Balsamic Kale Salad

This balsamic kale salad is perfect for entertaining or as a side salad on busy weeknights. It’s quick and easy to throw together. The sweet balsamic vinaigrette has just the right balance of sweet, tangy, and savory flavors. Enjoy this vegan, refined sugar-free balsamic kale salad as a first course or turn it into a full meal by adding some extra protein and carbs. 

What to serve this with

If you’re looking for another light dish to serve with this salad, try this delicious vegan cream of cauliflower soup. It’s so rich and creamy you’d never guess it’s dairy free.

A white bowl filled with balsamic kale salad.

Ingredients and substitutions

This kale salad is simple yet satisfying and has a nice crunch from the walnuts. You can either use raw walnuts or toasted walnuts. Or if you’re not a fan of walnuts or need to avoid them, you can substitute pecans, slivered almonds, pine nuts, pistachios or any other nut you prefer. Or if you need to keep this balsamic kale salad entirely nut free then you can substitute pumpkin seeds or these savory spiced sunflower seeds.

The refined sugar-free balsamic vinaigrette is sweetened with date paste. Date paste is easy to make and is a nutrient-dense alternative to white sugar. It’s made by soaking dates in boiling water and then blending them up. See my date paste recipe for exact instructions. Alternatively you can substitute maple syrup instead of date paste if you prefer.

The savory component of the sweet balsamic vinaigrette comes from fresh chives, which give the salad dressing a subtle, oniony flavor without overpowering the other flavors in this recipe. If you don’t have any fresh chives you can substitute a teaspoon of finely chopped onion or garlic. Or two teaspoons of dried chives works too.

I love the flavor and tenderness of baby kale, but you can substitute any type of regular raw kale you prefer such as curly kale. Just give it a quick massage first to tenderize the leaves, then chop it up. Baby spinach, arugula, or any other type of salad greens are good alternatives too.

Balsamic vinegar works well in the vinaigrette but you can substitute other types of vinegar such as apple cider vinegar or red or wine vinegar if you like.

I like using extra virgin olive oil in the dressing but other neutral oils will work too. Avocado oil is a good alternative.

How to make it

This baby kale salad is quick and easy to prepare. Start by adding the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, chopped chives, date paste (or maple syrup), salt, and pepper to a large bowl, then use a whisk to mix well. 

Add the baby kale and walnuts, then toss to evenly coat with the dressing. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to three hours before serving.

Make it a meal

You can easily turn this kale walnut salad into a complete meal by adding some more protein and carbs. Add some cooked tofu, roasted sweet potato chunks, lentils, or chickpeas to make it a main course.

Another way to transform this salad into a hearty meal is to add a grain such as quinoa. Just prepare the quinoa according to the package instructions, then add 1 cup of cooked quinoa per person before tossing with the dressing.

Preparing this in advance 

You can prepare the dressing up to three days in advance, but once you’ve tossed the baby kale and walnuts with the dressing, it’s best to serve this balsamic kale salad within a few hours, otherwise the greens will wilt. 

Salad tossed with dressing in a white bowl.

More vegan salad recipes

Balsamic Kale Salad

This balsamic kale salad is tossed with crunchy walnuts and has a sweet balsamic vinaigrette dressing. This vegan, refined sugar-free, baby kale salad has the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Prep Time 8 minutes
Total Time 8 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 249kcal


  • Mixing bowl


  • 6 cups baby kale
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or substitute any other nut or seed)
  • 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons date paste (or substitute maple syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  • Add the date paste, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and chives to a large bowl.
  • Use a whisk to mix well.
  • Add the baby kale and walnuts, then toss to coat evenly.
  • Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to three hours.


  • You can use either raw or toasted walnuts in this recipe.
  • For a nut-free version of this salad, swap the walnuts for sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.
  • Turn this salad into a complete meal by adding some roasted sweet potatoes, lentils, tofu, chickpeas, or quinoa.


Calories: 249kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 127mg | Potassium: 423mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 6715IU | Vitamin C: 81mg | Calcium: 116mg | Iron: 2mg

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