Kale Salad

The BEST kale salad recipe! It's packed with colorful vegetables, crispy chickpeas, avocado, cranberries, and pepitas. Great for lunch!

Kale salad

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!

Ingredients like dressing, dried cranberries, roasted chickpeas, and avocado

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!

Curly kale on marble

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Place them in a large bowl and add fresh lemon juice, ½ teaspoon olive oil, and a few pinches of salt.
  4. 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.

Massaging curly kale in salad bowl

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.

Want more meal prep/lunch tips? Check out these 60 Healthy Meal Prep Ideas or these 41 Healthy Lunch Ideas.

Assembling kale salad recipe in large bowl

Salad Variations

Kale salad recipe

More Favorite Salad Recipes

If you love this massaged kale salad recipe, try one of these delicious salads next:

Want more plant-based meal ideas? Check out our 85 Best Vegan Recipes.

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Kale Salad

rate this recipe:
4.96 from 71 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves 4
This fresh, hearty kale salad recipe is packed with colorful vegetables, crispy chickpeas, avocado, cranberries, and pepitas. Great for lunch!

Ingredients

Carrot Ginger Dressing (See notes)

  • ½ cup chopped roasted carrots, from 3/4 cup raw carrots
  • 1/3 to ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Salad

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

- Make the dressing ahead so it has time to chill in the fridge before adding to the salad.

 

114 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Samantha Pittman
    02.01.2024

    4 stars
    Use a different kale. This is bitter. The salad dressing needs salt and a little more acid like a lemon., and a chunk of garlic. If you do use this kale chop it up more. It’s a big salad with the radish, beets, carrots and nuts. It feels like a lot in your mouth. Really nice dressing though and method for massaging the kale.

  2. John
    01.06.2024

    I though curley kale was bitter? I usually do dino kale. What say?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.09.2024

      Hi John, I use both – when they’re dressed well the bitterness goes away.

  3. Shaheen
    11.25.2023

    5 stars
    It’s a nutritious powerhouse that doesn’t compromise on taste. I’ll definitely be making this salad a regular addition to my meals!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      11.28.2023

      Hi Shaheen, I’m so glad you love the salad!

  4. Kddd
    11.23.2023

    5 stars
    Just had with thanksgiving dinner and it was perfect!! We don’t eat meat so our sides needed to really pop. This is a perfect salad! (I’ve made multiple times but had some very impressed guests tonight!)

  5. Leora
    11.21.2023

    Hi, this looks delicious and I playing making e recipe for Thanksgiving.
    1. I can’t find watermelon radish, only regular smallish red radishes. How much radish should I add?
    2. In the photo I see white and black sesame seeds, do I add a tsp of each or 1 tsp combined?
    3. Should the sesame seeds be tosted?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.23.2023

      Hi Leora, 3 regular radishes would be fine. You can do 1 teaspoon combined sesame seeds. I didn’t toast them first, but you can if you’d like. I hope you enjoy!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.