My Go-To Kale Salad Recipe

Never fails me.

A *good* kale salad is my love language. I’m seriously obsessed with them! To me they are at the tippity top of my favorite food list. I know it sounds nuts to say that a kale salad is one of your favorite foods, like kind of *eye roll* cringeworthy, right?! But… that’s just because you’ve never had one of MY kale salads. They are HUGE, tangy, a touch sweet, and FILLING. Plus there’s nothing like that energy boost post a GIANT bowl of veggies. Trust me, this will make you a kale salad convert…

Kale salad sitting on a window sit and flower box

Three Key Tips to The Best Kale Salad:

  • HOMEMADE DRESSING. Okay I know this sounds like a lot of work, but I promise you it isn’t that bad and it makes a WORLD of difference. If I don’t have time to make a full dressing recipe, I will just squeeze a 1/2 a lemon (get this little $18 gadget – worth every penny!), some olive oil, cracked pepper, salt and call it a day. Regardless, trust me on this, homemade dressing changes everything.

  • MASSAGE THE KALE. This step is crucial, and honestly if it’s skipped don’t even bother eating the salad, it’s not worth it. Massaging the kale changes everything. It’s as simple as it sounds. Just mix together your dressing, pour over the kale, and massage it into the leaves. This will turn the kale tender within 5 minutes and it’s MAGIC. Do NOT skip this step.

  • CHOP IN ADVANCE. This is a meal prep activity involves chopping veggies as soon as you get home from the grocery store. I know this may seem like a lot of chopping, but if you just prep it all at once you will be so darn happy with yourself! I’m telling you, turn on an audio book, a podcast, or your favorite show and you’ll be fully prepped in no time. With half the work done, making a salad over a lunch break is a breeze! And you can do this for your proteins, too…more on that below.


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Kale Salad Formula:

In my opinion there is a kale salad formula. This might sound crazy, but I promise you it works and it’s hard to mess up. I stick to a handful food groups and make sure I have one (or a few!) of each and voila! the perfect kale salad is served. So let me break it down for you…

The Dressing:

I just talked about the dressing, but a good homemade dressing massaged into the kale is KEY. My favorite is this lemon dressing. It’s definitely the dressing I find myself making the most.

Here’s a list of my go-to homemade dressings.

The Protein:

The world is your oyster here! Make your favorite protein and have it chopped up in the fridge so it’s easy just to toss on your salad!

  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Shredded Chicken with Buffalo Sauce
  • Steak
  • Chickpeas
  • Tofu
  • Shrimp
The Veggies:

I love to see how many colors I can get into my salads so I really go for it! But just grab a few of your favorites!

  • Purple cabbage
  • Red Onion
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Red Pepper
  • Green Pepper
  • Yellow Pepper
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Broccoli Slaw
  • Shaved Brussels Sprouts
The Grains:

To keep the salads filling, I like to add about a 1/4 cup of grains… plus it just tastes good!

  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Forbidden Black Rice or Basmati Rice
  • Roasted Beets

The Toppings:

This is the fun part! I will say though, I almost always add a scoop of hummus and avocado! It makes the salad so creamy! If you aren’t already putting hummus on your salad, let this be your sign to start doing so.

  • Avocado
  • Hummus
  • Nuts and Seeds : 1 Tbs. of pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, cashews, pistachios, or sunflower seeds.
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Herbs (mint, cilantro, or basil)

So as you can see it’s honestly pretty simple/fun to make. And like I said above, I like to make it a little game to see just how many colors I can fit into one bowl!

Hopefully this post demystifies the kale salad for you and get’s you excited again about a giant bowl of color.


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  1. Ashley, I’m so inspired to start making kale salads again! I love romaine lettuce salads, but need to mix it up. And I can’t wait to try your lemon dressing recipe. Thanks for the inspiration and meal-prep tips!

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