Smoky Chickpea Kale Caesar Salad

This Smoky Chickpea Kale Caesar Salad is full of crunchy deliciousness, healthy ingredients, and a perfect choice for lunch or a side dish. It's my yummy vegan twist on your typical Caesar salad. You get the crunch from the kale, the crispiness of the roasted chickpeas and the richness from the dressing made from vegan mayo, capers, lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and more!

This kale chickpea salad recipe is very easy to make. It is tasty, comforting, and can be made at any time. The flavors and textures are on point  and you can't stop enjoying this delicious recipe. Try this amazing vegan salad now and I am sure you will love it.

What is a Caesar Salad?

A Caesar salad is a non-vegan salad that is made with romaine lettuce and croutons. The dressing is made from egg, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, anchovies, Dijon mustard, garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper. It originated in Mexico from an Italian immigrant named Caesar Cardini and is among one of the most widely consumed salads.

Because the ingredients of a traditional Caesar salad are not consumed by vegans, I have prepared a vegan version that is free from dairy and poultry products.

Ingredient Breakdown

Making this vegan kale chickpea Caesar salad is very simple. All the ingredients are pretty simple and are easily available at most grocery stores. Here is everything you need to know about the ingredients for this salad:

For Smoky Chickpea:

  • Chickpeas: The most convenient way of getting chickpeas is by picking up the canned ones from the rack of a grocery store. These are pre-cooked, so you just have to drain them, rinse them and pat them dry. However, if you have plenty of time and you love spending time in the kitchen, you can boil chickpeas as well. For that, you just have to soak them for about 6 to 8 hours prior to cooking and boil them in either a pan or instant pot. Drain them, let them dry and that's it.
  • Olive oil: A little olive oil on the chickpeas will help in quick cooking and achieving a glossy golden-brown color.
  • Garlic powder: Garlic powder brings in a garlicky and savory flavor.
  • Onion powder: Onion powder also results in a savory flavor.
  • Smoked paprika: Adding smoked paprika to the chickpeas will ensure a delicious smoky, slightly sweet and slightly spicy flavor.

For Kale Salad:

  • Curly kale: Curly kale, unlike the regular kale, varies slightly in appearance. They have a beautiful bright green color with a slightly curled look. Apart from that, the flavor is pretty much the same.  Although, it doesn't really matter whichever kale you use. Just make sure it is fresh, firm and doesn't wither. You can tear them or cut them into small pieces.
  • Olive oil: Adding olive oil to a salad doesn't just add good fats to it, but it also has several other benefits. For instance, when you add olive oil to kale, it will make it glossy in appearance. When you massage kale by adding olive oil, it actually helps in removing some of the bitterness and makes the kale a little more tender.

For Caesar Dressing:

  • Vegan mayo: Vegan mayo is creamy, rich  and vegan; you can easily find it at any grocery store. Furthermore, you can also make vegan mayo at home. All you need is oil, soy milk and salt. Vegan mayo sets the base for the salad dressing. It adds richness and creaminess to the salad.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil is another important ingredient in any salad dressing. It adds good and healthy fats to the salad and also helps the ingredients absorb nutrients.
  • Lemon juice: Lemon juice is a perfect ingredient to bring in acidity and tanginess to the dressing.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar also adds acidity to the salad and has a rich flavor.
  • Garlic: It brings savory flavor to the salad.
  • Onion powder: It is also perfect for adding savory flavor to the salad.
  • Dijon mustard: Dijon mustard has a strong, sharp and tangy flavor.
  • Capers: Capers have a strong and intense sour, salty and slightly herbal flavor. It brings in a punch to the salad dressing.
  • Other Seasonings: Plain salt and freshly ground black pepper are enough to finish off this salad.

How to make Vegan Kale Chickpea Caesar salad?

Making vegan kale chickpea Caesar salad is quite easy. You might have to invest your time and pans in preparing different elements, but the assembly is simple once you are done. Here is how you can make this scrumptious vegan salad:

For Smoky Chickpeas:

Step #1: The first step is to prepare the roasted chickpeas. If you are using canned chickpeas, drain them, rinse them with cold water and let them dry.

Step #2: Place the chickpeas in a bowl, drizzle olive oil on top and add garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika.

Step #3: Mix well and place them on a baking tray. Place the baking tray in a preheated oven at 425-degree Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or until they turn golden brown and crispy.

