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This kale salad is a delicious savory side for any meal! Parmesan and homemade croutons are the stars of this dish. Topped with a simple dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and minced garlic!

This simple salad has been on repeat here lately. I especially love it with my Turkey Lasagna Zucchini Boats. It’s so simple!

The star of this salad is the croutons and a generous portion of parmesan. What better way to get in a serving of kale than with crunchy bread and shaved parmesan, right?

If you’re new to making homemade croutons this will change your life. They’re truly as easy as slicing bread, seasoning, and baking. But they taste so much more flavorful with that perfect crunch!

To make this recipe you’ll need (full list of ingredients and instructions are in the recipe card below):

  • Bread
  • Curly kale
  • Grated parmesan
  • Shaved parmesan
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Minced garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper

What is curly kale?

There are a variety of different types of kale but curly kale is the kind you’ll see most often in grocery stores. It’s usually a dark green and the edges of the leaves are very wavy (or curly). It’s typically sold as a bundle of large leaves that are tied together at the stem.

What bread is best for croutons?

I prefer a french baguette or sourdough bread for croutons. You can actually use any bread you like though. Even plain white sandwich bread or gluten free bread will work too!

Fresh bread vs stale bread

Older slightly stale bread will crisp up faster in the oven but fresh also works well. You can use whichever you have.

Do you need to massage the kale in this salad?

Often times people will recommend massaging the kale with a little olive oil or lemon juice. This is an optional step that can soften the leaves and tone down the bitterness. Because we’re chopping the leaves into bite-sized pieces I’ve found that massaging the kale is an unnecessary step in this particular recipe.

Having said that, you can definitely massage the kale in the recipe if you’d like! Simply add one teaspoon of the olive oil to the chopped kale before adding the other ingredients. Use your hands to gently scrunch the leaves until they’re a little softer. Then add in all other ingredients including the remaining olive oil.

Ways to customize this salad

  • Steak is a fantastic addition to this salad to turn it into an entree. Season your steak with salt and pepper. Grill or cook in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop. You’ll love diced pear in this salad instead of apple.
  • For a little sweetness add diced pear or apple to this salad.

Is this salad good for meal prep?

This salad is great to make ahead of time but you’ll want to keep the croutons separate so they don’t get mushy. Refrigerate the salad in an air tight container. Store the croutons in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

How to serve this salad

You can serve this salad as a side to anything but I really recommend my Turkey Lasagna Zucchini Boats or No Bean 30 Minute Chili. If you’re wanting a chicken entree try my Classic Chicken Noodle Soup or Skillet Chicken and Brussels Sprouts.

5 from 1 vote

Parmesan Kale Salad

By Christina
This kale salad is a delicious savory side for any meal! Parmesan and homemade croutons are the stars of this dish. Topped with a simple dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and minced garlic!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 8 servings



  • 3 cups bread, cut into 1-inch cubes, french baguette or sourdough work well
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, extra virgin
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Kale + Parmesan

  • 6 cups curly kale, packed and chopped
  • ½ cup shaved parmesan
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Lemon Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, extra virgin
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
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  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Add the cubed bread to a large ziplock bag or large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, grated parmesan, garlic powder, and salt. If using a bag, squeeze out excess air, seal, and shake until bread pieces are coated. If using a bowl, stir and flip bread pieces until they're coated.
  • Spread bread on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until croutons are crispy. (Time can vary based on the thickness of your croutons so start with no more than 10 minutes. Then check and see if you need a few extra minutes.)
  • Rinse the kale leaves and dry with a paper towel. Cut the kale leaves from the tough stems. Discard the stems. Use a knife to chop the kale into bite-sized pieces. Measure the kale to ensure you have enough. You'll want 6 cups of packed chopped kale. Place the chopped kale in a large salad bowl.
  • Add the shaved parmesan, grated parmesan, and black pepper.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and minced garlic. Pour the dressing over the other salad ingredients and stir to mix. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
  • Once croutons are done baking, add to the top of your salad or add to each serving as you plate.


Serving: 1cup, Calories: 199kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 8mg, Sodium: 438mg, Potassium: 230mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 5102IU, Vitamin C: 48mg, Calcium: 264mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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  1. Michele George says:

    Not a huge kale fan, but this is delicious!! Even my husband like it!

    1. Christina says:

      Thanks, Michele!