Make Ahead

Lacinato Kale Gratin

May  1, 2021
17 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 6 to 8, as a side
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

What You'll Need
  • 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!)
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lauren Miller
    Lauren Miller
  • Karen Crouch
    Karen Crouch
  • Athena PN
    Athena PN
  • strozyk
  • Iris
Marian Bull

Recipe by: Marian Bull


46 Reviews

Jessamin December 29, 2023
I made this as part of a small Christmas dinner for two. It was insanely easy and delicious. I was worried about the amount of cream, but it turned to a custardy texture as the recipe promised. It was amazing right out of the oven, but leftovers reheated even better (super crispy). I had to adjust oven degrees to accomadate baking a meat dish, and it was totally fine. This is basically a back-pocket, low-effort, easy-going recipe for many holiday meals to come. Thank you!
Molly R. September 14, 2022
This was an unexpected delight! I didn't have any heavy cream on hand, so I used Nutpods, non-dairy creamer. It was awesome! It didn't really thicken like heavy cream might, but it was still excellent. I will definitely be making this again. And I can see why using the "good stuff" (cheddar cheese) really makes this dish extra flavorful. And do NOT skip the nutmeg - really adds a nice flavor! So simple and easy, and adds sooo much to the dinner!
dieek July 17, 2022
This was a wonderful recipe, and definitely an easy enough dish to continue making even on weeknight dinners.

Beware that the longest step in this prep is removing the ribs from the kale. And that you will want more kale in this than you think is possible.
Lauren M. November 23, 2020
This will be my newest thanksgiving staple. Made for picky eaters and even they liked it! So quick and easy result with a major payoff in the finished result. Major fan of this - thanks for sharing!
Rita January 21, 2020
Using an 8oz block of good cheddar, how thick should I make the slices?
Karen C. December 24, 2019
Very easy to make and smells delicious but my heavy cream did not become custard like after 55 minutes so it was very milky on the bottom. I’m putting it back in the oven to see if more time will help.
Debra K. December 23, 2019
This sounds delicious, anyway to do it without the heavy cream?
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.
T March 24, 2019
Hi Therese,
I’m not a fan of kale either - I make it with Swiss Chard, which is much milder.
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?
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.