Lacinato Kale Gratin

December 9, 2014

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This recipe comes from Renee Erickson's A Boat, A Whale, and A Walrus. I love that it doesn't ask you to precook your greens, so the bottom layer gets soft and creamy and the top becomes crispy, like a bunch of kale chips fused together with cheese. Marian Bull

Serves: 6 to 8, as a side


  • 3 medium (or 2 large) bunches lacinato kale, ribs removed, torn into roughly 3-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (use the good stuff!)
In This Recipe


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Pile the kale in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish (or something a bit larger). It will seem like an overabundance of kale, towering above the pan's edge, but you want it all. Season the kale with the nutmeg and salt and pepper (to taste), then carefully drizzle the cream over it. Spread out the cheese slices over the kale.
  3. Place the gratin dish on a baking sheet to catch any cream that drips out as the gratin cooks. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour; you want the cream to thicken and the cheese to brown nicely. The outer shell of kale will crisp up, like kale chips -- you want this!
  4. Let the gratin cool for a few minutes, then serve.

More Great Recipes:
Casserole/Gratin|Kale|Milk/Cream|Cheese|Vegetable|Nutmeg|Make Ahead|One-Pot Wonders|Christmas|Fall|Thanksgiving|Winter

Reviews (38) Questions (0)

38 Reviews

Athena P. February 13, 2019
How much by weight is a bunch of kale for this recipe? Our grocer's kale bundles change size depending, apparently, on season: a summer bundle is often nearly twice as large as one in winter.
strozyk November 22, 2018
This turkey day is my third time making this dish. This time I skipped the nutmeg, used a sprinkle of fresh ground Chipotle (real imported piri piri is also great), tucked in thin raw slices of shallot, and used mostly curly kale because that's what came in my veggie bin. Might be my favorite version yet. I ate leftovers for breakfast before, and that's the plan for tomorrow too!
lark W. August 15, 2018
MICROWAVE? I only have a microwave. Anyone have any tips? I do want to make this.
JulieBee August 15, 2018
My tip is: don’t make this in a micro. The cream will splatter everywhere and it will not bake properly. Maybe borrow a neighbor’s oven. Good luck.
lark W. August 15, 2018
Thank you. What if I cover it?
JulieBee August 16, 2018
I wouldn't even attempt doing this in the microwave. I just don't see how it could work. Even though this is a veggie dish, 3 bunches of kale, 3 cups of heavy cream and a cup of top quality cheddar = approximately $15.00 worth of ingredients, I wouldn't take the chance. I've made this dish and it really is excellent. When baked, the cream kind of evaporates and absorbs down, softening and cooking the kale. The cheddar melts and browns, which does not seem possible in the micro. But maybe someone else in the comment section feels differently.
Laurie May 1, 2017
This was the best kale gratin ever!!!! Like really tasty kale chips in a casserole - and I don't like casseroles. Made a huge pan for a dinner party and was worried the greens would not reduce. It was perfect and loved by folks who don't like kale
Iris January 1, 2017
Made this for New Years Eve dinner. It's so rich and wonderful! I used the convection setting on my oven, nice crispy bits on the top! The heavy cream ends up like custard. Don't worry about it being soggy! It's delicious.
Therese December 25, 2016
I really wanted to like this but didn't. I think Kale may just not be my thing.
rebeck November 25, 2016
Do as the recipe says and serve just after baking. I made this the morning of thanksgiving and when reheated for dinner the cheese was hard and the dish hard no fluidity. Too bad because it looked and smelled great right out of the oven. :/
kim November 24, 2016
JUST ATE THIS TODAY, took it to my MILs holiday table. It was a HUGE hit!!! Even with those who don't like kale. And so so easy. This is a winner!!!
Lauren D. November 21, 2016
I happen to have frozen kale in the freezer - could I substitute or would it produce too much water? If so - I'm off to the store - just found my thanksgiving contribution.
Athena P. February 13, 2019
