Craving the health benefits of kale but seeking a fresh twist on your greens? Check out this article to discover your best options for a kale substitute.
These alternatives allow you to take your meals to new heights without compromising nutrition. Whether you desire a milder taste or a different texture, our list below will provide you with plenty of swaps for you to choose from.
Kale, or Brassica oleracea, hails from the cruciferous vegetable family, Brassicaceae.
There are different types of kale, but the most common you’ll find is curly kale.
You may also come across Lacinato kale, commonly called Tuscan kale or dinosaur kale. There’s also Chinese kale, which is also called Chinese broccoli.
In general, kale boasts textured dark green leaves. This leafy green vegetable possesses a slightly bitter and earthy taste. Understandably, it is not everyone’s favorite.
However, kale is widely popular because it has lots of nutritional benefits.
It packs vitamins A, C, and K. Kale is also an excellent folate, lutein, potassium, and calcium source. It also has antioxidant properties.
As a result, many people treat kale as a superfood.
It is a popular addition to salads, smoothies, and soups. You’ll also find it in stir-fries; it even makes a crispy snack when you bake it.
If you do not like how kale tastes, you can replace it with another vegetable in your recipes.
Here is a list of our top choices for an alternative to kale.
Among the best substitutes for kale are collard greens.
These leafy green vegetables are similar to kale in taste and texture.
Collard greens have a milder flavor, which is perfect if kale tastes too intense for you.
This equally nutritious vegetable holds well to heat and cooking, but it’s also great when eaten raw. For this reason, you can use collard greens in all recipes that call for kale.
Before use, remove any tough stems for a better eating experience. Use the same seasonings as you would for kale.
Mustard greens have the same texture as kale, making them a great substitute. However, there is a slight difference when it comes to flavor.
When eaten raw, mustard greens boast some heat and a strong mustard taste.
That said, mustard greens are a good replacement for kale if you like your dish to have a bit of spice. This spicy flavor is also perfect if you like to put a twist on your classic recipes.
The good thing about mustard greens is that once you cook them, their spice mellows. In that state, they taste most similar to kale.
As fresh mustard greens have a quite different flavor from kale, it’s best if you use them in cooked recipes. That way, you’ll get a close flavor profile, and your dish will not taste different.
Another kale substitute you can use is spinach. There are a few considerations, though.
First, spinach has a similar earthy taste but a stronger flavor than kale. If you find kale’s flavor lacking, this is a great option.
Second, spinach has a more delicate texture than kale. It can take some heat, but it wilts significantly sooner than kale.
Nevertheless, it can replace cooked and raw recipes, making it a versatile alternative.
When using spinach in cooked recipes, reduce the cooking time. Ensure not to mix or massage the leaves too much to preserve their texture.
For recipes that call for baby kale leaves, use baby spinach instead.
It might not be your first thought when replacing kale, but bok choy is also a decent kale swap.
After all, it is a green leafy vegetable and a nutritious one at that. Your dish won’t lack vitamins and minerals if you use bok choy instead of kale.
The biggest disadvantage is that bok choy does not look like kale. Its leaves have straight edges and are smooth to the touch. They can make your dish look different, but it will work for most recipes.
Use bok choy as a substitute for kale for both raw and cooked dishes.
Another excellent alternative to kale is Swiss chard. It shares a similar earthy taste as kale so it won’t alter your recipe’s flavor.
Do note that older Swiss chard leaves can be too bitter when you use them raw.
That said, they are best for cooked recipes. After all, they can take heat well, so you can cook them without them getting mushy.
For raw dishes, choose younger Swiss chard as they are less bitter.
Note that its stems will take longer to cook than the leaves.
For the best results, cook the stems first, then add the leaves further in the cooking process.
If you particularly dislike the flavor of kale, then you might want to try turnip greens instead.
Turnip greens have spicy and sweet flavors, which more people find more palatable than kale.
It’s worth noting that you won’t be sacrificing the health benefits here.
Turnip greens are good sources of vitamins A and K. It also has a high calcium content.
Turnip greens can be tough when raw. To get a better swapping experience, use them to replace kale in cooked recipes.
Brussels sprouts as a kale replacement, why not? These vegetables might not taste like kale, but their different flavor can be an advantage for some recipes.
For instance, Brussels sprouts are a decent option if you want to introduce a twist to your classic recipe.
They are powerhouses of nutrition, like kale. Plus, they are versatile and pair well with many dishes that call for kale.
Use them in both cooked and raw dishes, but prepare for a shift in the look and taste of your recipe.
Try them in stir fry dishes, and you won’t be disappointed.
If the only criteria you need for a worthy kale alternative is that it has to be a healthy leafy green, consider lettuce.
Both Romaine and Iceberg lettuce will do well in recipes that call for kale.
These vegetables are known for their subtle taste, so they’re a good choice if you think kale is too bitter.
You have to remember that lettuce is crispier than kale. Plus, it also looks different.
Using it will not only change the texture but also the appearance of your dish.
Lettuce has a milder flavor than kale, so season it well to give it a better taste.
Eating it raw is more common than cooking it, so use it in sandwiches and salads for the best outcome.
Arugula can also work as a swap for kale in certain dishes. This ingredient is an herb, but people commonly use it as a leafy green vegetable.
It has a distinct peppery and slightly nutty flavor.
Arugula differs in taste from kale, but it can be a decent choice if you want to change the flavor profile of your dish.
Keep in mind that arugula has a more delicate texture than kale. It may not hold up well in cooked dishes, so using them in raw recipes is better.
In a pinch, cabbage can also work as an alternative to kale. Sure, these two don’t look and taste the same. However, cabbages provide a quick and equally nutritious option.
Cabbage has a mild flavor, so you won’t have a problem pairing them with ingredients that usually call for kale.
The best thing about cabbage is that it is an affordable and accessible vegetable. This option is among your best picks if you are on a tight budget.
For the best substitution experience, use savoy or napa cabbage. They have a closer texture to kale than other cabbage varieties.
For a Zuppa Toscana recipe, the best kale swap is spinach. It is an accessible vegetable that you can buy in most stores. Plus, it has a more subtle flavor, making your soup more palatable. Note that spinach is more delicate than kale, so adding it towards the end of your cooking process is best.
For a soup recipe, the best kale swap is collard greens. It has a similar flavor and texture to kale, so the difference will be barely noticeable.
Collard greens, spinach, and mustard greens are the closest to kale regarding nutritional profile. All these greens contain calcium and iron. They also have vitamins A, C, and K in common.
Kale tastes very similar to collard greens. They are both earthy and bitter, so they are good swaps for each other. Feel free to use these two vegetables interchangeably.
Spinach is the best kale alternative for salads. It boasts comparable nutrients and offers a milder, less bitter taste. For this reason, it is a great replacement for kale in a raw dish like salad.
Although kale is a highly nutritious leafy green, its slightly bitter and earthy flavor may not appeal to everyone. There is no need to worry, though; you have several options for a kale substitute. Collard greens, baby spinach, and mustard greens are among the best alternatives.
For people who find kale too bitter, lettuce varieties like Romaine and Iceberg can be great choices, too. Brussels sprouts offer a unique twist to classic recipes, while cabbage provides a budget-friendly and easily accessible substitute.
There is no shortage of other leafy greens that you can use to replace kale!