A fresh salad is a perfect lunch or side for almost any meal.

This easy kale salad is packed with fresh veggies and a super simple homemade lemon dressing, making it perfect as a healthy side dish!

Full of fresh ingredients with lots of flavor and crunch, this is definitely one of my very favorite kale salad recipes!

Easy Kale Salad in a bowl with a serving spoon

An Easy and Delicious Kale salad

A quick and easy kale salad recipe is perfect for warm weather but we honestly love it all year long!

  • 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.
  • Unlike tossed salad, we love how leftover kale salad (even with dressing) can be kept in the fridge.
  • Packed with nutrition but more importantly, packed with flavor, this will anyone into a kale lover!
  • The zesty homemade lemon dressing takes just minutes to prep and is so much better than store bought.

Kale Salad Ingredients

How to Prepare Kale

Kale 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. Prepare kale quickly over the weekend and it will keep fresh and crisp all week long and keep it on hand as a salad green all week long.

  1. Rinse the kale leaves in cold water.
  2. Remove the thick stem by pulling off the leaves.
  3. Spin dry in a salad spinner or shake dry and dab with a kitchen towel.
  4. Massage the kale, more on that below.

How to Massage Kale

Say what?! Massage the kale? Massaging kale releases some of the bitterness and helps tenderize or soften it for salads. You can skip this step but honestly, I’d say give it a try at least once. It changes the texture and the flavor of the salad. I use curly kale but have also used dinosaur kale in this recipe.

  1. Tear or chop the washed kale into bite-sized pieces, then sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  2. Next drizzle a little olive oil in your hands, just a tiny bit! Pick up some of the kale and rub it, massaging the leaves until they darken in color and become tender.

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!

Easy Kale Salad with Salad Dressing

How to Make Kale Salad with Cranberries

Really, this is one of the best kale salad recipes around! Kale salad with cranberries, almonds, and a quick and fresh lemon kale salad dressing.

  1. Wash and massage the kale per the recipe below.
  2. Prep remaining ingredients and add to a large bowl.
  3. Place dressing in a jar and give it a shake (or whisk in a bowl). Toss with the salad.

Variations

This easy peasy kale salad with cranberries is loaded with tasty mix-ins. There are so many raw 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! Add some avocado when serving if you’d like.

  • Raisins would work excellent instead of the cranberries or try other dried or fresh fruit like apples!
  • I used cheddar cheese here (a favorite salad mix-in of mine!) but feta cheese, parmesan, or goat cheese would work well too. You could even go dairy-free and make this scrumptious salad vegan!
  • Swap out almonds for other nuts like pecans or walnuts.
  • Make it a meal and top with cooked chicken, steak, grilled shrimp, or salmon. Skip the meant and sprinkle with your fave grain like quinoa or add in chickpeas.

Kale Salad in Bowl

More Kale Recipes

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!

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

Easy Kale Salad in a bowl with a serving spoon
4.97 from 193 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Easy Kale Salad with Fresh Lemon Dressing

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!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients  

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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 ⅓ of the dressing over the salad. Toss to coat and add extra dressing, to taste.

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 
4.97 from 193 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

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

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Comments

  1. This dressing is so so AMAZING! I normally don’t leave a review but I just had to for this recipe. My mom is picky and I honestly didn’t think she would like it because of the tart but she LOVED it! Definitely my favorite salad.. thank you for sharing!!5 stars

  2. I made this yesterday and it was a total hit! I have been growing and using kale for years but your tip about massaging the kale was a revelation to me and made all the difference! Thank you.5 stars

  3. made this recipe for my boys. they all liked the salad! I didn’t have all the ingredients for the salad but i used veggies I had. the dressing was a total hit though. thank you!

  4. I used what I had for veggies-carrots, red onion, craisens, Granny Smith apple, and walnuts. I used balsamic vinegar and added a little more honey. Still pretty tangy- I didn’t measure the lemon, didn’t have red wine vinegar. I topped with cranberry and orange goat cheese. Fantastic!5 stars

  5. This salad is awesome! I have made it twice in the last two weeks. I made it with maple syrup instead of honey for some vegan family members. The kale was fresh from my garden! Love it!5 stars

  6. This was incredible! I used a different dressing since I didn’t have red wine vinegar on hand, but the flavor combination was great. I especially love the dried cranberries – they’re wonderful in the salad! Broccoli adds a nice crunch, but otherwise unnecessary in my book. I used feta instead of cheddar. In any case, thank you so much!5 stars

  7. This is delicious! I’m always looking for new ways to add kale to my diet and this is perfect! The only changes I made was substituting pecans for almonds and pumpkin seeds for sunflower seeds, only because I didn’t have those ingredients. I’m currently eating the leftovers from dinner two nights ago and it kept well in the fridge.5 stars