How to Cook Kale

9 Delicious Ways to Prepare Kale

Kale is the poster child of healthful eating. Lots of kale eaters get in a bit of a rut, often sticking to sauteeing or juicing kale and not venturing far beyond. But kale can be mellow in a soup or sharp in a salad, crispy as a "chip" or velvety when braised. Find a mixture of easy techniques and tasty recipes for this high-nutrient, flavorful vegetable below and mix up how you're serving kale. You may also want to see these Top Local Foods Kale Recipes.
  • 01 of 09
    Kale meatball soup
    Eliza Adam / Getty Images

    Yum. I love kale in soups. You get to cook them down until they're supremely tender, but all their nutrients stay right there in your bowl. I add kale to all kinds of soups, like Kale and Bean Minestrone 

  • 02 of 09
    Kale Chips
    Kale Chips. Photo © Molly Watson

    Turn leafy kale into crisp chips with a tiny bit of oil and a hot oven. Seriously, that's all it takes (well, I like to add salt too). Get the recipe for Baked Kale Chips here.

     

  • 03 of 09
    Blanching Greens
    Blanching Greens. Photo © Molly Watson

    Blanching kale* softens its tough texture and its infamous bitterness. It also sets the green color, allowing you to then further cook them without losing as much green as happens otherwise. A quick dunk in boiling salted water and then a quick drain and rinse in ice-cold water is all it takes. See How to Blanch for more details.

    * Some people will point out, fingers wagging, that blanching also removes some of kale's vitamins. It's true, but if the gentler flavor and easier texture help...MORE you eat more of it, that's still more vitamins (only some are leeched out into the cooking water) than eating no kale at all!

  • 04 of 09
    Kale Braised With Anchovy & Tomatoes. Photo © Molly Watson

    Braising means to cook something slowly in a bit of liquid. Kale's natural tough texture responds extremely well to some long slow heat in an enclosed environment. It turns tender and soaks up the flavor of whatever else you've put in the pot. Bacon, garlic, chiles, tomato - these are all good braising flavor agents. Braise kale with specific recipes like Kale Braised With Anchovy and Tomato and Kale With Onions, Pepper, and Ginger.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09
    roasted-carrot-kale-salad.jpg
    Roasted Carrot and Kale Salad. Photo © Molly Watson

    A brief fling in the oven warms and wilts kale with an absolute minimum of effort. Cut it, spread it on a tray, and roast it in a very hot oven for about 5 minutes. Dress it like a salad. Check out this Roasted Carrot and Kale Salad as an example of the technique.

     

  • 06 of 09
    Greens & Green Garlic
    Kale Cooked With Green Garlic and Prosciutto. Photo © Molly Watson

    Cooking kale in a frying pan over medium high to high heat with a bit of butter or oil is a quick and tasty way to serve it.

    1. Clean and chop the kale
    2. Heat a frying pan over medium high to high heat
    3. Add about a tablespoon of butter or oil to the pan
    4. Swirl it around
    5. Add some minced garlic or shallot if that sounds good; I've been known to toss in some red pepper flakes for some heat
    6. Add the kale, sprinkle it with sea salt and cook, stirring constantly or at least frequently, until the kale wilts and...MORE is tender to eat, somewhere in the 10 to 15 minute range.

    See Greens With Green Garlic or Green With Mustard Seeds for specific recipes, adding to the cooking time to account for kale's hearty character.

  • 07 of 09
    blueberry-kale-smoothie.jpg
    Blueberry Kale Smoothie.

    A handful or two of kale adds tons of nutrients to a smoothie. Add enough and the smoothie with take on a decidedly green color, which you may or may not like. I'm a big fan of this Blueberry Kale Smoothie as a light breakfast.

     

  • 08 of 09

    Steam It

    steamed-kale.jpg
    Steamed Kale. Photo © Molly Watson

    Steaming kale is a wonderfully gently way to handle this tough green. Cut the kale as you want to serve it, set it in a colander or steamer over a pot of boiling shallow water, cover and cook until the kale is tender, 5 to 10 minutes depending on how cooked you want it and how much there is.

    Remove the kale, let cool until you can handle it, and squeeze out as much water as you can. Serve steamed kale warm or at room temperature. 

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09
    Kale Red Onion Salad
    Kale Red Onion Salad. Photo © Molly Watson

    Kale salads can, indeed, be delicious. For those who like to chew a lot, just treat chopped up kale like lettuce. For those who find raw kale a bit de trop, give the leaves a nice massage first. Seriously. Grab the leaves by the handful and rub the vigorously to break down some of the fibers making them so tough. See Kale Red Onion Salad for inspiration.

    Raw kale just too much for you? Try a Steamed Kale Salad instead.