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 in a serving bowl

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!

close up shot of kale salad with cranberries

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.

  1. Pick Lacinato (also called Dinosaur or Italian Kale) whenever you can find it. This variety of kale makes the best salads!
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 

step-by-step instructions for how to cut up kale for salad

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. 

  1. Rinse and dry your kale. 
  2. Cut out the rib from the bottom 2/3rds of the kale. 
  3. 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. 
  4. Place in a bowl for the next step – massaging the kale!

step-by-step instructions for how to make kale salad

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!

  1. Shake together the ingredients for the dressing in a mason jar.
  2. Pour 1-2 tablespoons of the dressing over the kale and massage with your hands for 2-3 minutes. 
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients.
  4. 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. 

Close up image of kale cranberry 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. 

 

close up shot of kale salad in white bowl with serving spoon
5 from 6 votes

Kale Salad with Cranberries

Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 6 servings
This EASY kale salad recipe will become your go-to! A few tricks help this Kale Cranberry Salad turn out delicious every time. Kale salad is the perfect side dish for meal-prep, dinners, potlucks and more!

Ingredients

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

Instructions 

  • 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!

Notes

MAKE-AHEAD: This salad can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you're making this salad a few hours in advance you can add everything except the almonds, and top with the almonds before serving. If you're making this a few days in advance you may want to add the apple and almond right before serving. 
My favorite type of kale to use is Lacinato (also called Dinosaur or Italian Kale) This variety of kale makes the best salads!
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. 

Nutrition

Calories: 236.89kcal | Carbohydrates: 21.36g | Protein: 4.43g | Fat: 16.42g | Saturated Fat: 3.48g | Cholesterol: 11.13mg | Sodium: 250.23mg | Potassium: 190.02mg | Fiber: 2.36g | Sugar: 15.35g | Vitamin A: 2783.01IU | Vitamin C: 20.8mg | Calcium: 106.33mg | Iron: 0.75mg

Recipe originally published November 2015. Updated with new pictures and instructions in October 2019. 

 

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Hi, I’m Erin!

BS Food Science,

MS Nutrition

I believe you can make amazing, gluten-free food with everyday ingredients that everyone will enjoy. I’m here to share my tried-and-true recipes with you!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    WOW! I have only made kale salad once before and was hesitant because…kale (lol). This salad was easy to put together with things I had in the house, I did have to make a couple of substitutions but it was amazing! My husband even loved it and that’s saying a lot. It will def be in the rotation as long as I can get the kale at my local Farmer’s Market. Thank you!
    Note: I didn’t have much lemon juice, so added some 12 year white balsamic and left out the honey. Had no cabbage or apples. I grated the carrots and some radishes , added diced red onion and dried cranberries – no almonds or cheese…looking forward to making again and love that I have these options available….super yummy! ♥

  2. 5 stars
    Yay, finally a kale salad that is good enough to serve to guests! It is so hard to flavor these greens but you have done it perfectly, thanks!

  3. 5 stars
    This salad is amazing! I have never eaten kale before and of course have heard horror stories as well as knowing how healthy it is, so I thought I’d give it a try. I made this for Thanksgiving and everyone loved it. In fact I had several requests to make it again the next day which I did. The only thing I changed the second time around is I omitted the onions. None of us are big onion fans and the red onion to me was overpowering. So thank you for a new delicious side dish that will be made frequently.
    Terry

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