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The 11 Best Microgreens to Grow and Why

It is hard to pick out a handful of the best microgreens to grow from the 50 or so varieties I sell. 

I kind of took the easy way out by combining some of the varieties into families like mustards and radishes of which there are so many different varieties and each has reason of their own as to why they should be grown. 

But you can look over the varieties of those families and choose which appeals to you the most. 

harvesting microgreens

You are here, so you already know that microgreens are nutritious, easy to grow indoors, and add a ton of flavor to food. So let’s get started on the best microgreens to grow and why.

I think each has its own merits as to why they might be the best to grow depending on your needs and requirements. Therefore I’ll list them alphabetically.  

1. Arugula Microgreens

The most popular grown variety of arugula is Roquette or “Rocket” arugula.

I think the biggest advantage of growing arugula microgreens is the amount of flavor you get from a little pinch of greens!

Arugula might have a bit of a sharp flavor for some people, but it is a popular green included in many salad bags whether people know it or not. 

home microgreens sells seeds

FREE Home Microgreens Grow course that teaches you the basics of growing microgreens in your home! There are 12 video lessons (over 120 minutes), downloads, and more written information and tips!

Besides its kick-butt flavor, this little microgreen contains quite a bit of nutritional benefit as well. Very high in Vitamin A and K, it also has an abundance of other vitamins as well. High in iron and manganese and all of the essential trace minerals.

Not only can this microgreen dress up a salad, but its punchy flavor can hold up other foods as well. It is much easier to top a pizza with arugula microgreens than it is with the larger leaves you get at the grocery store. 

The same goes for sandwich toppings. 

Arugula is easy to grow, it is a bit diminutive, and not the quickest to grow, but the flavor and nutrition you get from it are top-notch.

Arugula seeds are also mucilaginous so the only way to grow them is on a potting mix.

As mentioned, arugula microgreens have a punchy flavor, so to mellow it out, I do sell a microgreen seed mix I call Snappy Micro Mix that contains, red cabbage, arugula, and a milder mustard that has a ton of flavor but not over the top spicy. 

I have this article that explains how to grow arugula step-by-step. You can use the same procedure to grow the Snappy Micro Mix

2. Broccoli Microgreens

Broccoli microgreens are a staple in the microgreen industry. It is not only sold by itself but it is contained in many of the popular mixes in the market.

The reasons for this, and why it is one of the best microgreens to grow is because it is inexpensive, easy, and quick to grow, has quite a bit of volume, and is very nutritious. 

It doesn’t have a unique flavor, but all of the other reasons are why I consider it one of the best.

It’s more of a salad-based microgreen if you will.

tray of broccoli microgreens

The most common variety is the Waltham-29 variety. It is a mainstay of the heirloom brassica’s and it has a bigger leaf (where the nutrition is) than the other common broccoli microgreen seeds called Calabrese and Di Cicco. 

Waltham-29 is what you want to grow because of the leaf size, you will be happier growing it.

As mentioned, broccoli is very easy to grow and is a great beginner microgreen. 

A microgreen that grows quickly and easily is great for beginners because you want them to start on a good foot and gain confidence.

You can use broccoli microgreens for just about anything. As I said, it is more of a base microgreen, meaning it can be used in mass on salads, sandwiches, or egg dishes. It’s not a finishing microgreen as the flavor is not spectacular, but it is its economics and nutritional value that sets it apart from other green-colored microgreens. 

Here is my step-by-step guide to growing broccoli microgreens.

If you are most interested in the nutritional aspects of microgreens. I have a Microgreen Nutritional Resource that contains more information in one spot than any other resource. Click here for more information on the Nutritional Resource.

3. Red Cabbage Microgreens

I say red cabbage because the color of the stems and dark green leaves are much more attractive than growing green varieties.

Red Acre Cabbage is the most popular variety, although a bit more expensive than any of the heirloom green varieties, the color is worth it. 

Red cabbage, like broccoli, is very easy to grow, and even grows more uniformly which to me makes it even easier.

Cabbage, like all of the brassicas (broccoli, kale, and mustard in this list) is very nutritious. It is high in vitamins C and K and contains abundant amounts of almost all of the essential macro and trace minerals. 

The red cabbage’s claim to fame if you will (besides nutrition) is the red stems and dark green leaves. 

It is a much more attractive microgreen on salads and sandwiches than broccoli. It doesn’t grow to the volume that broccoli does, but it looks a whole lot better on a taco than its green cousins do.

You can use red cabbage microgreens the same way as you can with broccoli. I think red cabbage has a better flavor than broccoli. 

If you can believe it, cabbage microgreens have a mild cabbage flavor, a little less sweet than storage cabbage for sure, but the flavor is similar. 

