Mexican Kale Salad with Zesty Cilantro Lime Dressing

Dive into deliciousness with this Mexican Kale Salad! This healthy vegetarian salad will completely change your mind about kale forever thanks to its colorful veggie counterparts, crispy seasoned chickpeas, and crazy easy Zesty Cilantro Lime Dressing. SO. FLIPPING. GOOD.

Mexican Kale Salad with Zesty Cilantro Lime Dressing

After the complete and utter debauchery that went down I yesterday, I’m pretty sure I owe y’all some greens.

If this isn’t your first kale rodeo you already know the amazingness you’re in store for today. If you’re new to kale you’re pretty much going to happy dance around your kitchen because I’m about to CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

I’m a wee dramatic, eh? Kale makes me crazy.

You’re welcome for not spelling it krazy.


This Mexican Kale Salad tastes like it came fresh out of a fancy Tex-Mex restaurant. I’m going to insist you make it. It’s that good!

It has a welcome little kick of heat from the jalapeños and the crispy cayenne spiked chickpeas that I absolutely adore. Once you toss the chickpeas in with the salad and dressing all the flavors from the individual ingredients do a little dance, make a little love, and get down with your taste buds!

I swear I’m not normally this cheesy.


Mexican Kale Salad Process Shot

Mexican Kale Salad with Zesty Cilantro Lime Dressing

Recipe yields two large meal-sized salads or 4-6 side salads.

Mexican Kale Salad with Zesty Cilantro Lime Dressing
4.93 from 14 votes

Mexican Kale Salad with Zesty Cilantro Lime Dressing

Since we can get all our prep work done while the chickpeas roast, this protein-packed salad takes only 25 minutes start to finish. SCORE!

Course Salad
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Mexican Kale Salad
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 266 kcal
Author Jenn Laughlin - Peas and Crayons


  • 5 cups chopped curly kale
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup black beans (drain/rinse if canned)
  • 1 cup corn (canned or steam if using fresh/frozen)
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 3-4 TBSP cotija or feta cheese optional
  • fresh chopped cilantro to taste

Crispy Seasoned Chickpeas

  • 15 oz cooked/canned chickpeas
  • 1 TBSP avocado oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Cilantro Lime Dressing

  • 3 TBSP fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil or light olive oil
  • 1 TBSP white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 2 TBSP fresh chopped cilantro


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. First up, let's crisp up those chickpeas!  Drain, rinse, and blot dry with a few paper towels. Toss the chickpeas with olive/avocado oil and salt until lighlty coated, then arrange in an even layer on a baking sheet.  Roast on the center rack for 20-25 minutes until crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. While they're still hot from the oven, add to a bowl with your spices and mix well.
  3. While the chickpeas are roasting, let's whip up the salad and dressing!
  4. For the cilantro lime vinaigrette, combine all the above ingredients in a small mason jar and shake well. 
  5. Next wash and dry your chopped kale (I use my trusty salad spinner)
  6. Add to a large bowl and drizzle kale with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Massage with your fingers until kale darkens in color and takes on a velvety texture. This little rubdown turns the kale into a tender and delicious salad green!
  7. Dice your onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño, removing the seeds/stems. I like to mince half the jalapeno and then slice the rest for topping the salad. Add to your kale along with the black beans and corn. Shake (or whisk) dressing once more and pour over the salad. Toss to coat. 

  8. Add chickpeas, optional cheese (it's great both ways!) and a little extra fresh cilantro if you'd like! Toss together and dig in!

Recipe Notes

VEGAN SWAPS: skip the cotija/feta cheese (it's totally optional anyways) and using sugar or maple syrup in place of the honey. Easy peasy!

The cayenne pepper  and jalapeño peppers control the heat of this salad so use a little less (or skip) for a mild salad. As written, I feel like the salad had a nice punch of flavor and spice without being too spicy! 

Nutrition Facts are an estimate gathered using an online recipe nutrition calculator. Values for salad and chickpeas before dressing is added to taste. Adjust as needed.

