Learn How To Cook Kale

Learn how to cook kale from scratch. We show you how easy it is with our helpful kale guide for cleaning and prep, cooking techniques, and flavor matches.

Kale scares some people. Why? Because it's one of those dark leafy greens that many people are afraid to try. It took me years before I really started to enjoy nutritious veggie.

Believe me I NEVER in a million years thought I would see the day, but now I LOVE kale, and if you haven't already fallen head over heels for it, you soon will.

Not too long ago, every time I went to the grocery store they were OUT of kale -- not just for a day, but for weeks!

I asked the friendly produce guy, "Where the HECK is all the kale lately? I haven't seen any for-ev-er! It's not out of season, is it?"

He said, "Sorry, you must keep missing it. We can't keep it on the shelves. As soon as we put it out, people come along and buy it all up."

You Asked...

"Is kale best eaten cooked or raw?"

Great question!
Click here for my response.

I wondered when the H-E-DOUBLE-TOOTHPICKS did kale became such a hot commodity? Everyone else must be finally catching on that it's one of the EASIEST vegetables to clean, prep, and cook, as you'll learn below.

And when you cook it properly, and mix it is with your favorite ingredients, such as those from the list of Kale's "Vegan Flavor Matches", this dark green leafy just could end up turning into one of your favorite vegetables. Believe it or not!

Here's what you'll discover below:

How To Select Kale

Since it comes in many different varieties, it's fun to experiment until you find the kale that you prefer (I love Dinosaur kale).

Delicious fresh kale recipes start with choosing the vegetable with a beautiful dark, rich color (bluish-green or darker) and no yellowing or holes in the leaves. The stems should be moist and hardy. Smaller leaves are actually better tasting.

Kale comes in many different shapes and colors, some with frilly leaves and some without. So be sure to try as many as you can until you find your favorite. Personally, I think that the non-frilly variety tastes the best, but be your own judge, for sures.    ;)

You Asked...

"I do not like greens when they are wilted. Is there a way to cook them so they are more crispy?"

Yes, there surely is a way. Try these Kale Chips -- they are DIVINE.    :)

How To Clean and Prep Kale

Now, here's the thing. If you're going to take the time to go to the store and spend the money to buy kale, don't bring it home and let it sit in your fridge until it rots. I mean, what's the point of that exercise, I ask of thee?!

I understand, really I do. You think to yourself "Well, at least I TRIED to be healthy!" But have a little respect for the poor veggie! Sheesh.

On the other hand, you don't want to wash before storing, because this could cause the leaves to become limp.

There are two main reasons that you need to get that kale cleaned and into your belly as soon as possible. They are:

  1. The longer your kale sits, the less nutritious it will be.
  2. If your kale goes bad, you will know it. BELIEVE ME! Oy vey, the smell is really bad. You will be sorry!

When you're ready to wash, here's how to do it...

Fill a large bowl or Salad Spinner with fresh water and 1-2 Tbsp. of lemon juice (or other foodie acid like Apple Cider Vinegar) and soak for 5-10 minutes. Rinse.

You can eat the stalks, or remove them before you cook it up.

How To Cook Kale

Kale has a fairly strong flavor that mellows out as it cooks. Some people compare it to collard greens, but I find collards have a kinder, gentler taste. Personally, I find the texture of raw kale too rough for my taste, so cooking helps to tenderize it.

I always find that adding a touch of some sort of sweetener to balance the slight bitter taste is what makes every one of my kale dishes perfection.

Click to learn more about the cooking technique we use and recommend for kale...

A ceramic-coated saute pan with a lid

You Asked...

"How long can I cook kale before I start to lose the nutrients?"

Sassy Sez: Here's the way I see it...

Firstly, cooking them long enough to break down those tough fibers is important. This not only make them easier to eat, but the nutrients are more readily available -- and as Dr. Greger points out in this video, cooking kale boosts the effect on the immune system more than eating raw kale.

Some raw foodists will massage their greens in an olive oil/lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar) combo and let them sit for a bit to accomplish the same thing -- easier digestibility. I used to do this when I experimented with raw foods eons ago, but honestly I never really enjoyed my greens as much as when they're cooked -- which means I ate less of them. And the main goal is to get them to a point where you actually LIKE them and WANT TO eat them, right?

So here's what I suggest...

Cook those greens juuuuust to the point they taste good to you. Then, use the cooking water/juices in a sauce of some sort. This is because if there IS a loss of nutrients, they will be hanging out in that "broth". (This is one reason vegan soups are so good for you.)

By the by, the same rules apply for most greens, like collards and Swiss chard.

Kale Vegan Flavor Matches

Create your very own kale recipe with some of your favorite ingredients from this list of foods that match perfectly.

(What are Flavor Matches?)

  • Apples
  • Basil
  • Beets
  • Beans, especially White
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Cheese, non-dairy
  • Chili Peppers
  • Cranberries
  • Cream, non-dairy
  • Cumin
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Liquid Smoke
  • Mustard, especially Dijon
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Nuts (especially Cashews, Pine Nuts and Walnuts)
  • Onions
  • Oregano
  • Potatoes
  • Raisins (especially golden)
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Tahini
  • Tamari, organic
  • Thyme
  • Tomatoes
  • Vinegar, especially Balsamic and Red Wine
  • Wine, especially White

Try One Of These Vegan Kale Recipes...

Kale Chips
Quinoa and Kale Burrito
Meditteranean Kale
Quinoa and Kale Rollups
Hearty Vegetable Soup
Tortilla Squash Soup
Jeff's Vegetable-Bean Soup
Crack Soup

Kale Helpful Hints

The most common has curly leaves that are deep green with a tinge of blue. Another type has purple-red stems and a less curly leaf (my favorite);

Although it will last for several days in your fridge, try to use it within 1-2 days after purchase. The longer it sits, the more bitter it is;

Kale freezes well. In fact, it actually tastes sweeter and more flavorful afterwards. To freeze for a long period, blanch till the color turns bright in hot boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and run cold water over the top. Remove any excess water from the surface (setting it out to dry works great) and place in freezer bags, or containers. Then when needed, thaw to room temperature, removing only as much veggie as you require.

"I used your instructions for freezing some kale that I got and it worked very well. The gal that gave me the kale was so glad to hear how I saved the kale because she has a garden full and didn't want to lose it all. Thanks for all your tips. I'll be cruising your site often."

-- Jan Bennett, Port Orford, Oregon

Happy Cooking!


If You Like Kale Try...

Photo of broccoli
Photo of Brussels sprouts
Photo of cabbage
Photo of cauliflower
Photo of collard greens
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