However, the color is the draw, it looks much better on food and dishes, I like to use it as taco toppings when I have people over.

The color is brighter than heads of red cabbage and given the choice, people reach for the red cabbage microgreens more than any of the other varieties I may have out on the table to use.

I also use red cabbage microgreen seeds in all three of my microgreen seed mixes, Mighty Micro, Intensely Flavored, and Snappy Micro mixes. The color and controllable growing habit are the reasons for I use red cabbage in my mixes. 

Cabbage microgreens can be overwatered, so be aware of that when you grow your next tray. Again, you can use this guide to grow any of the three microgreen seed mixes I sell. 

4. Carrot Microgreens

Who would think carrots can be microgreens? Well, they can and they should be in your microgreen growing rotation.

They have as much nutritional value as broccoli, at least vitamin and macro-mineral-wise. What you can’t do with carrot microgreens, however, is to use them as generously as you can with broccoli.

The reason is the amount of carrot flavor you get from these ferny-looking microgreens. All you need is a pinch of carrot microgreens in a salad to add carrot flavor.

tray of carrot microgreens

Carrot microgreens are very strongly flavored, like carrots if you can believe it, although not as sweet as the root vegetable. 

But this isn’t a bad trait, it means that you don’t have to grow a very large tray of carrot microgreens. 

Besides being used in salads, they can be added to green smoothies (again a pinch will do ya) and probably my favorite way, well, now as I write this there are two favorite ways to use carrot microgreens.

The first is to chop them up and add a little, like a tablespoon, to stews or over a pot roast. The real carrots can add sweetness, but the carrot flavor is gone when you cook them. Before serving sprinkle on some chopped carrot microgreens and the dish will have a lot more carrot flavor.

The second way, about the same, is I can a lot of soup, whether it is vegetable, beef, or chicken-based, once the soup is ready to go into the jars, I stir in some chopped carrot microgreens. Again, it adds a lot of flavor to the soup.

You don’t have to can the soup to use carrot microgreens. Sprinkle some on your bowl of soup and it adds another wonderful layer of flavor.

Danvers is the most popular carrot seed to use as microgreens as it is a prolific seeder and is a heirloom seed that goes way back.

Not sure how to grow carrot microgreens? They are easy, here is a guide for you.

5. Cauliflower Microgreens

Cauliflower microgreens are one of the most underrated microgreens on the market. Along with Kohlrabi which I will discuss a little further down in the article.  

Cauliflower microgreens taste like a mixture between broccoli and cabbage. Although I find the flavor pleasing, the two reasons I like cauliflower better than broccoli are the texture of the leaves and the way it grows.

The leaves of cauliflower microgreens are much more thicker than those of broccoli or red cabbage microgreens. When you chew the leaves it feels like there is something there. I’d even say the leaves are juicy!

The second reason I like cauliflower more than broccoli is the way it grows. 

I know, I’m busting on broccoli microgreens a lot. But they do tend to grow tall and leggy and flop over on the sides which I crush with other trays as I water them. Cauliflower microgreens do grow quite tall, but the stems are sturdier and the canopy is much tighter than broccoli. 

They look so much better in the trays than broccoli does. 

Truth be told, I wouldn’t even put broccoli in this list of the best microgreens to grow if they were so economical. But this section isn’t about broccoli, I digress

There are a couple of varieties of cauliflower that are grown as microgreens. These are of course heirlooms as heirloom varieties are much cheaper because there are no patients on the seed. The variety of cauliflower seeds I carry is called Snowball.

Most gardeners (or seed producers) grow F1 varieties of cauliflower because of better growth habits or are more self-blanching than the heirloom varieties so less heirloom cauliflower seed is available.

Cauliflower microgreens are excellent sandwich toppers because the microgreens have more to them. Although cauliflower microgreens don’t have the beautiful red stems of red cabbage microgreens, they do have thick striking white or even pinkish stems. They are attractive microgreens with dark green leaves.

You grow cauliflower microgreens like red cabbage microgreens, but they aren’t as susceptible to over-watering as cabbage.

6. Kale Microgreens (many varieties)

Kale is synonymous with nutrition. Not only the mature leaves but the microgreens as well. I don’t think I need to talk much about their nutrition.

If you are interested in that, again there is the Home Microgreens Nutritional Resource and I have several microgreen nutrition articles on the website. Head to the Article tab in the website header, go to the article directory, and then to the Nutrition section in the table of contents to see all of those articles (this is the best way to find a specific article on Home Microgreens). 

Kale is easy to grow and has a mild flavor, and many varieties are commonly grown as microgreens. The seeds of the green kale varieties are very economical to buy and although not expensive the most common kale microgreen is the Red Russian Kale. 

