This easy kale salad is a delicious way to eat more dark leafy greens, tossed with an easy apple cider dressing. I love how it comes together in just 15 minutes!
Which Kale is Best For Salads?
The two most popular types of kale I see at the store are curly and Lacinato (which is also sometimes called Tuscan or “dino”) kale. Both varieties work well for salads, but I tend to use the lacinato variety most often, because the flavor is a little more mild.
Make sure you remove the tough stems (as shown in the photo above) so that the kale is easier and more enjoyable to chew. You can save the stems for making a green juice or smoothie later! (Try adding them to my Detox Juice or Kale Smoothie recipes.)
How do You Season Kale Salad?
Kale has a relatively strong flavor compared to greens like romaine or spinach, so you need a flavorful dressing to help make it more palatable. I like to use an easy apple cider vinaigrette that you make directly in the bottom of the bowl, but if you don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand, you can use any other type of vinegar, or freshly squeezed lemon juice, instead.
Here are my go-to kale salad dressing ingredients:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Olive oil (not too much!)
- Spicy brown mustard
- Honey (or maple syrup for a vegan dressing)
- Fresh ginger (which really helps distract from the bitter green flavor)
This dressing is bright and zippy, with a slightly sweet and spicy taste, thanks to the addition of ginger and maple syrup, and you can adjust it to taste as you go!
If you’d like to make a larger batch of dressing that you can use all week long, try my Apple Cider Vinaigrette recipe. It’s a fan favorite!
How to Tenderize Kale Leaves
Kale can be almost unpleasantly tough to chew if you don’t prepare it correctly, but it’s easy to tenderize the leaves by massaging them with your hands. Yes, get your hands dirty!
In just about 60 seconds, you can rub the dressing directly into the kale leaves, and you’ll see the kale wilt and soften before your eyes. It should shrink by nearly half in the bowl.
This salad should be ready to enjoy in just about 15 minutes, but you can make it the night before, or save any leftovers for an easy packed lunch the next day. Kale is sturdy enough that it won’t be too soggy to eat after being stored in the fridge.
I like adding in shredded carrots to make the texture a little more appealing, and I also love it with creamy avocado and sweet red onion. But you can use any toppings that you happen to have on hand!
Kale Salad with Apple Cider Dressing
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 inch fresh ginger , minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- salt & pepper
- 1 bunch kale (I use roughly 8 oz. Lacinato kale)
- 1 large carrot , peeled and shredded
- 1/4 red onion , diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 ripe avocado , sliced
- In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, ginger, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt and several grinds of black pepper. Stir well.
- Remove the tough stems from the kale leaves and chop them into small pieces, so that the salad is easy to eat. Add the kale to the bowl of dressing, and use your hands to "massage" the dressing into the kale. The kale should soften and shrink as you do this.
- Stir in the carrots and onions, adjust any seasoning to taste, then serve right away with sliced avocado on top. If you don't plan to serve this right away, I would wait to slice the avocado so that it doesn't brown.
- I like this salad best when eaten right away, but it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 48 hours without getting too soggy.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated and is an estimate, not a guarantee. For accurate results, be sure to use the labels on your ingredients at home.
If you try this recipe, please leave a comment and rating below to let me know how you like it. And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too! We can all learn from your experience.
More Kale Recipes
Here are more delicious ways to use up any extra kale you have on hand.
- Kale Quinoa Salad
- Vegan Kale Caesar Salad
- Red Lentil & Kale Quinoa
- Kale Salad with Peach Vinaigrette
- Lentil, Kale, & Quinoa Stew
- All Hail Kale Salad
Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite way to serve kale?