The BEST Kale Substitutes To Try

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If you’re a fan of kale, you know that it’s a nutritious and versatile leafy green that can be used in various dishes. I personally love a good kale salad. But sometimes, you may find yourself in a situation where you have guests who don’t like kale, or you’re looking to switch things up with a different leafy green. In this blog, we’ll explore some options for finding the best kale substitutes.

Whether you’re looking for something with a similar texture or flavor, we’ve got you covered. From spinach and collard greens to Swiss chard and mustard greens, there are plenty of options to choose from. So, if you’re in need of a kale substitute, read on to learn more about some tasty alternatives.

But before we dive in, let’s make sure we understand how Kale tastes. I find this super helpful when looking for an alternative.

What Does Kale Taste Like?

Kale is a hearty, earthy green leafy vegetable with an astonishing range of health benefits. It generally has a bitter taste that is similar to other cruciferous vegetables. However, its texture can vary from crispy and crunchy to tender and chewy depending on how it is prepared.

That bitter note is further enhanced when it is steamed or sauteed and then finished with seasoning such as lemon juice or garlic. Kale makes an excellent addition to both salads and stir-fries, while its leaves can also be juiced to make an awesome green smoothie or juice.

I love pairing kale with a sweet, tangy dressing. I feel like it cuts the bitterness and gives it the brightness that it needs. And when cooked, I love sauteeing it with minced garlic and prosciutto.

It’s also important that there are different types of kale. Some common ones are Curly Kale, Dinosaur Kale (also known as Tuscan or Lacinato Kale), and Red Russian Kale, each with its own unique appearance and flavor profile.

Curly Kale is a bright green color with frilly leaves; it is one of the most widely grown types of kale due to its resemblance to traditional lettuce. Dinosaur Kale has long, dark blue-green leaves with a bumpy texture and sweet earthy flavor. Red Russian kale features blue-green leaves with purple veins running through them, giving it a cool look, mildly nutty, and slightly sweet flavor when cooked.

Kale Substitutes

Substitutes For Kale

All the greens below can be used in a 1-to-1 ratio with Kale. And most of all, these options are easy to find at your local grocery store if you don’t have them on hand.

Collard Greens

Collard greens are a great substitute for kale! Not only are they packed full of nutrients like kale, but it has the bitter note you are looking for. But Collard greens tend to have a milder flavor than kale which makes them perfect for those who are new to bitter greens.

They can be used raw or cooked. You can even use collard green leaves to wrap up your favorite fillings, just like you would with cabbage or lettuce wraps! It’s quite delicious. My first collard wrap was made by my Korean friend. She made this ginger and garlic dipping sauce to go with it. It was so good!

Chinese Kale

Chinese kale, also known as Chinese broccoli or Gai Lan (not to be confused with broccoli rabe), is a leafy green vegetable that has been gaining popularity in recent years. It is an excellent substitute for traditional kale due to its mild flavor and crunchy texture. It does have some bitter notes, like kale, but it also has a slight broccoli flavor as well. It’s delicious!

Green Swiss Chard

Green swiss chard is just the green version of swiss chard. If you don’t mind the mixed colors, any swiss chard will make for a great substitute for kale. Green chard will look more like kale.

It is a flavorful vegetable that is easy to incorporate into recipes. While the color may be different, its slightly bitter flavor and crunchy texture make it a pretty versatile vegetable when needing to swap a favorite green.

Turnip Greens

Another great replacement for kale is turnip greens! It’s common for us to eat one part of a veggie, like a turnip, and toss out the greens. But the truth is that lot of root tops are fantastic. Not only do turnip greens have an earthy, bitter flavor, but they’re also overflowing with health benefits like kale. Turnip greens are loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, which help to protect the body.

Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are members of the same family as cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts. They are also known as Indian mustard, Southern mustard, Chinese mustard, and leaf mustard. Mustard greens have a unique spicy flavor that can be intensified when steamed or cooked in a stir fry.

The leaves are smaller than turnip greens and collards but larger than spinach. When used raw, they are spicy, almost like arugula.


Spinach is a popular leafy green that is extremely palatable compared to other greens out there. Spinach has been around since ancient times and has a long history of being eaten both raw and cooked. It can be found in many forms – fresh leaves, canned, and frozen.

Spinach is an easy swap for kale, especially if you want something that is mild in flavor and has little bitterness. This green is great for those who are picky eaters. If you want a more tender and mild flavor, then opt for baby spinach. But it doesn’t really matter since either one would work great when you don’t have kale.

Kale alternatives infograph

My Final Thoughts On Substitutes For Kale

With so many different kale substitutes out there, it’s easy to find a leafy green that will fit your needs. Whether you are looking for something milder in flavor or more bitter and crunchy, there is an option available. From Chinese Kale to Spinach, each of these greens come with its own unique characteristics and health benefits. No matter which one you choose, adding any variety of leafy greens into your diet can help increase the nutrient content of meals while providing delicious flavors along the way! So go ahead and give some of these options a try – they may just become your new favorite ingredient in recipes!

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