What Does Kale Taste Like? Plus Tasty Kale Recipes

Kale is a  leafy green vegetable from the cabbage family and is often referred to as a superfood.  Some people love it, and some have a strong dislike for it. However, if you’ve never tried kale, you might wonder what does kale taste like? If so, you are in the right place! Read on to find out explore the different varieties or kale, its unique appearance, where you can buy it, and most importantly, its distinct flavor.

What is kale? 

Kale is a cruciferous vegetable with large leaves and thick stems. This green leafy vegetable is not just a trendy health food, it has been consumed for centuries and is a staple in many traditional cuisines worldwide. Despite its recent rise in popularity due to its health benefits, many people are still unfamiliar with its taste and how to prepare it. 

Kale comes in various types, each with its own unique characteristics. Different varieties of kale vary in appearance, taste, and texture. This makes kale so versatile; it can be used in various dishes. Whether you’re making a salad, a soup, or a stir-fry, there’s a type of kale that’s perfect for your recipe. 

What does kale taste like?

Now, for the answer to the question: what does kale taste like?  The taste of kale varies depending on the variety and how it is prepared. In general, kale has a slightly bitter and earthy flavor. Some people also describe it as having a peppery or nutty flavor.

When eaten raw, kale can have a tough texture, which can be a deterrent to some people. However, kale becomes tender when it’s been cooked, and it takes on a more delicate flavor.

The flavor of kale can also be enhanced by the ingredients it’s paired with. For example, pairing kale with sweet ingredients like apples or dried cranberries can help balance out its bitterness.

What does kale look like?

Kale stands out from other leafy greens due to its unique appearance. Its leaves are thick and have a rough, bumpy texture. Depending on the variety, the color of kale can range from dark green to purple. It also has a sturdy stem that runs through the center of the leaves.

Common types of Kale

There are different kale types, each with their own unique characteristics. From the most common curly kale to the sweeter Lacinato kale and even the hardy Siberian kale, each type of kale has its own distinct taste and texture. Here are the most common varieties of kale.

Curly kale

Curly kale is the most common type of kale and is easily recognizable by its curly, ruffled leaves. It is deep green in color and has a slightly bitter flavor with a peppery bite. Curly kale is often used in salads, soups, and smoothies. The curly leaves add a nice texture to dishes, especially salads, and the slightly bitter taste pairs well with sweet and savory ingredients.

Curly kale is also the most widely available variety of kale. You can find it in most grocery stores. It’s a versatile ingredient that can be used in various dishes, from salads and soups to stir-fries and smoothies. Its robust flavor and texture make it a favorite among kale enthusiasts.

Lacinato kale

Also known as dinosaur kale or Tuscan kale, lacinato kale has long, dark green leaves with a bumpy texture. It has a milder and sweeter flavor than curly kale, which can taste bitter. It’s the mild flavor that makes lacinato kale a popular ingredient for sautéing or adding to pasta dishes. Whether you’re sautéing it with garlic and olive oil or adding it to a hearty pasta dish, lacinato kale adds a nice flavor to any meal.

Red Russian kale

Red Russian kale is a variety of kale with flat, fringed leaves with purple stems and veins. It has a milder taste than other types of kale and is often used in salads or as a garnish. Its beautiful color and delicate flavor make it a popular choice for adding a pop of color and a touch of flavor to any dish. Red Russian kale is less common than curly or lacinato kale. But it is an excellent addition to salads and other dishes. Whether you’re using it as a garnish or incorporating it into a dish, Red Russian kale adds flavor and color to your food.

Redbor kale

Redbor kale is a type of kale with deep purple, curly leaves and a slightly sweeter taste compared to other varieties. It is often used in salads or as a decorative element in dishes due to its vibrant color and unique flavor. Incorporating redbor kale into your dish will definitely add a pop of color, and its sweet flavor makes it a standout ingredient in any recipe.

Siberian Kale

Siberian kale is a leafy green vegetable with large, flat leaves. It is a hardy variety of kale that can withstand colder temperatures, making it an ideal choice for fall and winter dishes. Unlike other types of kale, Siberian kale has a milder, cabbage-like flavor that makes it a versatile ingredient for a wide range of dishes. Its tender texture and delicate flavor profile make it perfect for stir-fries, soups, and other hearty dishes.

Where to Buy Kale

Kale can be easily found in most grocery stores, health food stores, and farmers’ markets. It’s usually sold in bunches, and you can select the bunch size according to your needs. Some stores also offer pre-packaged kale that is washed and chopped, making cooking more convenient, but usually not as fresh tasting.

When purchasing kale, look for kale that has leaves that are crisp and vibrant in color. Avoid any leaves that are wilted. Fresh kale should have a strong, earthy smell, and the leaves should be firm. Additionally, the stems should also be sturdy and not easily bent.

If you shop at a  farmers’ market, I highly recommend purchasing kale from there. It’s typically fresher and more flavorful compared to store-bought kale. Farmers’ markets usually have a broader range of kale, including some varieties that you may not find in a regular grocery store. Besides, buying from a farmers’ market supports local farmers and encourages sustainable agriculture.

