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This simple Asian kale salad is a Whole Foods copycat of one of my favourite items from their deli. Kale is massaged in a sesame-ginger dressing until it’s soft, tender, and flavourful. It’s a nutritious and easy side salad recipe!

Asian kale salad with sesame dressing in a large bowl.

This recipe is inspired by the sesame kale salad from Whole Foods! It’s one of my go-to items if I’m ever picking up a pre-made dinner there. Making a copycat version at home was super easy and required under 10 ingredients – many of which you may already have in your pantry 🙂

As a dietitian, it’s no surprise that I love kale. This superfood is jam-packed with nutrition benefits, like fiber, and vitamins A, C, and K. It was fun to pair kale with Asian-inspired flavours for a change!

Not sure what to pair this easy kale salad with? I’ve included a list of serving ideas below for inspiration. It’s a great recipe to make a large batch of and keep in the fridge – it holds up really well and makes a light vegetable side to your meal. Enjoy!

Want more Asian-inspired salads? You may also enjoy this warm mushroom salad with miso dressing, this quinoa edamame salad, or my cold soba noodle salad. Or, check out ALL my healthy salad recipes for even more ideas!

Recipe ingredients in small bowls.

Ingredients needed

  1. Curly kale: I like using curly green kale for this recipe – this is the same variety that is used in the Whole Foods version. That said, you could likely make this with lacinato/dinosaur kale as well!
  2. Shredded carrots (optional): Shredded carrots are not part of the Whole Foods recipe, but I thought they were a fun addition to add for a pop of colour and texture. I like purchasing pre-shredded carrots, or you can quickly shred them in a large food processor. You may leave them out, if preferred.
  3. Olive oil:  I like to use either a high-quality extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil as the base of this recipe. Avocado oil has a more neutral flavour, but both pair well with the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Toasted sesame oil:  This oil is made from toasted sesame seeds and adds that perfect touch of sesame flavour to this recipe. Toasted sesame oil (versus regular sesame oil) has a more concentrated flavour and is better as a finishing/dressing oil versus a cooking oil.
  5. Tamari or soy sauce: You may use either tamari or soy sauce in the dressing. Unlike soy sauce, tamari is a gluten-free option if you follow a gluten-free diet. Both tamari and soy sauce provide an umami flavour to this salad, as well as sodium, so you likely won’t need to add extra salt.
  6. Lemon: A touch of freshly squeeze lemon juice helps to balance out the salty flavours from the tamari.
  7. Garlic: Freshly minced garlic cloves add some more texture to the dressing. That said, you are welcome to use garlic powder in a pinch.
  8. Ground ginger: I like using pre-ground ginger in this dressing – it’s quick to throw in, dissolves easily, and has a slightly more subtle flavour compared to the freshly grated variety.
  9. Sesame seeds: You may use either black or white sesame seeds. The white version adds more visual contrast to the salad, but from a flavour standpoint either will work.

Full ingredient measurements and detailed instructions are located in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post!

Visual guide: how to make this asian kale salad

Overhead photo of kale leaves torn off their stems on a wood cutting board.

Start by removing kale leaves from their stems and tearing them into smaller pieces.

Overhead photo of torn kale leaves in a salad spinner.

Wash and dry the kale leaves in a salad spinner.

Sesame dressing whisked in small bowl.

Make the dressing by whisking together olive oil, toasted sesame oil, tamari, lemon juice, ginger, and garlic.

Torn kale leaves topped with dressing.

Pour dressing over kale, in a large mixing bowl.

Hands massaging dressing into kale.

Using clean hands, massage the dressing into the kale for about 60 seconds. You really want to knead and squeeze it in there to help soften the kale.

Massaged kale salad tossed with shredded carrots and sesame seeds.

Toss in the shredded carrots and sesame seeds. Allow the kale to sit in the fridge for about 30-60 minutes. This will help the kale to soften and the flavours to really set in.

PS. I have a whole post about how to massage kale if you want to learn more, with more massaged kale recipes + detailed instructions (although I promise it’s actually very simple!)

