How to Freeze Kale

by Beth - Budget Bytes
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Raise your hand if you’ve ever let a bag of greens go bad in the back of your fridge. 👋😬 I know I’ve been guilty of that. But guess what? You can freeze kale (and bagged spinach), so you can keep it on hand without it getting all gross and stinky in the back of your refrigerator. It’s incredibly simple to do, but if you’re new to freezing vegetables make sure keep reading to understand how to make the best use of your frozen kale (or spinach).

A freezer bag of kale spilling out onto a marble surface

Why Freeze Kale?

As I mentioned above, freezing kale is a great way to reduce your food waste because it can be hard to eat an entire bunch or bag of kale before it starts to get slimy. A lot of times I’ll freeze half my kale as soon as I get home from the store, just to make sure I don’t forget later and to make sure I freeze it while it’s the most fresh!

And since you’ll need to prep your kale before freezing it, it’s a great way to consolidate your kitchen work and make cooking faster and easier later. Once the kale is prepped and frozen, it’s ready to toss into any number of recipes later without any further work.

How to Use Frozen Kale

The most important part about freezing kale is understanding what recipes you can use it in later. Frozen vegetables generally get a little softer after freezing and thawing, so I don’t suggest using the frozen kale in a salad or any recipe where you want it to have the same texture as fresh kale. Frozen kale also tends to be quite delicate when frozen, so it can break into small pieces easily, which also makes it less ideal for salads. For this reason, I also wouldn’t recommend it for kale chips, where you’d want large pieces.

Frozen kale is great to use in any recipe where the kale will be sautéed or added to a hot liquid, like a soup or stew. And because it thaws so quickly in the hot pan, you don’t need to thaw before adding it to your recipe. Here are some great examples of recipes where you could use frozen kale:

Frozen Kale is also great for adding to smoothies! Just go ahead and toss a handful into your blender with the rest of your fruits and vegetables!

How Long Does Frozen Kale Last?

Frozen kale will slowly dry out in the freezer over time, causing the flavor and texture quality to decline. For best flavor and texture, I suggest trying to use your frozen kale within a few months.

How to Freeze Kale:

Okay, this is kind of a no-brainer, but I’m going to offer a few helpful tid bits with each step…

1. Prep Your Kale

Make sure you fully wash and chop your kale before freezing, so it’s ready to go straight into your recipe from the freezer. I buy bags of pre-chopped kale, but I always give it another wash and pick out any larger pieces of stem. If you’re buying a bunch of kale, remove the stems, chop it to your desired size, then give it a good rinse.

Chopped kale in a colander

2. Pack the Kale

After rinsing, make sure to let the kale drain well, then just place it in any air-tight freezer safe container. I prefer freezer bags because they lay flat and don’t take up a lot of space in the freezer. Avoid packing or squishing the kale too tightly in the container so you can easily grab a handful or two at a time later, instead of having a large solid block of greens that you can’t break apart.

kale in a freezer bag that is labeled and dated

And, as always, make sure to label and date your container! This will help you use frozen goods in a timely manner and will help prevent those mystery containers in the bottom of the freezer.

3. Cook the Kale

When you’re ready to use your frozen kale, it can go straight from the freezer into your recipe. Because the kale is so thin, it thaws almost instantly when added to a hot pan or soup. So easy!

Sautéed Kale in a skillet

And that’s it! So easy, but so easy to overlook. So I hope this simple tutorial inspires you to freeze some of your next batch of kale, and saves you some dollars!

Want More Freezer Tips?

Check out these other ingredients that I like to save in the freezer:

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  1. Thank you for this helpful information. I’d appreciate your thoughts on the idea of freezing bagged kale or spinach that comes triple washed without rinsing first before freezing. Then rinsing the frozen portion in a colander before using. Thanks again.

    1. I think kale would probably be easier to rinse after freezing, but spinach is so much softer so it will wilt as soon as it thaws, so that may make it very difficult to rinse.

  2. Can you use frozen kale to juice later?   I like to make green juices using Kale and trying to find a way to make it last for juicing. 

    1. Unfortunately, I don’t have any experience with juicing, so I can’t say for sure, but I would think that it would still work.

  3. Thanks for all your freezer tips. I use them for tomato paste, bananas, and green onions. Didn’t have much luck with the lemons, but that may have been a lemon issue. I’m also a big fan of vacuum sealing. Vacuum sealing for this one, though, probably isn’t a good idea?

    1. Hmm, I don’t have any experience with vacuum sealing, but I would think that it might cause the kale to get crushed into smaller pieces. It’s pretty fragile when it’s frozen, so leaving a little room in the bag helps.

      1. I can’t seem to find really good
        Freezer bags even the brand
        Name seems to leave a freezer
        Burn film. Any suggestions??

      2. Maybe it’s your technique. You need to remove as much air as possible from the bag. The best way to do that is to put the food in the bag, fill a sink with or large bowl with water, then dip the bag under water 3/4 of the way. All the air will be pushed out. Then zip. You should also put wax paper on the top layer of food to prevent freezer burn.

  4. This could not be more timely! We had some family in town a little bit ago and they left all this fresh produce – super generous, but items I’m not used to having stocked. I made kale chips the other day but was wondering what else I could do with it, and here you are with the solution: smoothies and Zuppa Toscana (two things we very much love in our house)! Thanks so much for this!!

  5. Thank you for this! I always buy the big bags of organic chopped kale at Aldi, and usually I have about a quarter of the bag left over. I try to use it before it goes bad, but don’t always succeed.

  6. Great tip! Nice to know it applies to spinach as well! How dry should your washed kale need to be before freezing?

    1. I just shake it off good, but don’t take any extra care with drying it. :)

  7. Thanks for this! I have a lot more kale on hand than I knew what to do with, and didn’t realize I could freeze it!