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Lemon Kale Salad with Crunchy Breadcrumbs Recipe

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This easy lemon kale salad recipe is made with crunchy lacinato kale, a bright lemon dressing, and extra flavor from crunchy panko and shredded Parmesan cheese. After my cousin brought this kale salad to Thanksgiving one year, it was requested year after year – it’s that good!

You can go in a few directions for this easy kale salad. It’s the perfect side to fish (try blackened cod or panko salmon) or an easy protein (like grilled chicken thighs or crockpot pesto chicken), but you could also turn it into a main-dish salad with some grilled or sous vide chicken and garbanzo beans.

Bowl of kale salad with Parmesan and lemon slices.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

What You’ll Love About Lemon Kale Salad

  • Bright and fresh lemon dressing
  • Crunchy breadcrumbs and savory cheese
  • Made with simple ingredients
  • Nutritious side dish or main meal
  • Easy to prep ahead

Kale Salad Video

Ingredients to Make Kale Salad

  • Kale – I think lacinato kale (also known as Tuscan kale and dinosaur kale) is far superior to curly kale in this salad. It has a flatter shape with thinner leaves that are more tender so you don’t really need to massage the leaves. It’s pretty common so you should be able to find it at your store.
  • Lemon – Use fresh lemon as we’re using both the lemon zest and lemon juice.
  • Oil – Use high-quality olive oil for best flavor.
  • Garlic – Use fresh garlic cloves for best flavor. I love using the zester to grate the garlic instead of mincing as it almost creates a paste. It ensures that there aren’t any big clumps of garlic to bite into and the zester is already out anyway! 🙂
  • Parmesan cheese – Use high-quality shredded Parmesan cheese for best flavor. This simple kale salad shines with basic, but high quality flavors.
  • Panko – The panko bread crumbs add extra crunch and delicious flavor to the salad.
Ingredients to make best kale salad recipe.

How to Make Kale Salad

This is an overview on how to make kale salad, the detailed instructions can be found below in the recipe card.

Prep kale. Wash and dry kale and remove stems. Slice as thinly as you can into thin ribbons.
Mix lemon dressing. Whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, zested garlic, sea salt, and black pepper.
Kale salad dressing in a white bowl.
Mix salad. Pour dressing over sliced kale and toss together. Let salad sit for 5-10 minutes to soften the kale leaves. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and panko over the kale and serve.
Hand pouring dressing over kale salad.
Finish salad. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and panko bread crumbs over the kale and serve.
Bowl of kale salad with cheese on the top.


How to soften kale for salad?

Some kale salad recipes require massaging the kale to soften it up. This is typically recommended with salads made with green curly kale. Because this salad uses lacinato kale, it doesn’t require any massaging, but instead softens when it sits with the dressing.

Can you eat kale raw in a salad?

Yes, you can absolutely eat kale raw in a salad. It is a thicker green, which is why massaging is sometimes recommended. For this particular salad, we’re using lacinato kale, a more tender green that doesn’t require massaging. If you find that your kale salad is too much to chew, either massage or let it sit with the dressing for a few hours.

Is kale salad good for you?

Yes, this kale salad is nutritious and full of vitamins and minerals. It all depends on your body, though, as raw veggies aren’t recommended for everyone.

Close up of kale salad.

Storage Instructions

Store leftover lemon kale salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a day.

What to Serve with this Kale Salad Recipe

All this best kale salad recipe needs is a main course, give one of these a try:

Bowl of kale salad.

How to Feed Kale Parmesan Salad to the Whole Family

I get it, feeding kids can be tough! But following the Division of Responsibility and knowing your job and your child’s job makes it SO much more enjoyable. You’ll be able to feed your kids any meal, which will help ensure that they are eating a variety of nutritious foods – with plenty of play food sprinkled in.

I would recommend serving a small portion of this Tuscan kale salad in a pinch bowl (taster bowl) if it’s a new or learning-to-like it food. My kids usually enjoy this salad – it’s a tasty one!

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Lemon kale salad in a bowl with spoon.

More Kale Salad Ideas

If you like this recipe for kale salad with lemon dressing, you might also like these other salad recipes:

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Bowl of kale salad with Parmesan and lemon slices.

Crunchy Lemon Kale Salad

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This easy kale salad has a bright, lemon dressing and is topped with parmesan and bread crumbs. Perfect as a side or easily turn it into a meal. 


  • 1 bunch lacinato (dinosaur) kale
  • juice and zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or use citrus zester!)
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • freshly cracked pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. shredded parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp. panko bread crumbs


  1. Wash and dry kale. Remove stems and thinly slice into really thin ribbons and transfer into a salad bowl. 
  2. Whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, sea salt, and black pepper.
  3. Pour dressing over kale and toss together until combined. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle parmesan and bread crumbs over the salad, toss together, and serve.

Keywords: lemon kale salad, kale salad, kale salad recipe

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  1. sarah k @ the pajama chef

    what a gorgeous salad! it’s like my fave pasta but in salad form. 🙂 glad you got so much done this weekend…i was supposed to have to work monday but we had an ice/snow day…and today is another one. i’m loving this 4 day weekend 🙂

  2. Aggie

    Such a beautiful kale salad and it has my favorite type of kale in it – lacinato! I haven’t had any in a while, seeing this is making me want to go out in search of some (I know the place!).