How to store kale

Raw kale will last in the refrigerator for up to a week. After rinsing it, dry it thoroughly, wrap it in a paper towel, and palce in a silicone or plastic bag in the crisper drawer. Cooked kale, on the other hand, will last 3 to 4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

How to prepare kale

Kale can be prepared in various ways, and each method can bring out a different flavor. Here are some popular ways to prepare kale.

kale salad chopped kale on a cutting board

Remove the stalk from kale leaves

To prepare kale for eating, the first step is to remove the thick stalk or stem. There are different ways to do this. One way is to stack the kale leaves on top of each other and fold them in half vertically.

Then, use a sharp knife to cut along the stem line to remove the stem. Another way is to use your hands to remove the stem by placing your index finger and thumb around the stem just below the leaves. Pull your fingers up along the stem, tearing the leaves off. Once you have removed the stem, your kale is ready to be prepared using one of the methods below.


Raw kale is often consumed after removing the stem and chopping it, but massaging it with a bit of olive oil or lemon juice is recommended to break down the tough fibers and make it more palatable. Massaging kale can also help to mellow out the bitterness and bring out the sweetness in the kale. 

Eating kale raw can preserve its nutrients and give you the full benefit of its health properties. You can use it as a base for a green smoothie, add it to salads or even make a raw kale pesto.


Sautéing kale with garlic and olive oil is a popular and easy way to prepare it.  Sautéing helps to soften the leaves and bring out a sweeter flavor, plus the heat helps to break down the tough fibers in the kale, which will make it more tender. You can add a splash of lemon juice to brighten up the flavor. You can even add more vegetables to sautéd kale such as mushrooms, or onions to make a hearty side dish.


Roasting kale is a delicious way to enjoy this leafy green. It’s easy and a favorite way to make a healthy snack. To prepare it, toss the leaves with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake them in the oven until they turn crispy. Roasting brings out a nutty and slightly sweet flavor in kale, transforming it into a crunchy and flavorful snack. You can also add roasted kale to salads and other dishes to give them a nice crunch.


Steaming kale is a gentle cooking method that helps retain the kale’s nutrients while also making it more tender. You can steam kale on its own or add it to other dishes like soups and stir-fries. Steamed kale has a mild flavor that pairs well with various ingredients. It is a simple and healthy way to enjoy this nutritious vegetable, while also ensuring that you retain its nutrients.

a close up picture of sausage kale soup in a bowl

Foods that pair well with kale

  • Chicken broth or chicken stock
  • Dairy (butter, cream, sour cream, Greek yogurt, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese)
  • Herbs and Spices ( bay leaf, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, oregano, black pepper, red pepper flakes, thyme)
  • Lemon, lemon juice
  • Meat (roasted meats, grilled chicken or pork chops, pancetta, sausage)
  • Oil (avocado oil, olive oil)
  • Pasta
  • Soy Sauce
  • Vegetables ( White beans, Bell Peppers, mushrooms, potatoes, onions, shallots, sweet potatoes, winter squash)
  • Vinegar

Kale flavor combinations to try

Kale + Garlic + Olive Oil + Lemon Juice

Kale + Garlic + Olive Oil + White Beans + Sausage

kale chips in a white bowl

Kale Recipes

Air Fryer Crispy Kale Chips – Kale leaves are coated in creamy cashew cheese and air-fried to crispy perfection.

Healthy Kale Salad with Avocado Dressing – A refreshing and delicious salad that is tossed in a homemade creamy avocado dressing.

Lemon Kale Caesar Salad a combination of kale and romaine lettuce tossed in a homemade caesar dressing.

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad – A crunchy salad filled with shredded brussels sprouts, nuts and dried cranberries.

Tuscan White Bean and Sausage Soup – A comforting bowl of soup filled with kale, pasta beans and spicy sausage.

Kale and Sausage Pasta Bake – Spicy Italian sausage, kale and pasta tossed in a creamy white sauce and baked in the oven.

Spiced Carrot Kale Muffins – Muffins made with vegetables and flavored with spices and raisins, a great way to get an extra helping of kale!

Kale Hot Sausage and Sweet Cheddar Quiche – A mix of veggies, cheese and eggs, perfect for an easy dinner!

Kale is more than just a trendy health food. It’s a versatile and nutritious vegetable that can be enjoyed in various ways. Whether you’re a seasoned kale lover or a kale newbie, we hope this guide and recipes are helpful. If you’ve never tried it, try kale and discover its unique flavor for yourself!

Can kale taste different depending on its freshness?

Yes, the taste of kale can vary based on its freshness. Fresher kale tends to be less bitter and more enjoyable to eat.

What are some ways to make kale more appealing?

Try mixing kale with other greens in a salad to balance the flavor and texture of kale. Also, combining it with ingredients such as nuts, avocado or dried fruit can make a kale salad more enjoyable.

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