Easy Kale Salad with Fresh Lemon Dressing

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This easy kale salad features fresh veggies and a super simple homemade lemon dressing, making it perfect as a healthy side dish or light lunch! It is definitely one of my very favorite kale salad recipes!

Here we’re making a quick and easy kale salad recipe, perfect for the weather we’ve been having lately!

It’s fresh, delicious, and totally make-ahead so feel free to prep this bad boy the night before and pack it along in lunches the next day if you’d like! Really, it’s one of the best kale salad recipes around! I mean, who doesn’t like kale salad with cranberries and almonds??

Easy Kale Salad in a bowl with a serving spoonI love how I can prep ahead of kale quickly over the weekend and know that I’ll have it on hand as a salad green all week long. Instead of simply prepping what I need, I always massage the entire bunch of kale and keep it in a baggie in the fridge, meal-prep style.

Kale Salad IngredientsKale actually makes the ideal prep-ahead salad and sandwich greenery because of its ability to hold up like a champ in the fridge! It stays fresh without wilting long past its leafy counterparts.

Leftover kale can be stirred into pasta, blended into pesto, and even baked into crispy kale chips if the craving strikes! The possibilities are endless. I even love a little kale on my pizza when I have it handy. Is kale good in a salad? It’s so crazy versatile!

I also love using kale to make a tasty Tropical Mango Kale Smoothie– SO GOOD!

How to Massage Kale

If you’ve asked yourself how do you soften kale for salads, we’ve got you covered. After washing and drying your kale, remove the ribs/stem from each kale leaf. Tear or chop the kale into bite-sized pieces, then sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Next pour a little olive oil in your hands and work your way through the kale, massaging the leaves until they darken in color and tenderize. I swear that a massaged kale salad tastes a million times better – we wouldn’t prep kale any other way!

Prefer to massage your kale without oil? Try a little fresh-squeezed lemon juice instead!

I do this a lot for my Cilantro Lime Mexican Kale Salad

Easy Kale Salad with Salad Dressing

How to Make Kale Salad with Cranberries and Fresh Lemon kale Salad Dressing

This easy peasy kale salad with cranberries is loaded with tasty mix-ins. There are so many kale salad ideas! I chose to add carrots, broccoli, red onion, dried cranberries, cheese, sliced almonds and sunflower seeds, but you could totally get creative here and empty out your crisper drawer!

Raisins would work excellent instead of the cranberries, and if you’re not feeling the fruit right now, load your salad up with extra veggies instead! I used cheddar cheese here (a favorite salad mix-in of mine!) but feta or goat cheese would work marvelously too. You could even go dairy-free and make this scrumptious salad vegan!

Kale Salad in Bowl

Easy Kale Salad in a bowl with a serving spoon
4.96 from 137 votes
Review Recipe

Easy Kale Salad with Fresh Lemon Dressing

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
This easy kale salad features fresh veggies and a super simple homemade lemon dressing, making it perfect as a healthy side dish or light lunch!


  • 5 cups kale chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups broccoli chopped
  • ½ cup almonds sliced
  • ½ cup cheese optional (cheddar or feta work great here!)
  • ¼-½ cup carrots shredded
  • ¼ cup red onion diced
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup cranberries

Lemon Dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey or sugar adjust + add to taste

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  • First make your dressing by combining ingredients above in a lidded mason jar then shake well to emulsify. Dip a kale leaf in the dressing and adjust sweetener, salt, and pepper to taste. You can make this dressing as sweet or tart as your heart desires!
  • Next massage your chopped kale with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt. Rub with your fingers until leaves begin to darken and tenderize. This makes it taste great and gives the kale a silky texture!
  • In a large bowl, combine massaged kale, broccoli, almonds, cheese, carrots, onion, sunflower seeds, cranberries. Shake your dressing once more and pour about 1/3 of the dressing over the salad. Toss to coat and add extra dressing, to taste.

Recipe Notes

Optional: I like to add poppy seeds to my salad dressing on occasion to give it a lemon poppyseed vibe - feel free to follow suit!
Nutritional information does not include cheese and other optional ingredients 

Nutrition Information

Calories: 334, Carbohydrates: 19g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 315mg, Potassium: 744mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 9985IU, Vitamin C: 146.3mg, Calcium: 192mg, Iron: 2.7mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Course Salad
Cuisine American

Hungry For More?

