Recreating the Iconic Sam’s Club Kale Salad at Home

A Step-by-Step Guide to Making This Nutritious and Delicious Salad

Kale salads have become synonymous with healthy eating, but the kale salad sold at Sam’s Club (online shopping) stands out from the rest. This simple salad featuring fresh kale, crunchy toppings, and a zesty dressing has achieved almost legendary status among Sam’s Club fans. As someone who loves this salad, I’ve tried countless times to recreate it at home. Through trial and error, I’ve finally cracked the code for making an authentic version of this salad in my own kitchen.

In this blog post, I’ll share my homemade Sam’s Club kale salad recipe so you can enjoy this nourishing salad any time. I’ll provide details on how to prep the kale, what ingredients to use, and how to make the crave-worthy dressing. You’ll also find tips for customizing the salad to suit different diets and nutritional needs. Let’s dive in!

What Makes Sam’s Club Kale Salad Special

While kale salads have exploded in popularity in recent years, the Sam’s Club version stands out for its simplicity. There are no fancy superfood toppings or avocado slices—just good, old-fashioned kale paired with a bright lemon dressing.

So what makes this simple salad so special? A few key factors:

  • The kale – Sam’s Club uses tender baby kale leaves that have a milder, more delicate taste than fully mature kale. Their small size also makes them easier to eat raw.
  • Massaging the kale – Taking the time to massage the kale breaks down the sturdy leaves so they soften and wilt slightly. This removes any bitterness and makes the kale pleasantly tender.
  • The crunchy toppings – To contrast with the tender kale, the salad includes lots of fun, crisp toppings like diced red onion, pumpkin seeds, shredded carrots, and dried cranberries. These add wonderful texture.
  • The bright, lemony dressing – Sam’s Club uses a dressing made with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. It’s tangy and bold, bringing the salad together.

Recreating the flavor of this dressing and getting the perfect ratio of kale to toppings has been my quest. The details are below – read on for my step-by-step guide!

How to Make Sam’s Club Kale Salad Copycat

With the right techniques and ingredients, you can make a kale salad at home that looks and tastes just like the Sam’s Club version. Here’s what you’ll need:

For the kale:

  • 1 bunch baby kale or lacinato kale, chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Sea salt to taste

For the toppings:

  • 1⁄2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1⁄2 cup roasted salted pumpkin seeds
  • 1⁄2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1⁄4 cup very thinly sliced red onion

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄4 tsp sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

Step 1: Start by prepping the kale. Give the leaves a good rinse and then remove the stems and chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces.

Step 2: Place the kale in a large bowl. Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice over top. Sprinkle on a few generous pinches of sea salt.

Step 3: Now comes the important part – massaging the kale! Using your hands, gently scrunch and squeeze the kale leaves for 3-5 minutes until they darken in color and soften. This helps remove any residual bitterness.

Step 4: Let the kale sit while you prepare the toppings. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to make the dressing.

Step 5: Add the shredded carrots, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and red onion to the bowl of kale. Drizzle the dressing over top.

Step 6: Using your hands or tongs, toss everything together until the kale and toppings are evenly coated in the lemony dressing. And that’s it – you’ve replicated the Sam’s Club masterpiece!

Customizing the Salad to Suit Your Diet

One of the great things about a salad like this is you can customize it endlessly to suit your preferences. Here are some ideas:

  • Make it vegan – Skip the pumpkin seeds and use hemp seeds or sunflower seeds instead. Swap the oil and lemon juice for a vegan Caesar dressing.
  • Low-carb? Omit the dried cranberries and carrots, increase the kale, and add more seeds for crunch.
  • Nut-free? Replace the pumpkin seeds with chopped roasted chickpeas. Sunflower seeds also work well.
  • Gluten-free? Be sure to use gluten-free certified oats or sub rolled quinoa instead. Double check the pumpkin seeds are gluten-free.
  • Low-fat? Use just 1 tbsp oil in the dressing and supplement with 2 tbsp water. Up the lemon juice to make up for less oil.

The great thing about a salad base of kale is you can top it with almost anything! Feel free to experiment to make this salad your own.

Making Restaurant Worthy Kale Salad at Home

With the right techniques, it’s easy to make kale salad at home that looks and tastes like it came from a restaurant. Here are my pro tips:

  • Mind the dressing to kale ratio – Don’t drown the kale in dressing or it will get soggy. Start with about 2 tbsp dressing per serving and add more to taste.
  • Slice the onion paper thin – Thinly sliced red onion adds a nice bite. Slice it as thinly as you can for maximum crunch.
  • Toast the seeds and nuts – Toasting nuts and seeds really intensifies their flavor. Toast pumpkin seeds for 5 minutes in a dry pan.
  • Use a hefty pinch of salt – Don’t be shy with the salt! The dressing needs a good amount to properly balance and soften the kale.
  • Shred the carrots right before serving – Grating the carrots fresh makes them extra crunchy. Store the dressing separate from the carrots to keep them crisp.
  • Massage those leaves! – Spend 3-5 minutes gently kneading the kale leaves to break down those fibrous leaves. It’s crucial for tender kale.

Follow the tips above and your homemade kale salad will taste like you spent $15 on it at a cafe!

Storing and Freezing the Salad

One of the bonuses of recreating this salad at home is that you can make a big batch and store it for easy meals all week long. Here are some storage tips:

  • Store the undressed kale and toppings separately in the fridge. Combine them just before eating.
  • The dressed salad will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Prepared salad ingredients like shredded carrots and sliced onion can be frozen for longer storage. Thaw before using.
  • Dressing can also be made ahead and stored in a mason jar for at least 2 weeks.
  • You can make big batches of massage kale to freeze for easy sides. Thaw and dress as needed.

