Allegedly, once you pop you can’t stop. Since it’s usually game over once that bag opens, we’ve rounded up a list of crunchy, customizable chip-like substitutes. They’re healthier, and most importantly, still tasty. Most can be made gluten-free, and with a whole lot less salt than store-bought ’tater versions. All it takes is some slicing, rubbing in oil, baking, and our favorite part — munching.
5 Pro Tips (for All Chip Varieties)
- Use a mandoline — a cooking utensil that can pump out uniform, thin slices — or a chef’s knife to cut slices 1/8 — 1/4 of an inch thick. It’s important to get the chips thin to get just the right crisp.
- When placing the chips on a baking sheet, line the sheet with parchment paper and lay the chips in a single layer. If the chips overlap, the edges won’t cook evenly.
- For even cooking, rotate the pan halfway through and flip the chips.
- For small batches, pop the chip subs in a toaster oven.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container, though most of these won’t stay at their peak crunchiness for long (more reason to eat ’em right up).
Kale Kale is a distant cousin of broccoli and is known to have a very large amount of antioxidants compared to other fruits and veggies. Since kale can sometimes be a little bitter, try gently massaging the leaves with a little olive oil before baking. Add nutritional yeast (a vegan powder loaded with nutrients) to these lightly crunchy snacks for a cheesy taste. Or dust with Parmesan for the real McCoy. For a flat chip, use dinosaur kale. The alternative, curly kale, is much more textured but also makes a tasty chip that hangs onto dips and toppings better.
DIY: Preheat oven to 375. Rinse and dry 1 large bunch of kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs. Rip the kale into large pieces, toss with a little olive oil, then sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Bake until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes, checking frequently. (They can burn easily!)
Carrot For lots of beta-carrot-ene (see what we did there?!), which converts into vitamin A in the body, munch on these orange veggie chips. Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a splash of OJ before popping them in the oven.
DIY: Preheat oven to 250 and bake for 45 minutes, or until crispy.
Turnip Turnips, which look like white beets with pretty purple stems, are a great source of vitamin B6, which helps to produce serotonin, the hormone that helps us sleep and control appetite Pyridoxine effect on synthesis rate of serotonin in the monkey brain measured with positron emission tomography. Hartvig, P., Lindner, K., and Bjurling, P., et al. Uppsala University PET Centre, Uppsala, Sweden. Journal of Neural Transmission, 1995;102(2):91-7.. If you’d rather not peel them, make sure to give them a good scrub before the chips hit the baking sheet.
DIY: Preheat oven to 375. Roast for 20-25 minutes.
Apple We don’t need to tell you apples are healthy. (What’s that old saying again? Something about a doctor?) Make them extra autumnal by sprinkling the slices with pumpkin pie spice, or your own mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. We like Bare Fruit’s bake-dried chips. They’re organic with no added sugar, preservatives, or additives, and a single serving has fewer than 30 calories.
DIY: Preheat oven to 200, bake for 30 minutes, flip, and cook for another 30 minutes.
Beet Beets have a ton of antioxidant betalain, known for it’s anti-inflammatory and detoxification powers. Slicing the roots and baking them produces a deep purple chip that’s sweet from natural sugars (or a golden yellow if made with golden beets). For a sweet and savory combination, top them with a dollop of goat cheese.
DIY: Preheat oven to 350, and bake 20 minutes. Rotate sheet and bake 10-20 more minutes.
Taro The taro root looks a bit like a potato, but inside reveals a white flesh with pretty little purple squiggles. Taro is a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin E, which protects essential lipids (naturally occurring molecules that are important for energy storage) in the body Impact of vitamin E on immune function and its clinical implications. Han, S.N. and Meydani, S.N. Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Boston, MA. Expert Review of Clinical Immunology, 2006 Jul;2(4):561-7.. For a full serving of veggies in every ounce, try Terra Chips, which feature taro plus sweet potato, yucca, batata, parsnip, and ruby taro. As far as bagged chip varieties go, these have less than half the sodium than standard potato chips.
DIY: Preheat an oven to 400, and bake the rounds for 15 minutes or until edges start to turn golden brown.
Green Bean These guys manage to sneak in a bit of protein and calcium over their chip counterparts. We love Trader Joe's lightly salted crunchy Green Beans. They’re sweet and savory at the very same time. Dip ’em in sriracha sauce for some spice!
DIY: Preheat oven to 425 and bake for 15 minutes, or until crunchy and golden brown.
Banana These chips provide a crunch that satisfies a sweet tooth, especially when dressed up with cinnamon, or dipped in honey-drizzled Greek yogurt. And though bananas are mainly recognized for their potassium levels, they’re also a great source of vitamins C and B6. We like Funky Monkey's bananamon flavor, which are freeze-dried and sprinkled with cinnamon (and only 45 calories for a small package).
DIY: Brush the slices with lemon juice to avoid major browning. Preheat oven to 175-200. Bake for 1½ hours. While they may be a little gooey when you take them out of the oven, they’ll harden a bit as they cool.
Butternut Squash These are the biggest of all the chips in the land. They’re sweet, taste pumpkin-y, and you get two fun shapes out of one squash. The seedless part up top yields sizeable rounds, while the bottom part (once de-seeded and sliced) makes rings. Sweeten ’em up with a touch of maple syrup or brown sugar.
DIY: Preheat oven to 375 and bake for 20 minutes, flip and cook until brown on the edges.
Sweet Potato For a vitamin-A-packed snack, try slicing up bright orange sweet potatoes instead of the white ones. Brush them with olive oil, and top with minced garlic, minced rosemary, and a little sea salt for chips that rival the store bought kind. For a quick fix, try Food Should Taste Good sweet potato chips, for 2 extra grams of fiber per serving compared to regular potato chips.
DIY: Preheat oven to 400 and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until crispy.
Zucchini This green veggie is a solid source of niacin and thiamine, two B vitamins that help us produce healthy hair and skin. Try dipping them in egg whites, then coating them in Parmesan, black pepper, and breadcrumbs or cornmeal for extra flavor and crunch.
DIY: Preheat oven to 450. Bake for 8-10 minutes, flip slices, then roast for another 8-10 minutes.
Radish Bear with these little guys. We know it’ll take a little more patience to slice ’em up, but they’re a good source of riboflavin (which helps convert food to fuel) and copper (important for our immunity). Dust these little rounds with curry, turmeric, garlic, paprika, and pepper for a super-flavorful treat.
DIY: Preheat oven to 350, roast for 15 minutes, flip and cook for another 15.
Whole Wheat Tortilla These aren’t made from sliced fruits or veggies, but they’re an incredibly simple, semi-homemade snack, and a blank canvas for all sorts of flavor combos. Grab your favorite whole-wheat wrap (we like Flatout) and slice them into wedges with a pizza cutter before tossing them in the oven. These can hold up during some serious dipping!
DIY: Preheat oven to 350, and bake wedges for 10-15 minutes.
Pita Stacy’s pita chips and crisps come in a ton of flavors, like “perfectly thymed” and cinnamon sugar. It takes 14 hours to whip up a batch of the delicious, definitely dippable chips so we’re glad we don’t have to do it!
Hummus Simply 7 hummus chips are made with chickpea flour (you know, the cute little beans that make hummus) and no hard-to-pronounce ingredients.
Soy For a sweet and smoky variety, try Glenny’s barbeque soy crisps. They’re made with organic soy and organic rice flour (gluten-free!), and a single serving provides seven grams of protein.
Did we miss any of your favorite chip alternatives? Which are you baking up first? Let us know in the comment section below, or tweet the author @nicmcdermott.