Easy Kale Chicken Salad Recipe

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This easy kale chicken salad recipe is one of my favorites! It’s super easy to make and features tender kale, crunchy chopped vegetables, and seasoned shredded chicken all tossed in a tangy and creamy salad dressing.

Full of fresh flavors and juicy chicken, this hearty kale salad is the perfect easy dinner served with garlic bread or as a light lunch with crackers.

Kale chicken salad with creamy salad dressing.

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To Kale or To Not To Kale

Kale is one of those vegetables that many people either love or hate. 

I love kale. I ate it so much during my vegetarian stage a few years ago that I got sick of it. But now we are back in my kale era! 

Or you could be like the rest of my family and take a second thought before reaching for the salad bowl from the fridge. 

However, if you don’t like kale, it could be because you haven’t had it prepared the right way. In this healthy kale salad, the kale is massaged before it is combined with the other ingredients. This means that the kale is mixed with a bit of salt until it became tender and soft, making it easier to eat. 

So even if you think you don’t like kale, maybe give this recipe a try and see! Hope you enjoy it!

Chicken Kale Salad Ingredients

kale chicken salad ingredients.

Chicken – I used 1 non-GMO chicken breast. Chicken thighs would also work in this recipe. 

Fresh kale – 1 bundle of green curly kale. Red curly kale, lacinato kale, or dinosaur kale would also be great too!

Chopped veggies – a mix of chopped red cabbage, cucumber, tomato, celery, red onion, and carrots. 

Mayo – The base of the creamy salad dressing. 

Apple Cider Vinegar and lemon juice – both give a tangy and fresh citrus flavor to the dressing.

Olive Oil – Healthy fat that will help keep you fuller for longer. I love the taste of olive oil in salads but a more neutral flavored oil like avocado oil can be used instead. 

Herbs and Spices – to season the chicken. A mix of ground paprika, all-purpose seasoning, cayenne pepper, salt, freshly ground black pepper, dried thyme, and rosemary.

How to Make This Crunchy Kale Chicken Salad:

All ingredients, measurements, and instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Kale chicken salad ingredients on a table.

Step one: Rinse and pat dry the chicken breast. Sprinkle the chicken with a drizzle of olive oil and seasonings. Rub until completely covered. Baked in a 400-degree oven until well browned and fully cooked. Set aside to cool completely then shred the chicken with two forks or cut it into bite-sized pieces. 

Step two: In a large mixing bowl combine the chopped kale with ¼ teaspoon of salt. Massage for 2 – 3 minutes until the leaves have become soft and tender, then add in the rest of the vegetables – red cabbage, cucumber, tomato, celery, carrots, and shredded chicken. 

Kale chicken salad with creamy salad dressing.

Step three: Whisk together all the ingredients for the creamy salad dressing in a small mixing bowl. 

Step four: Pour salad dressing over the salad when you are ready to serve it. Enjoy!

Kale chicken salad in a large bowl.

Variations

  • Hemp hearts or sunflower seeds for crunch
  • Goat cheese or parmesan cheese
  • Shred a rotisserie chicken or top your salad with grilled chicken
  • Fresh broccoli florets or chopped bell peppers

Recommended Tools

Large mixing bowl

Circle baking dish

Sharp knife and cutting mat

Small bowl or jar for mixing the salad dressing ingredients together.

Pepper grinder

Pro Tips

  • Massage the kale with a bit of salt to tenderize it. 
  • Cook the chicken the day before or use a rotisserie chicken if you are short on time. 
  • Pour salad dressing over the salad right before serving to prevent your salad from becoming soggy.

How To Store/ Make Ahead

Store salad in the fridge inside an airtight container for 3 – 5 days.

The chicken can be made 1 – 2 days ahead of time.

Close up on kale salad with shredded chicken.

Frequently Asked Questions —

How do I massage kale?

Add ¼ teaspoon to a bundle of chopped kale. Massage the kale for 2 – 3  minutes or until it softened and reduced volume by ½. The color will be darker and it will start to release some of its water. 

How do you make kale tender?

You can either massage the kale with a bit of salt or let the kale sit with a sprinkle of salt for 5 – 10 minutes and it will start to soften on its own, becoming more tender. 

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Close up on kale salad with shredded chicken.

Kale Chicken Salad

This easy kale chicken salad is one of my favorite recipes! It’s super easy to make and features tender kale, crunchy chopped vegetables, seasoned shredded chicken, and a tangy creamy salad dressing. 
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 222kcal

Ingredients

Roasted Chicken

  • 1 chicken breast boneless, skinless
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon ground paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon all-purpose seasoning
  • teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper

Kale Salad

  • 1 bunch of kale chopped with ribs and stems removed
  • 1 cup red cabbage sliced
  • 2 large carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1 – 2 slices red onion
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped
  • ½ cup cucumber cubed, (½ cucumber)
  • 1 tomato large, chopped

Creamy Salad Dressing

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions 

Cooking the Chicken

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Rinse and pat dry the chicken breast. Add vegetable oil and spices – ground paprika, all-purpose seasoning, salt, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, and cayenne pepper. Rub until all the seasonings evenly cover the chicken. 
  • Place in a parchment paper lined baking dish and bake for 25 – 35 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. It should look golden brown and the juices should run clear. Set aside to cool, then shred. 

Kale Salad

  • Add chopped kale to a large mixing bowl. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt to the kale then massage the leaves for 2- 3 minutes until it is soft and tender.
  • Then add sliced red cabbage, sliced carrots, red onion, chopped celery, cucumber, tomato, and shredded chicken to the bowl with the kale. Mix until everything is combined. 

Make The Salad Dressing

  • In a small mixing bowl add all the ingredients for the dressing – mayo, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and ground black pepper. Whisk until everything is well incorporated. 
  • Pour dressing over kale chicken salad, mix, serve and enjoy!

Notes

All nutrition information is a rough estimate and this recipe card may contain affiliate links. 
Pour the salad dressing right before serving so everything stays crisp and crunchy and not soggy.
Lasts for 3 – 5 days covered in the fridge.

Nutrition

Calories: 222kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 275mg | Potassium: 387mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 4775IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutrition information is automatically generated and should be only used as a rough estimate. This recipe card may contain affiliate links.

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