With the new year upon us, health and fitness is likely top of mind. Taking that into consideration, I decided now would be the right time to share my addictive massaged kale salad. As the name implies, this recipe is seasonal, really tasty (like, really tasty), and good for you, too. You don’t often see the words “addictive” and “kale” in the same sentence but I’m not exaggerating with this one. I served this salad at my Christmas party last month and don’t think I’ve ever gotten so many recipe requests for such a healthy dish!

massaged kale, dried cranberries, chopped pears, pecans, and crumbled blue cheese salad

The massaged kale salad recipe you see today is exactly as I made it then, which is for a crowd, so feel free to scale it back to fit into your own routine. Also, I like spice and heat in my savory dishes so you might want to play with the amount of crushed red pepper in the salad dressing if you don’t. This dressing in this recipe is very similar to the one I shared in my better homemade salads guide a while back and that’s because the components are still such great go-tos. Apple cider vinegar, raw honey, oil, and herbs and spices are all it takes for an impactful and memorable flavor. The dressing is also key in setting off the texture of this salad. Lots of folks avoid kale because it has a more hardy texture than say baby spinach or butter lettuce. But it is so good for you!

massaged chopped kale in dressing

I usually chop kale for a salad and use a flavorful (but not rich) dressing to get over the texture. This time, I did both then marinated the leaves in the dressing for a few hours while I got everything ready for the party. Truthfully, you only need about an hour or so but the longer you let the dressing work its magic, the softer and more palatable your kale will be. Even overnight is ok. The texture and appearance will mimic steamed or blanched greens and a couple of my party guests asked if this massaged kale salad was cooked. That’s how tender it becomes. 🙂

massaged kale salad with crumbled blue cheese, pecans, pears, and cranberries on wooden spoon

Once you’re ready to serve, add in the remaining salad ingredients, toss, and that’s it. I hope you’ll try out this massaged kale salad and love it as much as my friends and I do. You might also like my crunchy kale salad or grilled sesame chicken with arugula and beets. Thanks for reading!

Signature Dash of Jazz

5 from 14 votes
Addictive Massaged Kale Salad
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins

Kale, pecans, apples, blue cheese, and dried cranberries all massaged in a zesty apple cider vinaigrette 

Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade vinaigrette dressing, massaged kale salad, salad with apple cider dressing, seasonal winter salad
Servings: 16 servings
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar I use the kind with the mother
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
  • sea salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2 bunches kale washed and chopped
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 cups pecan halves
  • 2 pears chopped
  1. Mix dressing ingredients until uniform then pour over top of kale. Using your hands, toss and squeeze kale to ensure it is well coated with dressing then cover and let sit for at least one hour. Be aware that the dressing will draw out liquid from the kale.
  2. Mix in remaining salad ingredients and serve. Store any uneaten salad in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Addictive Massaged Kale Salad