The 10 Tastiest Ways to Eat More Kale—Even if You're Over Kale Salad

Not sure what to do with kale besides tossing it into a sad salad? Find creative ways to add this superfood into mains, snacks, and sides you’ll actually crave.

Photo: Daniel Grizelj/Getty Images

If you're not the biggest fan of kale, that is totally understandable. Without the right preparation, this dark, leafy green can be coarse and bitter—even after a generous pour of salad dressing. 

But it might be worth figuring out your favorite way to eat kale, since this powerhouse plant is packed with nutrients and considered one of the healthiest superfoods out there. Kale provides vitamins C, K, and A, and is also rich in essential minerals like calcium and iron.

"Like other vegetables in the cruciferous family, kale contains glucosinolates, which are associated with decreased inflammation and protecting against cancer," says Jackie Topol, RD, CDN, registered dietician and culinary nutritionist. "Kale also contains fiber, an important nutrient for heart health and gut health. Lastly, kale is packed with the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which are nutrients that promote eye health."

Knowing you should eat more kale for its benefits is one thing—actually eating it is quite another, especially if you’re turned off by the taste and texture, or have no clue how to cook with it. 

But prepare to be inspired! Topol offers up her favorite ways to add kale into your regular meal rotation—breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacktime—plus the secret to making kale truly tasty, even when it’s simply added to a crisp, satisfying salad.

01 of 10

Add It to Homemade Hummus

Green Hummus
Jennifer Causey

If you haven't made hummus at home, you're missing out. Not only can you whip it up in just 5 minutes with this homemade hummus recipe, you can go heavy on your favorite ingredients, whether that’s extra garlic or added veggies for pops of color (and nutrients). You could always blend in some bright orange carrots or pretty pink beets—or go for a vibrant green hummus by sneaking in some kale. "In a food processor, add a handful of chopped kale into homemade or prepared hummus," Topol says. You won't even be able to taste it, she promises, but you'll still benefit from the incredible nutrients.

02 of 10

Stir It Into Soups

Whole-Grain Minestrone Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

No matter what kind of soup you're making, kale will cook down (wilt, soften, and shrink in size) once it's in the broth, giving you all the nutrients with none of the chalky texture or bitter taste. This is an easy option, whether you toss in some kale before using an immersion blender or as you’re reheating chicken noodle soup on the stove. Topol specifically recommends adding two cups of chopped kale to soups toward the end of cooking, calling out minestrone as a delicious option. Try this whole-grain minestrone soup that features tons of hearty whole grains and salty-nutty parmesan cheese. Some more savory faves:

03 of 10

Sneak It Into Pesto

Universal Pesto Recipe
Greg DuPree

A classic pesto is already jam-packed with good-for-you plants like basil and garlic, but this is your sign to consider adding kale into the mix. "Add one cup of chopped kale into a pesto recipe," Topol says. Try skipping basil and pine nuts entirely and making a kale-and-walnut pesto instead to coat pasta, drizzle over chicken and fish, or dunk your favorite veggies. Add a cup of chopped kale to this superfood pesto recipe for a nutrient-loaded sauce the whole family will love.

04 of 10

Blend It Into a Smoothie

Kale Smoothie With Pineapple and Banana
Christopher Baker

Need a new go-to breakfast that’s not covered in sugary syrup or straight from a plastic wrapper? Topol loves the idea of whipping up a tasty green smoothie packed with high-fiber fruits and veggies (yes, veggies!), like this verdant kale-apple smoothie or tart and tropical kale smoothie with pineapple and banana.

05 of 10

Bake Some Crispy Kale Chips

Smoky Kale Chips Recipe
Jennifer Causey

If you’ve never tried baking or roasting kale until it’s crispy, you simply have not lived. Topol’s favorite way to make kale chips is to toss roughly chopped kale in light soy sauce or tamari and bake until toasty. A different take: Try this smoky kale chip recipe that even the pickiest eaters will beg you to make on repeat. 

