How To Massage Kale


I know this is the second kale post in 3 days, but bear with me; it’s that good.

The first time I had massaged kale was at Whole Foods from the salad bar. It was so good I ended up getting it every time I went in. But after a while of paying $7.99 per pound for it I figured it had to be cheaper to make at home.

Massaging your own kale takes just a few ingredients and 5 minutes. It breaks down the kale without heating it so the nutrients all remain but the taste is less bitter and bite less sharp. It’s a great nutritious side dish or base for a salad.


It’s totally optional but dimming the lights, lighting a candle, and putting on a slow song really sets the mood. This is a massage after all. 

How To Massage Kale

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

You’ll need(for 2 side servings)…

  • 2 cups roughly chopped kale
  • 1/2 a large avocado
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon(or lime), about 1 Tablespoon
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


In a large bowl, mix the greens with the citrus juice.


Add in your avocado. Then it’s time to gently massage the avocado into the kale…


Or, if you’re like me, it’s going to look a lot more like clumsy groping than an actual massage. I guess the two are close enough; one usually leads to the other, right? Anyway, massage the kale by working it with you’re hands, incorporating the avocado and lemon juice. You’ll hear a lot of crunching noise. After about 5 minutes you’ll notice the kale turns from a muted color to a more lively green. That’s when it’s ready.


Add in the diced tomato and sea salt and gently fold all of the ingredients together. Serve at room temperature.


This method is so much cheaper than buying it from the salad bar, and much quicker than I expected, too! Whole Foods uses about twice as much avocado for this much kale. That’s probably why it tastes so much better there.

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42 Responses to How To Massage Kale
  1. Staci @ Foodies on the Fly
    September 2, 2011 | 9:08 am

    Great post! I especially loved your optional “mood setting” for the massage. Looks delicious too.

  2. Holly
    September 2, 2011 | 9:08 am

    Totally loved the “sexy” spin on massaged kale! Never thought about actually massaging an avocado right in, I usually just add a drizzle of Olive Oil afterwards. SMART!

  3. Hannah
    September 2, 2011 | 9:13 am

    TOTALLY HAD THAT CD. Totally made my family listen to it the whole way through on a holiday road trip.

    My brother did not forgive me for a whole day.

  4. Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
    September 2, 2011 | 9:35 am

    Haha, the mood setting made this post! Do you actually have that CD? haha

  5. Faith @ For the Health of It
    September 2, 2011 | 9:44 am

    Bom chica wow wow!!! I’m lusting over that kale now

  6. Kaitlin
    September 2, 2011 | 11:22 am

    HAHAHAHA literally laughed out loud in the middle of bio lecture. Other students startled.

    Massaged kale is no joke, though.

  7. JL goes Vegan
    September 2, 2011 | 11:35 am

    You were right. I love today’s post :)

  8. Lindsay @ Lindsay's List
    September 2, 2011 | 12:25 pm

    But was the kale a jerk and forget to tip?? Typical kale.

  9. Pure2raw twins
    September 2, 2011 | 5:12 pm

    lucky for me I am having massaged kale salad tonight :) Michelle and I have always wanted to do a video of us making our massaged kale salads, it is amazing how many request we get from people when we post one on our blog, it really is so simple to make and taste amazing. Glad you are a lover like us!

  10. Luv What You Do
    September 2, 2011 | 6:51 pm

    I love Kale!
    Discovered it this summer and fell for the Kale Chips…I definitely massaged my kale (per recipe suggestion) but forgot the candle light. Will remember it for next time!

  11. Emily
    September 2, 2011 | 9:26 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial!! I have some kale growing in my garden that aaaallmost there, can’t wait to try this salad with it :)

  12. Errign
    September 3, 2011 | 12:32 am

    I probably should not be admitting this right now, but I’m drogging and this post totally made me LOL hahaha.

  13. Gena
    September 3, 2011 | 11:17 am

    I will never, ever, EVER complain about a preponderance of kale recipes. Wonderful tutorial! I hope you also like to play Boys II Men when you do this.

    • Wannabe Chef
      September 3, 2011 | 1:16 pm

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Boys II Men song. I do have an old school Backstreet Boys CD that is well worn

  14. Jessica @ Jess Go Bananas
    September 3, 2011 | 12:29 pm

    good trick! I will have to try this sometime – sometime meaning tonight!

  15. Paige @ Running Around Normal
    September 3, 2011 | 12:53 pm

    I just had a massaged kale salad yesterday. SO freaking good. Love how the simple flavors just meld together:)

  16. Claire @ Un Bello Aperitivo
    September 3, 2011 | 2:47 pm

    Brilliant! WF does the best kale salad, with the pine nuts, olives, red peppers, and tomatoes. I’ve tried to recreate it at home, but nothing tastes just like mom’s, I mean, WF’s cooking.

