Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad

Fresh, flavorful, and totally tasty, this simple Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad is a breeze to toss together and ready in under 15 minutes!

Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad

Say hello to my new favorite side dish!

This lemony, garlicky kale salad is kissed with parmesan and dusted with crushed crouton crumbs for added texture and oomph!

It’s GLORIOUS and I’m going to insist you give it a try!

Especially if you love lemon… and garlic… and parmesan.

EVEN if you don’t love kale. I’m going to go out on a limb and say if you haven’t tried massaged kale yet, then you’re not allowed to tell me you don’t like it.

I’ve convinced oh so many people to gobble up bowls of this stuff simply by chopping it into itty bitty pieces and giving it a little rubdown until it’s tender and silky. SO GOOD.

Kale Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Croutons

The crispy crouton topping for this salad adds the most addictive texture and balances out the flavors of this lemon parmesan kale salad.

You can 100% use your favorite store bought croutons *BUT* if you are feeling frisky, get yo butt in the kitchen and make some homemade croutons!

Here’s how:

Homemade Croutons

  • 1 cup diced bread (stale french baguette + ciabatta are my fav!)
  • 1/2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

This is a perfect way to use up older/stale bread! Preheat oven to 375°F. Add cubed bread to a bowl with oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well (using your hands works best to really work it into every piece) and spread on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake on the center rack for 12-16 minutes or until golden and crisp. Times will vary slightly based on type and staleness of bread.

Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad Collage

Easy Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad

The tasty recipe below yields 4 side salad sized servings.

(hah! try saying that 5x fast)

Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad

Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad

Fresh, flavorful, and totally tasty, this simple Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad is a breeze to toss together and ready in under 15 minutes!
5 from 103 votes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Jenn Laughlin – Peas and Crayons


  • 4 cups curly kale
  • 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp fresh minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • tsp black pepper or to taste
  • ½ cup croutons (homemade or store bought)
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  • If starting with a bunch of curly kale, wash, dry, and remove leaves from stem.
  • Finely chop kale leaves and add to a medium-large bowl.
  • Whisk together dressing ingredients and drizzle a teeny bit (around 1/2 tsp) onto the kale leaves.
  • Massage dressing into kale leaves until the leaves darken in color and become tender and silky.
  • Toss with remaining dressing and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  • P&C Tip: for a little bit of parm in every bite, I like to finely grate the parmesan cheese with a box grater and then roughly chop into smaller bits. Almost like sprinkles but of the cheesy variety, lol!
  • Place croutons in a plastic bag or between two paper towels. Use the bottle of olive oil to crush into small panko-sized pieces to sprinkle over the kale salad. The result is a delightfully cripsy topping that is dusted over ever bite of lemon and parmesan kissed kale. Love it so! Enjoy right away while topping is still perfectly cripsy.


Recipe yields 4 one-cup servings, perfect as a side dish or side salad.
Nutrition Facts below are estimated using an online recipe nutrition calculator. Adjust as needed and enjoy!


Calories: 137kcal, Carbohydrates: 9g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 4mg, Sodium: 297mg, Potassium: 329mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 6742IU, Vitamin C: 83mg, Calcium: 177mg, Iron: 1mg

If you get a chance to try this lemon parmesan kale salad, 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. I can’t wait to see what you whip up!

KALE YEAH! More Tasty Kale Recipes:

Jenn Laughlin Headshot Photo - About the Author
About The Author:

Jenn Laughlin

Jenn Laughlin created Peas and Crayons in 2009 after graduating with B.S. in Dietetics from Florida State University while working as a Nutrition Educator for WIC. The goal was simple: create and share delicious tested and perfected recipes with vegetables as the star!

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Recipe Rating

Questions & Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I don’t usually leave reviews, but it was KALE’ing me how great, convenient , and delicious this was! One for the books! I’ve had it countless times, so a good olive oil brand is a must, and you can’t go wrong with xxxxxtra Parmesan (;

  2. 5 stars
    Stays in my families dinner rotation! Make it often and the whole family loves it! So good! Grew our own kale this year and made some for tonight’s dinner! Never any leftovers! 10 stars ⭐️ 🤤

  3. You are misrepresenting vegetarian food. Vegetarians do not eat foods that contain animal based products that require the killing of an animal for ingredient. While most cheeses are vegetarian friendly (not vegan) Parmesan is not, due to the fact that rennet (dried animal stomach) is used to create the texture. Not a vegetarian meal!!!!

