Kale salad is a versatile dish that brings together the best of both worlds – health and flavor. The combination of fresh kale, juicy apples, and tart craisins offers a symphony of textures and tastes. The toasted almonds add a delightful crunch, while the crumbled feta gives a creamy counterpoint to the crisp greens. The homemade dressing, a blend of olive oil, lemon, and a hint of garlic, ties it all together with its bright and tangy flavor. Ready in just 20 minutes, this salad is perfect for a busy weekday lunch or as a side dish for your family dinner. It’s a simple yet impressive way to introduce more greens into your diet, without compromising on taste.

Ingredient Breakdown & Substitutions

Diving into the heart of our sweet and tangy kale salad, let’s explore the ingredients that make this dish so special and their versatile substitutes. Whether you’re adapting to dietary needs or just experimenting with what’s in your pantry, this breakdown will guide you to create a salad that’s uniquely yours.

  • Kale: The star of the show, kale is rich in nutrients and fiber. Curly or flat-leaf varieties both work well.
  • Apples: Add a natural sweetness; feel free to use any variety. Pears are a good substitute.
  • Craisins: These dried cranberries bring a tartness and chewy texture. Raisins or chopped dates can be used instead.
  • Almonds: Provide crunch and nuttiness. Substitute with sunflower seeds for a nut-free option.
  • Feta Cheese: Adds a creamy, salty element. Goat cheese or blue cheese can be used as alternatives, or a plant-based feta cheese as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does kale need to be blanched?

Kale is sometimes blanched to soften the leaves and get rid of its bitterness. While some salad recipes do include this extra step, you don’t need to worry about it here. The dressing, Craisins, nuts, and cheese temper down the kale for a simply delicious salad!

How do you make raw kale tender?

This additional step is not necessary, but it does produce the most tender kale. Remove the kale leaves from the stems and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar. Massage the kale with your hands for a few minutes, or until softened. 

What type of kale should I use?

We use curly leaf style kale in this kale salad, but you can also feel free to use Tuscan style kale. For both varieties, make sure to cut off the stem before you chop the leaves.

Can I use a different dressing?

We love the homemade salad dressing that goes along with this sweet kale salad, but you can always use a different store bought or homemade dressing. Poppyseed dressing, as seen in our strawberry and spinach salad recipe, would also be absolutely delicious.

Apple Options

Use your favorite varieties of apple when creating your kale salad. We love Granny Smith and Honeycrisp ourselves, so we used both! Some other apples to choose from include:

  • Fuji
  • Pink Lady
  • Jazz
  • Empire

You can also replace the apples for pears, or use both for a tasty variation!

Nut Options

Our kale crunch salad gets an extra crunch from the sliced almonds. That said, you can also use:

  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds

No matter which nut you choose, consider toasting them first. It will add even more crunch and flavor to the final results! If you have an allergy, you can also omit them completely.

Remember: This is your salad, so feel free to add or take away anything that you want!


  • Dressing too tangy? Add a bit more sugar to balance it out.
  • Salad too dry? Drizzle a little extra olive oil to moisten.
  • Kale too tough? Ensure it is chopped well and consider massaging it with olive oil.

Tips From the Chef

  • Massage your kale: This helps soften the leaves and reduce bitterness.
  • Chop ingredients uniformly: This ensures every bite is balanced in flavor and texture.
  • Toast the almonds: It intensifies their flavor and adds extra crunch.

Storage Instructions

You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. We recommend that you store it without the dressing so that it stays fresh! It will keep for 1-2 days. Any longer and the kale leaves will start to wilt. 

More Favorite Salad Recipes

Watch the video below where Caytlin will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.