How to Make Massaged Kale Salad

How to make massaged kale salad

What was the hardest part of your week last week?

While you ponder that, let me share mine: having to watch as a teacher took kale away from a preschooler and made him cry. (Yep, ladies and gentleman, apparently I am so good at getting kids to love kale that they cry when it is taken away.)

Last week I was making my famous kale smoothie for kids with a group of preschoolers. One of the boys was so excited about getting to try the smoothie that he started eating one of the raw kale leaves that had been passed around the classroom for the kids to touch and explore. After taking a bite of the kale he liked it so much that he continued to gnaw his way through most of the leaf. (I was quite impressed!)

Of course, a child snacking on a germ-y piece of kale caught the attention of one of the teachers who promptly took it away from him. Sure enough, crying ensued. Which actually seems pretty fair because if someone tried to take my kale away, I would probably cry too.

Luckily, the nice thing about being an adult is that you can eat as much raw kale as you want. Especially if you massage it and turn it into a delicious salad. Just wash your hands first. :)

By now you might have heard of “massaging” kale and wondered what all the fuss was about. Massaging raw kale transforms it from a tough, somewhat bitter leaf into a sweet, delicate salad. And it only takes a few minutes!

Let me show you how!

(Psst: If you like this tutorial, be sure to sign up for my free weekly newsletter to get FREE weekly recipes, healthy living tips, and giveaways for health and wellness goodies sent to your inbox!)

How to make massaged kale salad
Massaging kale only requires a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand. I typically use a simple mix of a little salt and fresh lemon juice to help tenderize the leaves and some olive oil for flavor. The salt and acid in the lemon juice helps to break down the cell walls in the kale, softening it while making it sweeter.
Once you’ve gathered your supplies, get to work! De-stem the kale and tear it into bite-sized pieces.
Add the kale to a bowl along with the salt and squeeze of lemon juice.
When you massage the kale, think of the motion used to rub someone’s shoulders. (Hey, even kale needs some love.)  Get in that bowl and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
In the photo below, the kale on the left has been massaged for 1 minute and the kale on the right has been massaged for 5 minutes. You can see that the kale has decreased in size and the texture is softer after being massaged for 5 minutes.
How to make massaged kale salad

Test the kale as you go along. When the kale begins to taste sweet and you can see some kale juices (e.g. liquids extracted from the kale) accumulating at the bottom of the bowl, your kale is ready!

Add the olive oil, give it one more good massage, and it’s ready to eat!

raw kale vs massaged kale


How to Make Massaged Kale Salad
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4
  • 1 large bunch curly kale, de-stemmed and torn or chopped into pieces
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Any desired toppings
  1. Add the kale to a medium mixing bowl along with the salt and lemon juice.
  2. "Massage" kale for five minutes, or until leaves are sweet and tender.
  3. Add the olive oil and give one more quick "massage."


And don’t forget to add any additional toppings as desired.  Some of my favorites are roasted nuts, fresh fruit, dried fruit, sprouted quinoahomemade croutonsroasted squash, or sprouts.

What are your favorite toppings for massaged kale salad? 

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