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Close-up of kale caesar salad with croutons and shaved parmigiano

Kale Caesar Salad Recipe

Kale, homemade croutons, and a garlicky caesar salad dressing come together in this extra special caesar salad recipe.
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword anchovies, caesar salad, caesar salad dressing, easy dinners, easy recipes, garlic caesar salad, greens, kale, kale caesar salad, pescatarian caesar salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes
Servings 2 people
Calories 454kcal


For the salad:

  • 1 cup cubed, bite-sized pieces of crusty sourdough bread focaccia bread and baguettes will also work well here, but baking times will vary slightly
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 4 cups loosely packed curly kale washed, thoroughly dried, trimmed, and cut into 2-inch to 3inch pieces; mine yielded 2.75 ounces after trimming
  • 3 tablespoons shaved parmigiano-reggiano cheese shaved with a vegetable peeler

For the dressing:

  • 1 anchovy filet
  • 1 small garlic clove finely grated to yield a scant 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese plus more if needed
  • 1/3 cup full-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more if needed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Black pepper


  • Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 °F.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the kale. In a medium salad bowl, add kale, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Remember you'll be adding the caesar dressing to this kale, so err on the side of less salt for now.
    Massage the kale; run your fingers through the leaves, squeezing and rubbing them. The whole process should take about 2 to 3 minutes, and as you continue massaging the leaves, they will soften considerably. Once the leaves feel soft and tender, set aside.
  • On a parchment-lined baking sheet, coat the bread cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and black pepper to taste. If the bread is not fully coated, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil.
    Bake for 8 minutes, flipping the croutons in between until they are golden-brown in color. When done, croutons should be crunchy around the edges but still slightly soft in the center (they will continue to cook slightly after removing from the oven, so err on the slightly softer side).
    Remove from the baking sheet and transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.
  • While the croutons cool, prepare the dressing. Mince the anchovy filet, then place the grated garlic and a pinch of salt on top of the minced anchovy.
    Mash the anchovy, garlic, and salt together until it forms a paste; to help create a paste, tilt your knife at a 30 degree angle and scrape the knife across the anchovy mixture. Next, mince the mixture with your knife for a few seconds, then repeat, scraping with a knife then mincing until it forms a paste.
  • Transfer paste to a small bowl, and whisk in dijon mustard, cheese, and mayonnaise. The dressing should now be a thick paste. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and lemon juice, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To test if the dressing suits your preferences, dip a piece of the kale into the mixture and taste it. The bite should taste garlicky, with a slight bit of acidity and saltiness. You want it to taste slightly less “zingy” than you want it, because when you eat the salad, you'll be eating many bites, so the punchy flavors and zinginess will build up over time.
  • Too strong or thick? Dilute the mixture with some olive oil (or water if you don't want to add more oil). Too subtle? For additional zinginess, add more garlic or mustard; for additional saltiness, add more salt or anchovy; for additional acidity, add more lemon juice.
  • Once you're satisfied, toss the kale with caesar dressing, croutons, and shaved parmigiano cheese. Serve immediately.



The caesar dressing is thicker than you might be used to -- but if the kale is massaged well and has a nice coat of olive oil, it should be just the right consistency when you dip a piece of kale in the dressing to try it out. If it still feels too thick, you can add a bit more olive oil to the dressing to loosen it as needed.
Substitutions: You can substitute 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped capers for a vegetarian version. You can also use a dash of fish sauce instead of anchovies.
Storage: The caesar dressing can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. I don't recommend fully prepping the kale in advance, but you can definitely wash and dry it and then keep it in the fridge in a ziploc bag covered with a paper towel. Homemade croutons can be prepared in advance, stored in the freezer for up to 4 weeks and reheated at 325F until warm and toasty. 
Add-ons: For a complete meal, add some cooked and chopped salmon or grilled chicken.


Calories: 454kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 19g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 621mg | Potassium: 526mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 13515IU | Vitamin C: 127mg | Calcium: 490mg | Iron: 3mg