Making Potato Chips from Scratch

I don’t think I’ve met anyone who doesn’t like potato chips. Some people think they’re ok, and some people love ’em. For me, it depends on the chip.

I’m not likely to try new flavors or brands because potato chips seem to cost more than they used to. I wouldn’t consider potato chips an expensive snack, but when you’re paying upwards of $3.50 for a bag, it can seem like it. Especially when, as I’ve recently discovered, you can make them for a whole lot cheaper (and tastier!) yourself.


Here’s what I spent for my own chips:

  • 3 Large Russet Potatoes – $1.50 at about $0.99/lb
  • Olive Oil – $0.75 (initial cost $18 for 3L [but I can use at least 2.8 L again and I also made parsnip chips])

The cost isn’t that much under a regular-size bag at the store, but I got more chips out of my potatoes than a bag, and they tasted fantastic.

Why olive oil? I wanted a slight flavor to the chips so I ruled out vegetable oil, and I couldn’t find peanut oil. There’s probably also some solid reasons to choose olive oil based on smoke point and such, but I didn’t put that much thought into it.

I worked off Alton Brown’s recipe after watching some Good Eats episodes where he made these and parsnip chips.

chips-potI added somewhere between 1.5 and 2 liters of oil to my dutch oven, enough to fill the pot a little over half. Burner was set to medium-high heat (about an 8) to bring the oil up to 300°, while the boyfriend sliced potatoes on the madonline.

Tip – go thin with your slices. Brown’s recipe says you want a dime’s thickness. Anything thicker still tastes good, but the result resembles a weird French fry rather than a chip.

We added about 10 potato slices at a time to the oil. Keep them moving with a spider. Do you need a spider? No, you can probably use some sort of slotted device, but having a utensil called a spider is awesome. Go get one.

Brown’s estimate of 3 to 4 minutes for cooking time was pretty accurate. The chips shouldn’t be pale like store-bought chips when you’re done. They’ll be on the brownish side. This is ok.

Keep an eye on your oil temperature. We were adjusting it for every batch as sometimes the raw potatoes would bring the temperature down. Plus as they cooked and some of the oil was absorbed by the chips or cooked off, the temp would rise. Anything from 300° to 325° worked for us.

When each batch was finished, they went into a large serving bowl lined with paper towels to absorb oil drips. We then salted them while still warm. You won’t need a large bowl. A smaller bowl would have worked for us as we kept eating the last batch while cooking the next one. They were that tasty.

For our last batch, we played with Old Bay seasoning and garlic powder (big hits). Our use of seasoned pepper was just ok.

parsnipsOnce we were done with our potatoes, we turned to the parsnip. Brown said to use a peeler to get long curlicues of parnsip; you want to avoid peeling the inner, bitter core. Cook these for 60 to 90 seconds at 375°. Keep ’em moving while cooking with your spider again. Move to a cooking rack over paper towels and salt if you like.

I wasn’t that big a fan of the parsnips, but my cooking partner liked them a lot. They have a slightly sweet taste and were super crunchy. I’m thinking you could make some and break them apart into a salad or even a baked potato.

When we were finished, we let the oil cool to under 100°. I stretched some cheesecloth across the mouth of the oil bottle, grabbed a funnel and poured all of the oil back into its container. I was surprised how little oil was actually used up by the cooking.

My goal the next time we make our own chips is to not eat them all during the process. But they’re so tasty!


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