13 Healthy & Delicious Kale Salad Recipes
A round up of the best healthy, yummy, and easy-to-make kale salads! Plus find the recipe for this delicious strawberry kale salad with goat cheese and farro.
As a Registered Dietitian, I love to make vegetables delicious, easy to prepare, and accessible to all, especially with hard-to-love vegetables like kale! Most of the kale recipes in my post library are admittedly kale salad recipes. Kale salads are easy to prepare, perfect for meal planning and prepping, and totally customizable based on whatever flavors you feel like eating.
While raw kale is tough and bitter on its own, a well prepared kale salad truly transforms the vegetable into something totally delicious. If you’ve never made a kale salad before, I’ve got you covered, with plenty of healthy and delicious kale salad recipes below! Which one are you going to try first?
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Kale nutrition benefits
Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet! This means it contains a lot of nutrients in very little calories. One cup of chopped raw kale provides:
- 2.8 grams of dietary fiber (10% of your daily needs)
- 2 grams of plant-based protein
- 170 mg calcium (13% of your daily needs)
- 1.1 mg iron (6% of your daily needs)
- 161.47 mcg Vitamin A (18% of your daily needs)
- 62.6 mg Vitamin C (134% of your daily needs)
- 261.3 mcg Vitamin K (218% of your daily needs)
- 0.616 mg manganese (27% of your daily needs)
In addition to vitamins and minerals, kale has other beneficial compounds including antioxidants and glucosinolates. These compounds help keep us healthy by fighting off inflammation, promoting heart health, and reducing risk of certain diseases.
How to soften kale for a salad
- First, remove kale leaves from the tough fibrous stems. You can just use your hands and rip them off, or slice the off with a knife. Discard the stems or save them to put into green smoothies, juices, or homemade vegetable broth.
- Wash and dry your kale leaves. You can use a clean dish towel, paper towels or a salad spinner to dry off the leaves.
- Massage the kale leaves. This step is crucial, as it makes the kale tender and much more pleasant to eat! To massage the kale, put all the kale leaves in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil over the leaves plus a pinch of salt. Use your hands to massage the oil into the leaves for about 1 minute. You’ll notice the kale become softer as you continue to massage it.
- Alternatively, you can massage your salad dressing right into the kale instead of olive oil. I like to do this if I am using a creamier dressing, because it helps coat the kale leaves in the dressing.
- For massaged kale salads, it is best to use mature kale like curly kale or lacinato (dinosaur) kale. Baby kale is too tender and won’t hold up.
- Add your toppings and dressing. A basic massaged kale salad is the perfect blank canvas for healthy salad toppings that add flavor, texture, and nutrition. The kale salad base is naturally vegan, gluten free, and dairy free.
Check out this post for a comprehensive guide on how to prepare kale for salads and cooking.
Healthy kale salad topping ideas
Since kale is such a hardy green, it holds up well to pretty much any topping. Here are some of my favorite additions to kale salads:
- Cheese: goat cheese, feta cheese, parmesan cheese
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, pecans, walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds
- Fresh fruit: Apples, berries, pears
- Dried fruit: Cranberries, raisins, figs
- Grains: Quinoa, farro, wild rice
- Proteins: Tofu, salmon, or shrimp
- Healthy fats: olives, avocado
- Roasted or grilled vegetables
Kale salad meal prep tips
- Kale salads are unique in that they hold up well in the fridge, even when dressed. Kale doesn’t wilt like softer greens, so kale salads are perfect for meal prepping.
- If you are meal prepping a kale salad, I recommend waiting to add softer, delicate, and high water content ingredients until right before serving. Ingredients like berries and cucumber are two examples of toppings to wait to add.
- Most cheeses, grains, proteins, nuts, and dried fruits are fine to be mixed right in when you’re making the kale salad ahead of time.
- Store kale salads in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
13 Kale Salad Recipes
20-Minute Crunchy Kale Slaw with Apples
This kale and apple slaw is a delicious side dish for any meal. It’s got a cravable crunchy texture and is filled with nutritious ingredients including kale, green apples, cabbage, carrots, and almonds. It’s tossed in the most delicious creamy tahini apple cider dressing that everyone will love!
Kale Caesar Salad with Spice Roasted Chickpeas (Dairy Free, Gluten Free)
This salad will be your new favorite way to eat kale! For this recipe, you’ll toss kale in a homemade, dairy free Caesar dressing and top it with crunchy roasted chickpeas. This recipe is perfect for meal prep!
Simple Kale and Romaine Salad
This simple kale and romaine salad is the perfect side salad to serve with any meal. It features a delicious homemade parmesan vinaigrette! It’s easy to make and ready to eat in about 15 minutes.
Kale Salad with Beets, Farro, and Delicata Squash
This hearty & delicious massaged kale salad is packed with nutritious foods including beets, farro, delicata squash, and pecans. Using pre-cooked beets allows you to prepare this recipe in under one hour. It’s perfect for a healthy lunch or side dish with dinner!
Fall Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Apples
This fall kale salad embodies the season in one delicious bowl! It’s filled with roasted butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and apples, and is perfect for lunch or a light dinner.
Warm Kale Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash
This warm fall salad recipe is a terrific dinner salad or healthy side salad option! It’s easy and quick to make—ready within just 30 minutes. Made with quick-sautéed kale and roasted delicata squash, the tangy lemon-honey vinaigrette dressing ties this hearty, nourishing salad together perfectly.
Kale Salad with Creamy Goddess Dressing (Vegan, Gluten Free)
If you think you hate kale, I bet you’ll change your mind once you try this kale salad with goddess dressing. It’s savory, creamy, and kind of addicting! Add whatever salad toppings you like to this salad.
Nourishing Fall Farro Salad with Butternut Squash
This fall farro salad recipe is the perfect vegetarian dinner or side salad! It’s packed with nutritious ingredients like farro, butternut squash, pomegranates ,and goat cheese. Serve warm or cold, you choose!
Beet Quinoa Salad with Butternut Squash, Kale, and Pecans
This beet quinoa salad is the perfect healthy lunch recipe to make ahead for the week. It’s loaded with nutrients, flavor, and texture – everyone will love it!
Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad with Kale and Apples (Gluten Free)
Say hello to your new favorite salad! This shredded Brussels sprout salad is crunchy, lemony, cheesy, and a little bit sweet. It’s perfect for meal prep!
Resetting Kale Citrus Salad
Make this kale citrus salad when you’re feeling weighed down by a few days of indulgent eating. It’s delicious, filling, and packed with nutrition!
This strawberry kale salad with goat cheese and farro makes a light, healthy, and satisfying meal. It’s loaded with nutritious ingredients and flavor.
- 8 cups curly kale leaves, removed from stems
- 1–2 tbsp olive oil
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups cooked farro (1 cup dry)
- 1/2 cup roasted slivered almonds
- 1 pint strawberries, stems removed and halved
- 4 oz log goat cheese
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- Add kale to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the olive oil on the kale with a pinch of salt.
- Use your hands to massage the kale for about 1 minute, until softened and tender.
- Add the farro, slivered almonds, and strawberries to the kale. Use your hands to crumble the goat cheese on top.
- Put the dressing ingredients with a pinch of salt and pepper in a small jar. Close the jar and shake vigorously to emulsify the dressing.
- Pour the dressing over the salad, and gently mix together the salad with salad spoons to coat everything in the dressing.
Because the strawberries are so delicate, this salad is best served right away. If you want to make this salad ahead of time, mix everything together except for the strawberries. Add the strawberries right when you are ready to serve.
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