What Does Kale Taste Like? A Detailed Answer

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If food were celebrities, kale would receive George Clooney or Ryan Gosling’s kinda attention. Not kidding! Over the past few years, kale has garnered so much attention that it is considered to be America’s superfood sweetheart. Why this title? To answer this question, I need to take you through kale’s taste profile and the benefits that have made it so popular.


Wondering what’s so special about it? Kale, being a green leafy vegetable, has an intense earthy and nutty taste profile. The cultivation of kale has been dated for more than 2000 years. Back in the day, it was only used as decor on salad bars. But thanks to celebrity diets, that led to a spike in the kale fad.

But this nutrient-packed vegetable has its audience split between lovers and not-such a-lover, but still consumers. If you are trying out kale for the first time, it would be fair to assume that it might taste just like spinach. However, there are different types of kale, having fairly distinctive tastes.

Before moving on, let me tell you that kale has had an unprecedented run. It’s a staple in Denmark, Portugal, Scotland, Kenya, Italy, and many other countries. It is easy to grow and cheap on the pocket. Come let’s find out more about Kale, its taste profile, what flavors it matches, and its nutritional content.

What Is Kale?

Kale is a green leafy vegetable that comes from the Brassica family, also known as crucifers. These include cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli.

It gives you more nutrition for your buck because of the presence of antioxidants, calcium, fiber, vitamins such as C and K, iron, and a wide range of other nutrients. It is a superfood that helps with digestion, lowers cholesterol, and also reduces the risk of developing certain cancers.

Kale is typically dark green in color, but it is also available in a variety of colors, including white, purple, and red. Its leaves can be quite tough, depending on the variety.

The basic structure of the leaves comes with elongated stems and edges that are either flat or curly. Although there are wide varieties of kale available, you will usually see the common curly kale in grocery stores. 

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What Does Kale Taste Like?

Kale Leaves

If you’re just starting on a journey of healthier eating, then let me tell you that different people have different opinions about kale’s taste, some like it while others do not. 

Additionally, some people compare the taste of kale to raw spinach due to its appearance, which is also not so. While spinach is said to be mild, herb-like, slightly sweet, and grassy, kale has a fairly distinctive taste. It can be described as strong and earthy. 

When eaten raw, the leaves of kale are tough, crunchy, quite dry, and have a strong taste. The more mature kale leaf is, the tougher its leaves and stem will be. Younger kale leaves have softer and thinner leaves and have a milder taste profile.

That’s the main reason why many people choose to add young kale leaves to salads. But those who don’t mind the strong taste of mature kale, can also prepare it in the same way. In the sections below, we will find out more about kale’s taste profile and the best ways to serve it.

Is Kale Sweet or Bitter?

So, you have decided to give kale a try but are unsure of its taste? Worry not! I’m going to help you out with this. The straightforward answer to the question of whether kale tastes sweet or bitter depends on the age of the kale. It can be sweet, bitter, or bland, depending on its variety.

Generally speaking, kale is considered to have a sharp flavor, one that is emphasized by crunchy, tough leaves. It has an earthy flavor that doesn’t have the herb-like quality like that of spinach or arugula. However, young kale leaves are thin and mild in taste.

In case you are planning to make a kale salad, younger kale leaves can make a salad on their own due to their mild taste. On the other hand, mature kale leaves can be paired with other leafy greens to complement the bitterness of the kale in a salad. 

Is Kale An Acquired Taste?

Kale is considered a superfood for the number of nutrients it offers. But the taste profile of kale is such that you can call it acquired. However, when handled right, it pays off enormously. That said, the taste of kale depends on the variety you use. Additionally, baby kale leaves are milder in taste which may appeal to beginners as compared to matured leaves.

Does Kale Taste Like Spinach?

Kale and spinach are both super veggies that are packed with nutrients. However, the two differ in taste. Kale has a robust and stronger taste than spinach. It is slightly more bitter. Spinach, on the other hand, has a mild and slightly sweet flavor. It has an herb-like grassy flavor.

Apart from their taste profile, a major difference lies in their texture. Kale is crunchier and rougher in texture than spinach and maintains its shape and volume better after cooking. That said, cooked kale has a juicier texture and tastes slightly more similar to spinach. However, keep in mind that the flavor of kale is more pronounced and less sweet than spinach.

Does Kale Taste Like Lettuce?


