Braised Kale and White Beans

This is not your ordinary side dish.  It’s rich, hearty and {mostly} good for you.  I say mostly because I used a secret ingredient that is the antithesis of healthy, but it’s so good.  Braised Kale with White Beans and Tomato is a luscious, unctuous braise that’s perfect for holiday roasts like lamb, beef or pork, but equally good with a rotisserie chicken!

I am soaking white beans in water.

The white beans after cooking.

This dish takes a little planning, but only because you need to soak the beans.  I put them in a pot covered with water overnight and they’re ready to go the next day.  A low simmer will bring them to a tender, creamy texture.  Just be sure to taste a bean to make sure its completely cooked.  Depending on how long you’ve had them, dried beans can take from 1 hour to 3 hours to soften up.  Generally, navy beans are small enough to only require about 1 1/2-2 hours to achieve the right doneness.

Adding canned tomatoes, garlic and oregano to the white beans.

When the beans are just tender, add the tomatoes bay leaf, salt, oregano and red pepper flakes and let them braise on a low heat with the lid on the pot for another 10-15 minutes. 

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A jar of duck fat for flavoring.

And now for the secret ingredient…  Duck fat. Ok, ok. I know you probably don’t have a jar of duck fat hanging out in the pantry. Normally, I don’t either — but I recently made some duck confit — which is literally duck cooked in its own fat — and there was so much fat leftover, I saved it.

Adding duck fat to the stewed white beans and tomatoes.

If you don’t have duck fat or have dietary restrictions — use butter for a vegetarian option or olive oil to make it healthier and vegan.

Adding chopped kale to the beans and stirring until it wilts.

Mix in the kale, cover the pot and braise for another five or so minutes, just until the kale gets tender.  I like to serve this with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

A dish filled with the stewed white beans, kale and tomatoes.

Want more really different side dishes?

white beans with tomatoes and kale.
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4.04 from 33 votes

Braised Kale with White Beans and Tomato

Braised kale and tender white beans make a hearty, healthy side dish.  The tomato balances the flavors. Goes really nicely with grilled shrimp, grilled octopus, chicken, pork, beef and lamb.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword kale, white beans
Dietary Restrictions Egg Free, Gluten-Free
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 8


  • 1 pound dried navy beans
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • scant ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons duck fat can substitute olive oil or butter
  • 2 cups finely chopped kale tough stems removed


  • parmesan cheese freshly grated


  • Sort through the beans, discarding any pebbles or stones that may have inadvertently gotten through the sorting process.  Cover with one inch of water, cover with a lid and let rest 8 hours or overnight.
  • Drain the water and rinse the beans.  Add the beans back to the pot and cover with another inch of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover the pot and cook until the beans become tender, about 1 1/2-2 hours.  There should still be about 1/4″ of water covering the beans.  If not, add more water until they’re just barely covered.
  • Stir in the diced garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, bay leaf and tomatoes.  Braise for 10-15 minutes, until the flavors start to meld.
  • Add the duck fat and kale.  Stir to combine and braise another 5 minutes or so, just until the kale is tender.  Serve with parmesan cheese.


Calories: 221kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 445mg | Potassium: 758mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1680IU | Vitamin C: 20.1mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 3.5mg

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  1. Phenomenal! I’ve never had beans this way before and we served them with your grilled octopus. Absolutely the perfect combo.

  2. 5 stars
    My beans were “FIRE”. My daughter and my son-in-law loved them. They were very flavorful, and tender. I wished I’d made the entire 2lb bag.

  3. 5 stars
    Delicious! I Would recommend sauteing fresh onion and adding it as well.

  4. Gloria Kelley says:

    5 stars
    I just found this recipe on Pinterest and decided to make it tonight. It was absolutely one of the best side dishes I’ve ever made. I use canned cannellini beans and fire roasted tomatoes. Unfortunately I didn’t have as much kale as I thought but you can bet I’ll be making us again using more kale. The whole thing only took 15 minutes start to finish.

  5. 5 stars
    I made it vegan by using plant based butter instead of the duck fat. I also used canned beans as its what I had on hand. I doubled the recipe, and used a can of navy beans and a can of cannellini beans. Since I used canned beans I didn’t need to soak them or cook them as long. I brought them to a boil and then added the tomatoes and all the spices,I also added about 1 tsp of minced fresh turmeric, and then reduced the temp and cooked for about 20 minutes until it had thicken up to my liking. Added the kale and let it simmer for about another 5 minutes. I ate a bowl of it along with some toast and butter. It was absolutely delicious! Looking forward to all the leftovers as well.

  6. Prep time is a little misleading. More like 10 hours. Otherwise, this is fantastic!!

    1. Fair enough — the beans do need to soak overnight.

  7. 5 stars
    Turned out beautifully. I adjusted it a little. L due to what I had in my fridge. Used goose fat and a little sage – fresh instead of canned tomatoes. Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much for letting me know how you liked it! Goose fat sounds like an excellent substitute!
      Thrilled you enjoyed it!

  8. Can I substitute beef tallow, lard, or bacon fat for the duck fat? I need more uses for all the animal fat I have stored up! Thanks!

    1. Bacon fat will add a smoky flavor (which wouldn’t be bad), lard is neutral, so it would just add that unctuousness and mouthfeel of the duck fat. I’ve never worked with beef tallow, so I don’t know if it’s a strong beefy flavor or not. If it’s something you like, I’m sure it would add an umami kick. Add a little at a time until instead of all at once so you can judge the flavor for your palate.

  9. 8 servings? What amount…..1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1.5 cups?? The ‘Nutrition Facts’ label means nothing if we don’t know the amount per serving. Thanks! 🙂

  10. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I got to make it yesterday and it is delicious, even without the duck fat. So easy and healthy!

  11. I love bean dishes! I don’t have duck fat but I DO have bacon fat stored in my fridge. I have a feeling that would work wonderfully too! Awesome recipe, I can’t wait to try it!

  12. 5 stars
    This might be a side dish but it’s screaming LUNCH at me! Delicious! Now to get my hands on some duck fat….

  13. 5 stars
    I need to live a life where I always have a jar of duck fat in my kitchen! This looks delightful 🙂

    1. Ok, I don’t ALWAYS have duck fat. But I wasn’t about to throw it away after the confit!

  14. 5 stars
    This dish is a perfect way to get back on track in a satisfying way. Navy beans are one of my favorite bean varieties. They’re so creamy and so versatile to cook with. I also need more kale recipes in my life. I have some chops in the fridge that this would pair perfectly with!