massaging kale tips

kale smoothies, kale chips, kale juice…we find an excuse to pack this dark green superfood into our diets pretty much every chance we get – and for good reason. Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables around: it’s filled to the brim with vitamins and minerals, including hard-to-find vitamin K and sulfur, and even contains omega-3 fatty acids. It supports liver detoxification, helps to lower cholesterol, reduces inflammation levels, clears toxic estrogen from the body, and prevents cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate. Did we mention that it tastes good too?

We’ve been on the kale bandwagon for years, yet sometimes it takes a bit of coaxing to get skeptics on board with our leaf-loving ways – in its natural state, kale can be tough, fibrous, and a little bitter. Enter the simplest tip ever for turning kale into a culinary delicacy: massage your kale.

“Massaging” kale is one of the easiest culinary techniques – and simplest health tips – ever. It takes just three minutes and is so fool-proof it can be mastered by kitchen novices in a heartbeat. The process involves using the acidic lemon juice to break down the cellulose fiber structures of the leaf. It causes the kale to wilt, turning this once-coarse leafy green into a silky, manageable and palatable vegetable that’s reminiscent of steamed spinach. The flavor also becomes much milder, turning it into the perfect salad green.

 Ready to get your hands dirty? Try out our run-through of a three-minute kale rub-down:

How to Massage Kale


1 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1/8 tsp sea salt
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large bunch kale, de-stemmed and torn into small pieces


Place washed, de-stemmed and torn kale into a large bowl. Add all ingredients.

With your hands, mix the ingredients into the kale and massage the leaves. Massage the kale as if you were massaging someone’s shoulders.

Massage for about 3 minutes, until the kale has reduced in size. Taste to see that it has softened. If needed, massage longer until you reach the consistency you desire.

Add other salad ingredients and any other dressing ingredients (tahini, vinegar, nutritional yeast, fresh herbs, etc.) to complete the salad.

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  1. Thanks! No wonder I always felt that I was chewing grass.

    Rita | 05.06.2014 | Reply
  2. I am new to the kale bandwagon. Massaging my kale always makes it taste so delicate and delicious. Definitely one of my favorite greens.

    Michele | 05.06.2014 | Reply
  3. If you don’t want to get your hands oily, throw the kale into a large storage bag and massage from the outside of the bag.

    Hilary | 05.07.2014 | Reply
  4. Almost every day for lunch for a years now I make Kale Salads. Always different ingredients depending whats in season but the constant is the massaging of the kale. I make my lunches in the morning for work for freshness. I usually quickly rinse the stems, break the kale into small bunches and then massage each piece and then toss into the glass tupperware. It doesn’t take long at all. After the salad combining process, I squeeze some lemon to complete it. I then pack it up and let the lemon soak in for a good 4-5 hours before lunchtime. I am also obsessed with using Coconut Aminos for a salad dressing.
    I didn’t realize how many people aren’t aware of massaging kale but its true, a lot of people aren’t aware of this fact.
    Great read! Thanks!

    klean-slate | 05.08.2014 | Reply
  5. With the exception of smoothies and juices, I’ve only eaten Kale cooked (steamed, sautéed or roasted) so this would be a helpful tip for me if I ever decided to use it in a salad.

    D.E. | 05.19.2014 | Reply
  6. I was on kale 10 years ago before everyone else. Now I’m done with it.

  7. Great article, thank You !!

  8. I too would love to try kale because I take cancer drugs for my arthritis and I am allergic to iodine uptake such as in the CT scan I only say this so your readers will be informed, I will check with my doctor before eating kale and thank you so much for the great recipes I hope to try

    Chris Hollstein | 10.05.2017 | Reply

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