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Have you heard about some of the health benefits of kale?  Are you wondering whether you should begin adding this leafy green into more of your recipes, but unsure whether you’ll enjoy the way it tastes?  What does kale taste like?  Is it sweet or bitter?  If you’d like to learn more about kale, what it tastes like, and whether you’ll enjoy cooking it as a side for dinner, adding it to casseroles, or even blending it in a smoothie, continue reading.  

What is Kale?

Kale is a leafy green vegetable that is part of the Brassica family.  Brassica family vegetables, which also include cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, are also sometimes referred to as crucifers.  

Unlike many of the other vegetables in the Brassica family, kale’s stem is very long and thick.  Additionally, compared to other leafy greens, kale also has thicker ribs.  Many varieties of kale also have very tough leaves, though some variations have more tender leaves.

Brassica napus and Brassica oleracea are the two different types of kale.  Brassica napus varieties of kale have curlier leaves.  Some examples include Siberian kale and Red Russian kale.

The second type of kale, Brassica oleracea, has smoother leaves.  Lacinto kale and Dinosaur kale are two types of kale that are classified as Brassica oleracea.  

what does kale taste like

Is Kale Good For You?

Yes, kale is amongst the healthiest vegetables out there.  Kale offers a wide variety of health benefits, making it a good addition to any diet.  Some of these many benefits include:

Kale is Extremely Nutrient Dense

Eating just one cup of raw kale will fuel your body with 206% of the recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin A, 684% of the DV of vitamin K, 26% of the DV of manganese, 134% of the DV of vitamin C, 9% of the DV of calcium, 10% of the DV of copper, 9% of the DV of potassium, and 6% of the DV of magnesium, and 9% of the DV of vitamin B6.  

Kale also has very few calories and not much fat.  However, much of the small amount of fat in kale is in the form of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Kale Can Help Lower Cholesterol and Decrease The Risk of Heart Disease

Bile acid sequestrants are found in kale.  These can help decrease cholesterol by binding bile acids and keeping them from getting reabsorbed in the digestive system.  When cholesterol is lowered, it can also help decrease one’s risk of heart disease.

Kale Contains Antioxidants

Antioxidants are important for helping protect our bodies against free radicals that can cause oxidative damage.  Oxidative damage is associated with a number of diseases, such as cancer.  The antioxidants in kale that work to combat this damage include beta-carotene, vitamin C, and various polyphenols and flavonoids, such as quercetin and kaempferol.  Quercetin and kaempferol also help to lower blood pressure and work as anti-inflammatories and anti-depressants.

Kale is an Excellent Source of Vitamin K

Our bodies need vitamin K to allow our blood to clot properly.  The vitamin K works by enabling specific proteins in the body to bind calcium, thus clotting our blood when needed.  In each 1-cup serving of kale, there is nearly seven times the recommended daily value of kale.

Eating Kale May Decrease Your Risk of Cancer

Compounds, such as sulforaphane, found in kale are believed to offer protection against cancer.  Making kale a regular staple in your diet may help decrease your risk of developing cancer.

What Does Kale Taste Like?

OK, so now we know that kale is very healthy to eat.  However, that doesn’t answer the question about what kale tastes like.  In the next few sections, we’ll explore what both raw and kale taste like.

What Does Raw Kale Taste Like?

Compared to many other leafy green vegetables, kale has a pretty strong flavor.  Many describe the flavor of kale as “earthy.”  Raw kale can be pretty crunchy or tough.  

If you eat younger kale leaves, they will be a bit thinner and not as tough.  Matured kale leaves, on the other hand, can be quite tough to chew.

While arugula, rocket, and some other greens can have a bit of a spicy taste to them, this is not the case with kale.

If you are looking for ways to enjoy raw kale, you can consider adding it to a salad.  Choose younger kale leaves if you would prefer a milder taste, or more mature leaves if you find you enjoy their stronger flavor.

Which Type of Kale Tastes the Sweetest

You may be surprised to hear that some kale can be sweet.  Younger kale is much sweeter than more mature kale, which can be quite bitter.  

If you’re looking for the sweetest variety, try Red Russian kale.  Red Russian kale grows in very cool temperatures, which help give it a sweeter flavor.  However, only younger Red Russian kale will have this sweeter taste.  Ragged Jack, which is another name for the mature form of Red Russian kale, can be very bitter.

Dinosaur kale may also be a good choice if you’re searching for a more mild taste.  While dinosaur kale still shares that earthy taste common amongst different varieties of kale, it also has a subtle nutty taste.  The overall taste of dinosaur kale is less bitter than many other varieties, making it a popular option with many individuals.

