The Complete Guide to the 7 Varieties of Kale

What used to be one of those vegetables to avoid at the grocery store or farmer's market has become one of the biggest food trends. That's right, kale has grown tremendously in the culinary world and there's a lot of reasons why. First off, kale is super nutritious and the health benefits make this veggie a superfood. Those dark, leafy greens are packed with antioxidants, protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, iron, and calcium.

Second, kale has some interesting flavor. It's kind of spicy and slightly bitter and the leaves are extremely hearty and hold up well to a number of cooking methods like sautéing, frying, or even baking.

Different Types of Kale You Should be Eating

Kale doesn't just come in one variety. There are a ton of kinds of kale to explore in the brassica family and try out Tuscan kale, red kale, baby kale, or the most common type, curly kale. You'll love adding a boost of healthy greens to your next dish or you can even try throwing some into your next morning smoothie. And let's not forget all the kale recipes you can make!

1. Curly Kale

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One of the most common varieties of kale you can find at the grocery store is curly kale. It's pale to dark green in color with a woody stem and soft leaves. The green leaves taste slightly bitter but are pretty mild in flavor. Curly kale can be used in so many ways like kale salad, kale chips, smoothies, etc. I like to think of it as the new and improved spinach with curly leaves.

2. Lacinato Kale 

Another common kale variety is lacinato kale, also called Tuscan kale or dinosaur kale. The bluish, dark green wrinkly leaves of this Italian variety are mild and earthy and can be eaten raw in a kale salad or wilted into a soup or stew.

3. Red Russian Kale

Red Russian kale has beautiful red-purple stems that are sweet, tender, and just downright pretty. Eat them raw in your favorite kale salad recipe or sauté them with some garlic and olive oil.

4. Siberian Kale

One of the most cold-hardy kale varieties available, Siberian kale has big, green leaves that can keep up with cold weather and pests.

Siberian kale should be cooked since it's quite fibrous, so try sautéing it in a pan with a little olive oil, garlic, pancetta, or bacon for a delicious side dish.

5. Redbor Kale

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Redbor kale is a variety that can easily be recognized due to its deep-red frilly leaves. It has a mild, cabbage-like flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked. Keep in mind that when you do cook redbor kale, it does lose some of its beautiful color.

6. Chinese Kale

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Chinese kale or Chinese broccoli is a leafy green that's part of the cabbage family and can easily be substituted for regular broccoli in many recipes. Toss it into stir-fries or steam it for a healthy side dish. 

7. Baby Kale

Baby kale leaves come from a young kale plant and have a very mild and delicate flavor. They're delicious eaten raw in a salad and you'll often find baby kale leaves mixed in a salad green mix. If you don't want to eat the leaves raw, they're just as tasty sautéed. These can be enjoyed from a variety of kale types. They also make a great garnish!