Please note that some of the links are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links.
This kale quinoa salad is so amazing! It is made with hearty kale and fluffy quinoa mixed with crunchy pepitas, cucumber, onion, feta cheese, and fresh herbs. All drizzled with an incredibly delicious lemon dressing that makes it so tasty and flavorful. It’s hearty enough to enjoy as a main meal or an amazing side salad!
Kale Quinoa Salad is the perfect side salad or even main meal that is loaded with flavor, crunch, and nutrition. Every time I make this salad, everyone always asks for the recipe. So now I am sharing it with all of you. It is such a crowd-pleaser and I know you are going to LOVE IT!
This quinoa salad with kale is so easy to make plus it is filling, and delicious. It pairs perfectly with other dishes like pork tenderloin, breaded chicken, or salmon.
We love that this kale salad is a tasty, hearty meal all on its own. It is just so fresh and bright with a nice herby-tangy flavor that is hard to resist and it is loaded with plant-based proteins like quinoa and chickpeas.
The magic secret to delicious kale
Ever wonder what makes kale salads in restaurants so good? The secret is the way they prepare the kale before they even assemble the salad. It’s pretty simple and easy to do, even at home.
Just wash, dry, and chop the kale and add it to a large bowl. Drizzle it with olive oil (just a little bit), you can also use a squeeze of lemon or vinegar (apple cider vinegar or white vinegar) combined with a pinch of salt. Then use your hands to crunch and massage the kale for 1-2 minutes to break it down and tenderize it. This allows it to get nice and soft. Then let it sit for about 10 minutes before you assemble the kale quinoa salad.
Pro tip! Wait to massage the kale right before you are going to make the salad for the best results.
Kale and Quinoa Salad Ingredients
You only need a few simple ingredients to make this show-stopping kale quinoa salad that everyone will love!
- Kale – I used dark leafy kale (aka Lacinato kale, Dinosaur kale, or Tuscan kale) but curly kale also works.
- Quinoa – golden quinoa or tri-color quinoa will work, just make sure to cook it and let it cool before adding it to the salad. I like to do this a day or so in advance.
- Chickpeas – Canned chickpeas that have been drained and rinsed work best in this recipe but if you have your own homemade, cooked chickpeas then those will also work.
- Cucumber – seedless English cucumber is the best for salads since it contains fewer seeds and dices up nicely but any type of cucumber will work!
- Red onion – diced nice and small. You can also use scallions or shallots.
- Pepitas – for a nice fun crunchy element to this salad. You can also use chopped pecans or almonds.
- Golden raisins – for a little hint of sweetness. You can also use dried cranberries or black raisins.
- Fresh herbs – the fresh dill and parsley add so much flavor to this salad. You can also use chopped basil or cilantro.
- Feta cheese – for a tasty, salty flavor that brings this salad to a whole new level. Crumbled goat cheese will also work.
- Kale salad dressing – the best dressing for this kale quinoa salad.
How to make a kale quinoa salad
You can make this perfect kale and quinoa salad in minutes and enjoy it for days! Here is how to make it.
- Prepare the kale. Rinse the kale then dry it and chop it. Drizzle it with oil and add a pinch of salt then use your hands to massage it really well. Then let it rest for a few minutes.
- Assemble the salad. Add the rest of the salad ingredients to the bowl with the kale.
- Make the dressing. Mix up the dressing and pour it over the salad and toss.
- Serve. You can serve this kale and quinoa salad all on its own as a main meal or as a healthy side dish.
Substitutions and Variations
This quinoa kale salad is great as is but here are a few substitutions and variations that would also work great.
- Use cooked brown rice or bulgar in place of the quinoa.
- Add some black beans instead of using chickpeas, if that is what you prefer or have on hand.
- Switch up the nuts. I love pumpkin seeds in this salad but pecans, pistachios, or even dry-roasted edamame would also work wonderfully.
- Make it dairy-free! You can easily make this salad recipe dairy free and just leave out the feta cheese.
- Add some protein. Sliced chicken breast or even tuna would be delicious proteins to add to bulk up this salad for a main meal.
- Make it a kale and quinoa salad with cranberries by swapping the golden raisins with dried cranberries. Yum!
Here are some tips to help you make this amazing quinoa kale salad.
- Wash and chop the kale in advance so you have it ready to go! You can store kale easily for days prepped and ready to use.
- Cook the quinoa in advance. This is so easy to do and then you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Massage the kale before you combine it with the rest of the ingredients. This is so important for that nice soft, dark green kale that we all love to enjoy! It also makes it easier to digest.
- Slice the kale into ribbons. You can do this by laying a few large leaves of kale on top of one another, then rolling them up like a cigar, and slicing them thinly using a sharp kitchen knife.
- Combine the kale with complimentary ingredients like nuts, onion, lemon, and cheeses like parmesan goat cheese or feta cheese.
You can enjoy this kale quinoa salad as a healthy meatless meal all on its own. It also goes so great with crispy breaded chicken breast (a personal favorite), chicken thighs, or pork tenderloin.
We also love to serve this salad with meatless sides like these crispy smashed potatoes, and air fryer fries since eating a salad with fries is totally acceptable and a fun meal even the kids will love!
Make Ahead and Storage
You can make this kale quinoa salad for your meal prep and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can take it on the go for a quick go-to lunch or serve it as a side with dinner!
If you are making it in advance, the very best way to store it is to store the salad ingredients and dressing separately then assemble and dress it when you are ready to serve it.
More kale salad recipes
Other simple salads to try
- BBQ Chicken Salad
- Creamy Carrot Salad
- Classic House Salad
- Italian Chopped Salad
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
Did you make this kale quinoa salad recipe? If you did, then please leave a rating and comment below. You can also tag me on Instagram @pinchmegoodfood so I can see your creation.Print
Kale Quinoa Salad – With Lemon Dressing
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Diet: Gluten Free
Kale quinoa salad is loaded with fresh veggies, quinoa, and chickpeas tossed with an amazing lemon dressing! Gluten-free and vegetarian.
- 6 cups of chopped kale
- 1 teaspoon olive oil – for massaging the kale
- 1 cup cooked quinoa – cooled
- 1 cup canned chickpeas – drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup diced red onion
- 1/3 cup diced cucumber
- 1/3 cup pepitas
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/8 cup fresh chopped dill
- 1/8 cup fresh chopped parsley
- Kale salad dressing
- Prepare the kale – rinse the kale really well under cold water then place it onto a clean towel to dry it, you can also use a salad spinner to do this. Then use a sharp kitchen knife to chop the kale and place it into a large bowl. Drizzle it with some olive oil and sprinkle it with a pinch of salt. Use your hands to massage and crunch the kale for 1-2 minutes to tenderize it. Then let it sit for 10 minutes before you assemble the salad.
- Assemble the salad – Add the rest of the salad ingredients, except the dressing to the bowl with the kale.
- Dress and serve. Mix up the kale salad dressing and pour it all over the salad. Toss everything together and serve.
- Make sure to properly prepare your kale by rinsing it well, drying it on a clean towel or in a salad spinner then drizzle it with oil and a sprinkle of salt, and massage it with your fingers for a few minutes. Then let it rest for about 10 minutes before you assemble the salad.
- You can store this salad in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- This salad was adapted from Recipe Tin Eats
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Quick and easy salads
- Method: Assembled
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keywords: kale quinoa salad, kale salad, kale and quinoa salad, kale salad with quinoa
Just made this. OMG! Cannot stop eating it. The flavors compliment it so well. I am so happy right now!!!