This is an amped up version of Chick-fil-A’s Popular Kale Crunch Salad - it packs in extra crunch with crispy apples, crunchy carrots, pistachios and a crunchy seed topping. All topped with a light maple dijon dressing. If you like the Chick-fil-A kale salad, you’ll love this version! And, it's ready in just 15 minutes!
Why This Kale Crunch Salad Is Even BETTER Than Chick-fil-A’s!
- More CRUNCH! This salad has the same crunchy texture and maple dijon dressing we all know and love but amplifies the crunch factor by adding in carrots, cabbage, apples and pumpkin seeds
- Pistachios! I love almonds in salads, but for this one I subbed out the almonds and used pistachios instead. I love the color they add to the salad and the buttery flavor they lend.
- Everything bagel spice. This seedy topping adds extra crunch and tons of flavor .
- Fast and easy. Ok, the Chick-fil-A kale crunch salad is also pretty fast to make.This salad is the same and comes together in just minutes.
There are just a handful of ingredients needed to make this incredibly healthy, crunchy salad.
- Kale. Like the Chick-Fil-a kale crunch salad, this copycat version uses curly kale. You could substitute most other types of kale (for a guide on the different types and how to use them see this article). But, you’ll probably find that curly kale is the type most widely found in supermarkets and it’s a good go to for this kale crunch salad recipe.
- Cabbage. I know, I know, the Chick-Fil-a version uses green cabbage. But come on - that red pop of color is worth the switch, don’t you think?
- Carrot. I used just one carrot here and chopped it up. It adds a nice sweetness, extra crunch, and even more color to this beautiful rainbow salad.
- Granny smith apple. Again, this is a new ingredient that varies from Chick-fil-As version, but granny smith apples have just that right amount of tartness to balance the other flavors, while still being crunchy and juicy at the same time (Crunchy and juicy? Sounds impossible, but it’s true!) Of all my additions, the granny smith is by far my favorite for this kale apple salad.
- Dried cranberries. This is a crunch salad, which is totally satisfying, but the cranberries add not only a nice touch of sweetness but also a bit of a counter to all the crunchiness happening here.
- Chopped pistachios and pumpkin seeds. These two ingredients are powerhouses nutrition wise and have a nice texture to them in this kale crunch salad.
- Everything bagel seasoning. What’s that? You never heard of putting everything bagel seasoning directly on a salad? It’s good for more than your morning avocado toast! This delicious spice combo goes incredibly well with this crunchy salad. Trust me. This salad crunch topping will be your new trick.
- Maple-dijon dressing. A delicious lemony, sweet, mustardy, light salad dressing that you should definitely consider making a double batch of. It goes well with everything.
How to make this Super Crunch Salad
This easy kale salad comes together quickly with just a few simple steps:
- Massage your kale. You’ll want to cut the kale leaves from the stem, place them in a large bowl, then massage the kale leaves with bit of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a pinch of salt. This is a necessary step - kale leaves are thicker and a bit bitter than normal lettuce leaves. Massaging them in this way helps to break them down a bit and remove some of that bitterness.
- Make the dijon maple dressing. You can combine everything in a small bowl and whisk it until it emulsifies, or go the easy route and do what I do: add everything to a small mason jar and shake vigorously. If you love this dressing as much as I do, you may want to make a double batch. It will keep in the fridge for a week or two.
- Assemble the salad! Add all your toppings: the carrots, cabbage, apple, cranberries, to the bowl with the kale. Add a bit of the maple-dijon at a time (¼ - ½ cup) and toss with the salad. Top with the pistachios, pumpkin seeds and everything bagel spice and mix well to combine. Enjoy the crunch!!
Variations and substitutions
This salad is easy to customize.
- Go nut free. Omit the nuts here if you must. There will still be plenty of crunch from the other ingredients.
- Add some protein. Chicken or shrimp tastes amazing with this kale crunch salad.