Kale and lettuce are both leafy green vegetables that can be consumed raw. They are both high in fiber and have a low-calorie count. They can be added to a range of food items, from salads to smoothies. 

But there are a few differences that we can’t ignore. Kale originates from the family of cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts and can be used in many ways. Whereas lettuce is a leaf vegetable that is commonly used in salads.

Apart from this, there also lies a significant difference in their texture. Kale is much juicier and crunchier than lettuce. Coming to their taste profile, kale has quite a unique flavor compared to other leafy vegetables. Kale has a stronger taste than lettuce.

Well! This means, kale is more bitter, earthy, and hearty than lettuce. While, lettuce is bland and slightly sweet. 

Does Kale Taste Like Cabbage?

Kale and cabbage belong to the same Brassica Oleracea family. Hence, it’s common to think that the two may taste the same. However, that’s not true. Kale has a greener and fresher flavor than cabbage. Cabbage has a peppery taste that turns sweeter when cooked. Although some call it bitter, it isn’t as strong as kale. 

Does Kale Taste Like Broccoli? 

When it comes to choosing the healthiest greens, there are so many options available that it becomes difficult to decide which one is tastier and healthier. The same goes for kale and broccoli.

Although both these greens belong to the same family and provide many health benefits, they differ in texture and taste. Compared to broccoli, raw kale has a more bitter taste and is rather unappetizing when eaten alone.  

What Do Kale Chips Taste Like?

kale chips

On your first try, kale chips may not have a pleasant taste. But as mentioned before, after acquiring its taste and with the help of some spices, you can bring some level of complexity to them. Kale chips have a crispy and crunchy texture. But they can get soggy when exposed to air. 

Without seasoning, kale chips have a bitter taste. By adding some seasoning to them, they taste quite different. Kale chips also have a toasted flavor due to the toasting process they undergo. To make your kale chips taste better, you can massage them with some olive oil and/or lemon.

Why Does Kale Taste Like Dirt?

While some people enjoy the taste of kale leaves, many may not like it due to its robust and earthy taste profile. And they end up comparing it to dirt. However, let the strong flavors of kale not deter you from trying out this highly nutritious vegetable.

You can alter the taste of kale to some extent by cooking it the right way. 

Why Does Kale Taste Like Soap?

One of the queries I found some people asking is why does kale taste like soap? Well, for starters, I don’t recommend anyone tasting soap to find out the difference. Some people have a variation in their olfactory-receptor that allows them to identify volatile compounds present in some leafy vegetables.

Thus, those blessed with such genetics may find kale’s taste like soap.

What Does Kale Taste Like In A Smoothie?

For a big dose of nutrients, kale smoothie can make for a delicious and healthy treat. You can easily make a smoothie that masks the bitter taste and rough texture of kale. Thanks to the pineapple, banana, and honey, the kale smoothie turns out to be sweet, creamy, and the flavor of kale is mellowed down.

So, all you need to do to have a delectable kale smoothie is to mix the ingredients. At most, the smoothie might take on a slight green tinge. But beyond that, it will taste wonderful, depending on the other fruits, dairies, nuts, and ingredients you use.

What Does Kale Taste Like In A Salad?

Kale and Quinoa Salad

Salads make the ultimate nutritious food to pack on the best of nutrients. And when you add kale to it, its nutritional value goes a notch higher. Kale in salads is one of the popular food items. It’s full of flavor and crunch.

Unlike its reputation, kale in salads can be a delicious starter when paired with the right ingredients. Additionally, you can opt for baby kale for a milder yet earthy taste.

What Does Kale Taste Like In Soup?

Different recipes call for a different taste profile of kale when mixed with other ingredients. Thus, when added to soup, kale tastes good. The flavor of raw kale can be bitter, woody, strong, and earthy in taste, and it can be crisp and dry. However, the leaves of young kale are softer, thin, and have a milder flavor.

Does it taste good in soup? Yes, indeed! Some ingredients that can transform the flavor of a bitter kale dish are minced garlic, olive oil, and salt. When added to soups, the lavish texture of a creamy soup can help mellow its robust flavor.

What Does Kale Pesto Taste Like?

Planning to try kale pesto? Well, it not only looks similar, but is also packed with a whole lot of nutrients and tastes very similar to normal basil pesto. It might just have a little more of an earthy flavor.

