This EASY kale salad recipe will become your go-to! A few tricks help this Kale Salad with Cranberries turn out delicious every time. Kale salad is the perfect side dish for meal-prep, dinners, potlucks and more!
Looking for more tasty sides? Try this Best Quinoa Salad Recipe with baby kale!
Kale Salad with Cranberries
If you’re undecided about kale salads or even decided they aren’t for you, give this one a try! Speaking as someone who didn’t grow up eating kale salads, this one has me totally converted. I crave it! The fresh greens with the lemony dressing taste delicious with the crisp apples, cabbage and carrots. The dried cranberries also add the perfect sweetness.
One of my favorite things about kale salads is that they are a great make-ahead option. Kale holds up really well with a lemony dressing, as do the other ingredients in this salad.
You can make kale salad in advance and use it for meal-prep, parties or potlucks. It’s also a great side for the holidays. If you’re making this salad in advance just leave the almonds off until right before serving. Everything else will hold up great!
Tips for Making Delicious Kale Salad
There are a few things I’ve learned about making delicious kale salads. With a few tricks they can turn out delicious every time.
- Pick Lacinato (also called Dinosaur or Italian Kale) whenever you can find it. This variety of kale makes the best salads!
- Remove the rib and cut the kale up finely. Kale is definitely a sturdy green so it’s best to cut the kale up finely for salads. It tastes so much better finely chopped than in big chunks.
- Toss with a lemony dressing. A zingy flavorful dressing with something like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar is best to pair with kale. The acidity counteracts the sometimes strong flavor kale can have.
- Add ingredients that compliment the kale. I like to add a variety of ingredients for texture, sweetness and color to this kale salad. Adding red cabbage in particular is a great option to balance out the kale.
How to Cut Kale for Salad
How you cut the kale for Kale Cranberry Salad matters so much! Here are some step-by-step instructions to help show you how.
- Rinse and dry your kale.
- Cut out the rib from the bottom 2/3rds of the kale.
- Fold the halves on top of each other and finely chop. You can stack more than one leave together when you’re doing this part.
- Place in a bowl for the next step – massaging the kale!
How to Make Kale Salad
One you get your kale chopped up nice and fine you’re ready to make kale salad. It’s easy to do!
- Shake together the ingredients for the dressing in a mason jar.
- Pour 1-2 tablespoons of the dressing over the kale and massage with your hands for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients.
- Mix together and serve.
Tip: Massaging the kale might sound fancy, but it really is just that – giving the leaves a little massage! Use both hands and rub the dressing into the greens. The kale will wilt and soften sightly, making a delicious salad.
I hope this kale salad recipe is a fool-proof, no-fail kale salad that you’ll make again and again. If you have any questions leave me a comment and I’d love to help. Also, if you try this recipe be sure to leave me a comment below!
More Kale Recipes:
Chicken, Kale & Wild Rice Salad my copy-cat recipe of a favorite restaurant salad!
Creamy Pumpkin Spaghetti with Garlic Kale sautéed kale makes the perfect side for this meal.
Chopped Thai Kale Salad with the tastiest Thai almond butter dressing.
Kale Salad with Cranberries
For the Dressing:
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Salad:
- 1 head of kale, I prefer lacinato or Italian kale, rib removed and very thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup red cabbage, chopped or sliced thinly
- 1 carrot, peeled and grated
- 1/2 cup apple, diced
- 1 tablespoon red onion, finely chopped (optional)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, optional
- Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a small jar, shake vigorously to mix.
- Place the kale in a bowl and add 1-2 tablespoons of the dressing. Use your hands to massage the kale for a few minutes until the leaves turn darker and wilt slightly.
- Add the remaining ingredients for the salad. Add a few more tablespoons of dressing and toss together. Taste for seasonings then serve. Enjoy!
Recipe originally published November 2015. Updated with new pictures and instructions in October 2019.