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.

Kale Salad

rate this recipe:
4.97 from 64 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.

 

103 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Bassam
    09.12.2023

    Hello, do you have an advice on how to prepare this salad a day before? I am new to cooking and I have a gathering and it would help to prepare it a day before. Thank you 🙂

  2. Evelyn
    08.05.2023

    5 stars
    I have made this recipe several times and just love it. I was looking for a recipe last summer for the kale I got in my CSA and found this one.

    I got kale again this week in my CSA and am looking forward to making this salad again. It does take a bit of work to make. I usually make the dressing the day before so it doesn’t seem so time intensive. It also allows the flavours to blend well. My modification to the dressing is to add a few cloves of garlic for a nice garlicky taste. I also used white wine vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar because I couldn’t find it in the stores and I already had the white wine vinegar in my cupboard.

    Sometimes I use roasted chickpeas, sometimes I don’t. I have never used the sesame seeds or the watermelon radish. I have never seen watermelon radish here in Canada.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.07.2023

      I’m so glad you’ve loved it so much!

  3. Socrates
    07.10.2023

    3 stars
    Made it, my wife really didn’t like it, and I only thought it was ok. In particular the dressing didn’t seem flavorful enough -the flavors that were there worked together, but it didn’t seem strong enough. Too much effort in the recipe for not enough result for me :\

  4. Kara
    06.30.2023

    I love the salad! The second time I made it with 2/3 of the olive oil and I liked it even better; for me it was lighter and focused more on the delicious roasted carrot flavors.

    Has anyone tried to freeze the dressing? I liked it so much and thought with kale and whatever else I had on hand I would have an instant meal.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.03.2023

      I’m so glad you loved it! I’m not sure if the dressing will separate after it’s frozen and thawed.

  5. Lauren Sheally
    06.03.2023

    5 stars
    Hi. I made the Ginger Carrot dressing but substituted 1/2 orange juice for the water. I put it in my Vitamix and blended it like I would a smoothie. For some reason, the dressing had a bitter aftertaste. Would you have an idea of why that would have occured? I had to add honey to make it sweeter but there was still a bit of a bitter aftertaste. Thanks for your help

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.06.2023

      Hi Lauren, hmm, I’m not sure. I haven’t tried it with orange juice so I’m not sure how that would affect the taste. If the vinegar flavor is too sharp or tart, I would balance it with more honey.

      • L
        09.26.2023

        It may have been your carrots. Carrot peels especially can have a bitter flavor.

    • Ka
      06.10.2023

      It’s probably bitter BECAUSE you added orange juice. You already have an acid, which is the vinegar. You don’t need to add anything else acidic.

  6. alison mclennan
    05.17.2023

    I’m about to make this, but just wondering if it will keep ok in the fridge overnight for a couple of work lunch boxes tomorrow??
    also, I made your brocoli salad yesterday. omg yum!! and have some tamari almond pepita mixture left over. Can I use this instead of plain pepitas in this salad or would it taste funky do you think?

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      05.19.2023

      Hi Alison, yes! This salad keeps well for a few days in the fridge. I think the tamari almonds and pepitas would be amazing here!

  7. Michelle
    04.03.2023

    What’s a good substitution for watermelon radish? Thanks!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      04.07.2023

      Hi Michelle, any other type of radish is a great sub. Red radishes, daikon, etc!

  8. Abby Brown
    01.10.2023

    Any suggestions for replacing rice vinegar. I can’t have anything with yeast do no non-distilled vinegars no soy no wine

    • Evelyn
      08.05.2023

      I use white wine vinegar. I couldn’t find the rice wine vinegar and searched online for an alternative and found white wine vinegar. Garlic is a good addition too if you like garlic. I like to throw a few garlic cloves into the dressing.

  9. katharine
    11.25.2022

    5 stars
    this is a favorite recipe of mine and I made a triple batch for my family’s thanksgiving this year! It was the perfect compliment to a starchy, heavy meal. Also super easy to prep in advance—i make all the elements and then toss together when it’s time to serve.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.27.2022

      Hi Katharine, I’m so glad you’ve loved this one so much!

  10. Gerry from StandupComedyClass.com
    11.24.2022

    5 stars
    This was a show stopper at tonight’s thanksgiving dinner. Truly a (great) restaurant quality salad.

    Tip: if you find that your dressing starts to taste a little bit bitter/carrot-y (as mine did as I blended and added more oil). You can balance it out beautifully by adding a little bit of maple syrup.

    In fact, when I make this in the future I’m almost definitely going to add a little bit of maple syrup. It contrasted the flavors perfectly.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.28.2022

      I’m so glad it was a hit at Thanksgiving!

  11. Lisa
    05.31.2022

    5 stars
    This was SO SO good! A great way to use all the kale I’m getting in my CSA…will definitely be making this again! Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.03.2022

      Hi Lisa, I’m so glad you loved it!

  12. Maya
    04.23.2022

    Can you use white wine vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.27.2022

      Hi Maya, I think it would be fine, I’d start with less since rice vinegar is more mild.

  13. Marcia
    03.02.2022

    5 stars
    I have made this salad twice and I love it, but for some reason I can’t get the dressing creamy. No matter how long I blend it it is still lumpy. This time I roasted the carrots longer to make sure they were soft but that didn’t seem to make a difference.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.03.2022

      Hi Marcia, oh no, I think it might depend on your blender. If you’re making a lot of these types of creamy vegan recipes a vitamix is a terrific investment.

    • Chef Jason
      05.23.2022

      Puree all ingredients except oil. While still running in the blender slowly pour the olive oil in, this will aid in the emulsification of the dressing for a creamier texture.

  14. Ayla
    03.01.2022

    5 stars
    Loved the flavours very delish

  15. Stephanie Killian
    02.20.2022

    5 stars
    Such a beautiful salad. Thank you very much for the instructions on how to make the kale softer. This really added to the recipe.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.21.2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  16. Denise Ciafre
    02.20.2022

    Hello, is the beet cooked or raw?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.21.2022

      Hi Denise, it’s raw here.

  17. Andrea
    02.12.2022

    How long does it take for the kale to wilt enough?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.13.2022

      Hi Andrea, just a few minutes.

  18. Carolyn
    12.26.2021

    5 stars
    Made this salad for Christmas lunch and it was a huge hit. Didn’t have rice vinegar and substituted apple cider vinegar. Added some more liquid to the dressing and coated the baked chickpeas in curry powder. It was all a perfect combination of flavours and a great way to use kale. Will definitely be checking out more of your recipes!!! Thank you

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.27.2021

      Hi Carolyn, I’m so glad the salad was a hit!

  19. Margarita
    11.22.2021

    5 stars
    That’s it! I trust Love & Lemons with my life.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.23.2021

      Ha, I’m glad you loved the recipe!

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.