Deliciously cheesy ground beef and kale casserole is flavored with tomato sauce, garlic, and oregano. It’s like pizza, but made with leafy greens!
This casserole is amazing. Really. It's so delicious and very filling, and I just love that I can put so much kale in there and my youngest, The Picky Eater, still likes it! It's also quite easy to make, which is a nice bonus.
I first published this recipe in March 2017. I am republishing it today, with some added tips, variations, and also some reader reviews that I recently came across and that made me very happy.
A better kale experience
But this kale casserole is different. I really like it. It's probably the pizza-like flavors and the cheesiness. Those make kale very palatable indeed. Even my youngest, The Picky Eater, likes this casserole.
The ingredients you'll need
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this tasty kale casserole. Scroll down to the recipe card for exact amounts.
Olive oil: I love cooking with this flavorful oil. But if you'd rather use an oil with a higher smoke point, you can use avocado oil instead.
Ground beef: I use extra-lean ground beef in this recipe, but you can use lean too (85/15).
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the casserole could end up too salty.
Spices: Garlic powder, onion powder, and dried oregano. Make sure they are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Fresh kale: I'm lazy, so I use pre-washed bagged kale. Anything to make my life easy. 🙂
Marinara sauce: Try to find sugar-free marinara such as Rao's.
Shredded mozzarella. I use pre-shredded bagged part-skim mozzarella.
How to make kale casserole
It's so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Cook the beef. Start by cooking the beef in olive oil. Don't overcook it - cook just until it's no longer raw.
Add the spices and marinara. Now stir in the spices. Next, stir in the marinara sauce.
Add the kale. Stir the kale into the mixture, cooking just until it slightly wilts. The raw kale has a lot of volume, so you'll need to do this in batches.
Add cheese. Turn the heat off and mix half the mozzarella cheese into the mixture.
Bake or broil. Now transfer the mixture to a greased baking dish, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and bake until the cheese melts. This should take about 15 minutes at 400°F. You can also briefly broil instead of baking, but only if your baking dish is broiler-safe.
Why I use extra-lean ground beef
I have nothing against fatty cuts of beef. I think they are delicious. But when it comes to ground beef, especially in casseroles and bakes, I often choose extra-lean, because then I can skip the annoying step of draining the tons of fat that it releases as it cooks.
However, you can certainly use lean ground beef if you prefer and if that's what you happen to have on hand.
Can I use frozen kale?
I haven't tried it so I'm not sure. But I suspect that using frozen kale might result in the dish being too watery.
How to serve this kale casserole?
This casserole is a complete meal. But to round up dinner and add some color to your plate, you can add a side dish. I like to add one of these sides:
Reviews of this recipe
This ground beef & kale casserole from @yumhealth is delish. Even if you’re not a huge kale fan, I recommend giving this a try.
Peyton was less than thrilled when I told him this is what I was making last night, but he said it was “a lot better than he expected.” And Harper… Well, Harper ate two HUGE bowls of it.
It’s low carb, packs in a lot of leafy greens, and I’m guessing these leftovers are going to reheat beautifully for lunch. What’s not to love?
Can you keep the leftovers?
Yes! This is another big advantage of this ground beef kale casserole: leftovers keep well in the fridge, in an airtight container. Like most ground beef recipes, you can keep them for 3-4 days.
Reheat the leftovers gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power. You can also freeze them, preferably in individual portions, for up to three months.
More kale recipes that you might enjoy
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Ground Beef Kale Casserole
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 lb. extra-lean ground beef
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 cups marinara sauce no sugar added (I like Rao's) (24 oz)
- 6 oz chopped fresh kale (about 3 cups; I use half of a 12-oz bag that I get at Whole Foods)
- 8 oz shredded mozzarella divided
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 X 13-inch baking dish.
- In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes.
- Add the ground beef. Cook, stirring to break up and crumble the beef, until no longer raw, about 5 minutes.
- Lower the heat to medium. Stir in the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano.
- Stir in the marinara sauce.
- In batches, stir the kale into the mixture, cooking just until it slightly wilts.
- Turn the heat off. Stir 4 oz of the cheese into the mixture.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 4 oz of cheese on top.
- Bake until hot and bubbly, 10-15 minutes. If your baking dish is broiler-safe, you can broil the casserole instead of baking. Broil 6 inches below the heating element (not directly under), 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.