Looking for easy kale recipes? Kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Here are the best ways to eat it.
Want to eat more kale but not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered. Alex and I have been on a mission for years to get more leafy greens into our diet. Why? They’re a healthy food full of nutrients and fiber. We’ve been collecting all the best ways to eat kale, from kale chips to kale salad to kale lasagna. Ready to start tasting?
But first! Let’s talk nutrition. Leafy greens like kale are some of the healthiest foods you can eat! Kale is full of nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. One cup of raw kale is only 33 calories, 6 grams of carbs (2 of which are fiber), and 3 grams of protein. Because of its low calorie content, kale is among the most nutrient-dense foods on earth. Eating more of this cruciferous vegetable is a great way to increase the total nutrient content of your diet. So the big takeaway: EAT MORE KALE!
Types of kale
There are a few main types of kale you can find at the grocery store. Here’s a breakdown:
Curly kale is brighter green and very curly! Curly kale can be a bitter more bitter and spicy. If you’re eating it raw, make sure to massage it like in our Massaged Kale Pomegranate Salad, which removes the bitterness and gives it a sweeter flavor.
Baby kale is often included in leafy green mixes that are sold in boxes in grocery stores. You can also often find it at farmer’s markets. Baby kale has a super mild flavor and is much more tender. You won’t have to cut baby kale since it’s already in small leaves.
The best easy kale recipe? Sauteed kale! The flavor of this kale is so good, it will have you wanting to make it daily. Which is a big feat! Leafy greens can be a difficult flavor to acquire when they're served solo (versus stuffed into spinach artichoke dip). But it takes only 10 minutes to make kale into a side dish you won't want to stop eating. It's lightly flavored with garlic and cooked until bright green and tender.
This is one of the BEST kale recipes we know of: we promise! This Tuscan kale salad has the power to transform the minds of kale haters everywhere. If your complaint is that kale tastes bitter: it’s true! But after you taste this kale salad you’ll agree that kale smothered in a lemony, garlicky Parmesan dressing can only be one thing: over the top delicious.
Next up in our kale recipes: this spicy kale lasagna! This is one of the easiest ways to convince people to eat kale, we’ve found. It might not be the healthiest, but this one’s a gateway to other kale recipes! Our spicy kale lasagna uses no-boil noodles to cut down on prep time, and cottage cheese for a twist on the classic ricotta filling. The earthy flavor of the kale is complemented by tangy tomato sauce and spicy red pepper flakes, making this dish hard to resist.
Next up, on to our healthy kale recipes, starting with ribollita! Ribollita is an Italian vegetable stew traditionally thickened by bread as a way to use up old crusts going stale. It’s gently simmered so that the flavors meld together beautifully. The crusty bread cubes are almost like dumplings when soaked in the savory broth. The kale soaks up the broth too, making it taste super savory instead of bitter. Ribollita is a delicious plant based dinner recipe that’s perfect for company or a night in!
Here’s a tasty healthy side dish: roasted kale! Oven roasting Tuscan kale makes it wilted and tender but crispy at the edges, which gives it a unique texture. Even better: you can refrigerate it and use it in meals throughout the week. It works as a side, thrown into a grain bowl, or in sandwiches or stir fries.
If you’re not convinced by kale lasagna, how about kale pizza? One of our favorite kale recipes, the combination of flavors and textures hit the spot. Sauteed kale, crunchy pistachios, and the zing of red onion fit perfectly with gooey mozzarella and bright pizza sauce. We have been incorporating nuts in our pizzas for a while, and love the added crunch! Making artisan pizza is one of our areas of expertise here on A Couple Cooks. Here are all of our secrets to how to make artisan pizza at home, including the best pizza dough recipe, pizza peels, and even a pizza oven.
Onto one of those healthy kale recipes that’s gotten exponentially popular in the last few years: kale chips! When we first started our website, kale chips were just starting to become a thing. Fast forward to today, and you can find them at gas station convenience stores! Baked kale chips are an excellent healthy snack for when you need something crunchy and salty. It’s a pretty easy kale recipe; vegan and gluten-free too. While it does take a bit more time than opening a bag of chips, the end result is absolutely worth it!
Gotta have a kale salad in a list of healthy kale recipes: and it’s got to be a kale Caesar salad, right? Kale Caesar salad has also become a bit of a “thing” in the past 5 to 10 years, and you can find it on restaurant menus all over the country. And why is that? Because it’s drop dead delicious. Topped with a creamy homemade Caesar dressing, this kale salad has a unique feature: crispy cornbread bits. The crunchy, lightly sweet croutons makes this kale Caesar salad recipe is one salad you won’t want to stop eating!
