Kohlrabi is a vegetable you’ve almost certainly encountered if you frequent the farmers’ market or receive a CSA box. It’s so abundant during the colder months that you may find yourself groaning “kohlrabi again” when you find five or six of these tennis ball-sized vegetables rolling around the bottom of your seasonal produce carton.
Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht is co-owner of Garden of Eve, which supplies Brooklyn’s Greenpoint Williamsburg CSA with a range of seasonal produce, including green and purple kohlrabi. “There aren’t too many insects that eat it, and it’s not fragile,” she says of kohlrabi’s popularity among growers and consumers alike. “Since we promise to deliver a certain amount of food each week, it’s important for the farmer to be able to grow something that’s predictable—we don’t want to come up short for our CSA members.”
From early fall through winter, this hardy cousin of cabbage and cauliflower—that can grow up to five pounds or more—is easy to find, packed with flavor and nutrients, and ready to hit your kitchen running. Learn how to cook kohlrabi in ways that unlock its satisfying complexity, and this mysterious light green or purple bulb with slim stalks and sturdy leaves will soon become a go-to veggie for easy, delicious recipes.
What is kohlrabi?
Once an obscure member of the Brassica family that also includes Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, and turnips, kohlrabi has steadily made its way to more and more home and restaurant kitchens around the country—especially among cooks on the hunt for heartier flavors (like yourself, for example).
Kohlrabi translates to “cabbage turnip” in German, and it’s been enjoyed in Germany for centuries boiled or steamed and tossed in a buttery cream sauce, as well as raw in salads and slaws. Kohlrabi is also eaten in parts of Vietnam and the Indian subcontinent, where it’s pickled, made into salads, and added to soups and stews much like daikon (the large, oblong, mildly zippy radish beloved around Asia).
What does kohlrabi taste like?
The moniker is an accurate description of its flavor: reminiscent of cabbage, with a texture between turnip and cauliflower stem. Fans of raw vegetables will delight in kohlrabi’s firm, dense texture—like extra-delicious broccoli stems.
“Really, it’s best raw,” says Kaplan-Walbrecht of her favorite ways to prepare this seasonal staple. “Peeled and chopped into a salad, or as a slaw with a good dressing—it’s like a trendy jicama.”
How to cook with kohlrabi: 9 recipe ideas
Beyond the usual slaws, mashes, roasted wedges, and simple gratins lies a world of potential for this flavorful vegetable. Get your peeler or knife out and dig in.
Both quick-pickling and lacto-fermenting methods work very well for kohlrabi, resulting in a crisp, tart treat that adds bright acidity and crunch to any dish or plate. Slice it into spears or cubes, or pickle shredded kohlrabi for a kraut with more complexity than its cabbage counterpart.
Thanks to its lower water content, kohlrabi fries up to crisp, golden-brown perfection. You can shred kohlrabi exclusively into the mix (along with eggs or egg replacer and flour), or add to potatoes or other root vegetables to make flavor-packed latkes. Shallow-fry in a pan of hot oil, or pop patties into the air fryer for a lighter result.
Add to your green juice blend
While kohlrabi juice can pack a bit of a bitter punch when juiced on its own—among the reasons we don’t normally juice cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts—it adds a rich infusion of nutrients to your signature formula. Try sweetening it naturally by adding green apples, romaine lettuce, cucumber, and parsley.
Dense, sturdy kohlrabi spiralizes very well. Blanch the spiral and finish in sauce for a low-carb pasta substitute, or toss with a bright, acidic dressing for a refreshing salad. It pairs especially well with Southeast Asian flavors, so bring on the lime juice, cilantro, mint, bean sprouts, scallions, and chili oil.
Add it to all the soups
Whether kohlrabi is blended into a smooth soup or mingling happily among other tender vegetables, it adds a depth of flavor and subtle creaminess to all kinds of brothy delights. Try it in your vegan vichyssoise, a classic French soup—you’ll never miss the dairy.
Stuff and roast it
To prepare kohlrabi for stuffing, first peel, parboil, and scoop out the interior with a melon baller or spoon. Stuff your kohlrabi with anything you like—seasoned grains like rice, farro, or quinoa, orzo, roasted vegetables (including the scooped-out flesh), or sauteed ground plant-based protein. Once stuffed, drizzle with olive oil, and roast at 350°F for 45 minutes or until fork-tender for a beautiful presentation.
Roasted or sauteed chopped kohlrabi makes a wonderful addition to risotto, and adds a rich, sweet creaminess. Cook the kohlrabi before you begin making the risotto and set aside, then stir it in about five minutes before the rice is done cooking to infuse its flavor into the dish.
Make vegan carpaccio
Slice raw kohlrabi as thinly as you can for a vegan carpaccio that’s as eye-catching as it is delicious. An extremely sharp knife will make slicing it much easier. A little flaky sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, extra-virgin olive oil, squeeze of lemon juice, and smattering of snipped chives will take you far—both presentation and flavor-wise.
You may have had kohlrabi fried, but have you had it schnitzeled? Kohlrabi’s extra-savory flavor, dense flesh, and low water content makes it a perfect candidate for the breading and frying treatment. Slice it thin, bread it with breadcrumbs and plant milk or egg substitute, fry to a crisp and smother in vegan gravy for a super-satisfying dinner.
How to store kohlrabi
One of the best parts of kohlrabi is how long it lasts in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer—up to three weeks under ideal conditions (go ahead, go on vacation and leave your tough-as-Teflon kohlrabi in the crisper). But if you’ll be storing kohlrabi for more than a few days, remove the leaves (as they tend to turn yellow, wilt, and encourage rot). You can cook the leaves like you would any leafy green, but according to Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht of Garden of Eve, they tend to be tougher than kale or chard, so more sauteing or steaming may be required.
It may prove difficult to locate kohlrabi out of season, but once you spot its telltale bulbs, slim stalks, and lush leaves, you can rest assured you’ll see kohlrabi in markets for the fall and winter months to come. In exchange for very little of your time and effort—if you can peel and chop a potato, you’re in good shape—you’ll have your favorite new vegetable on the table for everyone to enjoy in no time.