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!