This cozy Tuscan lentil stew with kale, tomatoes and artichokes is a healthy and easy soup recipe that’s full of Italian flavors. It comes together in under an hour and requires very little skill to make. The Italian seasonings and tangy fire-roasted tomatoes make it a seriously irresistible kale recipe.
Ready for the perfect special dinner for entertaining? Shallot, butter, Parmesan and white wine create some kind of magic in this creamy mushroom risotto recipe. If you don’t know how to cook risotto, we’d highly recommend it. Making risotto is not too difficult (even easy!), and the flavor that can come out of these ingredients is something wonderful. Keep reading for this easy mushroom risotto recipe.
One of our more unique kale recipes is this kale artichoke veggie frittata! The Italian version of an omelette, a frittata is ultra versatile. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and served hot, warm, or even cold. (Try it cold on a sandwich, you won’t regret it!). The basic idea for a frittata is to whisk up some eggs, add some cooked veggies, and slowly cook in a skillet over low heat until set. Here, we’ve filled it with chopped kale, tangy artichokes, and savory Pecorino Romano cheese. It’s incredibly delicious and satisfying: serve with crusty bread and a salad.
We like to call this one “pizza soup” because it tastes like liquid pizza! Honestly – this Tuscan soup is over the top delicious. The pizza flavor is due in part to the San Marzano tomatoes: San Marzano tomatoes are a variety of tomato that’s grown in Italy. They’re now pretty readily available canned in most stores in the US. Other ingredients that are essential in this Tuscan soup are the fennel and the smoked paprika. Throw in some Tuscan kale to the mix, and you won’t even tell it’s there: you’ll only be able to taste the pizza!
Ready for the coziest, most comforting superfood soup? This butternut squash lentil soup tastes like a bowl of sunshine. It’s chock full of beautiful, colorful healthy ingredients, and it tastes surprisingly more delicious than you’d imagine from the humble ingredients. Using leeks brings a complexity to the body of the soup, and it’s filled with butternut squash, carrots, onion, and of course: kale! You’ll feel like the healthiest person on the planet after eating this one.
Of course, you can’t have a list of kale recipes without a massaged kale salad! Massaging the kale before eating it in this salad makes it taste tender and sweet, instead of bitter! All you do is use a little olive oil and massage the leaves so they become softer. The massaged kale is paired with pomegranate seeds and an apple cider vinaigrette: it’s sweet, tangy, and so, so good.
Can we do one more kale recipe that’s a soup? (Yes? OK!) This sweet potato and kale soup is Mexican inspired, features black beans, oregano, cumin, and just enough lime juice so that it pops. Sliced green onions stirred in at the end of cooking keep it tasting fresh. With sliced radish and a dollop of Greek yogurt as a garnish, it’s a delicious way to load up on nutrients.
This healthy yellow rice bowl features a popular spice, turmeric, to give the rice a vibrant, yellow color. The bright rice is lovely against the deep green goodness of sauteed broccoli and kale. Add seasoned chickpeas for protein, and top it off with a favorite zesty, creamy, Best Tahini Sauce. It's a seriously healthy kale recipe that makes for a tasty lunch or easy dinner.
And to round out this list of kale recipes: fried rice! This unique take on fried rice is made with quinoa instead of rice, and packed with baby greens: spinach, chard and kale. Alex and I make quinoa fried rice without a recipe all the time as an easy weeknight meal!
Once you make this recipe a few times, you can get the hang of it and customize to use up the veggies in your fridge. You can use baby kale or a regular bunch of kale: just chop that kale into small pieces (see the video instructions above). Ready to get cooking?
Video: How to cut kale
Wondering how to stem kale or chop kale but not sure the best way? Alex and I have toyed with various methods over the years, but we’ve finally ended up with one that is slick and simple. We use this method all the time, like when we make the kale recipes below. Check out the video below to see the best way to chop kale.
Wash and dry the kale leaves, then destem and roughly chop the kale.
Smash and peel the garlic cloves.
Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the smashed garlic and kale and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently until wilted and bright green.
Remove from the heat and add the kosher salt and several grinds of fresh ground pepper. Discard the garlic cloves and serve immediately. (If desired, you can add lemon juice or Parmesan: but neither are necessary with the sweet flavor of Tuscan kale! You may want to consider them if using curly kale.)
*Tuscan kale has a milder flavor than curly kale and flatter, dark green leaves. We recommend it for this recipe: though curly kale works too! Tuscan kale is available in most standard grocery stores.
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.