Step #4: Once done, remove the baking tray from the oven and set the chickpeas aside to cool down.

For the Dressing

Step #5: In a blender jug, add vegan mayo, lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, onion powder, capers, garlic cloves, Dijon mustard, salt and black pepper.

Step #6: Blend at high speed until you get a creamy and smooth dressing; you can add a splash of water to get your desired consistency. Once done, set aside.

For Kale Salad

Step #7: Wash the kale and pat it dry. Tear it using your hands and place it in a large bowl.

Step #8: Drizzle olive oil on top and massage the kale using your hands for about two to three minutes. This will help in removing the natural bitterness of the kale.

Step #9: Next, drizzle the prepared salad dressing. Add roasted chickpeas and toss the salad so that the dressing coats the ingredients well.

Step #10: Serve immediately.

How to store Vegan Kale Chickpea Caesar salad?

For best results, I recommend to serve the vegan kale chickpea Caesar salad immediately. That's because the ingredients, especially the roasted chickpeas, will get soggy. However, if you still need to store it, store the components separately. When you are ready to eat it, reheat the chickpeas in the oven or airfryer and combine the ingredients fresh and enjoy. 

Tips for Vegan Caesar Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

Although making Caesar salad with crispy chickpeas is straightforward, here are a few tips that will give you better results:

  • To ensure the roasted chickpeas are crisp and don't get soggy, make sure they are completely dry. Leaving moisture in them will result in soggy chickpeas, which are not pleasant to eat.
  • Make sure you remove the stems of the kale. Leaving the stems in will make eating the salad quite inconvenient. That’s because the stems are tough and chewy.
  • Always take some time to massage the kale with a little olive oil. Kale has natural bitterness, and massaging it with olive oil will reduce the bitterness and make the kale tender.
  • You can substitute vegan mayo with vegan cheese sauce as well.
  • You can add red chili powder or cayenne powder instead of smoked paprika as well.
  • You can also add liquid smoke to the chickpeas to give a beautiful, strong smoky flavor.

Variation Ideas

When it comes to salads, you can add different ingredients and customize them according to your liking. Here are a few ideas on how to customize this delicious salad to make it more tasty:

  • Tahini paste: You can add tahini paste to the salad. Tahini paste is made from sesame seeds. It is a rich, nutty, earthy, and strong in flavor. It adds so much taste to the salad.
  • Vegan Cheese sauce: Vegan cheese sauce can be made from raw cashews. It is rich, creamy, healthy, vegan and a perfect substitute for vegan mayo.
  • Romaine lettuce: Romaine lettuce is known for its crispiness and crunch. It can be substituted for the kale or paired with it and goes very well with the dressing.
  • Jerk spiced chickpeas: You can add more flavor to the roasted chickpeas by marinating them in jerk seasoning. It is a delicious Caribbean seasoning that brings in so much flavor and aroma.
  • Slivered almonds: You can top the salad with slivered almonds. These are a perfect crunch to the dish.

Smoky Chickpea Kale Caesar Salad

5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Appetizer, cooked, Dinner, dope recipes, Lunch, Main Course, Salad, Sauces + Dressings
Cuisine American, Italian, Mexican
Servings 4 servings


Smoky Chickpea Kale Salad

  • 15 ounce can chickpeas rinsed, drained and thoroughly dried
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika

Kale Salad

  • 16 ounces curly kale chopped or torn
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Caesar Dressing

  • 1/3 cup vegan mayo
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tbsp capers
  • salt & pepper to taste


Smoky Chickpeas

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Place drained chickpeas to a mixing bowl and toss with oil and seasonings.
  • Add seasoned chickpeas to a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Ovens can vary, so if your chickpeas are not crispy enough, keep going until desired texture. Remove from oven and set aside.

To Prepare Dressing

  • In a high-speed blender, add vegan mayo, olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, garlic cloves, onion powder, dijon mustard, capers, salt and pepper. Blend until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Add enough water to thin until desired dressing texture is achieved. Set aside.

Kale Salad

  • Add kale to a large bowl. Drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil and massage by hand to remove some of the bitterness in the kale.
  • Drizzle on desired amount of dressing, plus any of your favorite toppings. Toss to coat and top with smoky chickpeas. Serve immediately. Cover any leftover dressing in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator for up to 7-10 days.
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