You won’t believe how great this salad is- its a kale salad topped with lemon vinaigrette and pecan parmesan topping!

I may be the only person that can’t stomach kale in smoothies (sorry, not sorry) but give it to me in a salad any day and I’m a happy girl.

Sidenote: we don’t eat out very often but Panera is one of our quick stops when we do and I love, triple love, their kale caesar salad. Thanks for letting me throw that unsponsored love out there.

A white bowl full ow cranberry pecan kale salad with metal tongs on the side.

This make-at-home kale salad is my favorite. And even though I haven’t quite decided on the other food shenanigans that may or may not happen this Thanksgiving, I do know, with certainty, that this kale salad will happen.

Simple enough for every day/any day (serve it alone or with a no-brainer protein, like grilled chicken, for a delicious, healthy, easy meal) and elegant and yummy enough for the most special of occasions – that’s the true test of a winning recipe.

Metal tongs taking a helping of kale salad out of a white bowl.

And speaking of winning. That pecan Parmesan topping? Winning.

It is so delightfully crunchy and nutty and slightly salty-cheesy that I don’t ever want to eat anything else ever without pecan Parmesan topping. Really. It totally makes the salad.

If you are new to kale salads, don’t be alarmed by the whole massaging part.

The rather tough kale leaves are helped along in texture and flavor by rubbing a tiny bit of salt into the chopped salad for a couple of minutes.

Metal tongs lifting a helping of cranberry kale salad onto a white plate.

And it’s actually quite therapeutic. My kids have started encouraging me to go make a kale salad when they know I’m about to lose it. “Mom. Mom! We’re really craving massaged kale salad. Like now!!”

It calms me.
I have issues.
I’m ok with that.

Feel free to go crazy with the elements in this salad. Chopped honey crisp apples would be a fabulous addition. As well as a bit of crumbled feta or goat cheese.

The dressing is lemony and delicious – you can add a bit more sweetness if that’s your thing. Make it your own. Go.

A large helping of cranberry pecan kale salad on a white plate.

One Year Ago: Baked Ham and Swiss Malibu Chicken
Two Years Ago: Soft Pretzel Rolls
Three Years Ago: Glazed Chocolate Chip Scones


My Favorite Kale Salad {Lemon Vinaigrette + Pecan Parmesan}

4.67 stars (21 ratings)



  • 12-14 ounces kale, about 2 bunches, stemmed and finely shredded or chopped
  • Pinch of sea salt or coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4-1/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 3-4 slices cooked crumbled bacon (optional)


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Pinch coarse black pepper
  • Pinch of coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup or honey

Pecan Parmesan Topping:

  • ½ cup pecan halves, lightly toasted
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt


  • For the salad, place the chopped kale in a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Rub the salt into the kale for 2-3 minutes. You’ll notice the kale starting to soften and darken in color.
  • For the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients until well-combined. Pour over the salad and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour (you can serve it right away but I think it tastes best if the kale and dressing have time to sit for an hour).
  • For the pecan parmesan topping, pulse the pecans in a blender or food processor until coarsely chopped. Add the Parmesan, olive oil and salt and continue to pulse until it resembles coarse crumbs. The size is up to you but I like the pieces fairly small (but not turning to mush, if that makes sense).
  • Add the craisins and bacon to the salad and toss.
  • Sprinkle the pecan topping over the salad. Serve immediately.


Serving: this salad is best served the day it’s made (unless storing the pecan topping/bacon separately – then the kale and dressing can be combined up to a day in advance).
Serving: 1 Serving, Calories: 234kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 5mg, Sodium: 218mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 7g

Recipe Source: adapted from this recipe at Oh She Glows