If you get a chance to try this easy kale salad, let me know in the comments below! xo

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About the author


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Jenn is the blogger and hungry hungry hippo behind the food blog Peas and Crayons. Her recipes are all about making veggies fun and delicious! Easy eats range from light and healthy to excitingly indulgent. There’s something for everyone!

This Boston-born, Florida-raised military mama currently lives in sunny Pensacola, Florida. She follows her pilot wherever his career may take them with their feisty four year old in tow. She loves creating recipes and dreaming up new ways to make veggies taste great and totally crave-worthy!

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Recipe Rating


  1. This is my new favourite salad recipe. I have been making it for numerous guests and events and always get compliments on it. Somewhat time consuming to chop everything, but worth it. :)5 stars

    1. White wine vinegar will work in this recipe too. The flavor will be slightly different but still delicious.

  2. I needed a salad to take to a dinner party. I wanted something healthy, colorful, and easy to put together with what we had on hand. I subbed green onion for red onion since that’s what I had, and left out sunflower seeds. Otherwise, I followed the recipe. The flavors and textures melded beautifully, and the dressing was so tangy and fresh.5 stars

    1. Great substitutions Elizabeth! That would be delicious. Glad to hear everyone loved it.

  3. Great recipe. 1 carrot = ~1/4-1/2C. Used 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar because I ran out of wine vinegar.

    Turned out GREAT!5 stars

  4. Colorful, nutritious and delicious for several days in a row! Used dark green Tuscan kale and a couple of other kale types. Dinner guests requested recipe. Thank you!5 stars

  5. This salad is amazing! I think the dressing makes it five-star. Didn’t have almonds, so we added pecans and also added avocado at the end. Hubby and I have eaten it for three meals already, and still enjoying it tremendously!5 stars

  6. This is one of my new fave salads. I had Mediterranean style air fried salmon on top and it just paired so perfectly! The only adjustment I would be a little less or no sunflower seeds, But that’s just a personal taste, they were a little overpowering. Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe!5 stars

    1. This salad was REALLY good! We had it the next day for leftovers as well and it was even better. I’ve tried kale before and never liked it, so I didn’t have high hopes. But I was pleasantly surprised and happy that it was yummy. I was even more happy that my elderly parents AND my teenaged children thought it was good, too. Thanks for the recipe, it will definitely be a go to for me!5 stars

  7. This has become my favorite go-to salad recipe. The dressing is delicious and the salad was a big hit – even with some of the pickiest eaters in my family!5 stars

  8. I have never particularly cared for kale but I grew some in my garden this past summer just because I could start it so early. I found this recipe and liked all the ingredients so I thought I would give it a try. NOW I can’t get enough of this luscious salad. I followed the recipe exactly as written and it was a hit with the entire family.5 stars

  9. I added a teaspoon of cherry preserves to the dressing and it was amazing! We don’t care for cranberries so the cherry preserves inside the dressing gave us the tartness of the cranberries throughout the salad. Delish!5 stars

  10. I really liked this salad! We served it with pork and date relish and it was a great balance of flavors. Will make again :)5 stars

  11. I’m commenting on the Kale Broccoli Salas. We had to throw it away. It was the oregano that was added to the dressing that permeated the whole lovely salad and all the ingredients. Please take this spice out of the recipe.1 star

  12. I rarely post reviews, but when I came back after dinner to find this page to send the link to some friends to recommend it, I decided it deserved some praise! I soaked my chopped red onion in some lemon juice before adding to the salad to neutralize and flavor it a bit. Super yummy and healthy recipe!5 stars

    1. Thank you so much for coming back and leaving a review Laura, I really appreciate it!! so glad you’ve enjoyed the recipe!

  13. Loved this! Delicious. I used kale from my garden. Since I didn’t have broccoli I subbed cut up kohlrabi bulbs. The dressing on it was yummy. I used feta cheese and raisins.5 stars

    1. I’ve come back to this recipe again and again. This is a perfect way to use the extra kale we managed to overwinter in our garden. It’s absolutely delicious as written but also takes well to a few adaptations. Thanks so much for this recipe!5 stars

  14. This is a GREAT-TASTING, COLORFUL salad, and one of my favorites when kale is fresh in my garden. From my experience serving this at parties, the combination of flavors appeals to just about everyone. What this recipe isn’t is EASY. There are 19 ingredients! Some are grated, some chopped, some minced. That makes for a time-consuming project, assuming you have the ingredients on hand; if you don’t, then this is an expensive recipe to make. That said, it’s still absolutely delicious!