That’s because the ingredients in it, such as basil, salt, walnuts, and olive oil, tend to overpower the taste of the kale. While you can enjoy the flavor of the other ingredients, you can also derive all the health benefits from kale.

Kale pesto can be used in many different ways. It can be used as a dressing on a salad, as a marinade, or in a vegetable bake or pasta. 

What Does Cooked Kale Taste Like?

Kale is a perfect ingredient to add to your breakfast, lunch, or dinner. When cooked properly, kale delivers a mild, sweet, and creamy taste while preserving its crunchy and juicy texture. It becomes nutty and delicate.

Cooked kale tastes best when marinated in olive oil with sea salt and black pepper. There are many ways to cook kale, which we will talk about in the sections below.

What Does Raw Kale Taste Like?

Kale has a unique taste of its own. It has a leafy freshness of its own as compared to other greens in its family. The taste of kale can be described as strong and earthy. When eaten raw, the leaves of kale can be tough, crunchy, and quite dry but have a strong taste. Raw kale is often added to salads and smoothies.

What Does Caramelized Kale Taste Like?

Caramelized kale is an easy recipe that accompanies almost any dish. It is one of those recipes that will make you rethink its flavor. All you have to do is heat a few teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high heat and add some. Begin caramelizing your onions. Once they become translucent, golden, and fragrant, add in chopped kale. 

To derive the best flavors, allow the onions to caramelize fully so that they release a sweetness that complements the flavors of kale. You can serve your caramelized kale and onions on flatbread, pasta, with chicken, or just eat it as is.

5 Different Types Of Kale And Their Different Taste

When it comes to getting kale from a grocery store, there are a lot of options (or types) you can find for kale. Each variety is best used in different ways. Check out some of the varieties below.

1. Common Curly Kale

This type of kale is the most common one you usually see in the grocery store. It is named for its wavy leaf structure that is pale to deep green in color and has long stems. It’s often sold as loose leaves bound together.

When eaten raw, this type of kale has a bitter, peppery flavor. It holds up well while sautéing and other cooking methods, too. You can put it in a salad, sauté, toss it in a soup, or blend it in a fruit smoothie. 

2. Lacinato Kale (Dinosaur Kale, Tuscan Kale, Cavolo Nero)

This Italian variety of kale is known to be grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. The leaves of this type of kale are long, slender with dark blue-green color, having no similarities to that of other types of kale.

Lacinato kale is typically used for Tuscan soups and stews, but you can use it in salad too. The taste of this type of kale is described as more delicate, with a slightly sweet nuttiness and less bitterness than curly leaf kale.

3. Red Russian (Ragged Jack)

This heirloom kale ranges from blue-green to purple-red in color that intensifies during cold weather. It’s sweeter, more tender, and has a heartier texture than common kale. It has an edge of pepperiness. This type of kale tastes and looks better when added raw to salads. 

4. Redbor Kale

Redbor kale is a statement-maker variety of kale that has a deep purple color and super-curly leaves. This type is best served when cooked. Redbor kale is a 3-foot-tall hybrid type that can also be used for ornamental purposes. 

5. Siberian Kale

One of the most cold-hardy varieties available is Siberian kale. It has enormous gray-green ruffled leaves and is grown as a winter crop in the southern United States. This kale is better when cooked. You can sauté it with some onions or shallots and bacon, and then steam it with a bit of cider vinegar. 

How To Check The Freshness Of Kale?

Kale is an easy-to-grow vegetable that thrives in cooler temperatures. However, a warmer climate tends to turn it bitter. In addition, kale requires full sun to part shade and should be watered regularly. Moist soil keeps the leaves crisp in texture and gives them a sweet taste. It can easily be found in the leafy greens’ sections at any grocery store or supermarket.

Now let’s get to know how to check for the freshness of kale while buying.

  1. Look for kale with firm, deeply colored leaves and moist hardy stems. 
  2. The leaves should look fresh and crisp. Stay away from wilted leaves that are free from signs of browning, yellowing, and small holes. 
  3. Choose kale with smaller-sized leaves as they tend to be more tender and have a mild flavor.
  4. Kale should be stored in a cool environment since warm temperatures affect its flavor and make it wilt.

How To Store Kale Properly?

Before putting away your kale, you would want to make sure it is stored properly to maintain its quality. So, to ensure that let’s take a look at the steps below to understand different storage methods for kale to keep it in the best way possible.

