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This coconut sesame kale salad is bright and refreshing with an irresistible crunch! It's both crispy and raw kale, toasted coconut ribbons, sesame seeds, and juicy mandarin oranges tossed in a simple Asian-inspired dressing. It's easy to make, and it's ready in just 30 minutes!
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Here's a kale salad that does not disappoint! It's a delicious combination of raw and crispy kale, toasty coconut, juicy mandarins, and a flavorful Asian-inspired dressing.
It's our go-to hearty salad for the winter months, but we serve it year-round because it's just so darn tasty.
Using crispy kale in a salad is a little trick we picked up some time ago, and will often add it to other salads, like our crispy kale salad. But it's the mix of raw and crispy kale that really does it for us.
To make it, simply bake half the kale in the oven until it's crispy, toasting the coconut ribbons at the same time. While they're in the oven, whisk the dressing ingredients together in the salad bowl. Add in the raw kale, mandarins, and sesame seeds. When the crispy kale and coconut are done, let them cool before tossing it all together.
One thing to keep in mind is that, unlike most raw kale salads that can be tossed a few hours in advance, this salad is best served right away to preserve the crispiness.
It's a versatile healthy salad that pairs naturally with Asian mains like our honey sriracha chicken. Serve it family-style with grilled meats, rice dishes, or even on its own as a light meal.
Coconut sesame kale salad ingredients
You only need a handful of ingredients to make this tasty sesame kale salad:
- Kale – a large healthy head of curly green kale will make a nice big salad. Other types of kale like lacinato or red kale also work.
- Toasted sesame oil – the toasty, nutty flavor of sesame oil is a wonderful complement to the other flavors in this salad.
- Unsweetened coconut – we use the wider large-flaked coconut ribbons for this recipe. If you can't find coconut ribbons, use unsweetened shredded coconut.
- Mandarin oranges – we like the flavor of freshly peeled mandarin segments, but you can use canned mandarins in a pinch.
- Toasted sesame seeds – toasting raw sesame seeds brings out their nutty flavor. You can also purchase them already toasted.
Here's what you need for the easy-to-make dressing:
- Rice wine vinegar – rice wine vinegar is less acidic than white vinegar with a mild, somewhat sweet taste.
- Maple syrup – adds sweetness and brings balance to the dressing. You can also use liquid honey instead.
- Avocado oil + toasted sesame oil
How to make coconut sesame kale salad
This healthy kale and coconut salad is our go-to in the winter months when mandarin oranges are in season, but we serve it year-round. Here's how to make it in a few easy steps:
- Toss half the kale with toasted sesame oil, and bake it until crispy.
- Toast the coconut until it's lightly browned. You can put it in the oven at the same time as the kale.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a large salad bowl.
- Add the raw kale, mandarins, and sesame seeds to the salad bowl with the dressing, followed by the crispy kale and toasted coconut. Toss everything gently and serve right it away!
Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.
How to peel a mandarin segment
When we make this recipe, we simply remove the tough, outer orange peel and pull the segments apart. But if you're not a fan of the skin that covers each segment, you can remove it. In fact, peeling mandarin oranges might seem tedious, but it's actually really easy to do. Here's how to peel a mandarin segment in a few simple steps:
- Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, snip or cut the skin from the inside edge of the segment until you have an opening at the top.
- Gently peel the skin away until it's completely removed. Repeat with the remaining segments. That's it!
Can I make it ahead of time?
You can prepare the ingredients like the crispy kale, toasted coconut, and dressing ahead of time, but wait until you're ready to serve it to mix it all together. The crispy kale will lose its crunch pretty quickly once it's dressed.
Can I use canned mandarins?
Yes, you can. We like the bright taste of fresh mandarins, but you can use canned ones in a pinch.
What to serve with coconut sesame kale salad
You can also easily turn it into a light meal by adding some protein like chickpeas or leftover shredded chicken!
Popular kale salad recipes
- 1 large bunch of kale- divided (stem removed and torn into bite-sized pieces (about 5 packed cups))
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- ¼ cup unsweetened coconut (see notes)
- 2 mandarin oranges (peeled and segmented)
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon EACH: maple syrup and avocado oil (or other neutral-flavored oil)
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss half of the kale with the sesame oil, using your hands to massage it into the kale. Place it on the baking sheet in a mostly single layer and roast it in the oven for 25 minutes, until the coconut is lightly browned and the kale is crispy.1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, 1 large bunch of kale- divided
- Add the coconut to a small tray and place it in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until the coconut is lightly browned. You can do this at the same time as the kale.¼ cup unsweetened coconut
- While the kale and coconut are in the oven, whisk the dressing ingredients together in a salad bowl.1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, 1 tablespoon EACH: maple syrup and avocado oil, 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- Add the raw kale, mandarin orange segments, and sesame seeds to the bowl and toss with the dressing. When the kale and coconut come out of the oven, add them to the bowl and toss gently.2 mandarin oranges, 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.