How to Cook Kale

9 Delicious Ways to Prepare Kale

illustration showing ways to cook kale

The Spruce Eats / Michela Buttignol

Kale is the poster child of healthful eating. If you haven't ventured far beyond sautéing or juicing kale, you may be surprised at the versatility of this green. It can be mellow in a soup or sharp in a salad, crispy as a "chip" or velvety when braised. All of the techniques for cooking kale are easy and there are many recipes that will shake up how you're serving this high-nutrient, flavorful vegetable.

  • 01 of 09

    Add It to Soups

    Kale meatball soup

    Eliza Adam/Getty Images

    When adding kale to soups, the greens are cooked down until they're supremely tender while all the nutrients stay right there in your bowl. Beans and potatoes are favorite companions for kale and the kale makes sure that your soup is always filled with flavor.

  • 02 of 09

    Crisp It

    Homemade Kale Chips

    The Spruce 

    It's surprisingly easy to make your own crisp kale chips. All you need is a tiny bit of oil and a hot oven. You can add salt if you like and top them with Parmesan cheese. No matter how you dress them up, it's a delicious and super healthy snack.

  • 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 cook it further without losing as much green as happens otherwise. All it takes is a quick dunk in boiling salted water and a rinse in ice-cold water after draining.

    It is worth noting that blanching kale removes some of its vitamins. However, if the gentler flavor and easier texture help you eat more of it, you're still getting more vitamins than if you were to eat no kale at all.

  • 04 of 09

    Braise It

    Kale
    Kale Braised With Anchovy & Tomatoes.

    Photo © Molly Watson

    Braising means to cook food 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, and tomato are all good braising flavor agents. You can also try this flavorful recipe with onion, ginger, and black pepper.

    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 very little effort. Cut it, spread it on a tray, and roast it in a very hot oven for about 5 minutes. Your roasted greens are then ready to be dressed as a salad with any of your favorite toppings.

  • 06 of 09

    Sautée It

    Easy sauteed mixed greens

    The Spruce 

    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. Season it with salt and pepper or add garlic or sweet or chile peppers for extra flavor. It's also a great method when you want to cook a variety of greens; Cook delicate greens like spinach a little less than kale or chard. However you approach it, sautéing will have a healthy side ready for the dinner table in only 15 minutes or so.

  • 07 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 (about 5 to 10 minutes). Allow the kale to cool until you can handle it, then squeeze out as much water as you can. Serve steamed kale warm or at room temperature. 

  • 08 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 kale like lettuce. If you find raw kale a bit too intense, give the leaves a nice massage first. Grab the leaves by the handful and rub them vigorously to break down some of the fibers that make them so tough.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 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. Green smoothies offer many flavor possibilities and you can take the bite out of kale with sweet fruits like avocado, blueberry, mango, and pear. Let your imagination and refrigerator stash guide you into transforming kale into a healthy and delicious blended drink.