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Everyday Kale Salad

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This easy kale salad recipe only takes 5 minutes to make with 5 ingredients and goes well with just about anything!

Easy Kale Salad

My classic, go-to, made-it-a-million-times Everyday Kale Salad. ♡

This salad is made with five simple ingredients — massaged fresh kale (see tips below), freshly-squeezed lemon juice, lotsa Parm, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of your favorite nuts. And I’m telling you, it is delicious.

I’ve been making some version of this kale salad for about a decade now, and even the most reluctant kale eaters in my life have always loved this one. It’s easy to whip up in a few minutes. It’s easy to gussy up with any other favorite salad add-ins you might have in mind. (<– Just sayin’, a sliced avocado in there is never a bad idea.)  And best of all, this kale salad recipe really does go with just about everything!

So if you’re looking for a super-simple and healthy side salad to go with dinner tonight, pick up some fresh kale and give it a try!

Kale Salad Ingredients

Everyday Kale Salad Ingredients

To make this easy kale salad recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Fresh kale: You’re welcome to use either curly kale or lacinato kale (also known as “dinosaur” kale or Tuscan kale) in this salad.
  • Parmesan: The salty, umami flavor of Parmesan is always delicious paired with fresh kale. I highly recommend purchasing a block of Parmigiano-Reggiano and freshly-grating it just before serving, in order for it to have the most robust and fresh flavor.
  • Lemon juice: Freshly-squeezed lemon juice brightens up the flavor of the salad, mixing with the olive oil to form a simple zesty dressing. If you don’t have an awesome citrus juicer, I’m obsessed with this one.
  • Olive oil: With so few ingredients in this salad, I recommend using a good-quality extra virgin olive oil to massage the kale and dress the salad.
  • Salt and pepper: Don’t forget to season the salad! A generous pinch of fine sea salt and a few twists of freshly-ground black pepper are essential parts of the “dressing” that balance out the salad.
  • Nuts: I love adding toasted almonds (sliced or slivered) to this salad for a bit of extra crunch and protein, but feel free to add in whatever other nuts or seeds you love best. Or you can skip the added nuts entirely.

Demonstrating how to massage kale

How To Massage Kale

Over the years, I’ve found that so many people who are averse to kale salads miss the essential step of massaging the kale before adding it to the salad.

Simply remove the tough kale stems, chop the kale leaves as desired, drizzle the kale with olive oil, then use your hands to massage the oil into the kale leaves for about 1 minute until they soften and darken. This massaging process helps to break down the cellulose structure of the kale, softening its tough texture and reducing the bitterness of its flavor. It’s a simple step that makes a big difference in the quality of your salad, so don’t skip it!

How To Make Kale Salad

To make this kale salad recipe, simply…

  1. Massage the kale. With olive oil, as directed above, in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients. Lemon juice, Parmesan and nuts. Toss until evenly combined.
  3. Season. Give the salad a taste and season with sea salt and freshly-cracked pepper, to taste. (I recommend lots of black pepper, especially.)
  4. Serve. Then serve it up right away while it’s nice and fresh!

Kale Salad Ingredients in Bowl

Kale Salad Variations

While this base kale salad recipe is super simple, there are all sorts of delicious ingredients that you can add or sub in as well. For example, feel free to…

  • Add a protein: Cooked chickensteakporkshrimpsalmon, or tofu would all be delicious additions to this salad.
  • Add fresh veggies: Such as avocado, cucumber, carrots, bell peppers, radishes, and/or red onion.
  • Add fresh or dried fruit: Such as fresh apples, berries, grapefruit, grapes. Or dried cranberries or apricots.
  • Add jarred veggies: Such as sun-dried tomato, roasted red peppers, or artichoke hearts.
  • Add beans: Such as chickpeas or white beans.
  • Add croutons: Homemade or store-bought.
  • Use a different cheese: In lieu of Parmesan, feel free to add crumbled blue cheese, feta cheese or goat cheese.
  • Use different nuts/seeds: Such as pepitas, pine nuts, walnuts, pecans or sunflower seeds.

Kale Salad with Lemon, Parmesan and Almonds in Serving Bowl

Kale FAQ

What are the health benefits of kale? There are countless kale benefits to enjoy with this leafy green! Kale is rich in nutrients, packed with vitamins A, C and K, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids. Kale is also high in antioxidants and phytonutrients which can help to fight inflammation, and its high fiber content can help to promote digestive health and regulate blood sugar levels.

Is kale low in calories? Yes, kale is a low-calorie food. One ounce of raw kale typically contains between 10-15 calories.

More Kale Recipes

Looking for more kale recipes to try? Here are a few of our favorites:

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Everyday Kale Salad

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 5 reviews
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


This easy kale salad recipe only takes 5 minutes to make with 5 easy ingredients, and tastes great with just about everything! Feel free to adjust the proportions of any of the ingredients below to taste.


  • 5 ounces kale, roughly chopped with thick stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • fine sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Massage kale. Combine the kale, olive oil and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. Use your fingers to massage the oil and lemon juice into the kale for about 1-2 minutes, or until the kale has softened.
  2. Add remaining ingredients. Add the Parmesan, sliced almonds, a pinch of salt and a few twists of black pepper and toss until evenly combined. Taste and add extra salt, pepper or lemon juice, if needed.
  3. Serve. Serve immediately and enjoy!


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8 comments on “Everyday Kale Salad”

  1. What is the best type of kale for this salad? I always find raw kale very woody and cabbage-y. I know you say to “massage” it which might break down the woodiness and rawness but what type of kale do you usually use? Thanks!

    • Vicki – I love using dark green, Lacinato kale for these types of salads. It wilts a lot when you massage it and is just generally a bit less ‘woody’!

  2. Hi Ali,

    Its a must try for vegetarian. It looks delicious, pretty, easy and healthy. Definitely going to try this weekend for my kiddos.

  3. My trick with kale is to heat the oil in a small frying pan, add the almonds or sunflower seeds to brown them, and then pour the hot oil over the kale and mix quickly. No massage needed.

  4. Big hit in our house, even with the kids! I love how you give different options for a variety of ingredients. I was surprised by what a difference massaging the kale did as well as the hint of sale. Yum!

  5. Another winner! I added nutritional yeast instead of cheese and added unsweetened cranberries and pieces of smoked tofu. Paired it with a carrot cake patty I made from the pulp of juiced carrots. I had a very happy lunch!

  6. This was fantastic! A keeper for sure. I made it exactly as written, but threw in 1/3 cup craisins at the end. The whole family loved it! Thanks.

  7. Absolutely delicious and a nice complement to the chickpea and feta casserole I made for dinner. Instead of almonds, I used pecans. Can’t wait to make it again, plus there’s more in the bowl!