Microgreens vs Baby Greens

Microgreens vs. Baby Greens: It’s A Split Decision

My sister-in-law called me last week to ask me about microgreens versus baby greens.

The family was moving to a more plant-based diet.

She was making a superfood salad and wanted to know whether to use microgreens or baby greens.

She knew I was growing microgreens.

Which would be better?

Microgreens have more flavors and taste more like their mature plants versus baby greens. Baby greens have a bit more nutrients than microgreens. Microgreens are harvested after two weeks, baby greens after four. Microgreens are planted more densely and yield more produce faster than baby greens.

Did you just hear about microgreens?

Are you like my sister-in-law, looking for a more nutritious salad to serve?

Or are you interested in starting an urban farm and looking for ideas on what to grow?

This post will give you all you need to understand the differences between microgreens and baby greens.

Round 1: Are Baby Greens Really More Nutritious?

Making A Microgreens Salad

Arugula, swiss chard, amaranth, kale, and spinach are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K.

Vitamin K protects against osteoporosis and helps to prevent inflammatory diseases.

Broccoli, bok choy, and mustard are also rich in many B-vitamins that promote heart health.

These vegetables also contain an abundance of carotenoids-antioxidants, lutein, and flavonoids that protect cells prevents macular degeneration, and play roles in blocking the early stages of cancer.

They also contain high levels of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.

Furthermore, greens have minimal carbohydrates, sodium, and cholesterol.

Table 1 below, from the USDA Food Composition Databases, compares mineral and vitamin content in a 1-cup serving of seven mature leafy greens.

Table 1 Nutrients in Mature Greens

Calcium (mg) Potassium (mg) Magnesium (mg) Vit E (mg) Vit C (mg) Vit A (IU) Vit K (ug) Folate (ug)
Kale 24 79 8 0.3 19 1598 113 23
Spinach 30 167 24 0.6 8 2813 145 58
Swiss Chard 18 136 29 0.7 11 2202 299 5
Romaine 16 116 7 0.1 2 4094 48 64
Collards 84 77 10 0.8 12.7 1807 157 46
Arugula 32 74 9 0.1 3 475 22 19
Iceberg 13 102 5 0.1 2 361 17 21

*mg = milligrams | *IU=International Units | *ug = micrograms

Are Microgreens More Nutritious Than Regular Greens?

Mature dark green leafy vegetables are excellent sources of nutrition and make for great microgreens and baby greens.

The consensus has been that baby greens, and mature greens are nutritionally even.

And very little research has been done on baby greens nutrition.

In fact, the only independent research on microgreens vs. baby greens vs mature greens I was able to find was on kale.

Over the past five years, there has been an abundance of microgreen nutrition studies, including microgreens vs. greens.

In one of the most cited articles on microgreens nutrients, scientists at the University of Maryland concluded that

“in general, microgreens contain considerably higher concentrations of vitamins and carotenoids than their mature plant counterparts,”

as much as 5 to 40 times.

Microgreens vs. Baby Greens: The Babies Have It

In another study, researchers compared microgreens and baby greens.

They found that, in general, baby greens (2.68 mg/g FW) contained about 20% more chlorophylls, carotenoids, phenols, anthocyanins (a type of flavonoid) than their corresponding microgreens (2.17 mg/g FW).

Germination is what activates the energy stored in the plant’s seed

It is thought that these phytochemicals increase during leaf development and reach the maximum level in mature leaves.

It is also believed that it results from the different stages of the harvest of the two products.

Mineral Content

Mineral Periodic Table
Figure 1 Mineral Contents

Researchers have also found that the mineral content of microgreens versus baby greens also varied.

Minerals are essential for your body to stay healthy. As you age, you need more minerals in your body.

There are two kinds of minerals: macrominerals and trace (micro) minerals.

You need more massive amounts of macrominerals. They include:

  • Calcium (Ca)
  • Phosphorus (P)
  • Magnesium (Mg)
  • Sodium (Na)
  • Potassium (K)
  • Chloride (Cl)
  • Sulfur (S)

You only need small amounts of trace minerals. They include:

  • Iron (Fe)
  • Manganese (Mn)
  • Copper (Cu)
  • Iodine (I)
  • Zinc (Zn)
  • Cobalt (Co)
  • Chromium (Cr)
  • Fluoride (Fl)
  • Selenium (Se)

Baby greens contain higher amounts of Ca, Mg, P, and Mn, than microgreens.

Microgreens showed higher concentrations in Fe, Cu, and Zn.

Between microgreens versus baby greens, the latter were often richer in minerals and antioxidants.


Table 2 Estimated RDI

Mineral RDI/AI mg/day Microgreens Baby Greens
Ca 1000 1.14 3.11
Mg 240 6.11 9.52
P 700 1.82 2.45
Fe 10 13.18 8.44
Cu 0.9 3.48 3.46
Zn 11 0.79 0.76
Mn 2.7 15.16 48.95
Cr 0.035 109.90 112.21
Se 0.055 6.58 7.40
Mo 0.045 8.56 15.67
Estimated dietary intake expressed as a percentage (EDI%) of the recommended dietary intake (RDI) or adequate intake (AI) resulting from the consumption (20 g per day) of microgreens or baby greens.