    1. Hi Brooke. I absolutely understand your frustration. I have found that there are so many delicious vegetarian options for Parmesan that strict vegetarians may choose. BelGioioso makes an excellent vegetarian-made Parmesan cheese as does Mauro & Gianni. There are usually a few varieties at my local grocery store.

    1. Yes totally! When I prep this in advance I save the crispy breadcrumbs and grated parmesan to add just before serving.

  4. 5 stars
    I made this to go alongside a savoury tart for dinner tonight and it was great. The salad is similar to a kale Caesar but super simple. I love how lemony the dressing is and it’s the perfect topping to help soften up the kale. Will definitely make this again soon!

  5. Just wanted to confirm the ingredients for the dressing are the lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper?

  6. 5 stars
    So yummy!!! I don’t love lemon, but this was a perfect balance with the Parmesan. So glad I tried it, now I can eat kale 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    Was craving a big, impromptu kale salad and this was the first to come up on Pinterest! I already had most of the ingredients, I literally just had to buy lemons (And kale 😂)! Regardless im soo glad I tried it and I followed another reviewer’s addition and put some dijon mustard in the dressing as well. 10/10! Will def be a new staple for sure

  8. 5 stars
    If I could give this 10 stars, I would! Had to force myself to stop eating it, I is that good!! I first got a taste for kale salads after trying a version at a “very” popular chicken chain. This salad puts it to shame. I’m going to buy more kale to make this for lunches next week. The awesome thing about kale, it retains its crunch so no sogginess later in the week.

  9. Something weird just happened…. my husband went for seconds 😦 I know you don’t know him so let me just say… this is a big deal!

  10. 5 stars
    This is crazy delicious!!!!! We made it tonight with homemade croutons and Romano, rather than Parm. OMG!!!!!! Thanks, Jenn!

  11. 5 stars
    Such a simple yet awesome Kale Salad! Definitely use fresh squeezed lemon juice and good quality parmesan. Thanks for a great recipe!

  12. 5 stars
    This was delicious! Great salad recipe and great way to incorporate kale into my diet. Fresh, light and tasty!!

  13. 5 stars
    This is so delicious!!!!! I’m trying to eat more salads so I tried this recipe yesterday and wow. So light but still really flavorful and hearty. Next time I will try adding chicken!!

  14. 5 stars
    I’ve been obsessed with this salad! Made a batch last weekend and I’m making more today. Such an easy but delicious salad 😋

  15. 5 stars
    Where has this salad been all my life? I added some Dijon to make it taste even more like a traditional Caesar. It is now my favorite go-to salad and I will be growing a couple of extra Kale plants this summer just to use for this salad. The crushed croutons are genius. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

    1. Ahhh yay! So happy to hear you’re loving the salad and the added dijon is fantastic – so trying that next round. Thanks Roya!

  16. This salad looks amazing! I’m trying to incorporate kale into my regular diet, but sometimes it can be hard since I’m not sure how to cook it or what to make with it! This recipe looks great and healthy!

  17. If using a bag of chopped, pre-washed kale, do I still need to massage the tiny amt of dressing onto the leaves?

    1. Hi Karen! You can skip massaging as it’s totally personal preference, but I feel like it improves the texture of the leaves greatly. I’ve gotten so spoiled by the silky texture it gives kale that when I order kale salads at restaurants I’m always little disappointed the leaves are dry, lol! But it’s 100% up to you!

  18. 5 stars
    I made this today for lunch, just after I realized my refrigerated mushrooms have seen better days. Guess what – I didn’t miss them! This recipe is so delicious and I can’t wait to make it again! Made with spinach because that is what I had on hand and it was super. 🙂

  19. 5 stars
    This was a great light salad! I added a little more salt to the greens once everything was combined, still very tasty!

  20. 5 stars
    This salad is amazing! I was sceptical about the half teaspoon of dressing for the massage but it really worked! My husband loved the salad and is not known to be a kale guy. Definitely will be picking up kale more often and whipping up this quick, easy, delicious and nutritious salad.

  21. Hi Jenn! That looks wonderful. Funny thing- I subscribe to Dr. Andrew Weil’s newsletter and he was just talking about all the nutrients in kale! You must be psychic haha. Can’t wait to make this.

  22. 5 stars
    I was amazed by how good this salad was. At first I thought “massaging” the dressing into the kale sounded a bit strange, but it completely changed the texture of the kale (in the best way possible). This salad was light and delicious. Highly recommend!

  23. 5 stars
    I just knew this salad was going to be amazing from the post, and I was not disappointed! It was fabulous!!!

  24. 5 stars
    So good! We LOVE kale salads but had been a little bored with the same thing over and over. I’ve never added parmesan and WOW! So glad I found this recipe!