This Kale Crunch Salad is a simple, yet flavorful side dish that pairs perfectly with any healthy weeknight meal. Made with curly kale, green cabbage, almonds, and dried cranberries, you can have this easy salad recipe ready in just 15 minutes - homemade maple dijon dressing included!
Kale is easily one of my favorite leafy greens to make a salad with. It's chewy, flavorful, and filling thanks to all of that healthy fiber. Plus, it doesn't become soggy and wilted as easily as some greens do when dressed.
While I've never personally tried it, I know a lot of people love the kale crunch salad from Chick-fil-A. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about so, I checked out their website. A blend of kale, cabbage, and almonds with an apple dijon dressing - seems easy enough.
Now, I'm big on recreating fast food and restaurant dishes at home. Not only is it less expensive and often healthier, but it's also typically fresher and more flavorful.
I added some dried cranberries to my version of the kale crunch salad. I love the color, texture, and sweetness they bring to the dish. But, other than that, I made it as close to the Chick-fil-A version as possible. Just without all of the added ingredients.
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Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Healthy- Packed with fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, this light and healthy side dish won't leave you feeling sluggish after dinner. And it eliminates the added ingredients found in the Chick-fil-A version.
- Ready in 15 Minutes- Even with making your own salad dressing, this kale crunch salad is ready in just 15 minutes. So easy!
- Flavorful- The homemade maple dijon vinaigrette really makes this salad shine. Paired with sweet dried cranberries and crunchy almonds, you certainly won't call this salad boring.
- Perfect Side Dish- Kale salad makes a lovely addition to any plate. Pair it with roasted chicken, meatballs, pizza, and pasta dishes.
- Gluten-Free & Vegan- This kale crunch salad is naturally gluten-free and vegan. Of course, always double-check all of your ingredient labels to be sure.
Here are some notes on key ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Curly Kale- I prefer to use curly kale because it has a bit more texture and chew compared to lacinato kale. Massage kale with a bit of olive oil to soften it up and make it more suitable for eating raw.
- Green Cabbage- Cabbage is one of my favorite salad ingredients. It's crunchy, slightly sweet, and packed with loads of nutrition. Use thinly sliced or shredded cabbage in this recipe.
- Dried Cranberries- Gives the salad a bit of sweetness and texture. The flavor of the cranberries pairs well with the maple syrup and apple cider vinegar in the dressing.
- Almond Slivers- Adds a lovely crunch and nutty flavor to the salad.
- Olive Oil- The base of our maple dijon vinaigrette dressing. Use extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
- Apple Cider Vinegar- Apple cider vinegar is tangy with a hint of sweetness. It's the perfect acidic component for our maple dijon vinaigrette.
- Dijon Mustard- Emulsifies the vinaigrette and adds a bit of spice.
- Maple Syrup- Balances the maple dijon vinaigrette with flavor and sweetness.
- Garlic- Gives the kale crunch salad dressing a sharp punch of garlic. I use only half of a clove so it doesn't overwhelm the other delicate flavors.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make this kale crunch salad.
Step 1: Make the maple dijon vinaigrette. Thoroughly whisk together all of the salad dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl and set aside.
Step 2: Combine the salad ingredients. Place the washed and chopped kale in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Massage the oil into the kale until the kale becomes tender. Add the green cabbage, almonds, and cranberries to the bowl with the kale.
Step 3: Toss the salad with dressing. Drizzle the prepared maple dijon vinaigrette over the salad and toss well to combine. Serve immediately.
Tips for Success
- Clean the kale well. Kale often has some dirt on it, especially if you buy it by the bunch. I recommend separating the kale from the stem and tearing it into bite-sized pieces. Then, rinse the kale thoroughly under running water. Pat it dry before adding it to the salad.
- Massage the kale with olive oil. Kale is a fibrous leafy green vegetable that can be hard to eat in its raw state if you don't treat it properly. To soften the kale, gently massage it with a bit of olive oil until wilted and tender.
- Prepare ahead. The dressing can be made up to two weeks in advance and stored in the refrigerator. You can also pre-chop the vegetables a day or two ahead of time.
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few ways you can try customizing this kale crunch salad recipe to fit your diet and taste preferences.
- Curly Kale- If you can't find curly kale, dinosaur kale (a.k.a lacinato kale or tuscan kale) can be used instead. If you're not a fan of kale, use romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, or baby spinach instead.
- Green Cabbage- Red cabbage, napa cabbage, or brussels sprouts can be used in place of the shredded green cabbage.
