apple kale saladThis apple kale salad with lemon-mustard dressing is full of fresh ingredients with lots of flavor and crunch. It’s definitely one of my favorite kale salad recipes. It’s vegan (dairy-free, egg-free), grain-free (gluten-free), soy-free, nut-free, and refined sugar-free.

I love kale salads. They’re my favorite salads made with leafy greens.

First, kale is a nutrient powerhouse. It contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and much more! Kale’s nutrient density contributes to the numerous health benefits you’ve most likely heard about – cancer prevention, decreased risk of heart disease, improved eye health, healthy digestive tract, etc.

Second, kale is high in fiber, and as a result, filling enough to be enjoyed for lunch. Kale is also low in calories, so it’s an ideal meal option when you don’t want to feel weighed down after a meal. Or when you want to lose weight. Or when you want to have a healthy meal after indulging during the holidays.

Third, kale is the best greens for meal prepping. This apple kale salad, for instance, lasts dressed in the fridge for a couple of days without wilting. Other leafy greens, such as spinach, collard greens, or lettuce, are quite delicate and wilt easily, especially when stored already dressed. 

I could go on and on about kale, but without further ado, let’s talk about this apple kale salad.

apple kale salad recipe

Tips for Making Apple Kale Salad

Ingredients

The ingredients in this apple kale salad have various flavors and textures that complement each other really well:

  • Kale: look for kale with bright, vibrant leaves without any yellow or brown spots. The leaves should be fresh and crisp. The more tender, the better. I went with both curly kale and Red (Russian) kale, but you could use either. Depending on the type of kale, you might or might not need to massage the kale. Curly kale usually benefits from a quick massage while Tuscan (Dinosaur/Lacinato) and baby kale do not need to be massaged.
  • Apple: the apple adds freshness, juiciness, and a nice crisp. Feel free to use sweet or tart apples. Honeycrisp, Red Delicious, and Golden Delicious apples are my go-to for this salad recipe. 
  • Cranberries: just like the apple, cranberries add sweet and tart flavor. You could easily swap the cranberries for any dried fruit.
  • Pumpkin seeds: any nuts or seeds would work great in this kale salad for a pop of crunch. Other than pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, and/or pecans are all popular salad add-ins. 

Lemon-Mustard Dressing

  • Extra viring olive oil: the oil gives the lemon-mustard dressing body and richness. A good fruity extra virgin olive oil is the best. If extra virgin olive oil is a little too pungent for you, you can swap it out with more mild virgin olive oil. 
  • Lemon juice: fresh lemon juice is key in this dressing. It adds brightness and zippiness.
  • Dijon mustard: mustard packs a ton of flavor and provides depth to the dressing. Dijon mustard is a bit sharper than traditional yellow mustard and has a nice slightly spicy tangy bite.
  • Maple syrup: most salad dressings have some sort of sweetener to balance the other flavors. Most of the time it’s honey, but I opted for maple syrup to keep the salad vegan.
  • Salt: a pinch of salt makes all the flavors pop.

ingredients for apple kale salad

How to Make Apple Kale Salad

The trick to making outstanding kale salads is to massage the kale. Here’s how to make this apple kale salad:

  1. Prepare the lemon-mustard dressing. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup, and salt to a small bowl and whisk until well combined. You can also add all the ingredients to a mason jar with a lid and shake until well combined.
  2. Massage the kale. Place the bite-sized kale leaves into a large bowl, pour in the dressing, and use your hands to massage the leaves until they become soft and wilted. The kale should reduce in volume by about 30%. Alternatively, you can massage the kale with just salt or lemon juice, but since the dressing contains both these ingredients, you might as well massage the kale with the dressing.
  3. Assemble the apple kale salad. Add the apple, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds to the massaged kale and toss to combine.

how to make apple kale salad

Kale Salad Variations

Other than making easy substitutions, such as swapping the apple for a pear or dried cherries instead of cranberries, there are several ways you can make this apple kale salad more substantial:

  • Bulk up the salad. Mix in cooked quinoa or amaranth to make the apple kale salad even more filling. Another option is to add pasta – my favorite is chickpea rotini or fusilli (made 100% out of chickpeas). 
  • Add protein. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, try adding roasted chickpeas, tempeh, or tofu.
  • Serve the salad with more appetizers. Complete the meal with grilled vegetables, crispy sweet potato fries, or garlic bread.

How to Store Apple Kale Salad

  • Refrigerating: transfer the apple kale salad to an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 3 days.

apple kale salad with lemon mustard dressing

More Salad Recipes

  • Cucumber Zucchini Salad: this salad with salty-tangy dressing is light, refreshing, and perfect for hot summer days.
  • Arugula Pear Salad: coming soon!

If you try any of these recipes, please, leave a comment and rate the recipe below. It always means a lot when you do.

Apple Kale Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4
This apple kale salad with lemon-mustard dressing is full of fresh ingredients with lots of flavor and crunch. It's definitely one of my favorite kale salad recipes.

Ingredients
 

Apple Kale Salad

  • 8 oz. (226 g) curly kale
  • 1 (1) apple
  • 1/2 cup (64 g) cranberries
  • 1/4 cup (32.5 g) pumpkin seeds

Lemon-Mustard Dressing

  • 3 Tbsp. (45 ml) olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. (7.5 ml) maple syrup
  • tsp. sea salt, , more to taste

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the lemon-mustard dressing. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup, and salt to a small bowl and whisk until well combined. You can also add all the ingredients to a mason jar with a lid and shake until well combined.
  • Massage the kale. Place the bite-sized kale leaves into a large bowl, pour in the dressing, and use your hands to massage the leaves until they become soft and wilted. The kale should reduce in volume by about 30%.
  • Assemble the apple kale salad. Add the apple, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds to the massaged kale and toss to combine.
  • Store. Leftover apple kale salad keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Notes

*Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please, feel free to make your own calculations.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 4, Calories: 177kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 12g, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 6g
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keywords: apple kale salad, apple kale salad recipe