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. 

  • 01 of 09

    Add It to Soups

    Kale meatball soup

    Eliza Adam/Getty Images

    When adding kale to soups, you get to cook them down until they're supremely tender, but all their nutrients stay right there in your bowl. Try an easy kale soup recipe: Kale and Bean Minestrone 

  • 02 of 09

    Crisp It

    Kale Chips
    Kale Chips.

    Molly Watson

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

  • 03 of 09

    Blanch It

    Blanching Greens
    Blanching Greens.

    Molly Watson

    Blanching kale softens its tough texture and its infamous bitterness. It also sets the green color, allowing you to then further cook it 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.

    It's worth noting that blanching kale also removes some of its vitamins. That's true, but if the gentler flavor and easier texture help you eat more of it, that's still more vitamins (only some are leached out into the cooking water) than eating no kale at all.

  • 04 of 09

    Braise It

    Kale
    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 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 With Onions, Pepper, and Ginger.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Roast It

    Roasted Carrot and Kale Salad
    Roasted Carrot and Kale Salad.

    Molly Watson

    A brief fling in the oven warms and wilts kale with a 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

    Sautée It

    Greens & Green Garlic
    Kale Cooked With Green Garlic and Prosciutto.

    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. First, you'll need to clean and chop the kale. Heat a frying pan  and add about a tablespoon of butter or oil to the pan

    Swirl it around, and add some minced garlic or shallot to your taste.

    Add the kale, sprinkle it with sea salt and cook, stirring constantly or at least frequently, until the kale wilts and 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

    Put It in a Smoothie

    Blueberry Kale Smoothie
    Blueberry Kale Smoothie.

    A handful or two of kale adds tons of nutrients to a smoothie. Add enough and the smoothie will take on a decidedly green color, which not everyone likes. Try this Blueberry Kale Smoothie as a light breakfast.

  • 08 of 09

    Steam It

    Steamed Kale
    Steamed Kale.

    Molly Watson

    Steaming kale is a wonderfully gentle ​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

    Toss It in Salads

    Kale Red Onion Salad
    Kale Red Onion Salad.

    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. Grab the leaves by the handful and rub them vigorously to break down some of the fibers making them so tough. See Kale Red Onion Salad for inspiration.