This delicious Vegan Creamed Kale is a twist on the classic spinach side dish. It’s simple, quick, easy and the perfect complement for any dinner, from everyday to Thanksgiving.
This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for details.
Hey Internet, I want to be honest with you. It’s hard to get excited about sides. I normally don’t even think about sides, since vegan dinners are usually just one main thing and usually no sides.
Sometimes we have sides in our house, though it’s usually salad. This is kind of like a salad, but warm.
Vegan creamed kale (you can sub virtually any leafy green here, more on that later) is so quick and so easy, but it tastes really good too so it’s kinda amazing.
Why kale instead of spinach? I always liked creamed spinach, but I thought it felt a little limp, texture-wise. Kale holds up so much better, but it’s still perfectly easy to chew and soaks up that delicious sauce.
What should you eat it with?
I mean, everything would be my answer but that’s not super helpful.
That’s a super hearty, home cooked meal that I make often. I also made it for Thanksgiving last year and it was a hit!
But even if this is just a weeknight dinner that you serve with pasta or potatoes, this is a super easy side dish that isn’t sad or boring at all. Totally simple and delicious.
Did I mention it’s REALLY good for you?
Let’s get into that recipe, then.
What You’ll Need
So I gotta be honest with you here. You’re going to need some kale.
Yes, you can use collards, chard, or spinach if you like, but you’re going to need some type of leafy green.
Frozen or fresh? You can use either. If you choose to use frozen, cook the liquid off before adding any additional liquid.
Using fresh? Strip off the bulkiest parts of the stems and save those for stir fry, soup, or give ‘em to your dog. My dog loves them!
Onion and garlic are the perfect flavor boosts for this dish. If you can’t eat them, it’ll still be delicious.
But if you can eat them, don’t skip this step. So much flavor.
Next up we have (you guessed it) coconut milk! I actually use reduced fat or light canned coconut milk for this recipe.
This makes it SUPER creamy, and the light hint of coconut from it is ACTUALLY AMAZING. A touch of decadence without the cream or butter.
You can sub cashew cream for non-coconut, or if you’re watching your fat intake, go for low fat non-dairy milk (like oat milk). But I highly recommend the coconut in this. So good!
To sub for the cheese in this, I loooove to use nutritional yeast. It has a nutty and somewhat cheesy flavor, and it’s so savory and delicious in this dish.
To keep this side dish from turning yellow, I used unfortified nutritional yeast. But the fortified kind will still taste the same and work just fine.
Finally, a pinch of sea salt and, surprisingly, a tiny pinch of nutmeg is all this vegan creamed kale needs to be super delicious.
Nutmeg provides an interesting, exotic note to the vegan cream sauce that makes it even more flavorful and palate-pleasing, but you can totally leave it out if you’d like.
Tips for Making Vegan Creamed Kale
This side dish is so easy to make that it almost doesn’t need a how-to, but more like a “best tips for success” section.
I recommend using a medium nonstick saucepan. You can definitely use a skillet, but I find that it’s easier to stir everything around when you have taller walls in the pot.
- Dice the onions fairly small and mince the garlic. They melt into the sauce much better when they’re small, increasing the creamy and silky texture of the finished dish.
- Start your onions sauteing 2-3 minutes over medium high heat before adding the garlic. Garlic burns fast, so I recommend letting the onions get a little translucent first.
- I saute my veggies in water but you can use oil if you prefer.
- After the onions have cooked for a few minutes, add the garlic and saute for another minute.
- If using frozen greens, add them now and cook down until they have thawed and the excess water has cooked off.
- Then add the nutritional yeast, spices, and coconut milk and stir until the spices have dissolved. Start with the smaller amount of coconut milk and add more if you feel it gets too thick or dry.
- If using fresh greens, add them now and cook down just a few minutes, until they wilt and have the desired texture.
- That’s it! Serve it up and enjoy!
Which is Better: Fresh or Frozen?
My personal preference with this dish is to use fresh because I feel like the texture is a little better, but that’s coming from a person who loves fresh kale.
If you find it hard to eat hearty greens like kale, I’d definitely recommend going with the frozen stuff.
The flavor is just as good with either. I’ve tested this recipe with both versions, and I can honestly say I do not taste a difference in the flavor, only in the texture.
And honestly, the texture is still pretty dang good with frozen kale.
What’s important to note, and not a lot of people know this, is frozen veggies are no less nutritious than fresh. There can sometimes be a flavor difference (though some frozen veggies are more flavorful than their fresh counterparts, more on that in a sec), and usually a texture difference, but not nutrition.
Frozen veggies are picked and flash frozen at their peak, so they’re often more flavorful than “fresh” veggies which may have had a long travel time depending on where they were grown. And of course, you don’t always know how long they’ve been sitting on a truck or in the produce aisle of your grocery store.
Finally, the best determinant of which is better is your own taste buds and opinion! Go with what you like.
What to Serve It With
They’d also be really good on the side of some of the following dishes:
- Seitan Turkey
- Vegan Drumsticks
- Instant Pot Seitan (more of a beef flavor)
- Vegan Chicken Nuggets
- Mushroom Steaks
- Potatoes or rice
- Steamed or roasted veggies
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. We kept eating this while we were trying to photograph it!
This vegan creamed kale is:
- Super easy
- Quick to make
- And the perfect side to any hearty meal… a good way to get your greens in too!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!