Red Russian Kale is not only a beautiful microgreen but also a garden plant. It is one of the few heirloom varieties I grow in the garden. 

kale microgreens contain a lot of nutrition

The name can be misleading for microgreens, the mature Red Russian Kale leaves are a deep maroon red. Many new buyers think that Red Russian Kale microgreens will have red leaves or at least red stems. In reality, the stems are a rosy pink and the leaves are green.

More beautiful than the green varieties to be sure, but if you are growing kale microgreens for nutrition, it might be best to grow the green varieties as the seed is often much less expensive and you get the same nutritional benefits.

Still, Red Russian Kale has a lot to offer growers. A bit slower growing than some of the other Brassica varieties, but kale has a much longer tray life than broccoli, cauliflower, or even Kohlrabi. 

By tray life, I mean that you can continue to grow kale in the tray into the true leave stage and it is still palatable to eat. Broccoli and cauliflower will need to be harvested within 3 or 4 days (at the most) as the stems get hairy and the leaves a bit bitter as the microgreens age in the tray.

Kale can continue to grow in the tray for 7 to 10 days and still taste great. 

Kale is easy to grow and here is a step-by-step guide on how to grow it

7. Purple Vienna Kohlrabi

When people ask me what my favorite microgreen is to grow, I do not even hesitate to say Purple Vienna Kohlrabi. Most people give me a funny look as they don’t even know what kohlrabi is, or if they do, they think of the ugly, odd-shaped bulb most often seen in stores or farmer’s markets.

Although I like the crunch of kohlrabi bulbs or whatever they call it the flavor is quite plain. Kohlrabi microgreens on the other hand have a sweet mild cabbage flavor, the stems are a beautiful violet pink and the leaves are very dark green with a reddish hue around the outside edge. 

miracle gro potting soil growing kohlrabi

Not only is each microgreen attractive, but a tray of Purple Vienna Kohlrabi is a wonderful tight mass of dark green with purple tones. Kohlrabi microgreens are beautiful and grow very quickly (as fast as broccoli). When I run hands-on workshops, I always give the participants kohlrabi seeds to grow.

They grow quickly and in a very uniform habit, they are beautiful, and they are also a microgreen that no one would try on their own. My thinking is that if they try to grow a microgreen as odd as kohlrabi and like the process they will have no problem trying to grow the more typical microgreen varieties. 

The nutritional benefits of kohlrabi aren’t quite as elevated in some vitamins as say broccoli or kale, but they do have a wider variety of essential mineral nutrition range. 

You use kohlrabi microgreen much the same way as the other Brassicas, but like red cabbage, the Purple Vienna variety of kohlrabi adds much more color than others.

I grow kohlrabi seeds in many of my soil trial videos because I love to grow them and they grow fast and in a uniform shape making them much easier to handle. Where broccoli might flop over as the stems aren’t the sturdiest, a tray of kohlrabi can be shaken and not upset their growing habit.

Here is a guide to growing kohlrabi microgreens.

8. Mustard Microgreens

I’m lumping all of the mustard varieties into one here. Although each variety has its own attributes such as color, shape, flavor, and growth habit, overall the reason to grow mustard microgreens is to add flavor to anything they are used in or on.

Mustard microgreens have a sharp flavor, anywhere from a mild pop to a sharp bite. 

I don’t like to call the flavor spicy.

To me, spicy is a flavor that sticks with you. Even after you eat it the spice or hotness can be felt.

I find with mustards that there is that initial bite or pop of flavor, but it goes away quickly. 

When I say mustard microgreens have a spicy flavor I don’t mean like a hot sauce you would put on food. 

Many would say mustard microgreens have a horseradish flavor. I can’t disagree with that connection. However, the amount of bite will vary by variety and even by seed lots of the same mustard variety. 

Mustards belong to the Brassica family too, so they have similar nutritional profiles as all of the other types of brassicas. High in vitamins A, C, and K and abundant in most of the other essential vitamins and minerals that plants typically contain.

Mustard varieties do grow a bit differently even amongst themselves. So a little research might benefit you. Some grow like other brassica microgreens, while others are more fragile and need to be handled a bit differently.

The reason there are so many different mustard varieties grown as microgreens is that mustards come in an amazing variety of leaf shapes, textures, colors, and how much of a sharp bite they have when eaten. 

The find out how to grow the variety you have, again, go to the Home Microgreens Article directory, scroll down to the mustard section, and have a look for the variety you want. 

My favorite to grow is Red Lace Mustard. My favorite to eat is Wasabi Mustard.

9. Pea Microgreens or Pea Shoots

Peas microgreens or pea shoots are marvelous to grow and eat. You get so many microgreens from a tray and the flavor is like fresh peas.

I use pea microgreens in almost all of my egg dishes. 

Pea shoots will also regrow if you don’t harvest them too low. They also can be grown without soil or other media if you want.

