Vegetarian Kale Caesar Salad: Super EASY Recipe!

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 You’ll 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.

Kale caesar tossed with dressing in large serving bowl.

Dressing Ingredients

  • Garlic
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Mayonnaise

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?

Overhead close up of bowl of kale caesar salad in white bowl with serving spoon.

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.

Topping ideas

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!

Breaded Chicken Cubes (for a non-vegetarian version)

  • 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.
Two hands holding bowl of caesar salad.

Wine Pairings

More Recipes Using Kale

Side view of bowl of caesar salad.

More Salad Recipes

Did you try this vegetarian kale caesar salad?

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Overhead close up of bowl of kale caesar salad in white bowl with serving spoon.

Vegetarian Kale Caesar Salad

This Kale Caesar Salad is topped with crispy homemade croutons and parmesan cheese. Massaging the creamy garlic dressing into the kale makes it extra tender and delicious.
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people


  • 2 bunches kale (tough stems removed and roughly chopped (or 1 16-oz bag chopped kale))

Caesar Dressing:


  • 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.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!


Calories: 280kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 336mg | Potassium: 335mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 6602IU | Vitamin C: 78mg | Calcium: 239mg | Iron: 1mg

This post was originally published in 2015. It was updated in 2023 to add new information. Enjoy!

13 thoughts on “Vegetarian Kale Caesar Salad: Super EASY Recipe!”

  1. My mom and sisters totally laughed at me when I was explaining the importance of massaging kale – I don’t like kale salads that haven’t had this treatment to soften them!

  2. how gorgeous are watermelon radishes!!! they make salad pop hey! this looks gorgeous, and healthy! i think I need to make some healthier salads in the next few weeks!!

  3. 5 stars
    I know about massaging kale, as of recently, but I did not know about massaging it with the dressing! I am going to try this in the next day or so – it should make even more of a difference. Thank you!!!


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