How to Make Potato Chips at Home
Crispy, crunchy, salty, and delicious, potato chips are a great snack on any day. But have you ever looked at the ingredients on a bag of potato chips? Yikes! There are so many things added into that bag of chips like chemicals, additives, colors, and preservatives. When you make potato chips at home, you avoid adding all these unknown ingredients. Plus, you have the freedom to add or reduce salt, make unique flavors, and cut your chips to the ideal thickness you prefer.
The process is fairly simple and it doesn’t require a lot of special tools. The one thing that we recommend is picking up a meat slicer. We like the ones from MEAT and used their 7.5" meat slicer to make our chips.
A slicer makes getting the perfect chip thickness easy and consistent, speeds up the process tremendously, and results in a perfectly crisp chip. You’ll also need a heavy-bottom pot or a deep fryer, fryer oil, and plenty of paper towels.
What are the Best Potatoes for Making Potato Chips
Most types of potatoes will work for making potato chips at home. We prefer Russet potatoes, as they provide the correct size and texture. We’ve also tried gold potatoes that give a slightly more chewy chip and sweet potatoes which work great if you are into their unique flavor.
To Peel or Not to Peel
Peeling potatoes for chips is optional. If you peel the potatoes the chips will have a softer texture and be more like modern, bagged chips. Leaving the peel on gives you more of a kettle chip result with more crunch. We’ve also found that peeling the potatoes helps remove the starch easier.
If you choose not to peel the potatoes, make sure to scrub them well to ensure they are completely clean. We like to use a nylon scouring pad to clean potatoes because it removes all of the little bits of dirt from eyes and odd shapes.
Slicing the Potatoes
The key to slicing potatoes is to get the slices as consistent as you can. Thicker chips are harder than thinner chips, so if you’re looking for a light, crispy chip, slice as thin as possible. This is why we like to use a slicer – it allows us to cut our chips as thin as possible and have a uniform thickness throughout the batch.
Alternatives to a Meat Slicer for Making Potato Chips at Home
A kitchen mandolin works well for making potato chips at home. While they work fine, it does take a bit of time and you run the risk of cutting yourself. A meat slicer is simply more convenient. You can also use a very sharp knife and lots of patience. We did this once and after slicing about fifteen potatoes, swore we would never do it again.
Again, the key to making really good potato chips is consistent thickness, and that makes a meat slicer the perfect tool for the job.
How To Make Potato Chips at Home: A Step-by-Step Guide
Making potato chips at home is an easy task, but you’ll want to have plenty of space to work. You’ll need to be able to lay the chips in layers, so plan on having racks or some other solution on hand. The chip-making process requires about four pounds of potatoes to make one pound of chips.
Step One: Washing and Slicing
If you decide to peel the potatoes, do that step first, then rinse the potatoes so there isn’t any residual dirt on them. If you are leaving the peels on, scrub the potatoes clean in cool water. Once the potatoes are cleaned, blot them dry with a paper towel. This helps them to be less slippery when slicing.
Set the thickness on your meat slicer to the thinnest possible setting. Start with one potato and do a few cuts, then examine how the thickness looks. This is the time to decide how thick you want your chips. Chips sliced at 1/32-inch will be paper-thin and will likely burn when cooked. Slices of 1/16-inch are similar to bagged potato chips. If you are wanting to make old-fashioned kettle chips, go for 1/8-inch slices. Once you have the thickness set, it’s time to start slicing.
Leaching the Starch
Start a pot of water large enough to hold the chips to boil on the stovetop. Add a healthy splash of distilled white vinegar. For a pot of water that is four to six cups, use about a half cup of vinegar. This is a trick we learned from The Food Lab’s Kenji.
The reason this step is important is because the acidic vinegar preserves the pectin in the potatoes, allowing the chips to boil for longer (thus removing more of the starches) without becoming mushy.
Parboil the potato chips for three minutes, then place on a rack with paper towels to drain. Pat dry with paper towels before frying. You want to remove as much moisture as possible before frying.
Frying the Chips
Using a deep pot, bring one-half to three-quarters of oil to 325 to 350 degrees. A candy thermometer or a deep-fry thermometer is the ideal tool, but you can also use an instant-read or a meat thermometer provided it can handle high temperatures. You can also test the oil using a chip. Place one in the oil. If it sizzles slowly, the oil is too cold. If it sizzles violently, the oil is too hot. Just right will be a hearty sizzle.
Working in small batches, add the dry potato slices to the oil in a single layer. Use a slotted spoon or a wire spatula to gently turn the chips, frying for about three minutes per side. The chips will have a perfect, golden color when they are perfectly fried. If they are getting dark, reduce the time. If they are gummy, fry them a little longer. The exact amount of time will vary depending on the thickness of the chip and the ability of the oil to retain the proper temperature when you fry the chips.
Draining and Flavoring the Chips
Remove the chips from the oil when they are cooked and place on a wire rack or paper towels to dry. Immediately, while fresh and hot, sprinkle salt to taste. This is the time to add flavors, too. There are thousands of ways to make chip flavors you won’t see in the store.
One of our favorite ways to add unique flavors is using our Bearded Butcher Blend Seasonings. We particularly like the Cajun blend, Original, and our new Zesty Lime seasoning on chips. We even did a batch of Cinnamon Swirl chips for a churro-inspired treat.
Storing Potato Chips
One of the big differences between homemade potato chips and store-bought chips is that homemade chips won’t last as long. The preservatives they add to store-bought chips prevent them from absorbing moisture and the sealed, aluminized bags keep them fresh for months.
Homemade chips are best the day they are made and a little less good each day after that. The good news is that homemade chips are so delicious, they don’t tend to hang around for very long. Store them in a large zip-top bag on the counter while they last.
Homemade Potato Chip Recipe
- 4 lb of potatoes per pound of chips, washed or peeled
- High-heat oil for frying, vegetable or peanut oil work well
- Bearded Butcher Blend Seasoning Original
- Salt to taste
- Approximately ¼ cup vinegar
- Meat slicer, mandolin, or a sharp knife
- Large pot for frying
- Wire racks for draining
- Paper towels
- Wash or peel potatoes, pat dry.
- Slice potatoes as thin or thick as you would like, making the cuts consistent thicknesses.
- Bring a pot of water to boil, add vinegar. Parboil potato slices for three minutes.
- Arrange the slices on racks to drain and dry. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Add 1/2 to ¾-inch of oil to the large pot and heat to 325-350 degrees.
- Fry potato chips in small batches to prevent sticking. Flip once, about three minutes or when golden brown.
- Place chips on a draining rack or paper towels to drain. Season immediately.
- Allow to cool before serving. Potato chips crisp up as they cool.
Making potato chips at home is a fun experience and a great way to make an excellent snack that is healthier than what you buy in the store. When you make them at home, you can make your own flavors, select the best thickness for your tastes, and get them just the right crispness or crunchiness.
It’s also fun to experiment with different types of potatoes, like sweet potatoes, or even other root vegetables like carrots and beets. You can make a wide array of interesting chips with unique flavors, all without adding preservatives, artificial colors, or unnecessary ingredients.
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