What to serve this salad with

This Asian kale salad works best as a side salad to your favourite proteins. From a flavour standpoint, I’d keep these proteins simple and cook them with ingredients like olive oil, garlic, lemon, etc. Some ideas:

  • salmon or other fish – when I purchase the Whole Foods version of this salad, I often pair it with baked salmon!
  • sautéed shrimp or scallops
  • chicken, steak, or pork
  • tofu or tempeh
  • hard-boiled eggs

For more specific recipes, here are some protein dishes from the blog with Asian-inspired flavours:

For a more filling dinner, you can also add a side of grains like rice or quinoa. I also love it with some simple roasted white potatoes, sweet potatoes, or Japanese sweet potatoes!

Kale nutrition benefits

They don’t call kale a superfood for nothing! Just one cup of kale provides over 100% of your daily needs for:

  • vitamin A (206%)
  • vitamin K (684%)
  • vitamin C (134%)

Kale is also a good source of other micronutrients like:

  • manganese
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • calcium
  • copper
  • vitamin B6

That same cup provides 2 grams of dietary fibre, helping to keep your gut and heart happy. In addition to micronutrients, kale is also loaded with antioxidants, which prevent cellular damage and provide a multitude of health benefits.

Asian kale salad with sesame dressing in a large bowl.

More kale salad recipes

Did you give this Asian Kale Salad Recipe a try? Let me know by leaving a comment and recipe rating below!

If you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or Pinterest – seeing your creations always makes my day. You can also subscribe to my email list to never miss a new recipe or nutrition education post!

Get the Recipe: Easy Asian Kale Salad With Sesame Dressing

This simple Asian kale salad is a Whole Foods copycat of one of my favourite items from their deli. Kale is massaged in a sesame-ginger dressing until it's soft, tender, and flavourful. It's a nutritious and easy side salad recipe!
Asian kale salad with sesame dressing in a large bowl.
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5 from 2 votes
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Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch curly kale (approx. 5-6 cups)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp sesame seeds (black or white)

Sesame dressing:

Instructions

  • PREP KALE: Start by removing kale leaves from their stems and tearing them into smaller pieces. Wash and dry the kale leaves in a salad spinner.
  • MAKE DRESSING: Add all dressing ingredients into a small bowl. Whisk until well-combined.
  • MASSAGE KALE: Place kale into a large mixing bowl. Pour dressing over kale. Using clean hands, massage the dressing into the kale for about 60 seconds. You really want to knead and squeeze it in there to help soften the kale.
    For tips on how to massage kale, you can check out my in-depth blog post HERE.
  • Add the shredded carrots and sesame seeds to the salad and give it another toss.
  • Cover and allow the salad to sit in the fridge for about 30-60 minutes. This will help the kale to soften and the flavours to really set in. You can leave this in the fridge even longer if you'd like (such as overnight!) to soften it even more. 

Notes

*LEFTOVERS & STORAGE: You can keep this salad in an airtight container or covered bowl in the fridge for about 3-4 days. Kale salads hold up really well. The longer it sits, the softer and more flavourful it will get!
*SERVE WITH: This recipe is designed as a side salad for your favourite proteins. From a flavour standpoint, I’d keep these proteins simple and cook them with ingredients like olive oil, garlic, lemon, etc. Some ideas:
  • salmon or other fish – when I purchase the Whole Foods version of this salad, I often pair it with baked salmon!
  • sautéed shrimp or scallops
  • chicken, steak, or pork
  • tofu or tempeh
  • hard-boiled eggs
 
For a more filling dinner, you can also add a side of grains like rice or quinoa. I also love it with some simple roasted white potatoes, sweet potatoes, or Japanese sweet potatoes!

Nutrition

As a dietitian, I create recipes with whole food ingredients that provide the nutrients needed for optimal health. My nutrition philosophy does not focus on numbers; however, I understand that this information can be helpful.

Do note that the nutrition info provided is an estimate and I cannot guarantee correctness of the displayed values. These numbers will differ depending on brands used, recipe modifications, and amount eaten. If you require specific nutrition information due to medical reasons, please consult with your dietitian or physician.

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know by leaving a recipe rating below, or by tagging @walderwellness on Instagram. I love seeing your beautiful creations!

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Pinterest graphic for a simple Asian kale salad recipe.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.