This crunchy Kale Salad is loaded with flavor and nutrition!

Spring and summer are the perfect time of year for crunchy, colorful salads. This one is low on calories but loaded with nutrition! A quinoa-based salad provides a burst of protein. Add fiber-filled kale, and a touch of sweet cranberry and it’s a recipe for success. Toss it together in a bright lemon vinaigrette that energizes. Just like the iconic Caesar Salad, a kale salad is a hearty, healthy side that will be on menu rotation all year long.

mixing Kale Salad in a glass bowl

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Crisp Kale Salad

  • Kale’s superfood status makes it a healthy choice to add to a breakfast, lunch, or dinner recipe. And kale has  antioxidants, vitamins C, K, and iron to make it a perfect addition to soups, stews, stir-fries, and casseroles.
  • Kale salad can be made in advance and kept cold until ready to toss with the dressing. The dressing can also be used as a stir fry sauce or stirred into rice for a quick and easy side dish!
  • Can be served as an entrée salad with shredded chicken, smoked salmon, or diced tofu!
  • Scoop kale salad into a pita bread pocket or a low-carb wrap for a delicious grab-and-go lunch!
  • Try adding chopped kale to a Creamy Coleslaw, or a hearty Hamburger Soup Recipe. Or serve this elegant salad with  Smoked Baby Back Ribs or Air Fryer Buttermilk Fried Chicken.

ingredients to make Kale Salad

Ingredients and Variations

THE BASE: Quinoa and kale make up the base of this amazing salad. But quinoa can be mixed with or substituted with long grain brown rice. For extra green leafy vegetables, kale can be mixed with arugula, spinach or romaine lettuce.

ADD INS: Cranberries, sunflower seeds, and Parmesan cheese round out the flavor profile. Other healthy add-ins can be whole cherry tomatoes, raw or roasted beets, diced sweet potatoes, or quartered brussels sprouts. Try adding in avocado slices, and chopped red or green apples. Feta or bleu cheese crumbles will give the salad a tangier flavor over the parmesan.

top view of Kale Salad in a bowl

How to Cut Kale for Salad

Massaging kale makes it tender and flavorful—plus it becomes easier to chew and digest. To get the best results, cut off the stems and then chop it into desired sizes. Place it in a large bowl and cover hands with olive oil, then gently massage the leaves until they become a darker green color.

As mentioned in the Kale Quinoa Salad recipe, my preferred way is to simply chope the kale finely with a sharp knife. I find that finely chopped kale melds very nicely with the kale salad dressing and that massaging is not needed for this cold quinoa salad.

close up of plated Kale Salad

How to Make Kale Salad

In a pinch for time? Buy pre-packaged baby kale that doesn’t need trimming or massaging.

  1. Whisk together dressing ingredients (per recipe below) & chill in the refrigerator.
  2. Cook & cool the quinoa.
  3. Add all salad ingredients (and a preferred protein source) to a large bowl & toss with dressing.

PRO TIP: Sauté sunflower seeds in a small pan until they are barely fragrant. Let them cool before adding to the salad. Toasting nuts for any recipe intensifies their flavor and makes them extra crunchy.

plated Kale Salad with a bowl full in the back


Keep kale salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Refresh it by tossing with additional dressing or a squeeze of fresh lemon. Store extra dressing in a cruet or mason jar in the refrigerator and it will last about 10 days.

close up of Kale Salad on a fork

Other Easy Salad Recipes To Try!

top view of Kale Salad in a bowl
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Kale Salad

Crispy and colorful kale salad with quinoa is loaded with flavor and is a nutritional powerhouse.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Candace



  • 2 cups cooked quinoa cooled (cook according to package directions), approximately ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 3 cups kale
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese

To serve as a meal or lunch

  • 2 cups chicken chopped, optional*



  • In a large bowl (or a separate small bowl), whisk together dressing ingredients.
  • Add quinoa, kale, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and parmesan cheese to large bowl. Toss with dressing to combine.
  • Top with chicken if using, or add in and toss chicken with the kale and quinoa if preferred.
  • Garnish and serve with additional cranberries, seeds, and/ or parmesan cheese as desired.


*equivalent to about 2 chicken breasts, or use other leftover meat
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Nutrition Information

Calories: 359 | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 219mg | Potassium: 548mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 5126IU | Vitamin C: 67mg | Calcium: 187mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.

Course Appetizer, Dressing, Lunch, Salad
Cuisine American

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Adapted from Kale Quinoa Salad, inspired by Jo Cooks

plated Kale Salad with bowl full in the back and spoons with a title

close up of Kale Salad on a fork with writing

plated Kale Salad with a title

ingredients to make Kale Salad and close up on a fork with a title

Kale Salad on a plate and in a bowl with writing


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About the author

I am a wife, mother of two, and professional accountant. I love fantastic food, and it is so often the center of our lives, from everyday dinner, to family gatherings, and special evenings at fabulous restaurants. I have always loved cooking and baking, with my mom and grandma, and now, with my daughter and son. I love trying new recipes while enjoying my favorites too. I’m so happy to share them with you.
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