I just made a fruit smoothie with Kale, banana, Apple, blueberries, vegan protein powder, chia and flax. It was like drinking a smoothie with horse radish. The blueberries were the only difference with my favorite smoothie. Did the blueberries cause this drink to be spicy hot?

  • 2
    Odd are, it's hot like mustard (which is in the same family as kale)
    – Joe
    Feb 9, 2015 at 13:55
  • 3
    Mustard greens look a lot like kale. They are hot like horseradish. In a salad it's good - not so sure about a smoothie though! Nov 12, 2015 at 18:26
  • Dear all, if you also had spicy kale, please consider if you can write an answer which provides information beyond what is already contained in the several existing answers. If your contribution would be just to state that you also encountered this, it is much preferable to upvote one or more of the answers stating that this can happen.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 10, 2021 at 12:01

6 Answers 6


There's a chance the extra sugar from the blueberries has helped bring the peppery taste from the kale out a bit more. Kale is known for its light peppery flavor much like watercress but not any where near the heat of horseradish. The addition of sugar, much like salt is great for intensifying flavors.

Rather than try and describe the taste of kale myself, I'll use the words of someone else instead.

The flavor is peppery and assertive, and can have a pleasantly bitter edge.

Source: A Sweet and Savory Life <- A good read if you are more interested in kale.

So, in reply to your question. Yes, Kale can taste hot like Horseradish.

  • 2
    Even if it wasn't the blueberries as a trigger, being an agricultural product, there will be variation between plants, so what might be strong in one leaf might not be in another.
    – Joe
    Feb 9, 2015 at 13:55
  • 4
    Yes, it is also highly dependent on how cold it got during the growing. It's said that a good strong frost helps spice kale up a bit.
    – Doug
    Feb 9, 2015 at 15:59

Many leafy greens when harvested at full maturity are peppery. They are meant to be harvested young

So basically you got sold "old stock"


Yes, it can be hot. I juiced some Kale last night and it was nothing like what I have had before. This kale was like horseradish or hot mustard. The smell was so strong and pungent! And the taste was spicy/hot. It tasted like a wasabi smoothie.


I have never had kale that is hot. I bought what I was told was kale at the farm and art market. When I tried it, it was so hot. I think it was mustard greens. Looking at the pictures, they do look alike. It would not be good in a fruit smoothy.


As a member of the Brassica family kale contains at least some amount of glucosinolate, which is exactly the stuff that makes horseradish hot. It is present in other Brassica family members as well such as white cabbage or the like. Some varieties of kale might have more of it than others. The thing with glucosinolate is that it looses much of its heat during the cooking process, which is why cooked kale mostly doesn't taste hot. I assume you used raw kale in the smoothie, which means the glucosinolates were still intact. So it is entirely possible that this time you just picked a kale with a higher concentration of glucosinolate than usual.


It is possible that you used purple mustard greens, which looks a lot like kale.

This would account for the spiciness.

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