Can You Eat Kale Raw?

Written By Marrissa Wilson


We all know that kale is good for us but it isn’t everyone’s favourite vegetable. It is a rather bitter tasting leafy green. It’s packed full of vitamins and minerals. There are some great ways you can cook it but can you eat kale raw too?

You can eat kale raw. It is a little more bitter in flavour but it is the best way to make the most of all those vitamins. You should be a little careful not to eat too much as raw kale contains goitrogens which are thought to affect thyroid function if eaten in excess. 

What Does Raw Kale Taste Like?

Kale is a fairly bitter cabbage no matter whether you eat it raw or cooked. It has a strong taste that is earthy and green. If you don’t like spinach then you definitely won’t like kale!

Some people find the taste of kale, especially when raw, quite metallic and iron-rich in flavour.

One of the major benefits of eating it raw is that it retains a delicious crunch. When you cook kale it tends to go very limp and even soggy whilst still remaining a little harsh around the edges. This isn’t a texture that many people like.

How to Eat Raw Kale

Raw kale has a few uses but you do have to be careful not to overdo it because it could easily overpower a meal if you add too much. For some ideas, here are a few to consider:

Juice or Smoothie

If you have access to a juicer then you can pop some raw kale into it to get the juice out of it. This eliminates the fibrous part of the leaf and leaves behind the juice.

This juice is super good for you.

You will need to use a lot of kale, however, in order to get just a little juice but this is for the best because you don’t need to add too much for a strong flavour. You can add the juice to other ingredients to make a delicious fresh fruit juice for an extra vitamin kick.

If you don’t have access to a juicer then you can make a delicious green smoothie instead although it can become bitter. Kale is often used in these because despite its strong flavour it is easily hidden when combined with sweeter fruits.

Making a smoothie means you get the benefit of vitamins and minerals and fibre too. Blend up your favourite fruits and flavours with a little kale and ice for a deliciously creamy smoothie that is perfect for breakfast or as a mid-afternoon pick me up. 


You can liven up your usual leafy green salad by popping a few kale leaves in. This adds an earthy depth and is perfect when paired with sweeter baby lettuce and spinach leaves.

If you can, pick younger and smaller leaves to add to your salad because they will be a little less bitter than older leaves.

Another popular salad to make with raw kale is a caesar-style salad. By making an acid-rich dressing, you can massage the kale leaves with it and it will almost cook the leaves to soften them and take away some of the bitterness.


If you want to add a few extra vitamins to your sandwich then you can pop a few raw kale leaves in instead of your usual iceberg lettuce. Kale has far more vitamins and a strong flavour that adds something entirely new to your sandwich.

This is only for the hardcore kale fans, however!

Benefits of Eating Kale Raw

Kale is one of the more nutrient-dense vegetables you can eat. A single cup contains 200% of your vitamin A requirements, 600% of your vitamin K requirements and 130% of your daily intake of vitamin C!

In addition to this, it contains B6, Manganese, calcium, potassium and magnesium. 

The main benefit of choosing to eat your kale raw rather than cooked is that you get all of these vitamins. Most methods of cooking will remove some vitamins and nutrients as part of the cooking process.

Should You Eat Kale Raw?

A moderate amount of raw kale should be fine for most people to manage and it can be good for you.

It does contain goitrin which is a goitrogen and this can affect your thyroid function. This can then change how your metabolism works. Try not to worry too much though. If you eat a moderate amount of raw kale you shouldn’t be getting too much goitrin.

Just be careful if you already have impaired thyroid function.

If you want to learn more about goitrin and goitrogens then these resources from Science Direct, Healthline and Very Well Health should help you out.

Raw Kale FAQs

If you’ve got other specific questions about eating raw kale then these might help:

Can You Eat Kale Stems Raw?

When kale stems are cooked, they remain quite fibrous. If you don’t cook them, they’ll be incredibly tough and chewy. Although you can safely eat kale stems raw, you probably won’t want to!

Can You Eat Too Much Raw Kale?

Yes, it is possible to eat too much raw kale. As it contains goitrin, it can impact the functioning of your thyroid so raw kale should be eaten in moderation.

Can You Eat Red Kale Raw?

Whether it’s curly kale, Russian kale, hungry-gap kale or red kale; they can all be eaten raw, safely. The level of bitterness will differ between varieties, however.

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