Easy, healthy, and refreshing kale salad made with simple lemon vinaigrette. It makes the perfect side to go with any meal or light lunch that you can make ahead!
We love this kale salad in particular as it’s an explosion in flavors and textures! It’s sweet, savory, and tangy at the same time, and the different textures of massaged velvety kale with crunchy carrots and sunflower seeds, with the chewy cranberries, is just amazing!
Try this kale salad recipe and you will add it to your rotation as it’s so simple, yet very delicious and loaded with vitamins and goodness! I also love making kale chips every time I buy a bag of fresh kale, so be sure to check out my recipe.
Kale Salad Ingredients
To make this simple salad, here’s what you’ll need:
- Fresh kale – I used regular curly kale, but feel free to swap it for cavolo nero/Tuscan kale, or purple kale if you prefer.
- Carrot – peeled and grated on a box grater.
- Lemon vinaigrette – freshly squeezed lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
- Shallot – can be substituted with red onion if that’s what you have available.
- Cranberries – use dried cranberries not fresh. They add sweetness and texture to the salad.
- Sunflower seeds – for an extra crunch and Omega 3!
How to Massage Kale
It’s essential to massage kale to soften and wilt the tough leaves. Wash and dry the kale, then remove the tough stems, and give the kale leaves a rough chop into bite-sized pieces.
Add to a large bowl, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Then with clean hands massage the kale leaves for about 3 minutes.
What this will do, is tenderize the kale leaves and turn them into velvety and smooth salad leaves infused with olive oil. The color of the kale will darken and that’s ok. The salt will also give the kale leaves extra flavor. You can also add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for even more flavor.
If you’re avoiding oil, just use freshly squeezed lemon juice instead. It works the same way!
How to Make Kale Salad with a Simple Lemon Vinaigrette
Start by making the lemon vinaigrette. In a medium jar or a bowl, combine olive oil with lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. If using a bowl, whisk until everything is well combined and the vinaigrette is emulsified. If using a jar, just shake it for a minute.
The salad dressing shaker that you see me using in my pictures and video is this one. I love it so much as it’s perfect for all types of dressings and makes shaking and storing the dressing so easy and fun. You don’t ‘need’ it as you can totally use a jar, but it’s a nice thing to have.
To make the salad, combine the massaged kale in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients (grated carrot, diced shallot, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds). Toss the salad until everything is well combined, and dress with the lemon vinaigrette.
I also created a short video to show you how to make this easy kale salad!
Meal Prep and Storing
This salad is PERFECT for making ahead! I love making it on the weekend, to enjoy all week long! It stores so well, and the flavors don’t change.
If you prefer, you can store the salad in an airtight container and store the vinaigrette in a separate jar. Dress the salad before serving.
Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Kale Salad Variations
- Cheese – add your favorite cheese to the salad, I like crumbled feta or goat cheese, but cubed cheddar also works great here! Or simply, a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese.
- Protein – add cooked chicken, steak, shrimp, tofu, or cooked beans.
- Vegetables – add fresh avocado, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cucumber, radishes.
- Nuts – this is a nut-free version here, but adding toasted walnuts, pecans, or almonds will add a great flavor and crunch.
- Dressing – my favorite dressing to go with this salad is lemon vinaigrette, but you can totally do something fancier like a raspberry vinaigrette or even a Caesar dressing.
- Grains – add cooked brown rice, quinoa, barley, or farro.
Serve this salad with penne arrabbiata, homemade alfredo pasta, Italian stuffed peppers, lemon baked cod, creamy lemon chicken, or something simple like Air fryer fish, Air fryer chicken breast, or Air fryer salmon!
More Great Salads
- Homemade Caesar salad
- Caprese salad
- Mediterranean chickpea salad
- Watermelon feta salad
- Crab kani salad
- Russian vinegret salad
- Best coleslaw
I don’t feel like I say this often enough, or that I could ever thank you enough. But THANK YOU for all of your support, for visiting my blog, commenting, and sharing my recipes with your friends and family. I am SO thankful for you!
If you make this recipe or any of my recipes, then don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below. I would LOVE to hear about your experience and your comments just make my day!
I hope that you love every recipe that you make! – Diana x
Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- 6 cups kale washed and chopped
- ½ cup shallot finely diced
- ½ cup carrot grated
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
For the lemon vinaigrette
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
To make the lemon vinaigrette
- In a medium jar or a bowl, combine olive oil with lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. If using a bowl, whisk until everything is well combined and the vinaigrette is emulsified. If using a jar, just shake it for a minute.
To assemble the salad
- Wash and dry the kale, then remove the tough stems, and give the kale leaves a rough chop into bite-sized pieces. Add to a large bowl, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Then with clean hands massage the kale leaves for about 3 minutes.
- Combine the massaged kale in a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients (grated carrot, diced shallot, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds).
- Toss the salad until everything is well combined, and dress with the lemon vinaigrette.
- If serving later – you can store the salad in an airtight container and store the vinaigrette in a separate jar. Dress the salad before serving.
- Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.