Simple Kale Salad

Quick Summary

Simple Kale Salad- this is the BEST kale salad recipe! It is made with fresh, hearty kale, Parmesan cheese, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, and a fresh lemon balsamic dressing. Enjoy for lunch or serve along side any meal.

kale salad

Kale salad.

Those two words may not be that exciting to you, but please give this kale salad a chance. It is one of my very favorite recipes. I make it ALL of the time.

It is my go to salad for an easy lunch, to serve with dinner, or to take to a potluck. It always gets rave reviews, even from people who say they don’t like kale. Again, give kale a chance:)

It is made with fresh, hearty kale, salty Parmesan cheese, toasted almonds, sweet dried cranberries, and a fresh lemon balsamic dressing.

All of the flavors and textures come together in one bowl to create the perfect salad. It is a 10/10! I seriously could eat this salad every single day of my life.

kale for kale salad

Salad Ingredients

  • Kale– the star of the salad. I like to use Lacinato (Tuscan) kale. It is It has a deeper color and is slightly thinner and more tender than curly kale, but curly kale will work too.
  • Olive oil– just a little drizzle to coat the kale before massaging it! Yes, you give the leafy greens a good little massage to soften it up.
  • Kosher salt– the salt also helps soften the kale.
  • Parmesan cheese– salty and so good!
  • Sliced almonds– for a little crunch!
  • Dried cranberries– for a little sweetness!
kale salad dressing

Kale Salad Dressing

I whisk up a simple lemon balsamic dressing for the salad. Don’t worry, it’s easy and SO much better than any dressing you can buy at the store.

For the dressing, you will need the following basic ingredients.

  • Olive oil
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Honey (can use pure maple syrup)

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk away! Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

I told you it was easy. You will never buy store-bought dressings again! The flavors are SO fresh!

chopped kale

How to Make Kale Salad

If you haven’t tried kale, don’t be intimidated. It is one of my favorite greens and this salad is SO easy!

  • Kale stems are very tough and chewy so you want to make sure you don’t add them to the salad. Here is the easiest way to remove the stems: squeeze the top of the kale stem and slowly move your hand down the kale stem. The leafy part of the kale will come right off as you go down. It’s magic!
  • Discard the stems and finely chop the kale. You don’t want big chunks of kale, trust me. It is softer and easier to eat in small pieces.
  • Place the kale in a large bowl. Drizzle the kale with just a little bit of olive oil, you don’t need a ton because you are adding a dressing and the dressing will also make the kale tender. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and massage with your clean fingers until the kale softens a bit.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the kale and toss well. Add the Parmesan cheese, nuts, and dried fruit. Toss again and serve.
easy kale salad recipe

Salad Variations

I love that this salad is super simple. The flavors are perfect as is, but if you want to play around, go for it! It is a good base for lots of fun add-ins. Here are some ideas!

  • Instead of dried cranberries, use dried currants or golden raisins.
  • Add fresh fruit. Berries, apple slices, pear slices, and orange segments are all good options.
  • Mix up the cheese! Feta, goat, white cheddar, and blue cheese are all fabulous!
  • Instead of almonds, use pecans, candied pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, or pepitas.
  • Avocado is always a good addition.
  • Toss in chickpeas or crispy roasted chickpeas.
  • For extra protein, add shredded chicken, grilled chicken, shrimp, or even steak.
  • Top with homemade croutons.

How to Store

Any leftover kale salad that has been tossed with the dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

If you want to meal prep the salad, you can store the kale, toppings, and dressing separately.

Kale is hardy and can be washed and prepped in advance. Wash, stem, and dry the kale leaves in a salad spinner or with kitchen towels. Store the leaves, wrapped in a paper towel in a zip-top plastic bag, for up to 3 days.

The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

When ready to eat, chop the kale and assemble the salad!

kale salad recipe

Kale Salad FAQ

How do you make kale less bitter for salad?

Removing the stem of kale and massaging it with olive oil and salt can help reduce bitterness. You can also let it marinate in the fridge for 24 hours so the leaves can soften. Adding a good salad dressing also helps.

How do you massage kale for kale salad?

Place chopped kale in a large bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and massage with your clean fingers until the kale is tender and softens.

Does the kale get soggy with dressing?

Kale is a hearty green and holds up better than most greens. If you have leftover salad, it will stay fresh stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Can you eat raw kale in a salad?

Absolutely! Kale is a superfood and raw kale perfect for salads!

best kale salad

More Salad Recipes

Simple Kale Salad

This is the BEST kale salad recipe! It is made with fresh, hearty kale, Parmesan cheese, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, and a fresh lemon balsamic dressing. Enjoy for lunch or serve along side any meal.
4.55 from 44 votes

Ingredients
  

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons honey
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad:

  • 2 bunches kale, washed (I prefer Lacinato kale)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds, can use pine nuts or pepitas
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, can use golden raisins or dried currants

Instructions
 

  • To make the dressing, in a small bowl or jar, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  • First, remove the kale stems. Squeeze the top of the kale stem and slowly move your hand down the kale stem. The leafy part of the kale will come right off as you go down. Use a sharp knife to finely chop the kale.
  • Place the kale in a large bowl. Drizzle the kale with just a little bit of olive oil, you don't need a ton because you are adding a dressing. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and massage with your clean fingers until the kale softens a bit.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the kale and toss well. Add the Parmesan cheese, nuts, and dried fruit. Toss again and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 204kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 141mg, Potassium: 133mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 432IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 142mg, Iron: 1mg
Keywords kale, salad

Have you tried this recipe?

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Maria

I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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  1. I didn’t have any sliced almonds on hand, so I used toasted pecans.
    Wife says: “This is the best kale salad you have ever made.”

    I will make it again.

  2. my roommates and i have been making this salad at least once a week since we discovered it. absolutely the best kale salad ever and SO easy & quick. i will never make a different one!!!

  3. 5 stars
    I thought I didn’t like kale but this recipe changed my mind! So easy and so delicious! Everyone in our family loves this salad, and I love to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.

  4. 5 stars
    I thought I didn’t like kale but this recipe changed my mind! Everyone in our family loves this salad, and I love to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.

  5. 5 stars
    Love this salad! Had to print the recipe so I can make it again. Husband said he liked the orange dressing?!? I told him the ingredients and he was surprised. My 14 month old devoured it although I had to be careful with the craisins and almonds as they are a choking hazard. I was shocked he ate so much. Great recipe. Thanks!

  6. 5 stars
    This salad is awesome! Everyone loved it! Even haters of kale. Can’t wait to make again. I substituted pomegranate seeds in place of cranberries.

  7. Best kale salad and dressing ever, my husband and I loved it,bit will be our go to meal, thanks a million!!!

  8. 5 stars
    Delicious and filling kale salad enjoyed by my son, husband, and myself with accompanying curry chicken salad sandwiches on toasted wheat bread.
    Used one bunch lacinato and one bunch curly kale, torn into small bite size pieces that I washed and spun in my salad spinner. Used regular raisins rather than cranberries as I used sliced almonds; if I used dried cranberries I would use walnuts. Be sure to add nuts, raisins/cranberries, and parmesan AFTER you add dressing. Also recommend using 1/3 cup parmesan as 1/2 was too much, perhaps because I only had already grated parmesan cheese.
    Had less than 1/2 cup left over because both men served themselves big seconds!