Kale is part of the brassica family, along with cauliflower and broccoli. It is a leafy green vegetable rich in vitamins and fiber. Kale has four main varieties: curly kale, purple kale, baby kale, and Tuscan kale (lacinato kale, cavolo kale, or dinosaur kale).
It’s easier to find kale during the cooler months but quite tricky in summer. If you are having a hard time finding kale in your local grocery store, we’ve prepared a list of substitutes for you.
- Collard Greens
- Baby Spinach
- Iceberg Lettuce
- Romaine Lettuce
- Mustard Greens
Before we dig deep into the full list of alternatives of kale, let us understand abit more about the different varieties of this vegetable.
29 Best Kale Substitutes
Curly kale is the most common variety and has the same green color as broccoli. It has bitter and peppery when eaten raw.
Purple kale has bright purple leaves and is sweeter than curly kale. Baby kale leaves are from young kale plants and are best eaten raw. Tuscan kale has smooth, dark green leaves with a milder flavor. [Source]
Our recommendation for the best kale substitute when making kale soup is collard greens. But you can also use spinach, cabbage, lettuce, etc.
Let’s take a closer look at the full list of alternatives.
We consider collard greens the best kale substitute because they have a similar texture and taste. Aside from making your favorite soup, you can also use them to replace kale in salads.
Collard greens are a relative of broccoli and cabbage. They have several health benefits including managing high cholesterol levels. They are rich in glucosinolates which help fight cancer. Collard greens are also rich in protein, calcium, potassium, etc. [Source]
Spinach is also an ideal replacement for kale in many different recipes, like soups, salads, and baked dishes. Although spinach tastes a little different from kale, it can still enhance the flavor of your soup.
Spinach is also easier to cook. It has different types of vitamins and minerals.
Baby spinach has smaller leaves than regular spinach, but it has the same taste and texture. You can cook baby spinach the way you cook kale. It is best used in soups and salads.
Cabbage is easily available in local groceries and supermarkets. It may have a different taste from kale, but it is still compatible with all the recipes that require kale, including kale soup. It is rich in Vitamin A and can also be used for cold dishes.
Iceberg lettuce has a milder taste than kale, but adding extra seasonings help enrich the flavor of your dish. Take note, though, that it has a crunchier texture that might potentially change the texture of your dish.
Romaine lettuce is also readily available. This variety of lettuce has a bland taste, so make sure to add extra seasonings to achieve the flavor you want. You can use it in soups, though it is best used in sandwiches and salads.
You can use mustard greens as kale replacement in almost any type of dish. However, you have to consider that mustard greens are on the spicy side. Though richer in flavor, most cooks consider these greens to be similar to kale.
Tatsoi may not be as common as cabbage, but this is also an ideal alternative to kale in soup. It is rich in vitamins, particularly, Vitamins A, C, and K. It’s easier to digest compared to bulky kale.
Escarole is another green vegetable variety that you can use to replace kale when cooking your favorite soup dish. Aside from that, escarole enhances the flavor of sandwiches, salads, and baked dishes.
Escarole and kale have similar textures and flavor profiles. Using escarole doesn’t change the flavor of your dishes too much. It is easier to incorporate it with a wide range of dishes.
Swiss Chard is another green leafy vegetable that is an ideal kale substitute. It is crispier than kale, so when you use it in your soup dish it doesn’t get too mushy. If you use it to replace kale, you should cut your cooking time in half.
Swiss chard is also called rainbow chard or silverbeet). It has large stems that you can use to make another dish. You also cook the stems separately because the leaves will cook faster.
You have started cooking kale soup, but you suddenly realize you forgot to buy kale. If you have Brussels sprouts in your pantry, then you are in luck. It can replace kale in any type of dish.
Though Brussels sprouts look and taste different from kale, they can still be used as an alternative. It has a mild flavor profile similar to cabbage.
Arugula is another green leafy vegetable you can use as a kale alternative. It has a mild and peppery flavor profile. A bit spicy, arugula enhances the flavor of your soup dish.
Take note that it can potentially change the flavor of your dish so cook it in a shorter time.
