More and more, I see healthy, yet delicious, choices available to replace processed foods like potato chips. If you’re like me, that’s huge. If I can find something that tastes good and is suitable for my family, I call that a win. An excellent example of this that I couldn’t wait to try is zucchini chips.
Zucchini is veggie-packed with vitamins and fiber but I rarely cook it because my family doesn’t like the taste. So, what about zucchini chips? Do they taste like potato chips?
They taste better because they don’t have the oil and fat that you get even from baked potato chips. They certainly don’t have all the calories, a single bag of potato chips — about 160 for a single serving bag. Zucchini itself has almost no calories.
I decided to take the plunge and attempt to make my own homemade crispy zucchini chips. I found out they are not difficult after a little trial and error. Here are my tips for getting them just right.
What are the Health Benefits of Zucchini?
Why zucchini? Let’s start there. Zucchini is a summer squash that is low in saturated fat and high in nutritional value. Although, you may think of it as a vegetable, technically, it’s a fruit similar to melons or cucumbers.
The zucchini is a rich source of vitamins and minerals such as:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin C
In most cases, that is true whether you are eating it raw or cook like a crisp. Also, it is high in fiber, antioxidants and may improve digestion and lower blood sugar levels.
Why is Zucchini a Good Substitution Food?
People are using zucchini to replace foods that are less than healthy like white flour pasta and, of course, potato chips. That’s what caught my attention.
As I said, it is low in calories and high in fiber, two things that look good when you are trying to find ways to cut back on foods that add pounds instead of nutrition.
Zucchini is keto and paleo-friendly, too, and it’s flexible. I can use it in tasty, healthy desserts like zucchini brownies or oat cookies. It is a practical choice for a side or main dish as well.
What surprised me, though, was how well it worked as a snack food, specifically for crispy, homemade, tasty chips.
My Zucchini Chips Recipe
The key to making even the most stubborn eater a zucchini chip lover is to make them as much like potato chips as possible, so I focused on texture and flavor when putting together my recipe. Crispy homemade zucchini chips are not challenging to create, but you may need a little practice. There are some crucial dos and don’ts to keep in mind when you make the chips, starting with how to prepare zucchini slices properly. This is an easy recipe, even for novice home cooks.
Here’s the thing, if you don’t cut them right, all is lost. The trick is to slice them at just the right thickness, about 3/16th of an inch, so they cook well but don’t break apart. You could attempt to do this by hand, but I found using a slicer gave me the most uniform pieces.
There are different options, but one practical, and slightly dangerous, choice is the mandoline slicer. It is a kitchen tool you want to use very carefully. The surface is exceptionally sharp and cuts fingers just as well as it does zucchini. To make them safer to use, manufacturers provide a holder that protects your fingers from the blade. You can also wear a mesh glove, something professional chefs often use to protect their hands when slicing food. I went with the mesh.
If you do choose to cut them manually:
- Make sure your knife is very sharp
- Place the tip of the blade on the zucchini at a 45-degree angle.
- Press down gently and then pull the knife back moving in one smooth motion
Get the Water Out
Zucchini is more than 90 percent water. When you cut into it, that water comes out of the fleshy part of the fruit, and it keeps coming out. It had a lot more water in it than I expected, that’s for sure.
You’ll need to remove some of that water before you can cook your slices into chips, or they won’t crisp up nice for you. One of the easiest ways I found to drain water from zucchini is to place the slices on paper towels and let them sit. The paper towels will soak up the excess water. I had to change out the paper towels a couple of times.
Other options remove more water, though. For instance, you could lightly sprinkle the slices with salt and let them sit in a colander for 30 or more minutes. The salt pulls the water out. Afterward, put them on paper towels to absorb any additional water.
You can also use a nut milk bag if you have one. You place the slices in the bag and wring out the water, then place them on paper towels.
You may want to try different methods to see what works for you. I did fine with the paper towels, but the more water you get out of the zucchini, the crispier the chips.
Baking the Chips
Go ahead and preset your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. I had to play around with the cooking times and oven temperature a bit.
There are many recipes out there for crispy zucchini chips. Some suggest cooking the chips longer at a lower temperature, for example, up to two hours at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. I didn’t have any luck with this approach. My first batch came out of the oven as ash.
My research shows that a higher temperature and shorter baking time offers the best chip. It was the way that worked well for me, too.
With the oven preheating, lay your zucchini slices in a single layer on parchment paper spread out onto a baking sheet. Why parchment paper? It cleans up easy. I love parchment paper for that very reason. Parchment paper also protects my baking sheets and that’s important to me. These chips may stick without it and break as you try to remove them without it, too.
