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The 7 Best Ways to Cook Kale Without Boiling Away the Nutrients

Eating kale is one of the healthiest things you can do today.  Learn the 7 best ways to cook kale, so it is easy to eat this power food every week.  Learn how to sauté, wilt, roast, puree, blanch, steam, and freeze kale.  Never be at a loss to prepare kale for a recipe again.


7 best ways to cook kale title


How to Cook Kale

Before you cook kale, learn the best ways to prepare kale.  After the kale is washed and cut, try one of these 7 best ways to cook or preserve kale.

  • Wilt: Stir food in a small amount of water or oil for a short time to soften it.
  • Sauté:  Stir food in oil in a pan over high heat for several minutes.
  • Blanch: Submerge food in boiling water for a short time and then immediately cool the food in cold water.
  • Steam: Cook food over steam, usually with a steamer basket.
  • Roast: Cook using dry heat, usually in an oven, where heat surrounds food, cooking it on all sides.
  • Puree: Mash or blend food (sometimes with liquid) so that the food breaks down into a creamy consistency.
  • Freeze: Blanch and then put food in freezer and freeze until solid.

How to Wilt Kale:

  • Heat a skillet over medium heat.
  • When the pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil or water.
  • Add the kale and cook, stirring for up to 3 to 5 minutes or until the kale turns a bright green color and is softer.  Wilt kale before you add it to a recipe that will continue to cook before being served, such as Southwest Chipotle Kale Quinoa Bowl.


How to Sauté Kale:

  • To sauté kale, heat a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.
  • When the oil is heated, add the kale ribbons to the pan.
  • Stir kale to coat with olive oil.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Stir the kale, turning frequently for 5 to 10 minutes, until it is tender and soft.  It may take up to 10 minutes if you have a lot of kale in the pan or if the kale leaves are especially thick.

Kale has low moisture and does not shrink very much.  Cook it longer until it is soft, rather than serving it cooked al dente and crunchy.

Hint: If you have older kale that may be bitter, blanch it first before sauteeing.

How to Blanch Kale:

  • Bring 4 quarts of water to boil.
  • Place kale in a steamer basket and lower it into the boiling water for one minute.


wilting kale


  • Use a slotted spoon to push the kale ribbons under the water.
  • After one minute, pull the steamer basket out of the water and submerge it in ice water to stop the cooking.
  • Remove the kale from the steamer basket and drain in a fine meshed colander or on a cooling rack.

Hint: If you do not have a steamer basket, you can wilt the kale by dumping it loosely into the pan of boiling water.  After one minute, drain the kale into a colander and then submerge the kale in ice water.

How to Roast Kale:

  • Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  • Clean and dry kale.
  • Cut or tear kale into small pieces.
  • Place 3 cups of kale pieces in a zip top bag.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.


kale in zip top bag with olive oil


  • Massage the kale pieces with the olive oil.
  • Place the kale pieces on a baking sheet and roast for 8 to 10 minutes.   The kale leaf edges should be lightly toasted.  (Keep an eye on the kale.  It can burn quickly.)

kale on roasting pan

  • Remove from heat and let the kale chips cool.

roasted kale on pan

How to Puree Kale:

  • Add raw kale with a small amount of water or broth to a Vitamix or other high speed blender to puree for soups or sauces.
  • To add kale to smoothies blend kale with the other smoothie ingredients in a Vitamix and blend until pureed.

How to Steam Kale:

steamer basket with kale

  • Add 1 to 2 inches of water to a steamer pan or a pan with a steam insert.
  • Cover the pot with a lid and bring the water to a boil.
  • Place the chopped kale leaves in a steamer basket insert.
  • When the water is boiling place the steamer basket into the pan.
  • Steam kale for 7 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove the steamer basket from the pan.

steamer basket with kale

Add Kale to Soup:

  • After soup is finished cooking, add the kale to the hot soup (not boiling) for 4 to 5 minutes or until kale has softened.  The kale will still be slightly crunchy.  Serve immediately.

Don’t Boil Kale:

  • We do not recommend boiling kale because the healthy nutrients in kale deplete quickly when kale is boiled.


How to Preserve Kale

Can you freeze kale?  Yes!  If you have a lot of fresh kale and you won’t be able to eat before it goes bad, freeze it for later use.

How to Freeze Kale:  Before you place kale in the freezer, blanch it first.  (See instructions for blanching above).

After blanching the kale, drain it for 5 to 10 minutes, and allow it to dry.  If necessary, spread the kale out on a cooling rack to dry.

blanched kale drying on cooling rack


To speed up the drying time, pat the kale with a paper towel.

On a nonstick baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place the dry, blanched kale in a single layer.

Then place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze for 90 minutes.

frozen kale pieces

After 90 minutes, place the frozen kale in a freezer zip top bag, labeled with the date.  Place the zip top bag in the freezer for up to 2 months.

frozen kale in zip top bag