1. Store Whole Bunches In The Fridge

While storing kale in the refrigerator, you should make sure that kale is protected from excess moisture. The reason is that moisture tends to accelerate wilting and spoilage in most vegetables. So, wrap the bunch of kale in a layer of paper towels, and store it in a plastic supermarket bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer. By doing so, you can expect kale to be in great shape for a week.  

2. Store Washed Greens In The Fridge

Kale, with its hardy texture, is one of the few or only greens that you can wash in advance. You can slice and rinse the leaves and dry them well using kitchen towels or a salad spinner. Once the leaves are dried properly, store the leaves wrapped in a paper towel for up to 3 days.

3. Blanch and Freeze The Leaves

There can be chances that you have got a handful of kale, but you aren’t going to use it for a week. In such a case, you don’t have to worry about your kale getting spoiled. You can easily freeze kale leaves to use them later on in smoothies. All you need to do is blanch the leaves and store them in the freezer. Frozen kale can be stored for upto eight months.

How To Check If Your Kale Has Gone Bad?


Now, no matter what you do, everything comes with its own shelf life, and there’s not much you can do to protect it. The same goes for kale. So how do you tell if kale is bad, and what are the signs to watch out for?

1. Appearance

One of the first indicators to check out for food spoilage is appearance. Thus, does your kale look soggy? Wilted kale that has turned pale green to yellow and brown is a clear sign that it’s spoiled.

2. Smell

Fresh kale smells earthy and fresh. But, the smell of kale turns bad when it’s rotten. You can smell sulfur-like gases and stagnant water that’s escaped from the spoiled kale. 

3. Texture

A bunch of fresh kale will be stiff and crisp in texture and have a slight crunch when cut or torn. However, when it goes bad, it gets limp. The leaves offer no more crunch when cut, and become slimy. It’s best to discard such kale leaves immediately.

4. Taste

Kale has a higher sulfur content than some other vegetables in the Brassica family. When it’s rotten, the sulfur becomes overpowering. The taste will become bitter and sour. It is not recommended to eat kale with such signs.

5. Mold

Kale that has gone bad releases a lot of moisture that forms a pool of water at the bottom of the container. As the kale breaks down further, this water will separate into different compounds, and a film will form on the top of the water. Mold can form on this liquid. This is a clear sign to do away with kale.

What Is The Best Way To Cook And Serve Kale?

kale smoothie

If you haven’t found a way to love kale, learning how to cook kale can make you work with it. Let’s just say that kale is the epitome of healthy eating. If you haven’t ventured far beyond eating it raw or blending it in your smoothies, you may be surprised to know how versatile this green is. 

Kale can taste mellow, sharp, crispy, or velvety, depending on the style of cooking. While all of the techniques for cooking kale are easy, we will first look at the basics.

To prepare kale for any cooking method, cut out the center rib and the stems, and chop the leaves into ribbons or bite-sized pieces. Although the center rib is edible, it is fairly fibrous. However, kale stems are unpleasant to eat raw.

The leaves can be eaten raw, sautéed, simmered with soup, or even roasted until crisp. Always keep in mind that overcooking makes the kale taste overly bitter and off-putting. Check out the recipe options below to find the ways kale can be cooked and served.

1. Salads

One of the easiest ways to enjoy kale is by adding it to salads. They stand up big on flavor and make for the crunchiest salads. You can give kale leaves a good massage by rubbing them first. This helps to break down the fibers that make kale leaves tough. This process, in turn, helps the leaves to soak in the dressings. 

The best way to bring out the flavors of kale in a salad is to add some olive oil with salt and pepper and pair it with sweet vegetables.

2. Soups

If you are looking to achieve milder flavors of kale yet its full nutritional value, then you can try adding kale to soups. The greens are cooked down until they’re tender. Beans and potatoes make the most popular pairings for kale.


Kale chips can make a healthy and a “crispy-licious” snacking option for you. All you need is a tiny bit of oil, salt, and seasonings of your liking and a hot oven. You can even top them with Parmesan cheese. No matter how you dress them up, kale chips turn out to be delicious.

4. Braising

Braising food means cooking it slowly in a bit of liquid. Kale, with its natural tough texture, makes for a great ingredient to try using this method. It turns tender and soaks up all the added flavors in the pot. Some of the ingredients include bacon, garlic, chiles, and tomato.

