What Does Kale Taste Like?

Around 10 years ago, kale was everywhere. We had kale burgers, kale chips, kale smoothies, kale salads, and even kale pizza. While the kale craze may have died down a little, it’s still a popular vegetable and is eaten fairly regularly.

Kale, more than anything, tastes earthy, bitter, and somewhat like dirt. Its leaves are dry, tough, and fibrous, making it fairly difficult to chew. There are some variations of kale that will change its taste and texture, but overall, it’s a strong flavored vegetable.

People may tell you they love the taste of kale. However, it’s typically a vegetable that’s eaten more for its health benefits than its flavor. 

Types of Kale

Like other foods, some of the different types of kale have slightly different tastes and textures. Here are some of the more common types. Let’s see how they might differ in flavors and consistencies. 

Curly Kale

This is the type of kale that used to be used more as a garnish. However, it’s now a popular type to use for kale chips.

Curly kale has a bit of a peppery flavor, with a tangy and heavy bitter aftertaste. 

Siberian Kale

Siberian Kale has a  more mild flavor than some of the other varieties. Which makes it ideal for people who don’t enjoy bitter tastes. 

However, the leaves are extremely hard and fairly rubbery when eaten raw. For this reason, most Siberian Kale is used in cooked dishes as opposed to salads.

Red Russian Kale

Here we have a type of kale that many people tend to enjoy. You might recognize it from its purple stems.

Red Russian kale is fairly mild with a slight sweetness and a peppery aftertaste. It is one of the sweetest types of kale and because of that, is often used in salads. 

Redbor Kale

This kale is bright purple in color and is often used as plate decoration.

However, it is edible and has a somewhat nutty, earthy flavor. It’s not overly bitter but doesn’t have any sweetness to it either.

Lacinato Kale

Also known as Dinosaur Kale, this type is one of the most common varieties found in supermarkets. 

It has a nutty sweetness to it that is enhanced when chewed. Because of this, this type of kale is best eaten raw. It’s thin with a bit of a texture and very easy to chew.

Baby Kale

Popular in salads, baby kale has a mild and delicate flavor. It’s not as bitter as more mature kale.

Its texture is softer and smoother than older kale, with tender, thinner leaves.

How To Eat Kale

Many people find that they want the health benefits from this vegetable, but can’t get past the earthy, bitter taste. If that’s you, read on for some suggestions on how to alter your kale. Now you can enjoy the flavor and reap the benefits.

Make Kale Chips

This is a popular way to enjoy your veggies. By turning your kale into chips, you still get the vitamins, but you lose the bitter taste and tough texture.  

Toss your kale with olive oil, and whatever spices you like. Then, simply bake at a low temperature. The result will be crisp, crunchy kale chips without the bitterness and all the flavors of your choosing.

Kale Smoothies

Another popular way to get kale into your diet is to add it to a smoothie. Since you’re not cooking the kale, it will have a strong bitter flavor. In order to balance that, make sure you use fruits with strong flavors.

Some good options for fruit in kale smoothies are pineapples, passion fruit, or berries. The stronger the flavor of the fruit, the less likely the kale will be to make the drink bitter.

Saute It

The easiest way to make kale more palatable is to simply saute it. 

Cook your kale with some olive oil, garlic, and pepper. You will not only draw out much of the bitterness but also make the kale much more tender.

Make a Slaw

One last way to temper some of the bitterness of kale is to make it into a slaw. A nice option is to add apples sliced into sticks to help balance some of the bitterness.

In addition, toss with vinegar and lime juice to help soften up the kale. Adding some honey for sweetness makes a nice kale slaw.

In Conclusion

Kale has a strong bitter, earthy taste. It’s fairly tough and fibrous, which can make eating it raw unpleasant for some people. 

However, its health properties make it a vegetable people want to consume. If you are looking for the benefits without the tastes and texture, there are some options for you.

Try to find either baby kale or Red Russian Kale. These are milder and sweeter than most of the other types.

Stuck with a more bitter, fibrous kale that you need to eat? You can use it to make kale chips or toss it into a smoothie. All the benefits, none of the unpleasantness.