If it’s a challenge for you to serve greens that your child will actually eat, you’re going to love today’s recipe for Cheesy Baked Kale Bites. They’re packed with nutrition and are delicious when reheated so they are great to make ahead.
Cheesy Baked Kale Bites
While we’ve had great success with Spinach Pesto, Kale Pesto, and adding spinach to popsicles, I wanted to find a new way to serve greens to my kids. We tend to have a lot of kale from our garden in the summer and while I don’t stress about getting it into my kids, I figured that I might as well try a new method!
These Cheesy Kale Bites are basically a meatball with shredded kale in place of meat. They have tons of flavor from the cheese, and they taste really great when dunked into ketchup or salsa.
Baked Kale Recipe
Greens can be tricky with little ones for a few reasons. First, I think we get preoccupied about how many veggies they are eating, and we sometimes put too much emphasis on green things. And you know that so often, when we push too hard, kids are likely to push back.
Second, the texture of greens can be tricky. Raw kale is really dense and it takes a lot of commitment to chew it up enough to comfortably swallow it. And for toddlers, who often choose the most nutrient dense foods available so they can get on with playing, it’s just a lot of work for very little payoff.
It can also have a strong “green” flavor. (I mean, I’m an adult and I don’t always like it.)
But we know that greens are filled with good stuff—folic acid, iron, and fiber to name just a few—so it’s a good idea to occasionally have them around from an early age…as long as you serve them up in ways that are easy for them to eat and yummy tasting, of course.
Ingredients You Need
To make these you’ll need:
- Kale (either flat leaf or curly)
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Roasted sunflower seeds
- a little seasoning
TIP: There is a lot of kale in each of these bites, so your little one might only want one, but they are really packed with nutrients for growing bodies. (I have been eating these for lunch myself lately, which marks the only way besides green smoothies that my pregnancy taste buds can tolerate kale and I love how easy they are to reheat!)
Here’s a look at the process involved in making this baked kale recipe. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full info.
- Place cleaned kale leaves into a wide skillet with water.
- Wilt the kale.
- Drain, let cool briefly, then squeeze dry.
- Place the kale and the rest of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor.
- Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, until finely ground.
- Portion out the mixture and bake.
Is baked kale good for you?
This baked kale recipe has protein, calcium, Vitamins A and C, so they make for a nicely balanced snack all on their own. We particularly love dunking them into salsa for a nice mild flavor boost.
Kale for Baby
These are a wonderful finger food if diced up, so you can consider this a yummy way to offer kale to a baby over about age 9 months.
What do you serve with this kale recipe?
We like these with a simple side of fruit and maybe crackers or a roll as a simple toddler meal, or on their own as a snack. You can also make them slightly smaller using a 1 teaspoon portion and toss them with marinara sauce and pasta as a vegetarian take on meatballs!
How to Store
You can let the Kale Bites cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days and reheat them for about 15 seconds in the microwave or a few minutes in a 400 degree oven until warmed through. You can also freeze them in a zip top freezer bag for up to 3 months and heat from frozen.
Best Tips for Success
- Do wilt the kale first to ensure that it’s easy to blend.
- Serve with a favorite dipping sauce.
- See the options to make these nut/seed free.
- Try this with frozen kale if needed.
- You may also like Greens for Kids, Spinach Baby Food, Cheesy Spinach, Spinach Banana Muffins, and Spinach Pancakes.
I’d love to hear if you make this recipe, so please comment below.
Cheesy Baked Kale Bites
- 2 bunches kale (stems removed; about 6 lightly packed cups or 4 ounces of leaves)
- 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed (or roasted almonds or sunflower seeds)
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon pizza seasoning (or Italian seasoning)
- Preheat oven to 375 F and line a baking sheet with a Silpat, foil (sprayed with nonstick spray) or parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place the kale into a wide skillet with 1 cup water. Cover and heat over medium for about 5 minutes or until the kale is wilted.
- Drain, let cool briefly, then squeeze dry. You should have about 1 cup blanched kale when slightly packed into a measuring cup. (You can also steam the kale on the stovetop if you prefer.)
- Place the kale and the rest of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, until finely ground.
- Use a 1-tablespoon measuring spoon to portion out the mixture, scooping it up and gently pushing it out of the spoon with your finger onto the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until firm to the touch and just starting to turn golden brown on the bottom. Serve warm with salsa or ketchup.
i would love to make these but i don’t have a food processor :(. any tips?