However, I grow them on soil as it seems to stop the mold and smell that can occur with the remaining part of the pea seed starts to disintegrate when the pea shoot is growing. 

I can’t think of much else to say about pea shoots. If you haven’t grown them you should. 

I sell two kinds of pea seeds. One variety is the Dunn Pea (sometimes spelled Dun), which is very similar to what some call the Brown Speckled Pea. The other variety is called the Yellow Pea (a less expensive variety), and it grows more tendrils than the Dunn. Some people like the tendrils more than the shoot part.

The flavor is amazing.

Pea shoots also are categorized as a high-value nutritional microgreen for several vitamins and minerals. I have an article on pea shoot nutrition.

Growing them is quite easy and there are many different methods you can use. I will be putting together an Ultimate Pea Shoot Guide soon. 

10. Radish Microgreens

I’ve mentioned this before, I thought radish seed would be my top-selling microgreen seed. They aren’t, not even if you combine all of the varieties. 

That was a surprise when I first started.

I think there are a few reasons for this. They do have a sharp radish flavor that might be too strong for many people. 

But they are one of the quickest microgreens to grow. Pretty much foolproof too

Add water and you can watch them grow. 

There are many different varieties of radish seeds sold for microgreen growth. Most of these varieties are daikon radishes. A longer more robust radish than what is grown here in American gardens. 

I include radishes in this list of best microgreens to grow only because they are good beginners’ microgreens and they grow quickly.

I like to use radish microgreens as sandwich toppings. The flavor can stand up to almost any food and they do have a crunchy texture. 

Radish microgreens have a high-value nutritional level for vitamins B9, C, and E (one of the few), and they also contain abundant essential minerals. 

Radish microgreens are short-lived in the trays, you have about two days and then you need to harvest them before the stems become too tough. They also transpire quite a bit so they are often wet when harvested, shortening their shelf-life in the refrigerator. 

Home Microgreens seeds

These are another microgreen I recommend planting in small trays so there is more airflow through the tray (reducing the wetness from transpiration) and so you don’t have too many to go through as a few sprigs of radish microgreens are often enough for most people at any one time.

I have a couple of articles on growing radish microgreens. Rambo Red Radishes is by far the most popular because of the deep maroon red leaves with the occasional green radish mixed into the tray. 

However, the Triton Radish (second image) and China Rose Radish (last image) are also great radishes to grow and add a lot of color to dishes.

11. Sunflower Microgreens or Sunflower Shoots

Last but not least of the 11 best microgreens to grow are sunflower microgreens or sunflower shoots.

There are many uses for sunflower microgreens, from using them as a snack food like popcorn to blending them into a smooth or pesto-like sauce.

Sunflower microgreens aren’t the easiest microgreens to grow. I can grow tray after tray of many microgreens without problems, but once in a while, sunflowers give me a little trouble. Not so much that I need to ditch the tray, but causes me to baby the tray a bit to get the most out of the tray. 

Like peas, I will be shooting an Ultimate Guide Series for sunflower microgreens because of the many different ways you can grow them. 

I do have an article (an older one) on growing sunflower microgreens, but I have changed that up somewhat since I published the article. The method still works, but I have found other ways to make the grow better and I will share them in the Ulitmate Guide.

Sunflower shoots are quite nutritious, especially for the essential minerals. Here is an article I have written on sunflower nutrition.

What I like about sunflower shoots is how “meaty” they are. I like the thick texture of the leaves. Several of my friends take them on car trips and eat them as a snack as they drive. 

I mostly use them as a salad base instead of lettuce. 

My Springer Spaniel loves sunflowers and begs when I harvest them. They are his favorite. Although the microgreens Caden is eyeing below aren’t sunflowers, he will eat any of the milder tasting varieties.

dog eating microgreenss

I don’t think I need to get too deep into sunflower shoots to convince you to grow them. 

They are a very popular microgreen and I have several articles covering how to grow them, their nutrition, and how to prepare them to eat. 

I hope you enjoyed this article. Hopefully, I convinced you to try a few more varieties. Growing microgreens is fun and to get the most nutrition it is better to include a wide variety of microgreens and not eat the same one week in and week out. 

If you are looking to grow any or all, of these microgreens, the Home Microgreens Store carries all the supplies you need and microgreen seeds at competitive prices.

Author

  • Todd

    Todd is the founder of Home Microgreens & the Home Microgreens store. He also writes for several other websites, including MyViewFromTheWoods.com. Todd worked at a large farm market, garden & nursery center for 20 years. Somehow he snuck off to become a geologist and professor before coming back to his senses to write & lecture about microgreens and gardening. When not at the computer, he can be found in the garden, trout stream, or mountain trail with his new Springer Spaniel Caden.

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