It’s often hard to satisfy the craving for salty, crunchy snacks on a low-carb diet (or any diet actually).
This easy step-by-step process shows you how to make salt and vinegar veggie chips (using cucumbers in the recipe) in a dehydrator or your oven set at low.
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Dehydrator vs Oven-Baked:
The dehydrator is just a low-temperature oven that circulates the air throughout so that the food dries evenly from top to bottom and side to side (similar to a convection oven).
The idea is to “slowly” remove moisture from foods, and crisp the food rather than “cook” it.
The advantage of a dehydrator is that it is easier to get consistency and you don’t have to worry about burning the cucumber slices or having the edges turn brown like in an oven.
Did you know? You can easily moderate the exact temperature better in a dehydrator than in the oven. I dry most everything at 135 degrees F in my dehydrator, which seems to be the sweet spot for crispy dried produce.
The downside of a dehydrator vs the oven is time and potential cost. It takes around 12 hours to dry chips in a dehydrator, compared to 3-4 hours in the oven.
That means thinking ahead a bit when using a dehydrator. You don’t want to get up at 3 am to turn it off. Like I did!
This will vary of course, based on how thick you slice things, and how much water is in the produce.
Tip: I prefer the dehydrator because of the higher level of control over the final product. Time and cost are the main downsides. But, you can often find good used dehydrators on local marketplace apps.
The Best Dehydrator for Vegetables?
My favorite dehydrator is American Harvest (aka Nesco brand, American Harvest). I have 4 of them now as we dry chile peppers and tomatoes on the farm to use in our various recipes, such as homemade chili oil salsa.
Some dehydrators are not as expensive, however. Many of the inexpensive ones work fine but they have limited temperature settings or they may not be flexible in the amount of trays you can add.
So, if you choose a less expensive one, just make sure it has a temperature setting that you can control and think about how many trays you might want in the future.
The only one I would NOT recommend is one by Ivation. Mine broke after limited use and their customer service was abysmal.
Using a Mandolin vs a Knife:
One of the keys to successful salt and vinegar cucumber chips is the consistency of the thickness.
If you are extremely talented with a knife, you may be able to get consistent, thin slices. I am not that skilled with a knife so I use a mandolin.
The thickness of the slices will determine how long to dry the chips and how crispy they will become.
Tip: A good mandolin allows you to set the thickness of the slices and is much quicker than a knife (once you get the hang of it). The disadvantage is the cost.
There are many brands of mandolins, and some are very inexpensive. I like the mandolin by French de Buyer Mandolin (photo below) because of the range of control you have over the thickness or thinness of the slices.
I also like it due to safety. It has legs which make it stable on the countertop and a knob that keeps your fingers away from the very sharp blades.
If you already have a knife and don’t want another kitchen tool, just make sure your knife is very sharp and keep your fingers away when slicing things thinly.
Other Low-Carb Snacks to Make in Dehydrator:
Once you get a little practice drying food, the preservation world opens up. You can dry fruit, vegetables, and even meat.
I grow and dry chile peppers and make my own spices including chile pepper salt, which keep for a year and are much better than store-bought spices.
My daughter loves to dry vegetables. One of her favorites is dried beet chips.
Try your hand with fruit roll-ups, jerky, or dried berries. It’s a great way to make use of the food you grow yourself or pick up at the farmers’ market.
More Methods for Preserving Summer’s Produce:
- Easy Green Tomato Pickles
- Freezing Summer Tomatoes (plus freezer tomato sauce recipe)
- Preserving Fresh Herbs as Herbal-infused Infused Salts
- Freezing Compound Butters made with Fresh Herbs
- Red Pepper & Eggplant Spread for Cheese Trays & Sandwiches
- Homemade Dandelion Jelly
- Quick & Easy Pickled Onions
- How to Make Shrub Syrups (cold process vs. hot)
- Sun-dried tomato butter
Grow Your Own Cucumbers in a Container or Garden:
Did you know? You can easily grow cucumbers in a container (and of course in your garden). As a long-time gardener growing both ways, my post below can inspire you to try it yourself!
If you have never gardened, (or even if you have), growing vegetables in containers on your deck, balcony, or patio can be surprisingly fun, rewarding, and even meditative. You just may get hooked!
**Want more like this? Subscribe to our Sunday newsletter to get recipes, gardening guides, and diet help. Let’s go from Inspiration to Done!
Salt and Vinegar Cucumber Chips
- 2 medium cucumbers
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 teaspoon vinegar apple cider vinegar or your favorite
- Slice cucumbers very thin, trying to get consistent thickness so they will dry evenly. Use a mandolin slicer if available for best results. If you don’t have a mandolin, use a very sharp knife.2 medium cucumbers
- Pat cucumber slices dry with a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible. Place cucumbers in fairly large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Toss together gently but thoroughly to combine.No need to let them soak in the brine, but don’t pat the brine ingredients off either. I used tongs to remove and place on dehydrator racks, letting the liquid drip off a bit.1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoon vinegar
- For dehydrator: Place cucumber slices on trays and dry at 135°F for 12 hours or until they reach your desired crispiness (start checking them at 10 hours).For oven: Place slices on parchment lined baking tray. Dry at 175°F for 3-4 hours, checking every hour to ensure they don’t brown around the edges or burn. Turn them over half way through. Allow slices to cool before serving.