How To Make Kale Salad

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This light, flavorful kale salad is tasty and easy to make as a quick lunch or the perfect leafy green complement to any meal.

how to make kale salad

Kale is a superfood that I love incorporating into my diet. From baked kale chips to banana berry kale smoothies and butternut squash, sausage and kale pasta, I can’t get enough. 

close up of kale salad

I typically incorporate kale into smoothies and soup and dress it up for tasty salads. I like to buy big bags of pre-washed, chopped kale from the grocery store during cold months so that I always have kale on hand. However for these salads, I recommend fresh Lacinato kale which is not often the bagged kale in stores.

Kale has become very common in the healthy food scene due to its nutrient-rich properties and the fact that it does not just come in one variety. There is red kale, curly kale, baby kale and more. Each type is distinct in taste, look and benefits.

soaking kale in a bowl

Processing and Preparing Kale

Wondering how to wash and store fresh greens? First, soak your greens in a large bowl of cold water. (Pro tip: Always wash fresh produce before you eat it to avoid any food-borne illness!)

preparing kale by washing

Second, lift the greens up and out of the water, allowing the dirty water to fall back into the bowl. Kale can have a lot of dirt on it, especially if you’re pulling it from your garden.

preparing kale for salad

Third, roll the kale into paper towels and store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Remember, the key to eating your greens is making it easy for you to use throughout the week.

chopping kale with knife

To move forward with the salad, I chop and shred not only the leaves but the stems as well. The stems are packed with nutrients. To do this, mince the stems finely and then fold the leaves together and use a knife to cut them into slices. Rotate the slices and chop them in the other direction to make small pieces. Soon, you will make the dressing.

Preparing the Salad Dressing

There are three ingredients for a successful salad dressing.

  • Lemon juice: Makes kale more tender for a softer bite. The acidity breaks down the cellulose in kale, which gives it its tough, chewy structure.
  • Olive oil: Chock full of antioxidants and healthy fat, olive oil is the perfect foundational ingredient for the kale salad dressing.
  • Parmigiano reggiano: Adds a bold, cheesy flavor. Parmigiano reggiano is only made in Italy, whereas regular parmesan cheese can be made anywhere. Grab some from your local grocery store!
adding mustard to a bowl

To get started with this tasty, delicious kale salad dressing, first, take a medium-sized bowl and add Dijon sauce.

adding parmesan to kale salad

Next, grate and add parmigiano reggiano to the bowl. This hard, granular Italian cheese is the real deal compared to parmesan cheese: It’s lactose-free and natural, with no additives or preservatives.

adding lemon to kale salad

Third, squeeze a lemon to add lemon juice to the bowl. While you’re here, you can also add a drizzle of sweet honey as an optional step.

adding seasoning to a bowl

Fourth, add salt and pepper. This recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Prior to serving later, season to taste if you want more flavor.

juicing lemon for kale salad

To get as much lemon juice as possible out of the lemon, I like to use a handheld juicer. Lemon juice adds a bright, citrusy flavor and balances out the bold taste of kale.

adding kale to salad ingredients

Making the Kale Salad

To put the kale salad together, add the kale and olive oil to the bowl. Extra virgin olive oil is an ideal fat for salad dressings and helps to stimulate the absorption of nutrients. The tangy lemon helps make the oil more palatable.

Mixing kale for salad

Next, use your hands to massage the lemon juice, olive oil, parmigiano and seasoning into the kale leaves. The acidity of the lemon juice acts as a tenderizer, making the kale more digestible and a softer bite.

finished kale salad

Finally, let the salad sit for a bit, one hour at most, at room temperature. Before serving, season it with more salt, pepper and parmigiano reggiano.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use bottled lemon juice in this recipe?

I only use fresh lemon juice for kale salad. If you don’t have fresh lemons and don’t want to use bottled lemon juice, you can substitute rice vinegar in this recipe.

What toppings can I use for kale salad?

You can add fresh walnuts, strawberries and nuts. Check out more of my kale salad recipes, like this strawberry kale salad with walnuts, for inspiration.

How long does kale salad last?

Kale salad will last for seven days when you store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I recommend storing the salad dressing separately.

how to make kale salad

Did you make this kale salad? If so, tag @TheLemonBowl on Instagram to be featured! While you’re here, you might also like to check out these recipes:

Liz with kale salad

Your fork is waiting.

close up of kale salad

How To Make Kale Salad

3.79 stars average
Kale Salad is both healthy and easy to make as well as the perfect complement to any meal.
PREP: 15 minutes
TOTAL: 15 minutes

Recipe Video


  • 1 cup bunch raw kale (about 6)
  • 1 Juice of lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup grated parmigiano reggiano


  • Remove thick stems from kale and finely shred before placing in a bowl.
  • Top shredded kale with lemon juice and olive oil; toss well. Feel free to use hands to massage lemon/olive oil into the kale leaves – the acid in the lemon acts as a tenderizer.
  • Let sit for one hour at room temperature.
  • Before serving, season with salt, pepper and grated parmigiano reggiano.

Last Step:

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Excellent source of vitamin A and C, good source of iron and calcium.


Calories: 112kcalCarbohydrates: 11.4gProtein: 5.4gFat: 6.7gSaturated Fat: 1.7gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 386mgFiber: 2g
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Click here to check out my other kale recipes

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