Kale Salad

This raw kale salad with avocado is a treat for the eyes and your taste buds! Paired with avocados and the perfect tahini dressing, you’ll love this easy summer salad to serve alongside Black Bean Burgers, Vegan Kebabs, and more!

A large bowl is full of raw kale salad, showing bits of avocado and walnuts on top. There is more dressing and a chopped red onion in the background.

I love increasing the healthy foods in my diet during the summer months, especially raw foods like salads. That’s one reason I love this perfect summer kale salad. It has a bit of creaminess thanks to the dressing. I swear it reminds me of eating a kale potato salad. I don’t think that’s a thing, but it works!

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • Allowing the kale to marinate with the sauce tenderizes it, making it a tasty salad
  • Black pepper is more than a garnish, it actually increases the bioavailability of the kale’s nutrients
  • Avocado infuses this salad with healthy fats, making every bite nutritious but also delicious!
Ingredients are on a white table. The labels next to them read, Kale, lemon juice, spices, garlic, tahini, maple syrup, walnuts, onion, olive oil, and avocado.

What You Need

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Kale — I like curly kale that you can find in the produce section of most grocery stores. See more on kale below.
  • Avocado — You’ll need one avocado.
  • Red onion — I like the red onion for this recipe because of its flavor and color. You can substitute green onion or a mild yellow onion.
  • Nuts — Any number of nuts or seeds are great additions to this recipe, such as walnuts, pecans, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Lemon juice — You can use fresh or bottled lemon juice or substitute apple cider vinegar or lime juice.
  • Tahini — Personally, I think tahini (sesame paste) is the best. You can find it in the international aisle or sometimes in the health food section of grocery stores. You can substitute almond butter or sunflower seed butter.
  • Maple syrup — You can substitute agave nectar.
  • Olive oil — I prefer olive oil, but you can substitute another neutral vegetable oil such as avocado oil.
  • Salt & Pepper — Season your salad with a bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

You can add a teaspoon or two of dried mustard powder to the dressing. This will add flavor to the dressing and the mustard makes the nutrients in the kale more bioavailable. [Source]

Ingredient Spotlight

A bunch of kale sits on a white counter.

What Kale is Best for Kale Salad?

Look for green bunches of kale that have crisp leaves. Choosing kale with smaller leaves can be perfect for salads, as they can be more tender and have a milder flavor. Avoid bunches that have yellowed or browned leaves. Red kale (with a purple stalk) also offers a more mild flavor. I prefer curly kale because it’s easily available. Be sure to cut your kale first and then rinse it to help remove any bitter flavor.

How to Make Raw Kale Salad

  1. Prepare the kale by cutting the leaves, rinsing, and patting dry with paper towels.
  2. Chop the veggies and place them with the kale in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients. 
  4. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and stir until all the pieces of kale are coated.
  5. Cover and refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour.

Here are more detailed step-by-step instructions.

Step One: Prepare the Kale

  1. Tear or cut the leaves away from the thick stalks.
  2. Discard the stalks and place the leaves in a large bowl.
  3. Rinse and drain the leaves.
  4. Tap the kale dry with paper towels or a kitchen towel.
  5. Tear or chop the leaves into small, bite-size pieces, resulting in 4 to 6 cups of kale.

America’s Test Kitchen explains that by rinsing kale after it’s cut you can eliminate some of its bitterness.

A hand holds a paper towel, dabbing moisture off of raw kale leaves.

Step Two: Prepare the Veggies

  1. Skin the avocado and remove the pit, then cut it into bite-size cubes
  2. Peel and chop the red onion until you achieve a sufficient quantity
  3. Chop the nuts into small pieces (if using walnuts or pecans).

Step Three: Prepare the Kale Salad Dressing

Prepare the dressing by whisking the ingredients together in a bowl.

Step Four: Make the Salad and Chill

Drizzle the dressing over the salad and gently stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate the salad for at least an hour, but up to overnight.

Marly’s Tips

The secret to a great kale salad is letting the dressing infuse into the greens. Because kale is so hardy, it can handle marinading with the dressing for a while.

Serving Suggestions

You can serve this vegan kale salad as a meal within itself or serve it with any of the following:

Storage Tips

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. This salad is not recommended for freezing.

Looking down on a bowl of kale salad with chunks of avocado and walnuts on top.

This recipe was adapted with permission by Kathy Patalsky. Kathy at Healthy Happy Life. She’s also the founder of Finding Vegan, a recipe-sharing site for vegan recipes.

Frequently-Asked Questions

Is kale salad keto-friendly?

You can make a kale salad keto-friendly by using a zero calorie sweetener in place of the maple syrup. Or serve it savory without any sweetener at all. Either way, you’re looking at a salad with less than 10 net grams of carbs.

Is raw kale good for you?

Raw kale is highly nutritious and thus a healthy part of your diet. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable, meaning that it’s a low-calorie green that is loaded with minerals and vitamins.

Can I add more dressing?

If you have a big bunch of kale or you simply love the dressing and want more of it, you can double the dressing to infuse this salad with even more creamy flavor.

More Vegan Salads

This massaged kale salad is the best! Here are even more vegan salads you’ll enjoy:

A large bowl is full of raw kale salad, showing bits of avocado and walnuts on top. There is more dressing and a chopped red onion in the background.

Kale Salad

This is the best kale salad for your next outdoor party because it's so easy to make and beautiful, too. It's so delicious no one will realize how healthy it is, too!
5 from 2 votes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Marinating Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 148kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 small avocado, peeled, pit removed, and diced
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Lemon Tahini Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (substitute apple cider vinegar or lime juice)
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (substitute nut or seed butter)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • teaspoon sea salt
  • teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Tear or cut the leaves away from the thick stalks. Discard the stalks and place the leaves in a large bowl. Rinse and drain the leaves. Drain the water and tap the kale dry with paper towels or a kitchen towel. Tear or chop the leaves into small, bite-size pieces, resulting in 4 to 6 cups of kale.
  • Place the kale, avocado, nuts, and onion in a large bowl.

For the Tahini Dressing

  • Prepare the dressing by combining the ingredients in a bowl, and whisking until combined.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the salad and stir until all the pieces of kale are coated.
  • Cover and refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour and up to overnight to allow the dressing to infuse the kale.

(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)

Notes

Tip: Feel free to double the dressing if you’d like extra coating on your Kale. Also, you can easily change up the veggies and other add-ins as desired!
Recipe adapted from HEALTHY HAPPY VEGAN KITCHEN, © 2015 by Kathy Patalsky.
Calories: 148kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 86mg | Potassium: 290mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1003IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

This post was originally published in 2015 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.

7 Responses to Kale Salad

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyCorrine Reply

    Giving up cottage cheese was the most difficult for me.

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyLydia Claire Reply

    When I’m shopping at Costco and I’m hungry I sometimes have vegetarian samples. But I’ve only done that once this year and stayed with only vegan samples most of the time.

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyCasey Reply

    My biggest challenge when I started out was that I was having to make two meals a night in order to accomodate my stepson. Now we all eat vegan at home!

  4. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyNicollette D Reply

    5 stars
    Like so many people, the hardest part of going vegan for me was giving up cheese. And now, I don’t even miss it!

  5. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyJulia Reply

    The biggest challenge was that my spouse was not supportive. Otherwise, going vegan was easy!

  6. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyLiza Reply

    This salad sounds really delicious. Been looking for salad dressing recipes so I can start making my own so the recipe for the dressing is really a plus.

  7. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyKaren D Reply

    Biggest problem was resistance from my family… didn’t want to eat what I’d make.

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