Fall Kale Apple Salad with a sweet and tangy honey Dijon vinaigrette. Tender kale tossed with fresh apples, raspberries, nuts and seeds for the ultimate fall salad!
Fall Kale Apple Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette Recipe
I am so excited to be sharing my kale apple salad recipe with you! I can proudly say this is the salad that has converted my ‘non-kale-loving’ family and friends into kale lovers. Over the years kale has had it’s fair share of ups and downs from lovers and haters. However, it has always been one of my favorite salad bases.
Growing up in a Portuguese household my grandparents grew kale in their garden every year, as kale is a common ingredient in Portuguese cooking. My love of kale started at a young age and has only grown over the years with countless variations of salads, slaws, soups, and even kale chips!
If you have never tried making a kale salad or you are hesitant about kale in general, this is a great starter salad for you to try out! If you are already a kale lover then I know you will love this salad. Not only is this salad delicious but the health benefits of kale are amazing!
The Best Kale Salad Recipe
The dressing is a sweet and tangy honey Dijon vinaigrette. The base is olive oil and apple cider vinegar. I prefer to use as little oil as possible for a salad dressing. To balance out the vinegar without adding too much oil and still have a smooth emulsified dressing the trick is adding Dijon mustard.
Dijon mustard has a tangy, sharp, and strong flavor with a bit of spice and it is thick enough that when combined with vinegar and oil it creates the perfect salad dressing texture. Kale needs a dressing that will really cling to it and get absorbed to soften the leaves so you want a bit of a thicker dressing. Honey adds a hint of sweetness to the dressing.
This honey Dijon vinaigrette pairs perfectly with grilled chicken or steak, which can be served on top of this salad to transform it into a hearty and healthy main course for a family dinner or get together!
What is in Kale Apple Salad?
- Kale – is a great salad base as it hold up against just about any dressing without getting overly wilted or soggy. You can make a kale salad a day in advance and it tastes even better after absorbing all the dressings flavors overnight!
- Apples – I love using tart green apples in this salad. They pair perfectly with the sweet and tangy honey Dijon vinaigrette. Red apples, and really any variety of apple works great in this salad. I have tried them all!
- Raspberries – the bright pop of red from the raspberries is a beautiful addition to this salad. I love using fresh berries from the garden or market. Not only raspberries, but also blueberries, blackberries or sliced strawberries.
- Craisins – add a pop of color and sweet chewy texture. I like the combination of having dried and fresh fruits in the salad to add variety.
- Sunflower Seeds – cute and little pops of salty sunflower seeds throughout the salad are so fun and tasty. Pumpkin seeds are also delicious in this salad!
- Walnuts – one of my favorite nuts. You can use any nut of choice, for example, pecans, slivered almonds or cashews. Alternatively, you can omit the nuts and seeds to keep this a nut free salad!
Honey Dijon Vinaigrette Ingredients
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – my ideal salad dressing is one that uses at little oil as possible. In this vinaigrette the addition of Dijon mustard and honey allows for the amount oil to be reduced. The Dijon mustard helps emulsify the dressing and thicken it so it does not require as much oil.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – a perfect tart and tangy vinegar to pair with kale and fresh apples in this salad. I love using apple cider vinegar in salad dressings and coleslaw dressings!
- Honey – adds a hint of sweetness to the vinaigrette and also helps thicken it.
- Dijon Mustard – has a tangy, sharp flavor with a bit of spice. It has a completely different flavor than regular yellow mustard. It acts as a thickening agent as well as adds a delicious flavor to the vinaigrette!
- Garlic – in my opinion, everything is better with garlic… ok maybe not dessert. The garlic adds a subtle garlic flavor as it is very finely shredded or minced into the vinaigrette. The vinegar cuts the raw garlic flavor leaving just a subtle hint of garlic
- Salt, Pepper – a pinch of salt and pepper finishes off this dressing
How to Make Fall Kale Apple Salad
Full Printable Recipe at Bottom of Page
Prepare the Kale
1 Prepare the kale by first thoroughly washing it. Pull the kale leaves off of the tough stems and discard the stems. Use a knife to chop the kale into small, bite sized pieces or use your hands to tear into small pieces. Transfer the cut kale to a large bowl.