Here's everything you’ll ever need to know about making kale chips at home.

06 of 10

Fold It Into Eggs, Quiches, and Frittatas

Ham and leek quiche displayed on a white background.
Jennifer Causey

When in doubt, grab the eggs. Kale is a super-healthy addition to egg dishes, whether you prep a kale and goat cheese frittata for a crowd, fold it into soft scrambled eggs or an omelet in the morning, bake up a shakshuka-style skillet, or sneak it into this comforting breakfast casserole. This ham, leek, and cheese quiche recipe technically calls for Swiss chard for its green, but finely sliced kale would make an easy substitute.

07 of 10

Sprinkle It on Pizza

Kale flatbread bites
Victor Protasio

We cannot stress enough how delicious kale is when baked until crisp, which is why it makes a surprisingly scrumptious pizza or flatbread topping. If you’re making a homemade pizza or flatbread, wow the crowd with a pie crowned with seasoned, toasted, melt-in-your-mouth kale. Try making kale flatbread bites for the family or the next time you host a group.

08 of 10

Wilt It Down for a Steak-House-Worthy Side

Hanger Steak With Warm Kale and Crispy Cheese Salad
Victor Protasio

With the right seasonings and preparation, wilted kale makes a knock-out accompaniment to richer, red-meat mains like steak. Serve pan-roasted steak over creamed kale and creamy white beans, or plate up hanger steak topped with kale that’s been sautéed in anchovies, garlic, and cherry tomatoes. Going meatless? Go for loaded sweet potatoes piled high with spicy coconut kale, lime juice, curry powder, and toasted coconut.

09 of 10

Toss It Into Pasta

Victor Protasio

Just as kale wilts down nicely when added to a simmering pot of soup, it’ll soften up when wilted in oil and aromatics and incorporated into a hearty bowl of noodles. Chopped kale is delicious paired with salty, fatty Italian sausage (so delicious), but it works in almost any pasta dish. Try shrimp scampi–inspired bowls of lemony farfalle, bucatini with lacinato kale (also called Tuscan kale or cavolo nero) and creamy ricotta, or whole wheat spaghetti topped with garlicky tomatoes, kale, and salty pecorino. 

10 of 10

Make the Best Kale Salad

Baby Kale and Chicken Caesar Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

Kale salad might feel so five minutes ago to you, but we beg to differ! An actually delicious kale salad is timeless, and there are so many ways to make raw kale worthy of a meal or side (hello, baby kale caesar with chicken.). If you love salads, but find kale too dry, Topol suggests massaging the chopped kale with your hands to help the tough leaves relax. "Massage chopped kale with a little olive oil and pinch of salt before adding other veggies or grains [in order] to tenderize the leaves," Topol says. You’ll be amazed at the change in texture after a few minutes of working the greens with your hands.

Another helpful tip for transforming curly kale is to chop it super-finely, almost like confetti, so that you never have to chew on a large, unruly leaf. And then there’s always baby kale, which has smaller, more tender leaves, and Tuscan kale, that’s often less brittle than its curly-tipped cousin. 

Don’t forget the importance of a zesty salad dressing to perk up a greens-packed salad. It doesn't get much tastier (or easier to prepare) than this mustard-lemon salad dressing recipe. A fresh and simple, go-to vinaigrette always wins (again, massage the dressing into the kale for a minute), or get the blender out to whip up an out-of-this-world, sort-of-Caesar-y green pea goddess dressing (seriously, you’ll never know it’s kale under there).

Finally, buttery croutons and a little (OK, a lot) of cheese always make a salad worth eating. Parm, pecorino, gruyere, Manchego, aged sharp cheddar, and other hard, salty, nutty cheese are all divine either shaved or grated over bitter greens like kale.

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  1. Connolly EL, Sim M, Travica N, et al. Glucosinolates from cruciferous vegetables and their potential role in chronic disease: investigating the preclinical and clinical evidence. Front Pharmacol. 2021;12:767975. doi:10.3389/fphar.2021.767975

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