What Does Cooked Kale Taste Like?

The way you cook your kale and the other ingredients added to it will greatly impact the way it tastes.  Generally speaking, most individuals prefer kale that is cooked with some seasonings to plain steamed or sautéed kale.

Kale can have an amazing taste when served with other meals that will offer balance for its flavors.  Some foods that pair well with kale include:

  • Chicken and kale
  • Fish and kale
  • Black beans and kale
  • Sausage and kale
  • Spinach and kale
  • Hummus and kale
  • Quinoa and kale

Different Ways to Prepare Kale and How They Taste

As we shared above, the method you use to prepare kale and the other ingredients you add to the kale will have a great impact on the way it tastes.  Here are some general ideas regarding the way different kale recipes may taste.

Kale Chips

Kale chips are not bitter like raw kale can be.  They can help you enjoy a crunchy food, without consuming the extra calories that come with standard potato chips.  One of the benefits of making your own kale chips is that you are in control of the seasonings you use.  Add your favorites to make a snack you’ll really enjoy.  

Sautéed Kale

Sautéing kale makes the leafy-green vegetable less bitter.  Adding olive oil and seasonings to your kale as you sauté it can help improve its flavor and make it more enjoyable.  Adding some fresh garlic can even bump up your kale to the next level and give it a tiny kick.

Kale Smoothies

While adding kale to a fruit smoothie will noticeably change the color, the effect on the way the smoothie tastes won’t be as drastic as you may think.  When kale is blended with other fruits or vegetables in a smoothie, the flavors of all of these other ingredients will overpower the flavor of the kale, making it hardly even noticeable.

This video shows you everything you’ll need to make three delicious kale smoothies: a Pina Kale-Lada Smoothie, a Mango-Tango with Kale Smoothie, and a Green Kale Goddess Smoothie.

Kale Pesto

If you’ve tried traditional basil pesto, you can expect the flavor of kale pesto to be pretty similar.  However, the finished product will likely have a bit more of an earthy flavor thanks to the kale.  Some of the other ingredients used to make kale pesto include olive oil, basil, walnuts (or pine nuts), and salt.  Again, when all of these ingredients are combined, the flavor of the kale is not overpowering.  It can be even less noticeable when you use your kale pesto as a salad dressing or add it to pasta.  When combined with other dishes, the stronger flavor of the kale will be much less prevalent.

How Can You Make Raw Kale Taste Better?

Have you tried raw kale before?  Did you not enjoy the way it tastes?  Don’t fret, there are a few things you can try to help improve the flavor of raw kale.

The first is to give the kale a little massage.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Massaging kale can help tenderize it by breaking down its fibers.  You’ll notice that the kale will turn a deeper green color after the massage is complete.  

To massage kale, pour a little olive oil (or you can use lemon juice) and a little salt over the kale in a bowl.  Use your hands to massage the kale by grabbing it tight and letting it go.  Repeat this process for several minutes to tenderize it and give it a less bitter taste.

If you don’t like the way raw kale tastes, consider cooking it instead of trying to eat it raw.  Cooking kale or adding it to a recipe will give you more flexibility with adding other ingredients and can help you mask the taste of the kale more easily.

what does kale taste like

Ready to Try Kale?

What do you think?  Are you ready to add some kale to your next grocery list?  With so many varieties of kale and different ways to prepare and serve kale, nearly everyone should be able to find an appetizing way to work this healthy, nutrient-dense, leafy-green vegetable into their diet.

FAQs

Why does kale taste so bad?

Everyone has a different opinion about the way kale tastes.  If you don’t enjoy the taste of kale, or find it to be too bitter, you may prefer baby kale.  Baby kale leaves are sweeter than the mature leaves, which can be more bitter.

What is the flavor of kale?

Earthy is the term many people use to describe the way kale tastes.  Kale does have a pretty strong flavor compared to many other vegetables, which some people enjoy and others do not.

Does kale make taste good?

The answer to this will vary from person to person.  Many people enjoy the taste of kale and think it tastes great in salads, smoothies, or cooked in various recipes.  However, other individuals do not enjoy kale and find that it tastes too bitter.

Is kale sweet or bitter?

Kale can taste either sweet or bitter depending on its age and the specific type of kale.  Younger kale leaves tend to have a sweeter taste, while mature kale leaves can taste more bitter.  Red Russian kale (young leaves) is probably the sweetest option out there.