Other research has shown that kale baby greens also contained higher amounts of Mg and Fe than the same species’ microgreens.

But due to their outstanding nutritional value, scientists consider microgreens to be a functioning food source.

Marketers refer to them as the new superfood.

In addition to adding nutritional value to meals, microgreens and baby greens also enhance the flavor, texture, and in some instances, the color of meals.

Round 2: Why are Microgreens So Much Tastier?

Buddha Bowl with Microgreens and Baby Greens

Microgreens and baby greens recipes out there are salad recipes.

Salad greens like kale, spinach, swiss chard, romaine, and arugula form the basis of many salads.

And most chefs today use microgreens to add bright color, flavor, and texture to restaurant meals.

You probably won’t make a salad consisting entirely of microgreens, though.

They can be pricey.

Five 2.65 oz (75 gm) boxes of microgreens arugula, for instance, cost me $14.

Five ounces (142 gm) of baby arugula will run you about $4.00 from Amazon.

If you like lettuce, mix some broccoli, red cabbage, and kale microgreens into a nice salad.

My FREE book, Eat Now! 15 Savory Microgreen Pocket Recipes (The Easy Guide to Microgreens Book 1), is full of great microgreens salad recipes.

I also add them to sandwiches as garnishes.

You can do the same with baby greens.

Types Of Microgreens

When you think of baby greens, you think of green leafy vegetables.

But did you know that carrot leaves, those things atop carrots, are just as tasty?

Microgreens allow you to taste the rainbow.

There are hundreds of vegetables and herbs that can make good microgreens.

You can grow microgreens from almost any kind of edible vegetable or herb seed.

I have even read where some grains and grasses, like wheatgrass, can make incredible microgreens.

And who doesn’t love juices, like Blackberry lemonade or Blueberry Apricot Supreme?

You can find these and other children’s juices in my book, available on Amazon.

There’s also a whole section on “Juicing for Elders.”

Eat Now! Microgreen Juices: 25 Savory Pocket Recipes (The Easy Guide to Cooking with Microgreens Book 3)

Baby greens make great green juices.

Making soups with microgreens is one of the best ways to cook microgreens.

Cooking microgreens for 15 minutes at 140-180°F will yield at least 75% of their nutrients.

Get your copy of my soup recipe book, Eat Now! Microgreen Soups: 15 Savory Pocket Recipes.

Available on Amazon for only $0.99:

What Are The Best Tasting Microgreens?

Each microgreen variety tastes like a clearer flavored (and often more potent) version of the adult plant.

  • Arugula microgreens taste more like arugula.
  • Cilantro microgreens are more potent than full-grown cilantro.
  • And basil microgreens are lemonier than basil.

Sometimes, they can alter the flavor profile of your meal.

Some microgreens are popular because of taste, appearance, and growing conditions.

They include sunflower, broccoli, kale, arugula, and basil.

The less popular ones you can find are radish, mustard, green, and buckwheat.

Here are the ones we’ve grown and tried here at JPure Farms:

Table 3 Tasty Microgreens

Microgreen Taste Aroma Flavor Intensity
Alfalfa Sweet Crunchy and Nutty Mild
Amaranth Sweet Earthy Mild
Arugula Savory Pungent Nutty Strong
Basil Sweet Spicy Strong
Beet Sweet Earthy Mild
Broccoli Bitter Crunchy Mild
Bok Choy Sweet Juicy Earthy Mild
Buckwheat Sour (Tangy)
Cabbage (Red)
Carrot Sweet Fruity Earthy Mild
Cauliflower Peppery
Celery Savory Pungent Salty Strong
Cilantro Sour (Lemony) Citrus Strong
Clover Sour Fruity Nutty Mild
Cress Bitter Peppery
Cucumber Slightly Sweet Fruity Slightly salty Mild
Dun pea Sweet Crunchy Strong
Endive Slight Bitter Nutty Mild
Fava bean Sweet Juicy Crunchy and Nutty
Flax Savory Nutty Spicy
Kale Slight bitter Crunchy Mild
Kohlrabi Sweet Mild
Lentils Bitter Mild
Lettuce Sweet Strong
Mustard Sweet Spicy Mild
Parsley Sweet Fruity Mild
Quinoa Bitter Woody Mild
Radish Sweet Strong
Sorrel Sour (Lemony) Tangy Peppery
Spinach Slightly Sweet Slightly Earthy Mild
Sunflower Sweet Nutty Mild
Wheatgrass Sweet and Bitter Grassy Mild


Microgreens flavors evolve as their leaves begin the process of photosynthesis.

And the leaves can taste different from the stems.

Kale, arugula, amaranth, spinach, bok choy, and other brassicas make great microgreens and baby greens.