Having prepared salad ingredients on hand makes it so easy to throw together healthy lunches and dinners. Take advantage and get your batches of kale salad prepped for the week!

Enjoy the Nutrition of Kale Salad

One of the things I love most about recreating this salad at home is that I get to take advantage of kale’s amazing nutritional benefits anytime I want. Some of the key nutrients you’ll gain by eating kale salad include:

  • Vitamin A – Kale is incredibly high in vitamin A, with just 1 cup providing over 100% of your daily needs. This vitamin is crucial for eye and skin health.
  • Vitamin C – With 134% of your vitamin C needs in a cup, kale salad is an awesome immunity booster. It also helps your body absorb the iron found in kale.
  • Vitamin K – Eating kale provides vitamin K, which plays a role in bone health and may help reduce risk of certain cancers.
  • Antioxidants – Kale contains beneficial compounds like quercetin and kaempferol that fight inflammation and oxidative damage in the body.

Now you don’t have to go just to Sam’s Club to reap these benefits! Enjoy antioxidant-packed kale salad at home anytime.

Everyone Loves This Salad

With its crunchy textures, tangy dressing, and hefty serving of vegetables, this kale salad is one that even veggie-phobes go crazy over. Here are some tips for making this salad irresistible to kids and adults alike:

  • Get the little ones involved by letting them massage the kale and mix their own salads.
  • Let them pick their own crunchy toppings from sunflower seeds, raisins, diced bell peppers, etc.
  • Offer dressing on the side for dipping rather than pouring it over everything. Kids sometimes prefer this.
  • Make it colorful! Red cabbage or shredded purple carrots add festive rainbow colors.
  • Add bite-sized broccoli florets or halved grape tomatoes for a nutrition boost.
  • Skip the kale and serve the toppings over shredded rotisserie chicken for a main dish salad.

With a few simple tweaks, you can feel good about your whole family enjoying this nutritious salad for dinner. The delicious flavors will have everyone going back for seconds!

Kale Salad is Endlessly Versatile

One of the things that makes kale salad so perfect is that it pairs well with practically everything! Here are just a few ideas:

  • Flank it with grilled meats like steak, chicken, or salmon
  • Serve it alongside rich pastas or egg dishes to balance the heaviness
  • Pile it on top of tacos, flatbreads, pizza, or burgers
  • Stuff it into sandwiches and wraps
  • Mix it into your favorite grain bowls
  • Spoon it over roasted sweet potatoes or winter squash

You really can’t go wrong with kale salad – it just makes everything on your plate taste better. Keep bags of prepped kale salad ingredients on hand to turn any meal into a delicious one.

Keto? No Problem with Kale Salad

As the ketogenic diet has surged in popularity, finding low-carb vegetable sides has become tricky. Cue kale salad! With its combination of fresh greens, seeds, and vinegar, kale salad fits perfectly into a keto lifestyle.

Here’s how to make it keto-friendly:

  • Skip higher carb items like dried fruit and shredded carrots
  • Increase the kale content – heap it on!
  • Top with fatty additions like avocado, bacon crumbles, shredded cheese
  • Incorporate keto “crunchies” like broccoli florets, cauliflower rice, or radish slices
  • Make the dressing with a keto-approved oil like avocado oil
  • Sprinkle low-carb nuts and seeds like pumpkin seeds, pecans or sunflower seeds

The beauty of eating a veggie like raw kale on keto is that you can really pile your plate high without worrying about carbs. Kale salad makes the perfect crunchy, fresh accompaniment to balance out an otherwise rich keto diet.

Nailing the Iconic Sam’s Club Kale Salad Dressing

Let’s talk about the star of this kale salad – the dressing! Getting it just right is key to mimicking the Sam’s Club version, and it’s so easy to make at home. Here are my tips:

Amp up the lemon flavor – Don’t be shy with the lemon juice – the dressing needs a good amount to achieve that signature tangy flavor. I use at least 3 tablespoons per batch.

Use high quality olive oil – Splurge on the good EVOO – its flavor really shines through. I like the fruitiness of California olive oil.

Add plenty of black pepper – Freshly cracked black pepper adds just the right bite. The dressing needs lots to balance the lemon.

Don’t forget the salt – The salt is crucial to mellow the bitterness of the greens and pull out their flavors. Don’t omit it!

Emulsify the dressing – Use a blender, small food processor, or whisk vigorously to emulsify the oil and lemon into a cohesive dressing.

Taste and adjust – Make sure to taste the finished dressing and tweak anything to your liking. Add more lemon juice or olive oil as needed.

With a stellar olive oil, plenty of lemon, and the right ratio of seasonings, you can make a restaurant-quality kale salad dressing at home. Bottoms up!

Final Thoughts on Recreating This Classic Salad

As a long-time kale salad lover, developing the perfect homemade version has been a delicious adventure. I hope my tips and recipe above help you recreate this iconic Sam’s Club salad in your own kitchen.

Here’s a quick recap of what makes it so special:

  • Tender, massaged baby kale leaves
  • Lots of fun, crunchy toppings
  • Bright, tangy lemon olive oil dressing
  • Endless options for customization

With the right technique, ingredients, and a bit of practice, you can be enjoying restaurant-caliber kale salad for a fraction of the price. Here’s to homemade healthy eating! What are you waiting for? Head to the grocery store, stock up on salad supplies, and start massaging that kale. Your taste buds will thank you.

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