy snack food so they beg to get some when they see it at the supermarket. (I allow myself a little “smug mummy” moment!).
Top Tip for Parents
I make this before I start making the kids supper so that they can snack on it while I’m cooking. Then I know they’ve had their portion of dark greens already and I’ve stalled the endless questions of “when is supper going to be ready?”… well, for the few minutes it takes for them to demolish a bowl!
Kale is chocca full of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants. Couple that with the fact that it is low calorie and low fat, it makes it one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world! In fact, munching on this vegan cheesy crispy kale must be the easiest way to eat health food! See this very informative healthline article for more information on the health benefits of kale.
The technique is basically to wash and dry the kale, rub it with oil and whatever flavours you want, and then bake for a few minutes until it goes crispy. That’s it!! It’s easier to make than popcorn and just as moreish! There are endless different flavours you could mix into the kale but here is one that is very popular in my household (my kids also love this mixture with popcorn). Just be careful to watch it like a hawk at the end of the cooking time, as it takes only a few moments for it to change from perfectly crispy green tinged with brown to going dark brown and bitter-tasting, and that would be enough to put anyone off!
Air Fryer Instructions
If you have an air fryer (I have this air fryer which I love!), it makes fantastic crispy kale even more quickly! Just put the flavoured kale leaves straight into the air fryer basket and cook for 6 minutes at 180°C (turning half way). You do need to watch out because the little leaves fly about everywhere and can get stuck in the fan so now I put a small metal vegetable steamer basket on top of the raw kale in the air fryer basket to hold it in place. (Make sure you use oven gloves to remove it as it will be desperately hot to touch!).
Kale stems are really tough so it’s best if you buy whole stems so that you can easily cut off the soft leafy bit from the stems rather than buying the packets of ready chopped kale that always seem to be chopped across the stem.
You could also leave out the nutritional yeast flavour and just oil and salt the kale before baking and then sprinkle on nutty cheese or “Everything But the Bagel Blend” after it's been baked. Or, if you’re not into the nutritional yeast flavour, leave that out and sprinkle on some of my favourite “Everything But the Bagel Blend” after you take it out of the oven, just before serving.
Recipe Card 📖
Vegan Cheesy Crispy Kale
- Air Fryer (optional but good!)
- 4 stems of kale (about 100g once de-stemmed)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1½ tbsp nutritional yeast
- ⅛ tsp salt
- Set the oven or air fryer to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
- Wash the kale really well (I find it easiest to soak it for a few minutes in a basin full of water then swish it around to let the dirt fall to the bottom of the basin), then dry well, either in a salad spinner, or put it in a clean tea towel and spin it around a few times to get the droplets of water off the kale and onto the towel!
- Cut along each side of the stem and discard the stem. Then chop the leaves into big bite sized pieces (be aware that they do shrink while roasting so you don’t want them too small). (Depending on how big and fibrous the leaves are, you could just tear the pieces off the stem instead of using a knife to cut it - see video)
- Put the chopped kale into a big bowl and add the oil. Use your hands to rub the oil into the kale leaves. You really need to make sure it is rubbed into both sides of each piece so that it all cooks evenly.
- Once covered in a thin film of oil, add the nutritional yeast and salt, and mix so that the flavouring is evenly distributed among the kale pieces.
- Pour the kale onto the lined baking sheet and spread out thinly. Then pop it into the oven.
- Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes @ 180°C, turning the leaves half way through cooking. (Check the kale at 5 minutes to turn the leaves, then check again at 10 minutes. It may need a minute or two longer if it is not quite crispy but keep a close eye on it).
- When it is dark green, just tinged with brown, and perfectly crispy, take it out of the oven and pour into a bowl. Serve immediately.
Air Fryer Method
- Put the oiled and flavoured kale leaves into the air fryer basket with something heat-resistant with holes all over it, over the top of the kale leaves to hold them down. (You need to do this otherwise the leaves fly about everywhere and can get stuck in the fan). I use an upturned metal steamer basket which holds them perfectly in place whilst letting the air circulate because of the little holes.
- Cook for 6 minutes at 180°C (turning half way). (Make sure you use oven gloves to remove the steamer basket as it will be desperately hot to touch!).
- Kale stems are really tough so it’s best if you buy whole stems so that you can easily cut off the soft leafy bit from the stems rather than buying the packets of ready chopped kale that always seem to be chopped across the stem.
- If you’re not into the nutritional yeast flavour, leave that out and just use the salt or you could sprinkle on some of my favourite “Everything But the Bagel Blend” after you take it out of the oven, just before serving.
If you like this recipe, you may like these other delicious vegan and gluten-free recipes too:
I’d love to know how you get on with this recipe. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and please give it a star rating too! Thank you!