How My Oven Taught Me to Love Kale

A 10-minute stint in a hot oven leads to kale that’s crispy at the edges and tender in the middle.

Published Mar. 9, 2022.

Whether you’re a kale fan or not, you have to admit: The vegetable has range. 

Raw kale leaves are tenacious and hearty, but sauteing them on the stovetop renders them moist and tender, and a long, low period in the oven produces crispy, shattery chips. 

Best of all, I recently discovered that you don’t have to settle for just one texture: You can capture the many faces of cooked kale on a single baking sheet by roasting. In just 10 minutes in a hot oven, the leaves turn a deep emerald color and take on a delightful mélange of textures: crunchy, browned edges; crisped centers; and still-tender wilted spots. 

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Here’s how we do it: 

  1. Rinse and strip the leaves from the tough stems of a pound's worth of kale.
  2. Tear the leaves into 1½- to 2-inch pieces (they’ll wilt to bite-size).
  3. Spin the leaves in a salad spinner, ridding them of excess moisture that could interfere with browning.
  4. Massage the leaves with oil and salt to coat and tenderize the leaves.
  5. Roast at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, without stirring—this is what leads to the kale’s many textures.

Here's how to use it:

  • Serve as a side dish with a simple entrée, like roast chicken
  • Stir into pasta
  • Add to an omelet
  • Toss into a grain bowl or salad

Which kale to use?

There are generally two widely available options when it comes to kale—Tuscan (also known as dinosaur or lacinato) and curly. Tuscan kale gets a lot of love for its more tender leaves, but the frilly, more fibrous curly kale actually works better here: Its leaves retain some volume and featheriness, while the crinkly edges crisp and brown dramatically.

Try our roasted kale recipes:

Roasted Kale with Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes, and Lemon

Roasted Kale with Parmesan, Shallot, and Nutmeg

Roasted Kale with Coriander, Ginger, and Coconut


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