This kale apple salad is a must-try this time of year. It balances so many savory and sweet fall flavors, is light yet filling, and works great as a side or a main course with added protein.
Why this Kale Apple Salad Recipe Works
- Nutrient-rich meal: everything from the base of the raw kale to the toppings and dressing provide plenty of health benefits.
- Rich flavors and texture: this salad's ingredients provide the perfect balance of savory and sweet, as well as plenty of crunch.
- It's versatile: similar to our pear and goat cheese salad, this salad is the perfect side dish, but also works as a healthy meal when you add protein. You can substitute any of the ingredients depending on your tastes or what's in the pantry.
- Easy to make: nothing beats a healthy salad recipe on a busy weeknight. It's a great way to get dinner on the table quickly or even get it prepped way ahead of time — in just three easy steps!
Grab These Ingredients
Here are the simple ingredients for this apple kale salad. Most are pantry staples and easy (and affordable) to find in grocery stores. Jump down to the recipe card for exact measurements.
- Raw unsalted pumpkin seeds: if you don't have them at home, sunflower seeds, pecans, or walnuts are a great option to add a nice crunch.
- Olive oil, cinnamon, kosher salt: to season the pumpkin seeds.
- Raw kale: grab some pre-chopped kale or purchase it in a bunch, then chop off the large stems and cut the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces.
- Apple: we used honeycrisp apples, but any sweet apples like pink lady or tart apples like granny smith apple. Slice them into thin strips.
- Dates: high in fiber and antioxidants, and not to mention, sweet and delicious.
- Red onion: adds crunchy texture.
- Parmesan cheese: feta cheese or goat cheese would taste great as well.
- Balsamic vinegar: adds acidity.
- Extra-virgin olive oil: substitute with avocado oil.
- Maple syrup: a good vinaigrette always has a little bit of sweetness to it. Honey makes a good substitute.
- Dijon mustard: a little dijon mustard adds strong flavor
- Thyme: use fresh leaves or ½ teaspoon dried thyme.
- Garlic powder: for flavor.
- Kosher salt and black pepper: to taste.
- Red pepper flakes: start with a little bit and add more to your taste.
How to Make Kale Apple Salad
The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through the steps with some photos and a video so you have a clear idea of what to expect. This delicious kale apple salad is really easy and these step-by-step instructions will make sure it turns out every time.
VIDEO: Watch How to Make this Kale Apple Salad Recipe
Roast pumpkin seeds: Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Toss the pumpkin seeds with olive oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt on the baking sheet and spread them in an even layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Make the dressing: Add all of the balsamic dressing ingredients to a small bowl or mason jar and whisk or shake to combine. Place the shredded kale in a large salad bowl and toss it with half of the dressing until it coats all the leaves. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to soften the kale leaves.
Assemble the salad: When the pumpkin seeds are done, add them to the salad with the sliced apples, dates, red onion, and parmesan. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately or store the dressing separate from the salad and dress it before serving.
It really depends on your taste and what other ingredients are in your salad. For this salad we prefer sweet apples and chose honeycrisp. Other sweet apples to try are fuji, pink lady, jazz, or ambrosia. If you like tart apples, try a granny smith apple, McIntosh, and cortland. If you enjoy apples on your salad, be sure to try our shaved brussels sprouts salad or Thanksgiving salad with spiced vinaigrette next.
On average, fresh kale will last in the refrigerator for 3-7 days. (In general, the shelf life of refrigerated kale depends on several factors, including the freshness of the kale when you bought it and how it's stored.) If you can't use the kale up before it goes bad, follow our tips on how to freeze kale. However, if you're looking to use it up while it's fresh, we have plenty of kale recipes on our site. Try it in a tropical kale smoothie, have it in a soup like our Whole30 zuppa toscana, or toss it into this creamy mushroom pasta with garlic kale.
Since we are allowing the dressing to sit on the kale for 5-10 minutes, you do not have to massage the kale. However, you still can massage it before dressing it if you'd prefer. Massaging kale helps to break down its tough texture and make it softer and easier to chew. Start by washing, stemming and chopping the kale. Roughly chop it then place it in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Use your hands to massage the kale by rubbing it between your fingers. You’ll know it’s done when the kale is darker and soft.
What to Serve with Kale Apple Salad
Serve this salad underneath this easy blackened chicken or baked chicken. See our guide for how long to bake chicken breast at 425 and follow our tips for how to marinate chicken (with 6 easy recipes).
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
Store the dressing separate from the rest of the salad ingredients and keep both in an airtight container. On average, fresh kale will last in the refrigerator for 3-7 days. (In general, the shelf life of refrigerated kale depends on several factors, including the freshness of the kale when you bought it and how it's stored.)
After that, you can freeze it for future use. Follow our easy steps on how to freeze kale to prolong its shelf life and reduce food waste.
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More Kale Recipes
Our strawberry quinoa salad with feta is a delicious and healthy salad that combines fresh produce and vibrant flavors, all topped with a tangy poppy seed dressing.
This chipotle roasted sweet potato kale salad is made with Spicy, roasted sweet potatoes, massaged kale, and a tangy cilantro vinaigrette.
One of our other favorite kale salad recipes is this kale salad with goat cheese. It has a homemade vinaigrette made with olive oil, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar.
Kale Apple Salad
Kale Apple Salad
- ½ cup raw unsalted pumpkin seeds pecans or walnuts work too
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil divided
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 cups shredded curly kale (Note 1)
- 1 medium apple we used honey crisp, cut into thin matchsticks
- 2 small dates pitted and cut into slivers
- ½ small red onion diced
- ⅓ cup shaved parmesan or feta cheese
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Baking Sheet
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Toss the pumpkin seeds with olive oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt on the baking sheet and spread them in an even layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring halfway through.
- Add all of the balsamic dressing ingredients to a small bowl or mason jar and whisk or shake to combine. Place the shredded kale in a large bowl and toss it with half of the dressing until it coats all the leaves. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to soften the kale.
- When the pumpkin seeds are done, add them to the salad with the apples, dates, red onion, and parmesan. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately or store the dressing separate from the salad and dress it before serving.