I love the internet for a lot of reasons, but especially because it taught me that I can make chips out of literally anything. I’m (mostly) not kidding when I say literally anything. As long as you have an oven and the proper cutting tools (more on that later), you can make apples, zucchini, squash, beets, cucumbers, or whatever produce you want—as long as it’s not too watery—into a crunchy and delicious snack with only minimal effort.
I always thought the process had to be a little more complicated than it seemed, but I was wrong. I loosely followed instructions from four popular recipes to make sweet potato, banana, eggplant, and apple chips (separately, of course). Here’s what I did to make them without breaking a sweat.
A nice, thin slice is the secret to turning any fruit or vegetable into chips.
If you cut your produce too thick, it will never get that crunchy, crispy, chippy mouthfeel that we all know and love. Instead, you have to cut them extremely thin (about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch, generally), and the best way to do this is with a mandoline.
A mandoline is a flat tool that you can use to quickly slice even rounds of your chosen fruit or vegetable. Though they sound fancy, they’re actually pretty affordable. (Here’s a $15 one for reference). The only thing with a mandoline is that you have to be super careful when you’re using it. If you slice too fast, or you don’t use the hand guard that it’s so thoughtfully sold with, you just might slice right through your thumb—speaking from experience! No one wants thumb chips, so always use the hand guard, and take the whole process nice and slow.
If you’d rather not buy a mandoline to make your chips, you can use a knife to hand slice whatever produce you’re cooking, it’ll just take a lot longer.
Set your oven to 200 degrees F—you’re not baking the chips, you’re dehydrating them.
When I first saw that the general recommended baking temperature for most chip recipes was 200 degrees F, I did a double take. That’s so low, I thought, but then I realized that’s the point. At that low, low temperature, you slowly dehydrate the fruit and veggies until they’re crunchy and chip-like, and you don’t need to use any oils to achieve this texture.
Some recipes you’ll see online will tell you to bump up the temperature, but to shorten the amount of time you cook the chips for. You can mess around with the times and temps, but I personally found 200 degrees to be the sweet spot—I was able to cook all my different chips at that temp and they turned out great.
Leave the skin on your produce—or don’t. It’s up to you, but they’ll taste great either way.
I went ahead and left the skin on all of the different things I turned into chips, because I liked the extra bit of texture and flavor it added to the experience. But if you’re a devout peeler, then by all means, peel away.
And add whatever spices or seasonings you like.
I didn’t add anything, because I wanted to see how they’d turn out with as little fuss as possible. But I could easily see the apple chips being great with cinnamon and sugar, the sweet potato chips with chili flakes and honey, the eggplant chips with rosemary and sea salt, and the banana chips with something unexpected, like turmeric. With wet ingredients that you choose to add, don’t use anymore than a teaspoon per cup of produce, so that way it doesn’t end up too wet. And feel free to use as large a quantity of dry spices as you like.
One quick sidenote about making the banana chips:
I had a little trouble making banana chips at first, because the bananas I bought were practically mush, they were so ripe. So when you’re making banana chips, buy the firmest bananas you can find at the store—the greener the better! They’ll be infinitely more easy to slice with the mandolin. Also, slice them a bit thicker (about 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch) than you might the other fruits and vegetables, otherwise you might have a hard time peeling them off the baking sheet when they’re done. And before you put them in oven, coat them with a light layer of lemon juice to keep them from turning super brown.
Let everything cook for a long time.
Curl up with a good book, because once you put your chips in the oven, you have 2 1/2 hours to go before you can eat them. Check on them every hour—you’ll know they’re ready when they’ve shrunken significantly and curled up a lot at the edges. In the case of the bananas, they should be a little brown.
While everything is still in the oven, they’ll be a little soft to the touch, but when you let them cool they’ll firm and quickly take on a crispy quality. Store them in an airtight container and enjoy them for as long as they last, which, TBH, probably won’t be very long.