Mature kale has tough, bitter leaves. Some people don’t find them pleasant.

But the baby green varieties offer a lighter take on both flavor and texture.

Kale microgreens, however, are only slightly bitter and have a crunchy flavor.

Just about every type of green can be grown as a microgreen or a baby green.

The difference between the texture, taste, and color of microgreens vs. baby greens can be vast.

And you can eat every type of green in its pre-adolescent form.

Learn how your “taste buds” work. See how the different parts of your tongue function. Read more about “What Do Microgreens Taste Like?

Round 3: Are Microgreens Just Baby Plants?

Baby greens take two to three times longer to grow than microgreens.

They are three to four times the size of microgreens. When harvesting baby greens, you are cutting 30 to 40 leaves.

Unlike microgreens, you have an established plant root system that can re-sprout.

And if you cut them carefully above the apical bud, at the end of the stems, of their growth point, they easily re-grow.

Growing Microgreens vs. Baby Greens

Sprouts are the first stage, usually 3-5 days after “seeding.” They are grown without soil. You eat the root, stem, and seed.

Microgreens are the second stage of plant growth when the “true leaves” first appear.

They start popping out between the cotyledons leaves 2-3 days after germination, about 5-8 days after seeding.

You can eat the stem, cotyledon, and the first leaves about 5 days later after exposing them to light.

Depending on the plant, microgreens take about two weeks from seed to harvest.

The microgreens are between one and three inches tall.

Harvesting Microgreens vs. Baby Greens

Baby greens can be the same plants as microgreens.

They are usually the harvested leaves of plants like kale, arugula, and spinach.

They are older than microgreens but younger than regular greens.

They are the third stage of plant growth after the first real leaves (cotyledon leaves) fall off.

Baby greens are between three and four inches tall.

And technically speaking, microgreens are baby greens. And baby greens are more teenager greens.

Microgreens are harvested when they are about 4 to 9 days versus baby greens when they’re 15 to 40 days old, versus 45 to 60 days for immature leaves.

Table 4 Seed to Harvest Time

  Microgreen Seed to Harvest


Baby Greens Seed to Harvest


Kale 4 to 9 days 16 to 21 days
Arugula 7 to 14 days 18 to 22 days
Amaranth 9 to 14 days 25 to 30 days
Spinach 14 to 21 days 35 to 43 days


Microgreens vs. Baby Greens: Soil and Trays

Microgreens take less time and don’t need nutrients from the soil.

And, you can grow microgreens in just about any kind of container.

The soil doesn’t need to be rich. It needs to be light and delicate to sow the seeds. You can use garden potting soil. You’ll need about an inch of soil depth.

Just be careful to make sure it healthy. Spraying the soil with a solution of food-grade hydrogen peroxide helps.

Baby greens vs. microgreens need more and rich soil.

Baby greens will need the nutrients from the soil to grow past the cotyledon stage.

Use a good organic potting soil or seedling mix. You can pick up some at Amazon.

Start by filling a tray or other low container with about two inches (5 cm) of the soil mix.

Usually, farmers prefer growing baby greens in trays or pots.

The trays don’t have to have drainage holes.

Just be sure you don’t overwater them.

Microgreens vs Baby Greens Yields

Microgreens vs Baby Greens

Baby greens grow for almost twice as long a time as microgreens. They usually have five or six leaves.

This means they will take up more space.

So, you will have to plant the seeds less densely.

You will need about a teaspoon of seed for a tray.

For example, the guys over at Urban Farming have kale microgreen seeding density per 1020 Tray at 20 – 25 g (0.70 – 0.90 oz).

Their average yield: 120 – 300 g (4.25 – 10.5 oz) per 1020 tray.

For baby kale greens, I grow about four plants per square foot.

So, for a 1020 tray (dimensions: 21″ x 10.75″ x 2.5″), that’s about 6 plants.

Baby greens yield per square is about twice that of microgreens: 8.5 to 21 oz per 1020 tray.

If you recall Table 1, you can get two to three microgreens harvests for one kale baby greens to harvest.

You would only plant one tray for full-sized, mature kale plants that would hold 3 mature greens.

One of the significant differences between microgreens vs. baby greens is that baby greens must be harvested before selling.

You can buy microgreens in their trays and harvest them yourself.

So, if you are more interested in speed to market, then microgreens are a better alternative.

Harvesting at different stages will result in slightly different yields.

Related Questions

What are the healthiest microgreens to grow?

Micronutrients, which include vitamins and minerals, are one of the major groups of nutrients your body needs.

Some of the microgreens that include these essential nutrients include:

  • radish microgreens,
  • sunflower microgreens, and
  • broccoli microgreens, and

Find out more by reading the blog post Eat To Meet Your RDA: The 12 Microgreens Vitamins You Need.

How do I start incorporating the health benefits of microgreens into my nutrition?

I’ve learned a lot about microgreens, how good they are for you, and what you can do with them. Check out my guide, “The Beginner’s Nutritional Guide to Incredible Microgreens.”

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