With parchment paper, you don’t have to use additional oil or butter, which would kind of defeat the purpose. You don’t want the extra fat and calories. You might as well eat the potato chips.
Next, I brushed them lightly with olive oil — use about one tablespoon. Don’t go overboard with the oil because too much will make the chips soggy instead of crisp.
Seasoning the Chips
Seasoning is where you get to have some fun. It was my favorite part of making these chips. I know my family and what one loves the other hates. By playing around with seasonings, I was sure to get something for everyone including people who are gluten-free.
If you want to keep it simple, a light sprinkling of Himalayan salt creates a delicious chip. Sea salt or kosher salt works nicely, as well. You can go further, though. Consider some alternative options:
- Spicy – Sprinkle on a teaspoon of smoked paprika, and a touch of ground black pepper for a zesty chip. Maybe try ½ teaspoon of chili powder with a sprinkling of sea salt, instead. You can make different combinations to create the spicy taste you want.
- Cheesy – If you want to give your chips a little something different, consider sprinkling on parmesan cheese, or another hard cheese. You don’t need much, just a few crumbs on each chip. Add herbs for extra taste, as well, such as basil or dill. Playing around with different flavors will give you more flavorful chips such as paprika and Manchego cheese.
- Zesty Italian – Put those packets of Italian dressing seasoning to work next time you back zucchini chips.
- Ranch – Try the same approach with a packet of Ranch seasoning mix along with oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Garlic Powder – If you like garlic, a simple sprinkling of garlic powder goes a long way.
How about some breading? The chips don’t need breading, but it is a way to add a different flavor if you enjoy experimenting. As soon as you add bread crumbs, they are no longer vegan, low carb, or keto-friendly, so if you are following those diets, stick with the other recipes.
To bread the chips, I mixed one egg and two tablespoons of milk into a bowl along with a smashed clove of garlic. In a shallow dish, put breadcrumbs, parsley, and pepper. Add some grated parmesan for extra flavor if you would like. Let the slices rest in the egg mixture for 15 minutes and then bread them on each side. If you want to elevate the breading, consider using panko breadcrumbs.
Is baking the only way to make crispy zucchini chips? The truth is they are so easy to bake; there isn’t really a reason to consider another method. I do like to use my air fryer, though. If you go this route, follow the same prep instructions, making sure you don’t overdo it on the olive oil. Set your air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and follow the instructions for its use.
What tips can I provide for getting the absolute best crispy homemade baked zucchini chips?
- Tip 1 – Watch the cooking time. As I said, recipes offer various times. What I found out was the longer I baked them at a lower temperature, the worse they got. I had nothing but ash after a couple of hours of cooking. My best chips baked at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes. Even if you don’t use those exact numbers, think a higher temperature and a shorter cooking time for the perfect chips.
- Tip 2 – Slicing them too thin is a disaster. I tried slicing them at different thicknesses. Too thin chips will burn up faster. Thicker is better. They will be crispy but not burnt or broken into pieces.
- Tip 3 – Olive oil is your friend as long as you use it sparingly. If you use too much, you get the opposite of crisp. I called mine mush. No one likes a limp chip, so one tablespoon per zucchini is all you need.
- Tip 4 – The beautiful thing about making this recipe more than once was I got to experiment and find out what works and what doesn’t to get a more satisfactory chip. One thing on my ‘doesn’t’ list is too much salt. You want to pour on the salt to enhance the flavor, but I’m here to tell you it’s not necessary. Nobody likes a mouthful of salt anymore than they do a limp chip. Just a light dusting is all they need. Let the natural flavor and crunch come out.
- Tip 5 – Get ready to play around with the seasonings. Think about how many different flavors of potato chips there are on the store shelf. You’ve got a lot of options, too, from garlic to pepper to breaded to parm, try them all.
Crispy, homemade zucchini chips are one of my family’s favorite healthy snacks. And they make a fantastic, yummy appetizer or side dish. I can feel good about serving them, too. It’s a healthy and better-tasting alternative to greasy potato chips.
Crispy Homemade Zucchini Chips
- Mandoline Slicer Or Sharp Kitchen Knife
- Baking Sheet
- Parchment Paper
- 1 Zucchini
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt or other favorite seasonings
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slice the zucchini using a mandoline or sharp kitchen knife so they are about 3/16th of an inch thick.
- Drain the water by placing slices on paper towels and letting them sit for a few minutes. Change paper towels as necessary.
- Lay your zucchini slices in a single layer on parchment paper spread out onto a baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Season the chips with your favorite toppings – salt, paprika, parmesean, italian dressing seasoning, ranch seasoning, garlic powder, etc.