Beetroot leaves are a good kale substitute because they both contain Vitamins A and C. They also have almost similar flavor profiles.
Some cooks consider turnip greens a good alternative to kale. These greens are actually tastier than kale. Aside from soup dishes, you can also use turnip greens for stir fry dishes.
They also are perfect when you just blanch the greens in boiling water with salt, pepper, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. If you roast turnip greens, you’ll get a deeper and richer flavor with hints of earthy flavor, a perfect side dish.
Dandelion leaves give a delicate nuance and flavor to spring grass. These greens are crispier than kale and make soup dishes richer and more flavorful. You can also use them in making sweet desserts and salads.
Only a few people know about broccoli rabe, which is also referred to as rapini. It is a good kale substitute because of its earthy and bitter taste, similar to mustard greens. You can use these greens in both sweet and savory dishes.
Add them to your soup dish and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and add olive oil, and you get the perfect dish. Aside from enhancing your soup dishes, broccoli rabe can also be used in pasta dishes, stir-fries, and egg dishes like frittatas and omelets.
Most of us often see parsley as a garnish, but it can be the star of your dish, too. Parsley is an ideal substitute for kale in your soup dishes. In addition, it also enhances the flavor of your salads and other cooked dishes.
It may not have the same deep green color as kale, but it is packed with flavor. Not only that, but it also gives an appetizing smell to your dishes.
Beet greens are a close cousin to kale and are lesser-known superfoods. This savory plant is rich in calcium. This is also a healthy alternative to kale.
Bok choy is abundant in Asia. It makes an ideal substitute for kale in soups and stir-fry dishes. Unlike kale, you can include the white stalks in your food as they add texture and flavor to any dish.
Kale stems are quite woody, making them unpleasant to eat. Bok choy is rich in Vitamin A, potassium, and magnesium.
Cauliflower is one of the healthiest and most inexpensive alternatives to kale. It is ideal to use in soups, pasta dishes, and casseroles.
Its soft texture when cooked gives it the versatility to be used as a side dish like mashed potato. It is also a favorite of most people to replace rice in their diets.
When you want to add more fiber to your diet, you usually choose kale. But for people who don’t like greens, carrots are another excellent source of fiber, plus they contain other essential vitamins and minerals.
You can use carrots as snacks, or you can add them to your soup and stir fry dishes.
Endive has crunchy and boat-shaped leaves that are good for the health of your internal organs. These bitter greens add flavor to your soups, stir-fries, and other dishes.
Add apple slices and blue cheese to balance out its pronounced flavor for your salads.
Artichoke is another inexpensive and healthy substitute for kale. You can make a simple artichoke soup or an all-veggie soup with chunky artichokes.
Its mild nutty flavor is similar to Brussels sprouts and asparagus, making it an ideal alternative to kale.
Celeriac is a flavorful addition to your soups and other dishes. It is similar to a potato but less starchy and it adds creaminess to your dishes.
Celeriac is the root of a celery plant. It has an earthy taste, and its texture is similar to a potato or turnip. Chopped celeriac leaves are perfect for soups and stocks.
This kale substitute leaves a pungent taste on your soups, salads, and sandwiches. Watercress leaves are crisp and tender with a unique peppery flavor that enhances the flavor of any dish. It is inexpensive too.
Kohlrabi makes a crunchy addition to soups and salads. It is a root vegetable with leafy greens on top that you can also add to your dishes for added flavor. This member of the cabbage family tastes sweet with a hint of spiciness.
Asparagus is another healthy alternative to kale. It has a sweet-bitter taste with a hint of earthy grass flavor. Fresh asparagus is seasonal, but you can find jarred varieties in grocery stores all year round, but they are quite expensive.
Mache leaves have a milder flavor than kale leaves. It makes a good replacement for kale in salads, smoothies, and soups. Mache complements well with baby spinach.
Gai Lan(Chinese Broccoli)
Gai Lan is also referred to as Chinese broccoli. It makes a good alternative to Asian-style stir fry and soup dishes. Its flavor is similar to broccoli, but its flavor is enhanced when sautéed with garlic.
You can get them from Asian supermarkets and other specialty stores.