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Lemon Kale Caesar Salad

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Our lemon kale Caesar salad is an easy take on the classic Caesar, featuring crisp kale instead of traditional romaine lettuce. Tossed in a creamy, lemony dressing and topped with buttery croutons, crunchy bacon and Parmesan cheese, this version is nutrient-dense and full of flavor!

It’s an easy salad to make in advance and leftovers hold up well so you can rest assured your next-day lunch salad will be just as fresh and tasty.

A large bowl of kale salad with croutons on top.

This is our latest iteration of a traditional Caesar salad and we know you’ll love it just as much as the other variations we’ve shared! Check out our salmon Caesar salad and little gem Caesar.

It has the same classic elements that make a Caesar a Caesar- a creamy tangy dressing, crisp greens, salty Parmesan cheese and crunchy croutons.

Fresh kale is the base of this lemon kale Caesar salad recipe, and when it comes to the rest of the prep time, you can choose how involved you want it to be.

Use a creamy dressing from the store for a very low maintenance salad, or make your own with simple dressing ingredients!

And while pre-made croutons are a great option, homemade croutons like these Sourdough Croutons and our Homemade Garlic Croutons might just be the way to go if you have the time.

We’re also including some tasty topping ideas and salad mix-ins that will transform this lemon kale salad into an even heartier meal. Ingredients like hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, crunchy almond slivers, leftover smoked ham, and creamy avocado are optional, but will give you the best salad ever.

Why This Recipe Works

Lemon kale Caesar salad is easy, flavorful and versatile- the trifecta needed for the perfect salad.

You can top it with roasted chicken, shrimp or salmon to make a complete main course or enjoy it as a simple side salad.

The best part is that the sturdy kale holds up well as leftovers, which means you can incorporate this recipe into your weekly meal prep and also enjoy fresh and crisp next-day leftovers

Lemon kale Caesar salad is:

  • a healthy dish that works as a side or main course
  • a great way to enjoy raw kale
  • made with wholesome ingredients
  • delicious and full of flavor!
A single bunch of lacinato kale.

The Ingredients

The homemade Caesar dressing is tangy and savory and definitely worth that extra step, but if you’re pinched for time you can always swap in a creamy Caesar dressing from the grocery store.

To make lemon kale Caesar salad, you will need:

  • garlic
  • egg yolk
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • anchovies
  • Dijon mustard and yellow mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • light olive oil
  • black or white pepper and salt
  • fresh Parmesan cheese
  • Tuscan kale
  • croutons
  • bacon, cooked crisp and chopped

If you want to add those tasty extras, you can top the salad with your favorite protein like grilled chicken breast, along with an avocado, almond slivers and boiled eggs.

The Recipe Highlights

Here’s a quick look at the process but be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page to view the full recipe card.

Make the Caesar dressing: In a food processor, combine all of the dressing ingredients except for the Parmesan. Process until smooth, then stir in the cheese.

Stripping kale off of the rib.

Tear the kale leaves from the ribs (the tough stem) and toss the ribs. Chop the kale into small pieces and add it to a large bowl.

Squeezing lemon juice over kale in a salad bowl.

Sprinkle it with lemon juice and massage kale for 30 seconds. If time permits, you can let it sit for up to 1 hour so the acids in the lemon juice tenderize the kale and mellow the bitter flavor.

Toss the kale with a little bit of salad dressing. Mix well and add more dressing if desired. Store any leftover dressing in the fridge.

Add the croutons, Parmesan cheese, bacon and extra toppings or garnishes like lemon wedges (optional) to the salad. Toss and serve in salad bowls.

A plate filled with lemon kale caesar salad.

Tips for Success

  • If you’d like to make the salad ahead of time, keep the croutons separate until it’s time to serve.
  • This kale Caesar salad will keep well in the fridge for up to five days stored in an airtight container. It will stay fresh if you don’t add the croutons. If they are added, they’ll get soggy sitting in the salad for that long.
  • You can use a high-speed blender, food processor or stick blender to make the dressing.

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? More Recipes You Will Love:

Tri-colored pasta salad with shrimp features tender, tri-colored pasta, crisp veggies and juicy shrimp tossed in a delicious vinaigrette. This fresh and light pasta salad is perfect for lunch, brunches, picnics and barbecues! Serve it with a chicken Caesar sandwich for a hearty meal.

Sweet potato kale salad with black rice is a delicious medley of flavors and textures! Roasted sweet potatoes, kale, nutritious black rice and a simple white balsamic vinaigrette go so well together. Cumin and cinnamon add bold flavors to this hearty dish.

Make our creamy homemade Caesar salad dressing your new go-to! It’s thick and creamy and tangy, and best of all, so quick and easy to prepare.

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A lemon kale caesar salad on a plate with bacon and croutons.

Lemon Kale Caesar Salad

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

This lemon kale caesar salad is an easy take on a classic Caesar salad, and it will keep well if you make it in advance.

The crunchy kale is tossed with a creamy, lemony caesar dressing and topped with crunchy croutons and Parmesan cheese for the perfect combination of flavors and textures. If you want to make this a complete meal, add some grilled or roasted chicken, shrimp, or salmon.

Ingredients

For the Dressing (or use store-bought)

  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1 egg yolk, pasteurized, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1 or 2 anchovies
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup light olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon black or white pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Lemon Kale Caesar Salad

  • 2 bunches Tuscan kale
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups croutons
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and chopped

Optional Extras

  • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  • 1 grilled chicken breast, sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons almond slivers

Instructions

Make the Dressing

  1. In a food processor, combine all the ingredients for the dressing except for the Parmesan cheese. Process until smooth, then stir in the cheese. Alternatively, you can use a stick blender.

For the Salad

  1. Tear the leafy part from the kale ribs and discard the ribs. Chop the kale into small pieces and add to a large salad bowl.
  2. Sprinkle the kale with lemon juice and massage for 30 seconds. If you have time, let the kale sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The acid in the lemon juice will help tenderize the kale and make it less bitter.
  3. Toss the kale with 3 to 4 tablespoons of salad dressing. Mix well and add more dressing if you prefer extra. Store any leftover dressing in the fridge.
  4. Add the croutons, Parmesan cheese, bacon, and additional toppings if using. Toss and serve.

Notes

If you want to make the salad in advance, do not add the croutons until it is time to serve the salad.

The kale Caesar salad will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days if you don't add the croutons (which will get soggy if they are in the salad).

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 377Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 759mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 5gSugar: 2gProtein: 25g

Nutrition information is a guideline only. It is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Pat Nyswonger

Pat is a wife, mom of four adult children, and grandmother to seventeen beautiful children. She is a self-taught home cook and loves creating delicious meals for her family and friends. Her kitchen is the hub of activity in her home, and she loves to entertain.

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