There’s nothing better than a great kale Caesar salad! This one is tossed with creamy dressing and showered in crunchy breadcrumbs.

Kale Caesar Salad

There’s nothing better than a classic Caesar salad…unless it’s a Kale Caesar Salad! Using hearty kale leaves in a Caesar salad has become popular in restaurants: and for good reason. The fluffy, ridged texture of the leaves are ideal for coating in Caesar dressing. This spin on the Kale Caesar is our go-to, with a fresh, creamy homemade dressing and crunchy breadcrumbs in every bite. It’s versatile enough to go with just about anything and the flavor? This might be the most addicting salad you’ve had. (Addicting salad? Yes you heard that right.)

Ingredients in this kale Caesar salad

Using kale in a Caesar salad rose to popularity in the early 2000’s. In fact, according to Taste the first instances of a kale salad were Mario Batali’s restaurant Lupa in around 2002 and chef Joshua McFadden at Franny’s in New York City in 2007. These days, a kale salad is as ubiquitous as a taco: so it was only a matter of time that Caesar dressing would be added to the mix.

In our kale Caesar salad we massage the kale leaves first so they become soft, then toss them in our favorite Greek yogurt Caesar dressing. Here’s what you’ll need for this kale Caesar salad:

Kale Caesar Salad

Use Tuscan kale, but curly works

This kale Caesar salad works with any type of kale, but the best option here is Tuscan kale. This dark green Italian variety of kale has a milder flavor than curly kale, which can be very spicy. We almost exclusively work with this type of kale in our recipes. Curly kale works too, but look for Tuscan if you can find it.

  • Tuscan kale, aka Lacinato or dinosaur kale, has dark green, flat leaves and a mildly bitter flavor. It’s common in Italian dishes like this Tuscan White Bean Soup or Kale Soup.
  • Curly kale is brighter green and very curly. The flavor is bitter and spicy., which is why we usually prefer Tuscan kale.

Avoid using baby kale here. Baby kale is kale that’s harvested before it’s mature and sold in boxes in grocery stores and farmer’s markets. It’s much more tender and can’t stand up to the creamy dressing here.

Tuscan kale

Massage the kale first

Kale is a delicious salad green, but it has a tough, fibrous texture. How to make it more palatable? Massage it first! Yes, playing masseuse to your vegetables sounds counterintuitive. But all you’ll do is drizzle with a bit of oil, then massage the leaves with your fingers until they are soft and pliable. This both helps to make the flavor sweeter and the texture of the raw leaves softer.

For the Kale Caesar dressing

The star of this kale Caesar salad is the fresh, creamy homemade Caesar dressing. This one is a go-to we’ve been making in our family for years: and we hope you love it as much as we do! Using Greek yogurt lightens it up and reduces the calories from a standard Caesar. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Greek yogurt: For a fresh and healthy spin, use Greek yogurt to replace some of the standard mayonnaise! It reduces calories while staying irresistibly creamy.
  • Mayonnaise: That signature savory creaminess comes from mayonnaise: you’ll need it to help the dressing cling to the greens.
  • Lemon juice: Fresh lemon juice brings a pop of acidity.
  • Parmesan cheese: Parmesan brings in a savory saltiness.
  • Anchovy paste or Worcestershire sauce: Anchovies are very traditional, or substitute Worcestershire sauce for vegetarian.
  • Garlic & Dijon mustard: These round out the tangy, savory flavor.
Kale Caesar Salad

Vegan variation

Want to make a vegan kale Caesar salad instead? Swap in this Vegan Caesar Dressing! It’s full of big flavor from chickpeas, lemon and miso paste to make a big, savory statement. Head to the recipe for more.

Italian Panko stands in for croutons

The croutons are an integral part of any good Caesar salad. But this kale Caesar features breadcrumbs instead! Top your salad with a sprinkle of panko and it brings a crunchy texture that spreads out into every bite. Here are some notes on using panko and Italian panko for a salad:

  • Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb mixture that is airier and lighter than traditional breadcrumbs. It has a crunchy texture which is more satisfying on salads (purchased breadcrumbs are much finer with almost a sand-like texture).
  • “Italian” means herbs and salt are added. You should be able to find Italian panko or panko easily at your local grocery store.
  • Only have plain panko? Mix ½ cup panko with ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt and ½ tablespoon Italian seasoning (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano and ¼ teaspoon each dried basil and thyme).
  • Want to use homemade breadcrumbs? You can do that too. Go to How to Make Breadcrumbs.

And that’s it! Let us know how you like this one in the comments: it’s a favorite of ours that makes leafy green kale irresistibly tasty.

More kale recipes

Love kale? This darling vegetable is certainly having a renaissance in popular cooking. Here are a few more tasty kale recipes:

This kale Caesar salad recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free panko or croutons. For vegan, use Vegan Caesar Dressing.

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Kale Caesar Salad

Kale Caesar Salad


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

There’s nothing better than a great kale Caesar salad! This one is tossed with creamy dressing and showered in crunchy breadcrumbs.


Ingredients

Scale

For the salad

  • 2 bunches Tuscan kale
  • ¼ cup Italian panko (gluten-free as necessary)*
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese shavings

For the Caesar dressing (makes 1 cup; use ½ cup), or substitute vegan Caesar

  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced or grated
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste or Worcestershire sauce (or omit)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces and place it in a bowl. Sprinkle the kale with a very small drizzle of olive oil. Massage the leaves with your fingers for 2 to 3 minutes until the pieces are tender and softened.
  2. Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl. Store leftovers refrigerated in a covered jar for up to 1 week.
  3. Drizzle the kale with about ½ cup of the dressing and mix to combine. Add the Parmesan cheese shavings. Place the kale on a large platter or small serving plates. Sprinkle with panko and serve.

Notes

*Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb mixture that is airier and lighter than traditional breadcrumbs. “Italian” means herbs and salt are added. You should be able to find Italian panko or plain panko easily at your local grocery store (often they also sell gluten-free). If all you have is plain panko, you can season it: mix ½ cup panko with ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt and ½ tablespoon Italian seasoning (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano and ¼ teaspoon each dried basil and thyme).

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: No cook
  • Cuisine: Salad
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Kale caesar salad

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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