I love potato chips.
There. I said it. They’ve been an eternal weakness in my life for as long as I can remember. There’s just something about that crunch.
They’re not something wildly complicated to make, but they’re cheap and easier to just buy, right? Well, yes. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it at home anyway.
I’ve made them in the microwave, thanks to a little kit I received as a gift some years ago. I’ve made them in the deep fryer, because why wouldn’t you? But I’ve never tried to make chips in an air fryer.
Mostly because I just got one for Christmas a week ago.
It looks easy enough – thinly slice potatoes, soak ’em in water with a spoonful of vinegar in it, drain and rinse the slices, pat them dry, toss in a bit of oil, stick ’em in the basket, and fry, fry, fry.
Well, bake, bake, bake. Y’know … technically.
I wasn’t sure how much time I’d need. I wasn’t sure if I needed to lay out a single layer or just load up the basket. I wasn’t sure what temperature to cook them at. So, I took a guess and they came out well.
I used to struggle coming up with decent potato chip seasoning. Being a huge fan of salt and vinegar, I’ve gone so far as trying to make my own vinegar powder … which was an experience no one in this house will ever forget. Everything smelled like vinegar for a week. But it worked, technically. I still don’t recommend boiling away a gallon of extra strength white vinegar to harvest the crystalized concentrate that forms in the pot!
Since Kernels started putting out popcorn seasoning, in popular potato chip flavours, it’s not only easy but very, very accessible to make your favs right at home.
I did the first batch at 350 degrees in a single layer in the fry basket. I shook them every 3 minutes or so, making sure they stayed separated as much as possible. Overall, they were done in about 15 minutes.
For the rest, I dumped them all in at once, which created several layers, but at the same temperature. I did pull them and shake them more often, using tongs to make sure any that stuck together (as thin potato slices are wont to do) were pulled apart, and they cooked up just fine. It just took several minutes longer for them to crisp up. Perfectly expected, since it always takes more food longer to cook than less food.
No matter which way you do them, single layer or a big load, you DO have to pay close attention once they start to brown up. Pull them about every 30 seconds. Once they start to finish up, they will turn very quickly.
With tongs, pluck out the crispy finished chips as they’re done, returning the unfinished ones to the air fryer.
I seasoned as I pulled them out, and transferred them to a bag once they had cooled – which doesn’t take long.
At the end of the day, it worked well, they are crispy and tasty, and they’re probably healthier than anything I’d buy in the snack aisle.
But will I stop buying chips and just make them myself at home all the time from here on out?
Probably not. They’re great for a treat when I’m feeling foodie, but the time involved for a pretty small bag of chips (I should have weighed them) isn’t really worth it day in and day out. Even if I had an air fryer twice this size, it would take several batches to equal one $2 bag of chips.
Back to the question in the title: Are they worth it?
If you’re just trying to make at home what you’d normally buy in the store, no.
But also, yes – if you want to make something special. Some flavour you can’t buy in a store. Or if you were trying to cut back your chip consumption or fat intake but still enjoy the crispy slices of potato you love.
Now … some photos.