The BEST kale salad recipe! It's packed with colorful vegetables, crispy chickpeas, avocado, cranberries, and pepitas. Great for lunch!
Kale salad recipes aren’t as trendy as they used to be, but I’m still making them, and I think you should be too. My case in point is this kale salad recipe, which, if I do say so myself, is one of the most delicious ways to eat kale.
A vibrant carrot ginger dressing coats the tender leafy greens, and roasted chickpeas, colorful veggies, and avocado add lots of contrasting textures. I love to serve it as a side dish because it pairs well with almost any meal, but it’s also hearty enough to pass as a standalone lunch. The sturdy greens hold up for days in the fridge, so it’s perfect for meal prep!
It may not be one of the coolest salads to be making these days, but it’s certainly one of the best. Find the full recipe and my tips for making it below. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Kale Salad Recipe Ingredients
Here’s what you need to make this kale salad recipe:
- Kale, of course! Any type of kale will work here. I especially like to use curly kale, but feel free to swap in Tuscan kale (aka lacinato kale) if you prefer.
- Extra-virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice – You’ll massage them into the raw kale to help the leaves soften.
- Roasted chickpeas – They add plant-based protein and crunch.
- Carrots and beets – I grate these root veggies to add sweet, earthy flavor to the salad.
- Watermelon radish – Thin slices add crisp texture and bright pops of pink to the salad. If you can’t find a watermelon radish at your market or grocery store, sub in regular red radishes.
- Avocado – For creamy texture.
- Dried cranberries – They add sweet-tart flavor.
- Toasted pepitas and sesame seeds – For nutty crunch.
- And salt and pepper – To make all the flavors pop!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
Kale Salad Dressing
The guest star of this recipe is the carrot ginger dressing that you see in the photo above. I make it by blending roasted carrots with ginger and tangy rice vinegar. It has a wonderful creamy texture and bright, refreshing flavor. You’ll LOVE it on this kale salad recipe!
How to Make Kale Salad
When it’s not prepared well, a raw kale salad can be tough and bitter—no thanks! The first trick to making yours delicious is to massage the kale so that the leaves become soft and tender. Here’s how to do it:
- Remove the kale leaves from the stems and wash them well. Spread them on kitchen towels to dry, or quickly dry them in a salad spinner.
- Tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces.
- Place them in a large bowl and add fresh lemon juice, ½ teaspoon olive oil, and a few pinches of salt.
- Use your hands to massage the lemon and oil into the leaves until they become soft and wilted and reduce in the bowl by about half.
That’s it! Add the root veggies, half the avocado, cranberries, pepitas, and more salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
Drizzle the salad with the dressing, and toss again. Top with the roasted chickpeas, the remaining avocado, and sesame seeds. Season to taste and serve!
How to Store Kale Salad
Leftover kale salad keeps well for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Because the kale leaves are so sturdy, it holds up well even when it’s dressed!
This recipe is a great one to meal prep for lunch. If you prep it ahead for multiple days, I recommend keeping the avocado separate. Add it to individual portions just before you eat so that it doesn’t brown in the fridge.
- Toss in some cheese. Sprinkle in feta cheese or shaved Parmesan cheese for a salty bite.
- Roast the veg. Add sliced roasted beets or roasted carrots instead of grated raw ones.
- Change the protein. Swap out the chickpeas for baked tempeh, tofu, or lentils.
- Add a grain like quinoa or farro for a heartier salad.
- Switch up the seeds. Replace the pepitas with toasted sunflower seeds, or try a nut like toasted almonds, pecans, or walnuts instead.
- Try a different dressing. My tahini dressing, lemon vinaigrette, or balsamic vinaigrette would be yummy alternatives to the carrot ginger dressing.
More Favorite Salad Recipes
If you love this massaged kale salad recipe, try one of these delicious salads next:
- Kale Caesar Salad
- Best Broccoli Salad
- Chickpea Salad
- Cabbage Salad
- Lentil Salad
- Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Balsamic
- Greek Salad
- Or any of these 51 Best Salad Recipes!
Want more plant-based meal ideas? Check out our 85 Best Vegan Recipes.
Carrot Ginger Dressing (See notes)
- 1 batch Roasted Chickpeas
- 1 bunch curly kale, stems removed, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small carrot, grated
- 1 small red beet, grated*
- ½ watermelon radish, very thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, cubed
- 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
- ¼ cup pepitas, toasted
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Sea salt & Freshly ground black pepper
- Make the dressing and roast the chickpeas: Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the chickpeas with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with pinches of salt and pepper. Place the carrot pieces for the dressing in their own corner on the baking sheet to roast alongside the chickpeas. Roast for 25 to minutes, or until the chickpeas are browned and crisp and the carrots are soft. Set the roasted chickpeas aside. Transfer the carrots to a blender and add the water, olive oil, rice vinegar, ginger, and salt. Blend the dressing until smooth and chill in the fridge until ready to use.
- Place the kale leaves into a large bowl and drizzle with the lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Use your hands to massage the leaves until they become soft and wilted and reduce in the bowl by about half.
- Add the carrot, beet, watermelon radish, half of the cubed avocado, cranberries, pepitas, a few more good pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and toss. Drizzle generously with the carrot ginger dressing. Top with the remaining avocado, more dressing, the roasted chickpeas and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Season to taste and serve.