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This Kale Apple Salad is everything you’d want in a crisp and cozy fall salad recipe. Fresh apples, buttery walnuts, and tender kale drenched in a tangy apple cider dressing. Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free option.
This Kale Apple Salad is the best of fall salads. Hearty, tender greens paired with fresh herbs, bite-sized pieces of apple, chopped walnuts, and an irresistible sweet and tangy salad dressing. Enjoy as a quick lunch or weeknight side dish alongside your favorite cozy soups & stews.
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A Sweet & Tangy Fall Staple
This Kale Apple Salad is the perfect segway from warmer summer nights into the cozy days of fall. Crunchy kale, fresh parsley, sweet apples, and crunchy walnuts all coated in a homemade dressing for a texture and flavor combination that’s truly next level. I’m also spilling the secret for making a kale salad you’ll actually want to eat every single day. In fact, this kale apple salad is so delicious, you’re going to want to enjoy it as a main dish or healthy side dish any time of year.
What You Need for Kale Apple Salad
This 15-minute kale apple salad is made up of two components: the earthy green salad and the apple cider vinaigrette. Here’s the basics:
- Kale: Dinosaur kale is the base of this salad recipe and adds a heart, nutritious crunchy texture to this healthy salad recipe! When shopping for kale in stores, choose bunches of kale with crisp, vibrant leaves. They should be dark green with no signs of wilting or yellowing.
- Parsley: Flat-leaf parsley adds a fresh, herbaceous element to the apple kale salad and brightens up the hearty kale.
- Apple: My favorite apples to use in this salad are Honeycrisp apples. They’re firm with a good balance between sweet and tart. Feel free to use your favorite fall apples.
- Walnuts: The source of a buttery, nutty crunch. If walnuts aren’t your thing, try chopped pecans.
- Dressing ingredients: Buttery extra-virgin olive oil and tangy apple cider vinegar make up the base, while dijon mustard, maple syrup, garlic, and salt bring loads of sweet and tangy flavor.
How to Make Kale Apple Salad
- Add the cider dressing ingredients into a mason jar and shake vigorously until emulsified.
- In a large bowl, massage the chopped kale and 3/4 of the dressing together until tender and reduced in volume.
- Mix in the parsley, apple, walnuts, remaining dressing, and black pepper to taste.
- Serve while fresh, or refrigerate until ready to eat. Enjoy!
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- Don’t skip the kale massage. If you’ve avoided raw kale salads in the past because you’ve found kale to be too coarse and difficult to digest, you likely haven’t been told to massage your kale! This trick not only helps tenderize the tough leaves, but reduces bitterness and allows the kale to better absorb the flavor in the dressings. Once you give this method a try, you’ll find yourself craving kale salads every week!
- Choose the right kale. In addition to massaging the kale until tender, choosing the right kale is equally important. Curly kale tends to be too tough whereas baby kale is too leafy and tender. For best results, go for lacinato kale (also known as dino kale) or tuscan kale.
As is, this Kale Apple Salad is a deliciously satisfying side dish, but can be easily turned into a filling main with the addition of your favorite plant-based protein such as creamy chickpeas or Rosemary Garlic Tofu.
And if you’re looking for more cozy salad recipes, you’ll also love this Kale & Cranberry Salad with Tahini Cider Dressing, this Lentil Pomegranate Salad with Cider Dressing and this Fall Farro Salad with Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts!
How to Store Kale Apple Salad
This kale salad is best served fresh, but if you have any leftovers, they will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
If you’d like to make this salad in advance for meal prep, store the greens and dressing separately until ready to enjoy. Similarly, chop the apples as close to serving as possible (the night before is fine!).
Substitutions and Variations
- Dressing variations: The cider dressing is the perfect blend of sweet and acidic ingredients to help balance out the naturally bitter flavors in kale, but if you’d like to switch up the dressing, go for it! My Roasted Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe would add a similar level of sweetness and acidity.
- Nut-free option: Omit the chopped walnuts or replace them with pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds.
- Parsley substitutions: If you’re not a fan of fresh parsley, replace it with additional chopped kale, or substitute chervil, or microgreens for a similar burst of freshness.
- Add cheese: Add dairy-free feta cheese, vegan blue cheese or parmesan cheese for an extra creamy touch.
Massaging the kale with the cider dressing helps a ton. The acidity in the dressing helps break down the tough fibers in the kale leaves, which not only makes it less bitter but makes it more palatable.
The easiest way to prevent the apples from browning is chopping them right before serving. If you’re prepping this salad in advance, try tossing the chopped apples in a bit of lemon juice before adding them to the salad. The acid will help slow down the browning process and help maintain the freshness.
Kale stems are edible but they’re tough and bitter and aren’t the most delicious in raw salads. Instead, destem the kale leaves and keep the stems for blending into smoothies or turning into Homemade Vegetable Broth.
Of course! In fact, I personally eat kale salads almost on a daily basis. I even have my favorite wholesome and tasty Everyday Kale Salad Recipe up on the blog.
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
Kale Apple Salad with Cider Dressing
For the Cider Dressing:
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons grade A maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 small garlic clove grated (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Salad:
- 1 bunch kale de-stemmed and chopped
- 1/2 bunch parsley chopped
- 1 honeycrisp apple diced or thinly sliced (or other apple of choice)
- 1/2 cup walnuts chopped
- Black pepper to taste
- Make the Dressing: Add the oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, garlic, and salt to a small mason jar. Seal the jar well and shake vigorously until emulsified, about 20 to 30 seconds.
- Massage: Add the chopped kale to a large bowl and pour 3/4 of the dressing over it. Use clean hands to massage the dressing into the kale for 45 to 60 seconds, until the kale is tender and has reduced in volume.
- Mix: Add the parsley, apple, and walnuts to the bowl with the kale and top with the remaining dressing, plus black pepper to taste. Use salad tongs or two large spoons to mix everything together well.
- Serve as desired; leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Oil-Free: Make this Tahini Dressing instead, using cider vinegar instead of lemon juice!
- Nut Substitutions: this recipe would also be delicious with pecans instead of walnuts, or with pumpkin seeds for a nut-free option!