This Kale Caesar Salad is made with massaged kale, healthy vegetarian caesar dressing, and crispy roasted chickpeas. It's an easy vegetarian Caesar salad recipe made without anchovies or eggs, and can be made vegan with a couple of simple swaps.
Friends, do you have a go-to caesar salad recipe?
If no, now you do. If yes, I implore you to put down your forks and give this one a try. I believe - truly - that you'll have found yourself a new go-to.
I know that it's not traditional to use kale in a caesar salad recipe, but it is incredibly delicious. And thanks to the sturdy texture of kale, unlike a classic caesar salad, this one will last for days in your fridge.
Plus, when you make a kale caesar you can walk around shouting KAAAAAAAALE CAESAR!!! and if that isn't a good reason to make this recipe, I just don't know what is
Just so it's clear where we're going with this, what we've got here is:
- A super delicious kale caesar salad
- A bomb diggity vegetarian caesar salad recipe
- Easily a vegan caesar salad with a couple of small tweaks
- Definitely a healthy caesar salad
- A vegetarian caesar salad with protein thanks to some optional but delicious crispy chickpeas
Ingredients for Kale Caesar Salad
You only need a few basics to pull together this amazing Kale Caesar Salad recipe! You'll find specific quantities in the printable recipe card at the end of this post, but here's a quick overview of what we're going to be using:
- Kale --> Tuscan kale (also known as lacinato kale or dinosaur kale) is my fave, but curly kale is fine too.
- Roasted garlic --> We're using a whole bulb of this deliciousness.
- Raw garlic --> Just one clove to keep the vampires at bay.
- Lemon juice --> From one large lemon.
- Capers --> We're using both the berries and the brine.
- Dijon mustard --> Smooth is how I roll.
- Parmesan cheese --> Or a similar, vegetarian hard cheese.
- Extra virgin olive oil --> I use the good stuff here.
- Greek yogurt --> This makes our dressing creamy and light.
- Crispy Roasted Chickpeas --> Optional, but sooooo delicious.
- Extra Parmesan cheese --> Or a Parmesan-type vegetarian hard cheese.
- Croutons --> If you're in the mood for extra crunch.
How to Prepare the Kale Leaves
First things first, you'll need to de-stem your kale.
I don't like to fuss about slicing the stem off with a knife. All you need to do is grip the stem with one hand and pull the leaf away from the stem with the other, sliding the leaf down the length of the stem.
(This is a great little how-to video if my words aren't doing it for you.)
Repeat until all of your kale has been de-stemmed, then, give the kale a good wash. I love using a salad spinner to get the kale leaves nice and dry.
Then, you'll stack up all those kale leaves and slice 'em into thick ribbons. We want bite-sized pieces for making a kale caesar salad, so I also like to do one chop down the middle.
Make the Vegetarian Caesar Dressing
You can take a deep dive into our favourite Vegetarian Caesar Salad Dressing if you like, but it really is as simple as tossing everything into your blender (food processor is fine too!) and blending until smooth.
This will make more dressing than you need for one caesar salad, but the good news is that it will last quite a while in your fridge.
Assemble the Kale Caesar Salad
Now, all you need to do is add your dressing and massage it into the kale.
Yes, my friends, I want you to massage your kale. I know it's not fair that we live in a world where kale gets more frequent massages than I do, but it's just how it is. A quick 30-second rub will do the trick and turn your tough, chewy kale into a soft and supple salad green.
To finish, throw down some freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (or a vegetarian hard cheese of your choice) and toss it in with the salad. Then, top with crunchy Roasted Garbanzo Beans and / or croutons, and you are in business.
Customize Your Kale Caesar
One of the reasons I love this recipe is how endlessly customizable it is. I've used crispy roasted chickpeas and crunchy croutons, but here are a few ideas for mixing it up!
Mix up your protein
If you don't have time to make the roasted chickpeas, adding some canned chickpeas works great too - or give our Instant Pot Chickpeas a try! Crispy Baked Tofu or our Buffalo Tofu would be soooo good with this kale caesar salad, as would our Air Fryer Falafel. Also: Tempeh Bacon - need I say more?