A bit late for your Thanksgiving but frozen kale works as nicely as fresh in everything I've tried. For soup I add it straight from the freezer & for other dishes I thaw first & drain off any accumulated water (for sautés it cooks a bit quicker than raw.) Good luck; if you try this with frozen kale, let us know how it worked for you? Cheers!
epicharis February 14, 2016
Served this alongside steaks for an outstanding Valentine's Day dinner. I think my boyfriend loves this more than he loves me. I don't blame him at all. Thank you for sharing such a splendid recipe with us!
Sarah February 13, 2016
I'm guessing you put the spices all over each leaf as opposed to just on top, but do you just put the cheese and cream on top of the pile of kale or do you layer it at all?
NgHuiLi January 27, 2016
Can i use spinach instead of kale?
Author Comment
Marian B. January 27, 2016
I actually don't think this would work, since spinach has such a higher water content than kale—the thing about this recipe is that the kale is sturdy enough to stand up to all that dairy. This is a really nice spinach gratin recipe, though:
Kevin F. April 6, 2015
We have made this a half dozen times now. Every time we make it, we can't get enough and the folks we have over rave about it as well.
janieack March 6, 2015
Made this to take to my nephew and his college housemates, along with a hearty casserole and other goodies. Everyone thought I was crazy and "the boys" would never eat the kale. Ha! My nephew texted me the next day to say it was "awesome" and his favorite dish.
Park R. January 24, 2015
This was a side dish to a simple tomato soup [carrots, onions, garlic, tomato paste and canned tomatoes] with parmesan croutons last night. I added some of the post cooked cream to the soup to soften-up the tomato flavor. So decadent! Particularly the crispy kale which really complimented the tomato.
sl(i)m January 9, 2015
Delicious! So much so that even the "ummm, maybe kale is OK to try occasionally" diners in my family loved it! The cream just disappears, Debra; it didn't feel like too much... and it's so easy. I put my three bunches of kale into an old, deep square corning ware dish: it cooked evenly, fit, and there were no spills.
Author Comment
Marian B. January 9, 2015
Hooray! Really glad you loved this, too.
C G. January 8, 2015
This was soooooo good. It didn't look as pretty as the picture above, but the taste was divine. My 14 year old son LOVED it.
Author Comment
Marian B. January 9, 2015
So happy to hear this! Anyways, taste is the important thing.
Debra December 30, 2014
any recipe with three cups of heavy cream should be considered inedible.
Putting three cups of cream on something that hit our tables to give us all abundant great health and longevity to enjoy it is /well,missing the point.
I would like to see this recipe adapted to reflect todays informed palate. Three cups of cream disqualifies food from the table.
Author Comment
Marian B. January 9, 2015
I find it quite edible, actually!
NSue January 15, 2015
I think l'm missing something. How can three cups of cream disqualify a food from the table? I can see it if someone is allergic to milk products. Anything else just means you're not "working" hard enough! That's what my grandmother would say...and she was (almost) never wrong, too!
BeyondBrynMawr May 3, 2016
Assuming it serves eight people (recipes says six to eight), that's three fluid ounces of heavy cream per person. Indulgent, yes, but I wouldn't call that inedible. The fixation on a recipe with three cups of heavy cream seems a little uncalled for - that would be excessive for one people but hardly anything for a recipe feeding one hundred.
JulieBee December 25, 2014
This was so easy and super delicious. I served it on Christmas Day and everyone was raving about the taste. But learn from me, I mistakenly ignored the author's note that 3 heads would seem like too much kale (which it did) and only used 2 heads. The greens wilted and reduced to a thin layer like spinach does. It tasted fabulous but the finished dish didn't look as full and abundant as it should have.
Author Comment
Marian B. January 9, 2015
So happy to hear this! I bet it was still great with just 2 heads.
cream C. December 18, 2014
I loved this! I did not have heavy cream, but I did have half a bar of low-fat cream cheese which I heated with 1% milk and stirred until it was smooth. It worked just fine - my guests and I LOVED this. So easy and delicious. Will definitely make again.