Nutrition Facts
Mexican Kale Salad with Zesty Cilantro Lime Dressing
Amount Per Serving
Calories 266 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 7mg2%
Sodium 219mg10%
Potassium 689mg20%
Carbohydrates 39g13%
Fiber 9g38%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 13g26%
Vitamin A 6405IU128%
Vitamin C 97.9mg119%
Calcium 168mg17%
Iron 3.9mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Crispy Seasoned Roasted Chickpeas Process Shot

I’m completely bonkers for this Mexican Kale Salad. If you get a chance to try it, let me know! Leave some love in the comment form below or tag your photos with @peasandcrayons on Instagram so I can happy dance over your creation!

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Recipe Rating


  • Melissa

    5 stars
    Delightful! So easy, full of flavor and nutritious!

    • So glad you enjoyed it, Melissa! Thanks!

  • This salad was so flavorful! Definitely a keeper.

  • Nazli

    I am dying to try this salad. I did not know that one could prep and store kale for as long as a week. Will try this today.

  • JMA

    5 stars
    So good! Added a little quinoa for extra protein – huge hit with the entire family!!

  • Debi Vulelic

    Hi Jenn, this looks so pretty! I plan to make it for a family reunion this weekend so I hope you can get back soon. I was completely unaware of ‘massaging’ the kale with some citrus and or oil to soften and make it less bitter. That said, is it better to massage a day ahead or just make the entire salad a day before with dressing to tender it up? How long will it typically last if you do make ahead? I’ve noted chick peas are best baked and added last minute, is it ok to just not roast them at all if making ahead when not possible? Thanks!

    • Hi Debi! You can certainly massage the kale ahead of time as part of your prep – I will chop and massage it right after buying it usually and keep it in a paper towel lined storage container in the fridge and then just grab what I need all week long for salads and soups and such. When I make salads in advance I typically like to store the greens and veggies in one container and the dressing in another, then combine before serving. This just ensures everything looks super fresh when I serve it.

      If you do decide to roast the chickpeas in advance they won’t be crunchy or crouton-like any longer and instead will be tender but still super flavorful. It’s totally your call there! I would for sure roast them regardless as it makes the flavor boost they get from the roasting can’t be beat. Hope this helps! Have a fantastic family reunion!

  • Yagnesh Patel

    5 stars
    great recipe. I modified slightly (added some carrot, cucumber, avocado, red cabbage; omitted onion but would have been fine had i had it handy). I didn’t have time for chick peas so omitted and subbed in some crushed roasted almoonds

    only modification I would suggest is doubling vinegar in the dressing.

  • ND

    4 stars
    Hi I just made it and loved it. I used tomatoes and left the corn out as I’m not a corn fan – and it was beautiful.
    Next time, I would also double the dressing though. I am also not sure about the massaging of the Kale with Oil – it made it quite oily – is this supposed to happen? I only drizzled a little and then ‘massaged’….

    • So glad you enjoyed the salad!

      The massaging works best for curly kale since it’s the toughest I’ve encountered. (vs the also popular Lacinato kale which is a bit more tender to start) I’m always sure to add a very small amount like you mentioned. Maybe 1/4-1/2 tsp max. A tough green like kale is quite dry and firm so the massaging helps break down the cell wall and make the leaves more silky and pleasant to eat. If you want to skip the oil next time and just massage with a teeny pinch of salt and a small drizzle of lemon juice or citrus juice of choice it will also have the same results. I find that when I massage a big batch and keep it in my fridge it stays fresh longer and also soaks up any extra oil. Hope this helps! xoxo

  • Michal

    If I am making chickpeas in my instant pot, do I roast them for less time in the oven because they’re less soggy than canned chickpeas?

