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Kale Caesar Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

This Vegan Kale Caesar Salad Recipe is a lunchtime winner that will make you crave greens! Full of hearty crispy chickpeas and doused in a tangy tahini-parmesan dressing, it will keep you full and satisfied. Full of plant-based protein, this easy lunch recipe is totally vegan and gluten-free.

overhead shot of kale caesar salad with crispy chickpeas

What ingredients are in vegan caesar salad dressing?

Typically, caesar salad dressing is not dairy-free at all. To make it vegan, you need:

  • Tahini – as the creamy base
  • Lemon juice – for zing
  • Dijon mustard – to help emulsify ingredients
  • Garlic – for classic flavor
  • Tamari or soy sauce – for umami
  • Cashew parmesan as a stand in for cheese
  • Fresh parsley – for brightness
  • Salt and pepper – to balance
  • Water – to thin
bowl of crispy chickpeas with silver spoon

How To Make A Kale Caesar Salad

Making this salad is quite simple; it can be ready in about 15 minutes. After mixing the above dressing ingredients together, you’ll massage that dressing into a bed of kale and sliced cabbage. Then, you’ll crisp some chickpeas on the stovetop and add those for additional plant-based protein. To serve, top greens with crispy chickpeas and wedges of avocado!

The tahini dressing is the star of the show, and this recipe does make extra. I personally prefer my salads on the lighter side of dressing, so there are options listed to use however much you prefer. This dressing is rather versatile and would be a great addition to other salads or even on a sandwich.

To watch a video of how to make this salad, click here.

overhead shot of tahini salad dressing with wooden spoon

How to Massage Kale + Why It Is Important

Massaging kale helps break down its fibrous structure so that it’s easier to eat. It also helps to absorb the flavors of whatever dressing you’re using.

The easiest way to massage kale is to place it in a large bowl and use two hands to “knead” dressing into the leaves. I like to start with a smaller amount of dressing and work my way up. This process usually takes just a minute or two. You’ll notice that the kale will darken in color and begin wilting. As it sits, it will soften even more.

plate of kale and cabbage on wood board

I hope you enjoy this vegan kale caesar salad! For more kale recipes, try one of the posts next:

If you love winter salads, try this Cinnamon Maple Squash & Pink Radicchio Salad next.

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overhead shot of kale caesar salad with crispy chickpeas

Kale Caesar Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

  • Author: Emily
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


This Kale Caesar is a lunchtime winner that will make you crave salad! Full of hearty crispy chickpeas and doused in a tangy tahini-parmesan dressing, it will keep you full and satisfied. Full of plant-based protein, this easy lunch recipe is totally vegan and gluten-free.


Units Scale

For tahini parmesan caesar dressing:

  • One third cup tahini
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 TBS dijon mustard
  • 2 small cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp soy sauce or tamari for gluten-free
  • One fourth cup cashew parmesan
  • 2 TBS chopped parsley
  • Dashes of salt and pepper
  • Water to thin

For crispy chickpeas:

  • 3 TBS neutral oil
  • 15 oz cooked chickpeas (one can), drained and rinsed
  • 2 TBS nutritional yeast, or more parmesan (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin (optional)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 TBS maple syrup
  • 1 TBS crushed red pepper (optional)

For salad:

  • 1 head curly kale (about 5 cups), washed and dried
  • 12 cups sliced cabbage or Brussels sprouts, washed and dried
  • One half avocado, sliced



  1. To begin, combine all ingredients for dressing except water in a bowl or blender. Mix/blend to combine. Slowly stream in water until a thick but pourable consistency is achieved. Set aside.
  2. To make chickpeas, heat 3 TBS oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add chickpeas and stir, making an even layer in the pan.
  3. Add nutritional yeast, cumin, salt, maple syrup, and red pepper if using. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 10 minutes. You may need to add more oil if they begin to stick. Stir every now and then until evenly browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Add kale and cabbage to a large bowl and drizzle 4 TBS of the dressing on top. Using your hands, massage dressing into kale (this will make it easier to eat and more flavorful). Add more dressing to your liking, rubbing it in as you go.
  5. To serve, plate salad greens topped with crispy chickpeas and slices of avocado. Serve with more dressing on the side as desired.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stirring
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: One fourth of recipe
  • Calories: 297 calories
  • Sugar: 9.2 grams
  • Sodium: 1030 milligrams
  • Fat: 14.5 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 1.8 grams
  • Unsaturated Fat: 12.7 grams
  • Trans Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 34 grams
  • Fiber: 11 grams
  • Protein: 11.5 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams

Keywords: caesar, kale, salad, chickpea, protein, avocado, tahini

Portrait of Emily Meyers, founder of Garlic Head

About the Author

Emily (Frigon) Meyers is the founder of Garlic Head, a plant-based recipe website for all eaters who want to easily, affordably, and sustainably incorporate more vegetables into their diets while saving time and money. She is a lifelong vegetarian and 10+ year vegan. Garlic Head does not focus on labels - it focuses on creating food that everyone can enjoy.

Emily earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University along with degrees in Economics, Spanish, and Global Sustainability from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been featured on numerous podcasts and websites including The Food Institute, VegNews, Buzzfeed, and the Boston Globe.

Meet Emily here.

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