- Add some fat. Avocado is a healthy addition. Some salty parmesan or feta cheese would also pair nicely with the sweet maple dijon dressing.
- Add extra veggies. Broccoli is the obvious choice for extra crunch, but you could also add in red bell peppers or radishes.
- Massage your kale! Don’t skip this step!! If you don’t massage the kale, it will be bitter and tough - no fun at all to eat. This magic trick transforms tough kale into delicious silky strands of flavor.
- Go easy on the dressing. You’ll want to add just a little bit at a time - depending on how large your bunches of kale are, you may not need the whole batch. The last thing you want to do is saturate the salad or have it swimming in dressing. Add just a bit, mix, then add more if you need to.
Can I make this ahead of time?
Yes! In fact, this salad only gets better with time. If you’re going to be serving it to a group, it will still taste fabulous if you make it 3-4 hours ahead of time. If you’re eating it on your own, or planning to store it for longer than 4 hours, don’t add the dressing to the full salad.
How to soften kale for salad.
To soften the kale, simply mix a bit of olive oil, lemon juice and salt in a bowl, pour over the kale leaves, and gently massage them all. Be sure to really get in there and give them a good rub. It should only take a couple of minutes and makes a world of difference.
How do I store leftovers?
You can store the salad with the dressing for about a day and it will still taste good. If storing longer than a day, store the salad and dressing separately.
Is this salad as healthy s the one at Chick-fil-A?
Yes (and with the extra nutritional add ins, dare I say more so?) This is a great salad if you’re looking to cut some calories or eat nutritiously.
Can I Use Other Salad Dressings?
Sure! I love the maple dijon dressing shown here but you could do a simple vinaigrette or even just a little olive oil and lemon juice with great results.
What to serve with this Kale Crunch Salad
This crunchy kale salad could be a great meal on it’s own, especially if you added some grilled chicken. But it’s also great as a side with:
- Grilled Shrimp
- Crusty Bread
I hope you love this Crunchy Kale Salad as much as I do! If you try it, please leave a comment below to tell me what you think! And don’t forget to tag me with a pic @frontrangefed on Instagram!
More Easy Salads
- Kale Salad With Shaved Brussles Sprouts And Maple Spiced Walnuts
- Healthy Chicken, Pomegranate And Arugula Crunch Salad
- Chopped Zucchini Salad With Parmesan And Herbs
- Cucumber Salad With Basil, Feta, Chickpeas And Cranberries
- Strawberry Spinach Salad With Goat Cheese And Candied Walnuts
- Cherry Salad With Burrata And Hot Honey
Kale Crunch Salad (Chick-fil-A Copycat)
For The Kale Crunch Salad
- 2 large bunches of curly kale
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- ¼ small head of red cabbage, chopped
- 1 granny smith apple, diced
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup chopped pistachios
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoon everything bagel seasoning
For The Maple Dijon Dressing
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon dijon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- pinch of salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- lime zest (from one lime)
- Massage the kale. Wash and dry your kale then place it in a large bowl. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt over the top of the kale. Use your hands to massage the olive oil mixture into the kale. Be sure to get every piece and give it a good rub. This should take 1-2 minutes and will help break down the kale fibers (and give the kale a touch of sweetness!)
- Make the dressing. Combine the olive oil, dijon, lemon juice, honey, red wine vinegar, cayenne pepper, salt pepper, and lime zest in a bowl. Whisk the ingredients together and set aside.
- Assemble your kale crunch salad! Add the kale, carrot, cabbage, and apples to a large bowl. Toss with ½ cup of the dressing. Top with cranberries, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and everything bagel spice. (Note - you can add more of the nut and seed mixture to get your perfect level of CRUNCH!
- Don't skip massaging the kale! This is important as it will make your kale softer and less bitter. Skipping this step will result in a tough and bitter salad.
- Be careful when adding your maple dijon dressing. Add a little bit at a time - you don't want your salad swimming in dressing!
- Store for 1 day with dressing, or 3 days if storing salad ingredients and dressing separately.