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

This easy kale salad is packed with fresh veggies and lots of crunch for in a simple homemade lemon dressing.

bowl of Easy Kale Salad with Fresh Lemon Dressing

A Family Pleasing Kale Salad Recipe

This kale salad recipe is quick and easy.

  • Kale salad can be made ahead – prep it the night before and pack it in lunches the next day.
  • Unlike tossed salad, I love how leftover kale salad (even with dressing) can be kept in the fridge without getting soggy!
  • 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 for Salads

Kale is ideal to prep ahead for salad and sandwich greenery because it holds up like a champ in the fridge – it stays fresh without wilting! Prepare kale quickly over the weekend, and it will keep fresh and crisp 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 its bitterness and helps tenderize or soften it for salads. You can skip this step, but I’d say try it at least once. It changes the texture and 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 tiny bit of olive oil on your hands. 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! If you 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

This is one of the best kale salad recipes around! It has cranberries, almonds, and a quick and fresh lemon 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.


This is a raw kale salad with cranberries and many other tasty mix-ins. I chose to add carrots, broccoli, red onion, dried cranberries, cheese, sliced almonds, and sunflower seeds, but get creative!

  • Replace cranberries with raisins or other dried or fresh fruit like apples!
  • I used cheddar cheese, but feta cheese, parmesan, or goat cheese would work well too.
  • 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 meat 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.

Did you make this easy Kale Salad? Leave us a rating and a comment below!

Easy Kale Salad in a bowl with a serving spoon
4.98 from 308 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
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  • 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 dried cranberries

Lemon Dressing

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



  • Combine dressing ingredients in a lidded mason jar and 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!


  • Massage the chopped kale with 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.


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 
4.98 from 308 votes

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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Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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Recipe Rating


  1. This was amazing – I did substitute the wine vinegar for regular spirit vinegar but purely for my own preferences. My first time trying raw Kale and this recipe delivered!5 stars

  2. This is my second time making this and it’s delicious! Massaging the kale is a game changer. Thanks for sharing!5 stars

  3. Delicious! Had a bunch of kale in the garden and this was easy to make….love how easy it to swap ingredients for what you have on hand. Definitely making this again….and the dressing was perfect ❤️5 stars

  4. Where can you find cranberries in the spring? Are you referencing dried cranberries in this recipe? Thank you.

      1. I love the difference the oil and salt prep does for the kale!
        I added sliced mushrooms, avocado grilled chicken and feta cheese for a complete summertime meal. Thanks!5 stars

  5. This salad was excellent! I loved how delicious it was, and subbed in pomegranite seeds, radish, raisins, feta, and orange slices.5 stars