- Dried Cranberries- Dried cherries, apricots, raisins, or dates can be used to substitute dried cranberries. Or try fresh apple or pear slices instead.
- Slivered Almonds- Most nuts will work in this kale crunch salad. Try pecans, walnuts, or pistachios.
- Olive Oil- Canola oil, sunflower oil, avocado oil, or any other neutral-flavored oil can be used.
- Apple Cider Vinegar- White vinegar or lemon juice can be swapped for apple cider vinegar.
- Dijon Mustard- Swap the dijon mustard with yellow mustard in a 1:1 ratio.
- Maple Syrup- Honey, agave nectar, brown sugar, or even plain old granulated sugar can be used.
- Garlic- Use ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder in place of fresh garlic or swap the olive oil out for garlic-infused olive oil.
- Protein- Grilled or shredded chicken, steak tips, baked salmon, or roasted chickpeas would all make a delicious, protein-packed addition to this kale salad recipe.
- Cheese- Try adding feta cheese, goat cheese, or parmesan cheese.
- Grains- Quinoa, farro, or wild rice would make this salad even more satisfying.
- Fresh Fruit- Adding fresh apple or pear slices would give this salad a sweet, refreshing, and fruity crunch.
- Avocado- Diced avocado would make a rich and creamy addition to this salad.
- Toasted Nuts or Seeds- I usually add raw slivered almonds to my salad, but toasting them would add a nice layer of flavor. Try almonds, pecans, walnuts, or sunflower seeds.
Make it a Meal: Need a healthy, packable lunch you can take to work? Add grilled chicken, quinoa, and feta cheese to this kale crunch salad to make it a well-balanced and filling meal.
What to Serve with Kale Crunch Salad?
- Braised Beef with Mushroom Gravy
- Lemon-Garlic Roasted Chicken
- Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Breast
- Parmesan-Crusted Halibut
- Cajun Salmon Alfredo Pasta
- Turkey Smash Burgers or Air Fryer Turkey Burgers
- Pizza (Try this Garlic Parmesan Pizza or this Bolognese Pizza)
- Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
- Lasagna Bolognese
- Italian-Style Stuffed Peppers
- Roasted Pumpkin Soup
- Vegetarian Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
How to Store
- Dressed Salad- Store any leftover dressed salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. After a few days, the salad becomes too wilted and soggy to be enjoyable.
- Undressed Salad- If you know you’ll have leftovers, it’s best to leave the salad undressed. You can store the undressed salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To keep it as fresh as possible, line the container with a dry paper towel to absorb excess moisture.
- Maple Dijon Vinaigrette- Store leftover maple dijon vinaigrette dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
If you’re looking to get a head start on making this kale crunch salad recipe, you’re in luck! Prepare the homemade maple dijon vinaigrette dressing up to 2 weeks ahead of time.
The vegetables, on the other hand, don’t last quite as long. You can cut up the kale and shred the cabbage only about 2-3 days before using.
Frequently Asked Questions
This kale crunch salad recipe is very similar to the Chick-fil-A side dish, but it's not exactly the same. I added some dried cranberries to my salad to give it a little more color, flavor, and texture. Feel free to leave them out for a more authentic Chick-fil-A copycat kale crunch salad.
According to the Chick-fil-A website, the kale crunch salad contains curly kale, green cabbage, and roasted almonds, and it is served with an apple cider and dijon mustard vinaigrette.
Yes, this kale crunch salad is jam-packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It's the perfect side dish for a healthy weeknight dinner.
Add some protein! Chicken, steak tips, salmon, or roasted chickpeas would all make delicious and satisfying additions to this salad.
More Salad Recipes
Kale Crunch Salad
For the Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- ½ clove garlic grated or finely minced
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the Kale Crunch Salad
- 4 cups (packed) curly kale washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups green cabbage thinly sliced
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
For the Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
- Thoroughly whisk together all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and set aside.3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, ½ clove garlic, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the Kale Crunch Salad
- Place kale in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Massage the oil into the kale until the kale becomes tender. Add the green cabbage, almonds, and cranberries to the bowl with the kale.4 cups (packed) curly kale, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 2 cups green cabbage, ½ cup slivered almonds, ¼ cup dried cranberries
- Drizzle the prepared maple dijon vinaigrette over the salad and toss well to combine. Serve immediately.
- Quick Tip: Dress the salad just before serving to avoid soggy, wilted kale.
- Storage: Store any leftover dressed salad in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Undressed salad can be stored for up to 4 days.
- Make Ahead: Prepare the maple dijon vinaigrette up to 2 weeks ahead.