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Massaging kale for a salad is one of the BEST ways to prepare kale! In this post I share everything about how to massage kale (with a step-by-step breakdown and video), what it means, and why we do it.

Overhead photo of massaged kale in a bowl.

You may have heard about “massaging kale” before and wondered what it was all about. What does it really mean to “massage” kale? Does it really do anything? Does it make it taste better? How long do you do it for?

Well, you’re in luck! I wrote this post to help answer all those questions for you, and give you a step-by-step breakdown (and video) if you want to try massaging kale yourself.

As a registered dietitian, I’m happy to share that massaging kale is one of my favourite ways to get people to enjoy kale salads ;). If you’ve had a kale salad in the past that was dry and hard to eat, I hope you give kale a second chance with this method!!

Want more kale recipes? Check out my roundup of nutritious kale recipes for more ideas!

What Is Massaged Kale?

I’ve talked about this before on my Instagram, and I’ve received some funny feedback!

Some people had no idea what I was talking about, some were curious but weren’t sure where to begin, and someone even said their mom had massaged a kale salad bare, without any dressing (I had a good giggle at that one haha). 

Basically, you’re not alone if you’re confused. So let me clear it up for you! Massaged kale means that the kale has literally been massaged with your hands to work in the dressing.

Overhead photo of recipe ingredients on a wood cutting board.

Why Do You Massage Kale?

Ok, so why do we want to do this? Massaging dressing into kale helps to physically break down the tough fibres in the leafy green, making it much softer, tastier, and easier to digest.

It also makes kale salad taste SOO much better compared to kale that hasn’t been massaged. Honestly, once you have a massaged kale salad it’s hard to go back to a regular one!

BONUS – unlike other greens, massaged kale salads don’t go limp or soggy, which makes them perfect to prep in big batches, bring to work, and eat throughout the week. In fact, the longer you let this sit, the better!

What Kind Of Kale Do You Use?

You can do this with any kind of kale (other than “baby” kale, where it’s not really necessary)!

My personal favourites are lacinato (dinosaur) kale and curly (green) kale.

Step-By-Step Video

Step-By-Step Written Instructions

Step 1: Remove kale leaves from their hard stems. To do this, I like to hold the bottom of the stem with one hand and then slide up the stem with my other hand to get all the leaves off in one fell swoop.

Step 2: Tear the leaves into smaller pieces, then wash and dry them well in a salad spinner.

Step 3: Make your salad dressing. You can do this with most dressing really, but one of my simple go-to’s is a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. I’ve included this one in the recipe card below!

Step 4: Pour the dressing over the prepared kale leaves in a large bowl.

Step 5: Using clean hands, squeeze and massage the dressing into the kale leaves. Do this for about 1 full minute (60 seconds) – you really want to get in there and soften the leaves!

Step 6: Once done, cover the bowl of massaged kale and let sit in the fridge for at least 30-60 mins to break the fibres down even further. You can leave this in the fridge even longer if you’d like (such as overnight!) to soften them even more.

And that’s it! So easy, right?!

Storage Notes

You can keep this simple massaged kale in an airtight container or bowl in the fridge for about 3-4 days. The longer it sits, the softer and more flavourful it will get!

Massaged Kale Salad Recipes

Kale Nutrition Facts

Now that you know the BEST way to enjoy a kale salad, you have no excuses to not reap the benefits of this nutrient-dense green!

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, and vitamin B6
  • dietary fibre (2 grams per cup)
  • antioxidants, which prevent cellular damage and provide a multitude of health benefits

More Helpful Cooking How-To’s

Did you give Massaged Kale 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: How To Massage Kale (for a salad)

Massaging kale for a salad is one of the BEST ways to prepare kale! In this post I share everything about how to massage kale (with a step-by-step breakdown), what it means, and why we do it.
Overhead photo of massaged kale in a bowl.
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Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch kale, curly or lacinato (roughly 5 cups)

Salad Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 a lemon, juice only
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (or 2 cloves minced garlic)
  • Salt + pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Remove kale leaves from their hard stems. To do this, I like to hold the bottom of the stem with one hand and then slide up the stem with my other hand to get all the leaves off in one fell swoop.
  • Tear the leaves into smaller pieces, then wash and dry them well in a salad spinner.
  • Make your salad dressing. You can do this with most dressing really, but one of my simple go-to's is a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. I've included this one in the recipe card below!
  • Pour the dressing over the prepared kale leaves in a large bowl.
  • Using clean hands, squeeze and massage the dressing into the kale leaves. Do this for about 1 full minute (60 seconds) – you really want to get in there and soften the leaves!
  • Once done, cover the bowl of massaged kale and let sit in the fridge for at least 30-60 mins to break the fibres down even further. You can leave this in the fridge even longer if you'd like (such as overnight!) to soften them even more. 
  • Serve massaged kale as a simple side salad OR enjoy it in one of my massaged kale salad recipes listed in the Notes section 🙂

Notes

*SERVINGS: This recipe will make about 2-4 servings, depending on if you enjoy it as part of a side or main salad.
*STORAGE: You can keep this simple massaged kale in an airtight container or bowl in the fridge for about 3-4 days. The longer it sits, the softer and more flavourful it will get!
*MASSAGED KALE SALAD RECIPES: Here are my favourite massaged kale salad recipes from the blog:

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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