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It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
Sweet potato chips are one of those things that we always have around because my mother will always, always pick me up a bag when she's in some health food store or alternative grocery shop (or is it shoppe?). I love sweet potatoes, but most sweet potato chips are just okay. Considering that these snacks are generally deep fried and heavily salted, I guess I'm just expecting a little something more. Making them myself seemed like a viable way to solve some issues. Here are some of my findings:
Commercial chips are too thick for my taste and often still have the peel on, which I find distracting in a textural sense. I peel mine and slice them on a mandolin to a thickness that is somewhere between 1/8 inch and “paper thin.” The slices should be slightly translucent and flop over easily when held up.
Use both fine and flaky salt for proper seasoning and textural contrast. A chef I once worked for applied this principle to french fry making, and it has grown on me for all crispy and salty homemade endeavors. The fine salt seasons the sweet potatoes and the sprinkle of flaky salt right before they hit the oven enhances the crunch of the finished chip.
More: Another crispy chip you can bake at home, made from kale.
Use high heat and naked baking sheets. I had previously tried a slow-baked method for homemade chips, only to find the end results erring on the side of fruit leather. And they took over an hour! It made sense to try higher heat for ramped-up crunch. You have to watch the chips a bit more, because after a midway flip the little rounds can go from utterly delicious to devastatingly burnt within 30 seconds. They're essentially searing themselves on the hot baking sheet.
Lastly, a neutral and high heat-tolerant oil makes a huge difference. The big brands tent to utilize canola oil for frying, which seems to make for an “oily” tasting chip to me. I want the purity of the sweet potato and whatever spices I'm using (full disclosure: I used taco seasoning) to come through; grapeseed oil is my first choice for this. A cinnamon or chai-spiced chip might benefit from a splash of coconut oil.
Makes 4 to 5 cups of chips
1 medium-large sweet potato
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (plus extra for greasing)
1 teaspoon spices of your choice
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Lightly grease two large baking sheets with grapeseed oil and set aside. Peel the sweet potato and slice it on a mandolin into thin coins.
Toss the sweet potato slices with the tablespoon of grapeseed oil, fine sea salt, and spices. Make sure all slices are evenly coated.
Place slices on the baking sheets in a single layer, ensuring that there is no overlap. Sprinkle the flaky sea salt on top of the slices and slide the baking sheets into the oven. Bake the chips for 18 minutes, flipping them over with tongs at the halfway point. Remove chips when they appear lightly golden brown with a tiny bit of give in the center (they will firm up).
Enjoy your chips as soon as possible, or within the next day.
Photos by Laura M. Wright
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