8 Ways to Dress Your Kale Salad

Bitter kale is great with pungent, umami-rich, and creamy dressings.

Grilled Squash, Corn and Kale Salad with Sunflower Seed Vinaigrette
Photo: Adrian Gaut

Bitter kale is great with pungent, umami-rich, and creamy dressings and vinaigrettes. Whether you make a hearty vegetable and grain bowl, slaw side dish, or main course salad with fruit and nuts, these condiments pair perfectly with kale and its accompaniments. From light to bright, here are six options to help you determine the best dressing for kale salad and dishes.

Creamy garlic

Caesar is probably kale's most popular dressing. For a leaner alternative, puree roasted garlic with vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire, and a little mayo. Combine toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, peanut butter and rice wine vinegar to add a nutty earthiness.

Chile and lime

Channel your inner Bobby Flay, making a Southwestern, spicy salad dressing sweetened with a bit of honey. This recipe makes an ideal side to serve at a summertime cookout and is hearty enough to be a meal on its own.


Noma alum Josh Lewis makes his terrific dressing with toasted nutritional yeast (sold at health food stores) and two types of oil. It’s great on all kinds of slaws and any salad with sturdy leaves.

Cabbage-and-Kale Slaw with Toasted Yeast Dressing
Tara Pearce


Whisk together vinegar, orange juice, mustard, shallot, and garlic for this dressing from Emily Farris.


Whisk miso with vinegar, sesame seeds, oil, and brown sugar for a bright, sweet, and savory dressing by Andrew Zimmern.


Kale can handle intense dressings such as this Mediterranean one, made with garlic, red wine vinegar, yogurt, and crushed red pepper.

Greek Kale Salad with Fried Halloumi

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Margret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Nidia Cueva

Tahini and ginger

Use kale in a roasted grain bowl with more vegetables and chickpeas, then let this deliciously easy sesame-based dressing tie it all together. Make a double batch of the dressing to have enough for a full week of easy lunches. 

Sunflower seed

This creamy sunflower seed dressing for a hearty summer salad is flavored with za’atar, the classic Middle Eastern spice mix that often includes thyme, oregano or marjoram, sesame seeds, tangy sumac, and often salt.

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