2 In a small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients until evenly combined. Whisk until the dressing thickens and emulsifies.
3 Pour the dressing over the kale and massage the leaves with your hands by lightly squeezing handfuls at a time, until the leaves are darker in color and softened. It may take 4-5 minutes of massaging the kale before you see the leaves darken and soften. The volume of the kale in the salad bowl will reduce by half as the leaves soften. Note: please do not skip this step. There is a huge difference between unmassaged and massaged kale. Without massaging, the kale the leaves will remain tough and coarse.
Toss the Salad
1 Add the salad mix-in’s into the salad bowl – craisins, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and diced apple. Toss until evenly combined.
2 Just before serving the salad top with raspberries and enjoy!
- Add Protein – add grilled chicken or steak on top of this salad. The honey Dijon vinaigrette pairs perfectly with both chicken and steak.
- Fresh Berries – I love using raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and/or strawberries in this salad. I choose what looks the freshest and sweetest at the grocery store… or what I have growing in my garden!
- Nuts and Seeds – sunflowers and walnuts are my favorite combination for this delicious salad but you can use your favorite nuts and seeds or any you have on hand. For instance, pecans, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds are AMAZING in this salad, the possibilities are endless!
Can this Salad be Made Ahead?
YES! One of the reasons that kale is often an underrated and underutilized salad green is because of the added step of needing to massage the kale to get it tender and soft. I’ve been there… wanting a yummy salad but not wanting to spend the time cleaning, cutting and massage the kale.
I have great news… kale salads are even better the next day! The kale soaks up all the flavors of the dressing and is perfectly tender and soft the next day. This recipe can be made up to 1 day in advance and just keep all of the salad mix-ins’ in a Ziploc bag or airtight container until ready to serve. That way you won’t lose the crunch of the nuts and seeds and the fresh berries won’t become soggy from the dressing.
What to Serve with Kale Apple Salad
I love to pair my Kale Apple Salad with a bowl or Turkey Orzo Meatball Soup and a side of Crazy Bread (Little Caesar’s Copy Cat). There is nothing like a soup and salad dinner with warm breadsticks on cold fall day!
- Turkey Meatball Orzo Soup – the perfect family weeknight dinner. This hearty and healthy meal comes together in just 30 minutes!
- Crazy Bread – the ultimate bread stick! Light and airy bread soaked in garlic butter, topped with parmesan cheese… I’m drooling just writing this. These are a must try!
Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, may earn me a small commission.
Fall Kale Apple Salad – Honey Dijon Vinaigrette
- 1 bunch kale, approximately 6 cups
- 1 cup raspberries, 1 pint
- ¼ cup craisins
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup walnuts
- 3 small green apples, approximately 1 cup diced
- Prepare the kale by first thoroughly washing. Pull the kale leaves off of the tough stems and discard the stems. Use a knife to chop the kale into small, bite-sized pieces or use your hands to tear into small pieces. Transfer the cut kale to a large bowl.
- In a small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients until evenly combined. Whisk until the dressing thickens and emulsifies.
- Pour the dressing over the kale and massage the leaves with your hands by lightly squeezing handfuls at a time, until the leaves are darker in color and soften. It may take 4-5 minutes of massaging the kale before you see the leaves darken and soften. The volume of the kale in the salad bowl will reduce by half as the leaves soften. Note: please do not skip this step. There is a huge difference between unmassaged and massaged kale. Without massaging the kale the leaves will remain tough and coarse.
- Add the salad mix-in’s into the salad bowl – craisins, sunflower seeds, walnuts, diced apple. Toss until evenly combined.
- Just before serving the salad top with raspberries and enjoy!