Insanely good Vegetarian Kale Caesar Salad! Topped with crispy homemade croutons and parmesan cheese. Massaging the creamy garlic dressing into the kale makes it extra tender and delicious. This vegetarian salad can also be topped with your favorite protein like instant pot hard boiled eggs, air fryer chicken breasts, air fried shrimp, or chopped almonds to make it a full meal.
NOTE: If you’d like a recipe that’s vegan, be sure to try my Vegan Caesar Salad!
🌟 Why We LOVE This Salad
- A creamy (anchovy-free) vegetarian caesar salad dressing
- Delicious tender kale leaves (massaging them is the key – keep reading….)
- Nutty parmesan cheese grated over the top
- Homemade croutons for added crunch
Plus, you can add toppings like sous vide chicken breasts, air fryer chicken thighs, instant pot hard boiled eggs, air fryer shrimp, or chopped up almonds to turn this salad into a full meal. More topping ideas below.
🥣 Creamy Kale Caesar Salad Dressing
I’ll call the dressing for this salad “caesar-like” because it’s not really traditional in that it doesn’t have lemon juice or anchovies. Instead, this dressing can easily be made with ingredients you probably already have on hand.
- Red wine vinegar
- Olive oil
That’s it! Just 4-ingredients.
This vegetarian caesar dressing is creamy and tangy with a nice pungent bite from the garlic. It’s simple, but really delicious.
Is Raw Kale Good in Salads?
Yes! But only if you take one important step.
Massage the kale.
The massaging of the kale is what makes it nice and tender.
It turns the kale from something you have to almost gnaw at, into a more delicate texture, much more similar to traditional lettuce.
All those flavors from the dressing really get worked into every little crevice, ensuring that each bite you take is super flavorful.
As an added bonus, that olive oil and mayonnaise really gives your hands a nice moisturizing. At home spa day anyone?
To finish things off, I gave these kale caesar salads a sprinkling of homemade croutons and a little extra parmesan cheese. The result is a crunchy, creamy, tangy salad that’s so good, you’ll want to eat it for both dinner tonight and lunch the next day.
The good thing is that it is a possibility because the kale holds up really nicely for a couple days, it doesn’t get soggy like lettuce or spinach. I always like to make a bit extra just for that reason.
- Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs
- Homemade Croutons
- Chopped Almonds
- Quick Pickled Radishes (recipe below)
- Breaded Chicken Cubes (recipe below)
To make quick pickled radishes
- Add 6 thinly sliced radishes, 2 TBSP red wine vinegar and 1 TBSP olive oil to a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Let marinate for 10 minutes.
- Watermelon radishes are really pretty in this salad!
To make breaded chicken cubes
- Cut 6 chicken thighs into 1-inch pieces and place in a large Ziploc bag with 4 TBSP flour and a pinch of salt and pepper. Seal the bag and shake to coat the chicken pieces evenly.
- In a large nonstick pan, heat a thin layer of oil on medium-high heat until hot. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook, turning occasionally, until golden and cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
🍷 Wine pairings
- Dry Rosé
- Vinho Verde
🥬 More recipes using kale
- Kale Pesto Recipe
- Goat Cheese Pasta with 5-Minute Lemony Kale Pesto
- Lentil Soup with Sausage & Kale + VIDEO
- Kale Chips Recipe with Cheesy Topping
- Avocado & Kale Savory Oatmeal
🥗 More salad recipes
- Cherry Tomato Salad with Roasted Lemons
- Thai Beef Salad
- Shirazi Salad
- Tomato Cucumber Salad
- Israeli Couscous Tabbouleh Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Salad with Pearl Couscous
- Chickpea Tuna Salad
- Cauliflower Salad with Roasted Chickpeas & Quinoa
Did you try this vegetarian kale caesar salad?
If you loved this kale caesar salad I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
Vegetarian Kale Caesar Salad Recipe
- 2 bunches kale (tough stems removed and roughly chopped (or 1 16-oz bag chopped kale))
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic (finely minced or grated)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- Homemade Croutons
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, black pepper and parmesan cheese. Whisk to combine.
- Add the kale and, using your hands, firmly massage the kale for 3-4 minutes, until tenderized slightly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- To the bowl of dressed kale, add the croutons and parmesan cheese. Toss gently to combine and serve.
This post was originally published in 2015. It was updated in 2023 to add new information. Enjoy!