Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing

Kale. Gosh, when did kale get so popular? It is certainly a food trend and here I am jumping on the train with kale salad. This Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing is a refreshing and healthy salad everyone will enjoy!

angled shot of bowl of kale salad with text overlay for facebook


I have to tell you, it took me a while to jump on this kale crazy bandwagon. There was something about the flavor and texture of kale salads that weren’t for me until I realized I hadn’t been making them the right way.

Kale is slightly sweet, slightly bitter, hearty green. It makes a wonderfully vibrant and voluminous salad, but also does well in soups and stews, like my Pork Ragu, because it doesn’t breakdown as spinach would.

It is a year-round vegetable and an excellent choice for nutritional reasons as well. The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B6 found in kale all support heart health.

It is also found in many green smoothies for great flavor, great texture, and all the amazing things listed above.I am a firm believer that salads don’t have to be boring. Just check out my tips for exciting salads.

overhead shot of bowl of tossed salad

Types of Kale

There are several common types of kale that are widely available. Here are some of the most popular varieties:

  1. Curly Kale: Curly kale is perhaps the most recognizable type of kale. It has ruffled, curly leaves and a slightly bitter taste. The leaves are usually dark green or purple, and they have a robust texture. Curly kale is versatile and can be used in salads, soups, sautés, or even baked into kale chips.
  2. Lacinato Kale (also known as Tuscan Kale or Dinosaur Kale): Lacinato kale has long, narrow, dark blue-green leaves with a bumpy texture. They are generally large leaves, hence the dino kale name. It has a slightly sweeter and more delicate flavor compared to curly kale. Lacinato kale is often used in Italian cuisine and is great for soups, stews, sautés, and raw salads.
  3. Red Russian Kale: Red Russian kale has flat, fringed leaves that are green with purple veins. It has a mild flavor and a tender texture. Red Russian kale is often used in salads, sautés, and smoothies.
  4. Redbor Kale: Redbor kale is a variety of curly kale with vibrant, deep purple or reddish leaves. It has a slightly milder flavor than curly kale and retains its color even after cooking. Redbor kale is often used in salads or as a colorful garnish.
  5. Siberian Kale: Siberian kale has large, flat, blue-green leaves that are tender and slightly sweet. It is one of the hardiest varieties and can withstand cold weather. Siberian kale is suitable for various cooking methods, including sautés, stir-fries, and soups.
  6. Black Kale– Much harder to come by, but very mystical in appearance.

These are just a few examples, and there are other kale varieties available as well. Each type of kale has its own unique flavor profile and texture. The most common and widely available kale leaf is curly kale.

Why Do You Massage Kale?

Massaging kale is a technique used to prepare raw kale before consuming it in salads or other dishes. Kale has a tough and fibrous texture, and massaging helps to break down its structure, making it more tender and enjoyable to eat. Here are a few reasons why people choose to massage kale:

  1. Texture improvement: Massaging kale helps to soften its leaves and reduce their toughness. By breaking down the fibers, the kale becomes easier to chew and digest.
  2. Bitterness reduction: Raw kale can have a slightly bitter taste, which can be lessened through massaging. The process helps to release some of the natural compounds that contribute to the bitterness, making the kale milder in flavor.
  3. Enhanced flavor absorption: Massaging kale with a dressing or oil allows the leaves to absorb the flavors more effectively. This step can help the kale to better incorporate the dressing’s flavors, resulting in a tastier and more well-rounded salad.

Why You’ll Love This Kale Salad

Crisp kale tossed in a light lemon dressing with all kind of crunch- what’s not to love!

  • Easy to throw together – From start to finish, you can have this easy kale salad ready in only 20 minutes. You can’t beat that!
  • Health benefits – While I’m no doctor, kale can provide lots of health benefits. It’s high in all kinds of vitamins, loaded with antioxidants and can reduce cholesterol.
  • Customizable – Although I love this kale salad exactly as is, there are plenty of ways for you to make it your own.


All of the simple ingredients for this simple kale salad can be found easily at your local grocery store. 