    • Hi Michal! This is on my to do list (I actually have big bag of dry chickpeas in my pantry right now!) but without testing it I won’t know for sure. I’d check the roasting chickpeas at the halfway point and depending on how crispy they are, adjust the remaining time from there. xoxo

  • Karen

    5 stars
    My family and neighbors love this recipe. I grow kale every winter and needed a new kale salad recipe and found this one last year. Now they are asking for it again. Thanks so much for making kale taste so good!

  • Michele

    My name is Michele, I am a celebrity chef and you reference corn as an ingredient. I do not see where the corn is added, however I roasted the corn to add a bit depth and added it with the Black Bean.

    • Hi Michele! I add mine with the black beans as well. I’m not sure how adding the corn was left out of the instructions but it’s all fixed now – thanks! xo

  • Dawn

    5 stars
    I made this salad when a very health conscious friend was coming to dinner and it was a hit with the entire group! I followed the recipe exactly, using feta instead of cotija because that is what I had on hand. The textures and flavors combined beautifully. This salad is now on my go-to list of favorites!

  • JPerry

    5 stars
    This was really good. I doubled the dressing and added pan-seared prawns. Yumbo! I’ve made it with feta and cotijo cheese. I prefer the latter, but both are fine. If you’re not vegan and don’t have dairy issues, definitely include the cotijo. It adds a nice dimension to the salad. Thanks so much for sharing this. Ive happily added it to my lunch and dinner rotation.


    5 stars
    I added grilled chicken and avocado. It was a hit! Even my kids who said that they don’t like kale went back for seconds!

  • Julia

    5 stars
    This recipe was a huge hit at my party. Soooooo delicious. I absolutely recommend it to anyone and everyone.

  • April

    5 stars
    Just made this for dinner with my boyfriend. So super yummy. Every bite we would just look at one another and smile through chewing and go yum. We used some baby kale we had grown in our garden along with the curly kale. We also sautéed the corn to get some carmelization on it and topped it with a bit of some local sunflower sprouts. A definite winner and will make again and again. Light, fresh, flavorful!

  • Steph

    I haven’t made this yet but it looks amazing. I’m planning to make it while on a family vacation. Do you know how far in advance I could make the chickpeas? I’m wondering if I prep them 4-5 days ahead of time, will they still taste ok? Thanks so much!

    • So stoked you’ll be trying it Steph!! Hookay so with the chickpeas, they only stay crispy the first day, then they are pretty chewy after that, but the seasoning still makes them uber tasty. So if you don’t mind chewy, softer chickpeas you can make them in advance, and if you want the crunch then make them the day of. 4-5 days may be a bit too far in advance b/c of food safety guidelines, they usually suggest that leftovers be consumed by then, ya know?

  • Jerry

    5 stars
    This was Soooo… good. We made it to go along with some chicken tinga tacos we were having.
    When the chicken was gone we just had Kale Salad Tacos!! UmmmUmmm

  • Sue

    I don’t really like Kale, but this salad is bomb. It was so tasty, can’t even taste any bitter Kale flavor.

    • Sue, I’m so excited you gave kale a chance and enjoyed the salad! Thank you!

  • Rhonda

    Can we pin, your recipes, to our Pinterest.

    • Yes thank you so much Rhonda! My images all have a “click to pin” feature with a little pink Pinterest button when you over your mouse over the images. I appreciate the sharing, thank you!

  • Karen Clark

    5 stars
    What a delicious and beautiful salad. I have made it twice and it has been well received by all who ate it. It is my new favorite summer salad.

    • Woot! So stoked it made repeat status – thanks Karen!

  • Liz

    5 stars
    Soooo good. I added jicama and radishes. Will totally be adding this to my salad mix. Thanks!

    • LOVE the addition of radish and jicama!! Thanks Liz!

  • Gail

    Can I use any green other than Kale

    • Hey Gail! Spinach, romaine, or your favorite type of lettuce will work as well. xo

  • 5 stars
    Lovey, just lovely ! And I am thinking about how ideal it is for my office lunches ! Thank you !

    • Thank you!! It’s so beyond portable it would be perfect for work lunches!

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