I've kept this salad pretty basic on purpose, but if you prefer more of a maximalist approach, by all means, veg it up! I love tossing chunks of avocado in with my kale caesar, as well as cherry tomatoes (semi-dried tomatoes would be fab as well), diced cucumber for a crunchy salad, peppers, and more.
Switch up the greens
Tuscan kale is my forever kale, but you can absolutely switch things up depending on what you have on hand or what your preferences are. Classic romaine lettuce? Go for it. Collard greens? Why not! I've even made a kale salad using lightly roasted leafy broccoli before. Which brings me to...
Serve it warm
One of the best caesar salads I've ever eaten was made with warm, grilled romaine. Since kale is so sturdy, a kale caesar salad lends itself well to being warmed up. Give this Roasted Kale Caesar a try!
You sure can. Kale salads hold up super well with the dressing on, so feel free to keep your kale caesar dressed and ready to go in an airtight container the fridge for up to three days.
I do, however, recommend you add the roasted chickpeas and croutons right when you're about to serve it, otherwise they'll lose their crunch.
Traditional caesar salad is made with dressing based on anchovy paste, raw eggs, and Parmesan cheese. Some or all of these ingredients may not meet the definition of vegetarian, depending on who is defining it. I personally do eat Parmesan, but I don't eat anchovies, and raw eggs squick me out.
Yup! You'll need to make a couple of substitutions to the Vegetarian Caesar Dressing recipe (substitutions are noted in the recipe) and either skip the extra Parmesan cheese or replace it with nutritional yeast or a vegan cheese of your choice.
This one sure is! Made with hearty kale (and lots of it!) and a lightened-up vegetarian caesar salad dressing, this is one of my favourite healthy salads.
Hey Nutrition lady, is kale healthy?
Friends, yes. Kale is a nutritional powerhouse! It is extraordinarily rich in micronutrients, dietary fiber, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, and cancer fighting glucosinolates. Kale is a good source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese, and contains nearly twice the vitamin K compared to any other cruciferous vegetable (broccoli, cabbage, etc).
Iron, magnesium, vitamin E, folate, and phosphorous are among the complement of vital minerals found in kale. And get this - the dietary fiber in kale is known to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
Kale Caesar Salad Recipe
Vegetarian Caesar Dressing
- 1 bulb roasted garlic
- 1 large lemon juiced
- 1 Tablespoon capers
- 1 Tablespoon caper brine
- 2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic smashed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
Kale Caesar Salad Ingredients
- 7 ounce bunch Tuscan kale de-stemmed and torn to bite-sized pieces
- ½ cup Vegetarian Caesar Dressing or more as needed
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 1 cup Crispy Roasted Chickpeas or more as desired
- Croutons if desired
- salt and pepper to taste
To make the dressing
- Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a blender.1 bulb roasted garlic, 1 large lemon, 1 Tablespoon capers, 1 Tablespoon caper brine, 2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard, 1 clove garlic , ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
- Blend until smooth.
To make the Kale Caesar
- Remove the kale leaves from the stems, and place in a stack on your cutting board.7 ounce bunch Tuscan kale
- Using a sharp knife, slice into thin ribbons.
- Place the kale ribbons into a large bowl, and add a few tablespoons of dressing (do not add all the dressing at once - this is far more dressing than you need for this recipe).½ cup Vegetarian Caesar Dressing
- Using clean hands, massage the dressing into the kale. Add extra dressing as needed.
- Toss the salad, and add grated Parmesan.½ cup Parmesan cheese
- To serve, garnish with grated Parmesan, crispy chickpeas, and croutons.Croutons, 1 cup Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
- Nutrition values are an estimate only
- Nutrition calculation assumes ½ cup Vegetarian Caesar Dressing and 1 cup Roasted Chickpeas will be used in this recipe.
- This recipe makes a large batch of Vegetarian Caesar Dressing. If you don't want leftovers, make a half batch of dressing. You can easily adjust the quantities by changing the number of servings to 2 in the recipe card.
This recipe was originally published March 30, 2015. It was retested, rephotographed, and updated May 21, 2019. Most recently edited and updated on September 11, 2023.