  • Kale – For this salad, we want the stems removed- just keep the leafy green part. Also make sure it is shredded for easier eating. 
  • Radicchio – Make sure the core is removed and this is also shredded. You only want the leaves.
  • Basil – Fresh basil adds not only a bite but also fresh flavor to this easy kale salad recipe.
  • Salt and pepper – I prefer to use sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.
  • Lemon – Always use fresh lemon instead of the bottled variety. We will use the lemon for both fresh lemon juice and lemon zest.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – We need a drizzle of olive oil for our lemony dressing.
  • Dried currants – I love the slight sweetness that currants bring to this best kale salad recipe. They also give another texture. 
  • Walnuts – Toasted walnuts add both flavor and crunch to our salad.
  • Pecorino Romano – There’s nothing like topping a fresh salad with freshly grated cheese.
overhead shot of kale salad ingredients

How to Make Kale Salad

With it’s simple dressing and basic ingredients, this is the easiest way to make a kale salad. 

  1. Toss greens. In a large salad bowl toss kale, radicchio and basil. Season dry greens with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss.
  2. Make dressing. Whisk extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice and lemon zest in a small bowl.
  3. Add dressing to greens. Toss greens with half of dressing.
  4. Toss with cheese, currants and walnuts. Add half cup cheese, currants and walnuts as well as the remaining dressing. Toss again.
  5. Top with remaining cheese. Garnish with remaining cheese and enjoy

What to Serve with Kale Salad

I love serving this salad as both a main meal and a side dish. For parties or large dinners, fix the salad in a large bowl with the dressing on the side.

This salad tastes great as an easy side dish alongside things like pork chops, rotisserie chicken, parmesan linguine or steak frites but you can serve it with just about anything!


There are endless ways you can make this raw kale salad recipe your own.

  • Dressing – Not a fan of lemon? Change up the dressing! Whip up a simple dressing with dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup and a little oil. You could even use lime juice, white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar.
  • Crunch – Instead of using walnuts, try using crispy chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, homemade croutons or sunflower seeds instead.
  • Fruit – Instead of currants, you could use sweet apples cut into slices or dried cranberries for an element of sweet.
  • Veggies – Feel free to throw in some extra vegetables. Red onion, cucumbers or bell peppers would all be great additions.

Storage and Freezing

Storage: You can store any leftover kale salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. In fact, this is a great salad for meal prep; just prep them into smaller containers and they’re ready to grab and go for lunch!

Freezing: I do not recommend freezing this fresh kale salad. The different components will not all thaw correctly. 

Easy Salad Recipes

Salads don’t have to be boring! Here are more salads to be served as a side dish or even entree that just might interest you.

Frisee and passion fruit salad

Passion Fruit Caprese Salad

Passion Fruit Caprese Salad, a summer salad offered by Omni Hotels & Resorts, combines a sweet and spicy serrano-passion fruit dressing and avocado spread with a traditional Caprese salad.
See The Recipe!
Skirt Steak Salad - an easy and healthy dinner solution that uses 6 ingredients and a simple homemade miso ginger dressing. The only steak salad recipe you need! #steaksaladrecipe #skirtsteaksalad www.savoryexperiments.com

Hanger Steak Salad Recipe

Hanger Steak Salad is an easy and healthy dinner solution using only 6 ingredients and a simple homemade miso ginger dressing.
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shot of toppings on wedge salad

Classic Wedge Salad

This Wedge Salad replicates the steakhouse favorite with its towering lettuce, creamy blue cheese, crispy bacon and bright, juicy tomatoes!
See The Recipe!
angled shot of bowl of kale salad with text overlay for pinterest
angled shot of bowl of kale salad

Kale Salad Recipe

4.23 from 9 votes
Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing is tossed with currants, radicchio, walnuts and a lemon dressing. Learn how to massage kale salad and make a delicious salad! 
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6




  • In a large salad bowl toss the kale, radicchio and basil. Season thedry greens with the sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss and set aside.
  • Whisk the olive oil, fresh lemon juice and lemon zest in a small bowl.
  • Toss the greens with half of the prepared salad dressing.
  • Add 1/2 cup of the cheese, currants and walnuts as well as the remaining dressing. Toss again.
  • Garnish with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.


Massaging kale manually tenderizes it, making it better and easier to eat! 


Calories: 246 kcal, Carbohydrates: 10 g, Protein: 8 g, Fat: 20 g, Saturated Fat: 4 g, Cholesterol: 17 mg, Sodium: 217 mg, Potassium: 330 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 4 g, Vitamin A: 4530 IU, Vitamin C: 54.3 mg, Calcium: 259 mg, Iron: 1.3 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 246
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: kale salad
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
collage of kale salad for pinterest
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

4.23 from 9 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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