I’ll admit that simple sauteed kale with balsamic vinegar and dried cranberries is not the trendiest recipe to highlight in the first few days of the the new year, but with so many of us (myself included) cutting back on refined sugars, grains and dairy, I think it is appropriately useful to share it with you today. It’s a recipe I have been making for the better part of a decade, and it is always a great addition to our healthy plate. It happens to be vegan, paleo and gluten-free, but that’s not all it has going for it. It also happens to be sweet and tart and a delicious way to enjoy fresh kale!

A blue bowl with sauteed kale in it

I originally shared this recipe on October 29th, 2013. I have updated the text, images, added a video (see below) today.  

Are you craving fresh food right now? I am pretty certain you’re going to say yes, and friend, me too! Like times 1,000,000! I’ve been digging into the veggies like there is no tomorrow. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great December and holiday season. But after a lot of Eggnog White Russians (OMG yum!) and Pecan Snowball Cookies (who can say no to a snowball) I don’t feel that great. In other words, I am ready to get a little bit of green on my plate right now. I have more news to share on all that and what I am doing about it, so if you follow me on instagram or you’re on my email list I’ll be sharing more about it over there.

Side view of a bowl of kale with cranberries and balsamic vinegar on a gray table with a gray background

a Super Easy Kale Side-dish

The first time I made this recipe seven years ago, I’d been in a similar boat. I’d been traveling with my family and after too much processed foods, I craved something whole and fresh. So I went out to our row of kale in the garden and took no mercy. After I removed the ribs from the kale, I chopped it up. Then I sauteed it with some onions from the CSA, some apple juice-sweetened organic dried cranberries from the cabinet and a drizzle of really good balsamic.

I have been making it ever since. I almost always have the ingredients on hand and it provides a nutritious and delicious counterpart to so many dinner combinations. I love the way the sweet and sour flavors work with the slightly bitter kale. It is such a simple recipe, after trying it once, you’ll be able to do it over and over again without even measuring!! I have noticed that sometimes it is the most simple recipes (like this green beans with walnuts and balsamic or this lemon garlic broccoli) that resonate the most with busy families. So I really hope you enjoy it too.

overhead view of blue bowl with balsamic sauteed kale

How to Make Balsamic Kale with Cranberries

  • Shopping Notes: You can use green, purple or lacinato (dinosaur) kale to make this recipe. Also, dried cranberries are most commonly sweetened with sugar. If you are following a paleo diet, look for cranberries sweetened with fruit juice. I find them near the bulk department at our local health food store.
  • Kale cooks down a lot when you cook it, so you’ll need to start with a full head of kale. Since the size of bunches of kale varies, if your market or CSA has smaller bunches, grab two. Remove the ribs, chop the kale and wash it. You’ll want 8 cups of chopped raw kale to make this recipe. If you use lacinato, you’ll want to cut the leaves more finely.
  • Next you’ll need a diced onion. If you missed my post earlier this week, please check out the proper way to dice an onion. It is part of my new series of cooking basics called “In The Kitchen.” I use whatever kind of onion I have on hand, but I think sweet onion is really nice to naturally boost the sweet flavor of this kale recipe.
  • Sauté the onion in olive oil until it is brown. (See the video for a visual of that.)
  • After that add on the kale, salt, cranberries and water. Quickly cover the skillet to capture the steam from the evaporating water, and let the kale wilt. I usually stir it once or twice, to help it wilt down evenly.
  • To keep an ever so slightly crunchy texture and brighter color, err on the side of not over-cooking the kale. But if you prefer soft and tender greens, feel free to continue cooking it to your preference. If you do so, you’ll likely need a splash or two of water as the skillet goes dry.
  • Finish the dish off with some really good quality balsamic vinegar. It will really brighten up the flavors. It balances the bitter of the kale and the sourness balances the salt.


Side view of a bowl of kale with cranberries and balsamic vinegar on a gray table with a gray background

More Easy Side Dishes To Try

This Massaged Kale Salad with Apples and Avocado is another great recipe to try, and a great way to enjoy raw kale! 

Sweet Potatoes with Citrus Dressing

Kale with Cider Vinegar

Hot Moroccan Carrots

Pickled Beets

Simple Skillet Green Beans 

Simple Sautéed Swiss Chard

Thanks so much for reading. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you think!

Happy Cooking!


A blue china dish with sauteed kale in it, on a yellow and white dish towel

balsamic kale with cranberries

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1/2 cups 1x
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: American


This easy kale side dish is made with sauteed kale with balsamic and dried cranberries.



  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 8 cups shredded kale leaves (no stems)
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons best quality balsamic vinegar, or to taste


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until starting to soften and are browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add kale, cranberries, water and salt, cover and cook, removing lid to stir often until the kale is wilted and tender, 3 to 6 minutes longer. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.


Whole30: To make this recipe Whole30 compliant, check the ingredients in your dried cranberries and make sure they are fruit juice sweetened/do not contain non-compliant oils.


  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 76
  • Sugar: 9 g
  • Sodium: 150 mg
  • Fat: 3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 11 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 1 g



Here is one of the original images I shared with this post.

A bowl of food on a table, with Kale and Balsamic Vinegar

collage of Kale and Balsamic Vinegar