5. Saute

Looking for a healthy dish that’s quick-fix to your diet, then sauteed kale can be a great idea! Cook kale in a frying pan with a bit of butter or oil over medium-high to high heat. You can season it with salt, pepper, garlic, or any other seasoning you like for extra flavor. 

6. Steam

Steaming kale is another gentle ​way to handle the toughness of kale. You can chop kale according to your liking and set it in a steamer over a pot of boiling shallow water. You can cover and cook it until the kale is tender. You can have it on its own sprinkled with some seasoning, or add it to rice dishes. 

7. Smoothies

Kale smoothies have remained popular in demand. You can take a handful of kale and blend it with sweet fruits like avocado, blueberry, mango, and pear for a mouthwatering yet healthy drink. 

Health Benefits Of Kale

Kale has grown in popularity because it has a great texture and holds up well in salads, soups, and other dishes compared to other leafy greens. It is called “the queen of greens” and “superfood” as it is packed with a high nutrition content and beneficial vitamins. Now, who would not want to add such a thing to their diet? But in case you need some more motivation to add more of this leafy green, read on the top health benefits of kale.

1. Supports Immunity 

Kale contains nutrients like vitamin E and K and powerful antioxidants, as well as four times the content of vitamin C and twice the selenium content of spinach. All these nutrients support a healthy immune system. 

2. May Support Bone Health

Kale is a good source of plant-based calcium that provides stronger bones and teeth. The presence of low levels of oxalate makes the calcium more available for absorption. In addition, it is also a good source of vitamin K that helps support healthy bone metabolism. 

3.Great For Cardiovascular Support

Kale also contains potassium and other substances which maintain healthy blood pressure and help manage cholesterol levels. 

4. May Protect Against Cancer

Kale is rich in cancer-protective substances such as sulforaphane and indol-3-carbonyl. 

5. May Support Eye Health

Kale is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which support our eye health. Consuming sufficient quantities of these nutrients also lowers the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. 

Nutritional Content Of Kale

Over the years, kale has become such a popular dietary ingredient that it keeps popping up in our favorite salads, pasta dishes, and soups. It’s packed with so many nutritional benefits that it helps bulk up your diet with all the good stuff. However, when consuming kale, there are two conditions where the excessive intake of kale can cause problems to those taking blood thinners or people with thyroid problems. Hence, you should use it at a moderate rate. Additionally, while raw kale can be enjoyed in salads in moderate amounts, it may cause some indigestion since it’s harder on the digestive system. So, the best way to consume it is by having it cooked.

Nutrients80g of Raw Kale
Vitamin C88mg


Kale is not a new vegetable on the block. It’s been a part of diet since the Middle Ages. It’s popular in northern Europe and now throughout the U.S.

Kale might seem to be one of the love-it-or-hate-it kind of greens. But it surely provides the highest amounts of nutrients. That said, you can turn it into a delicious meal with the help of various cooking methods mentioned above. Tell me more about your experiments with kale in the comments section below.

Frequently Answered Questions (FAQs)

What is the best way to eat kale?

The best way to eat kale is to marinate it in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, or any of your favorite seasonings and bake it for 10-15 minutes. You can also pan-fry, boil, steam, grill kale, or add it to a soup or smoothie.

How do you get the bitter taste out of kale?

Olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper work best to get the bitter taste out of kale. Kale also loses its bitter flavor and chewy texture when exposed to heat. So, you can bake, boil, sauté, pan-fry, stew, or even make a soup with kale to remove its bitterness. 

Can you taste kale in smoothies?

When mixed in the right quantities with other ingredients like sweet and citrusy fruits, the taste of raw kale is often masked in smoothies. You can also add greek yogurt, peanut butter, and vanilla almond milk to make a delectable smoothie.

Does kale taste good when cooked?

Kale does taste good when cooked. Cooked kale is still juicy and crunchy but is not bitter or chewy like raw kale. Cooked kale can be paired with mashed potatoes, beef, pork, turkey, chicken, tomatoes, and cheese and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Which Variety of Kale is the Sweetest?

Red Russian kale is grown in cool temperatures. It is also the sweetest variety of kale. However, a mature version of Red Russian kale (also known as Ragged Jack) will be extremely bitter.

Is kale high in calories?

Kale is very high in nutrients and very low in calories. This makes kale one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.

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