    • Wannabe Chef
      September 3, 2011 | 5:16 pm

      Woh! I want to eat at your Whole Foods. Mine just has avocado, tomato and onion.

  17. veronica gantley
    September 3, 2011 | 7:45 pm

    You give new meaning to the term “playing with your food.” Thanks for sharing.

  18. Kristina @ spabettie
    September 4, 2011 | 1:53 am

    you guys need to be alone? ;)

    great tutorial, Evan. it’s my favorite way to eat kale… love that the avocado is included in the massage!

  19. mightyvegan
    September 4, 2011 | 9:14 am

    I’m still laughing at the “mood setting”. Classic!

  20. Russell van Kraayenburg
    September 4, 2011 | 11:20 pm

    Haha. Hilarious. I don’t think I can do massaged kale without thinking about your mood lighting, music now and clumsy groping now. Love it!

  21. Izzy
    November 18, 2011 | 10:41 pm

    HAHA Destiny’s Child. Yes.

  22. […] thinly shredded crucifer in uncooked form to retain the it’s maximum nutrient content. Since no one in the online community have ever offered a how-to on massaging kale into a crunchy, delicious, and tremendously healthy salad, I thought I’d […]

  23. What is it? Kale. | Recipemuse
    May 22, 2012 | 6:34 pm

    […] 3. You can give your kale a massage.  Really.  Massaging kale breaks down some of the cells, exposing the interior juices to oxygen.  This causes a cascade of reactions yielding sweeter, complex flavors.  look here […]

  24. Bill Andersoot
    June 13, 2012 | 11:20 am

    If it “tastes so much better” at Whole Foods, why bother posting the recipe? Why not just direct people to the salad bar at Whole Foods? If you’re truly a wannabe chef, I’d say you’re setting your sights a little low. The goal should be to make it better–not worse.

    • crystal
      April 18, 2013 | 11:57 am

      How about because she was making a healthier, more affordable version than WF? No need to be a jerk.

  25. […] cup kale, massaged: 30 calories 1 squeeze lime juice, < 1 calorie 1 squeeze lemon juice, < 1 calorie ¼ avocado, […]

  26. […] cup kale, massaged: 30 calories 1 squeeze lime juice, < 1 calorie 1 squeeze lemon juice, < 1 calorie ¼ avocado, […]

  27. […] cup kale, massaged: 30 calories 1 squeeze lime juice, < 1 calorie 1 squeeze lemon juice, < 1 calorie ¼ avocado, […]

  28. […] health. It has a slightly bitter taste and is often dubbed as a “superfood”. Learn how to massage kale with avocado and lemon juice to spice up your […]

  29. Andrew
    August 1, 2012 | 2:24 pm

    Very useful info and hilarious, thanks! I’m going to try massaging my kale before making kale chips in my dehydrator, I have a feeling it’ll be the step I’m missing for a less chewy outcome.

  30. Links You’ll Love « Moi Contre La Vie
    October 12, 2012 | 7:48 pm

    […] Hungry for a new type of salad? Try massaged kale for a great dose of antioxidants, beta carotene, calcium and Vitamins K & C. By “massaging” the kale with dressing rather than boiling/sautéing it, you’ll retain more of the nutrients that are lost during cooking. Evan over at The Wannabe Chef shows you how here. […]

  31. Massaged Kale Salad « Not Crocker
    December 2, 2012 | 8:24 pm

    […] Adapted from The Wannabe Chef. […]

  32. […] How to Massage Kale […]

  33. Fit, Fed and Happy
    February 2, 2014 | 5:16 am

    […] cup kale, massaged: 30 calories1 squeeze lime juice, < 1 calorie1 squeeze lemon juice, < 1 calorie¼ avocado, […]

  34. […] breakdown: 1 cup kale, massaged: 30 calories, 1 squeeze lime juice, < 1 calorie, 1 squeeze lemon juice, < 1 calorie, ¼ […]

  35. FIT GANG *BLOG | FITGANG Apparel
    July 14, 2014 | 2:34 am

    […] breakdown: 1 cup kale, massaged: 30 calories, 1 squeeze lime juice, < 1 calorie, 1 squeeze lemon juice, < 1 calorie, ¼ […]

  36. […] breakdown: 1 cup kale, massaged: 30 calories, 1 squeeze lime juice, < 1 calorie, 1 squeeze lemon juice, < 1 calorie, ¼ […]

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    August 4, 2014 | 5:22 pm

    […] breakdown: 1 cup kale, massaged: 30 calories, 1 squeeze lime juice, < 1 calorie, 1 squeeze lemon juice, < 1 calorie, ¼ […]

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