Hi, Amy! Would these be yummy as a room-temperature travel snack?
Hi- they could be but as with everything, it may depend on the specific child!
Great recipe! The only way to get my toddler eat some greens. Thanks for sharing.
A picture of all the ingredients will be sincerely appreciated.
Glad to hear it. There is a photo of the ingredients towards the top of the post, but I will try to update it soon so it’s clearer.
My daughter has a milk allergy and I was wondering if goat cheese (mozzarella or marble) would work in this recipe?
I haven’t tried that but I think it should work fine.
From a 73 year old, with all her teeth, delicious! Feels healthy when you eat it. Thanks
I also would love an egg substitute!
Do you think I could use defrosted frozen spinach instead of kale? I have the original recipe cooking in the oven now, but was thinking if I’m short on time that would be an easy substitute!
You’d want to squeeze the spinach very dry and possibly add a little additional dry ingredients to ensure it’s not too wet but otherwise I think it’s possible.
Can I ask what pizza seasoning is? Is this a herb mix? We’re I. Australia
It’s similar to Italian seasoning, but may have Parmesan and garlic in it.
Can you use baby kale leaves? They are more spinach texture
I think that should work!
Thank you so much for this amazing recipe!
And all other ones too:) I have made at least 5 different recipes from your website and everything came out amazing. I love how all recipes are so easy and healthy. My husband usually loves everything as much as our toddler:))
This recipe is particular is my savior! I love kale but always struggle with ideas on how to make it this time. These kale balls are tasty and easy to make, we eat them for snacks or as a side for lunch/dinner.
I’m so glad to hear that!
Can you suggest a way to make these with less cheese?
I haven’t made them with less cheese so I can’t say for sure. Let me know if you try using less!
I had to comment because my 3 yo who wouldn’t touch a green vegetable for anything just inhaled these! Thank you for this amazing recipie!!!
I’m so glad!
Yes, cheese is okay ! Thank you for responding and trying to come up with an alternative!
My vegetable phobic toddler has just devoured a whole plate of these! Thankyou!
Made these with baby spinach instead of kale. Forgot to press it totally dry so I added some breadcrumbs after processing it in my magic bullet (which kind of over blended it all, so a food processor is prob better but I don’t have one). Well they cooked like little biscuits with muffin texture. My 13 month old loves them!
Can you use panko crumbs instead of cornmeal and breadcrumbs and how long can you freeze?
You can use panko as long as the pieces aren’t too big. If they are, blitz them quickly in the blender or food processor so they more closely resemble the size of bread crumbs. You can store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. Warm briefly in the microwave to serve.
Hi Amy, can the cheesy kale bites be frozen before or after they’re baked, and if so, what would be the baking temperature and time in either case? Thank you!
Hi! Let them cool after you bake them and then freeze them in a zip top freezer bag. Warm them for 15 seconds in the microwave or for about 6-8 minutes (or until warmed through) in a 375 F oven on a lined baking sheet. Let me know if you have any other questions!
Can this be made without the salt? I haven’t given my 15 month old anything with added salt yet and this recipe sounds good. Just hoping it would still taste good without the salt since she isn’t used to salt on anything anyway.
Sure. There is some salt in the cheese but you can skip adding any additional.
I believe it’s there to just to make the word thawed stand out.
Why is there a star next to the peas in the ingredient list?
Can I use something else instead of cornmeal?
You could try breadcrumbs!
My 15 month old loves these kale cookies! They are a big hit and tasty for any age.
Can you use frozen kale? If so, would you still steam it ahead? Or just use thawed?
I would think that would work just fine—you could just use it thawed since it would be the same texture as if you steamed it from fresh.
By chance do you have a good egg substitute to use for these? My little one is allergic to eggs. Thanks!
I haven’t tried it with an egg substitute but I’ll see if I can figure out a variation and will report back! (It might be a week or so:)
Hello! I know this is a really old post, but I was wondering if you ever found a good egg replacement for this recipe? Both of my twins are allergic to eggs and I ruined the baked zucchini fritters by substituing ground flax seed + water for the egg instead of ricotta (what I had on hand looked more like a science experiment than cheese). Not all egg substitutes are created equal and I have a lot to learn!
Hi! I haven’t, but I can work on it in the coming weeks. They can do cheese okay?