An easy chopped kale salad loaded with fresh apples, dried cranberries, crispy bacon & goat cheese all tossed in a simple homemade maple vinaigrette!
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again…I’m sucker for a good kale salad. (Especially if it involves bacon!😉) AND if you’re a sweet and salty lover like me then you have to try this apple bacon & cranberry chopped kale salad! It’s full of fresh seasonal ingredients and is so easy to put together! Always a hit at every party and a great way to get those greens in during the holidays! It’s the BEST fall kale salad!
Ingredients For Your Chopped Kale Salad
- Kale: We love using green kale for this salad!
- Honeycrisp apples: Sweeter apples like Honeycrisp work the best! (Fuji or Envy apples would work too!)
- Dried cranberries: These pair so well with your sweet apples and salty bacon!
- Bacon: Use real bacon! Trust me, it tastes 100x better than store-bought bacon bits (But if you’re in a pinch, store-bought bacon bits will still do the trick.)
- Goat cheese: Always buy a log of goat cheese and crumble it yourself! (Store bought goat cheese crumbles just don’t have the same flavor.)
- Maple syrup: Adds sweetness to your dressing! (Make sure to use real maple syrup!)
- Apple cider vinegar: I’d suggest using one without “the Mother” in it. Vinegars with “the Mother” tend to have a much stronger and bitter taste to them that can overpower your dressing.
- Olive oil: Every salad dressing needs a touch of oil to balance out those flavors!
- Salt & black pepper: A sprinkle of each goes into your salad dressing. (Go light on the salt and heavy on the pepper!😉 Cracked pepper is the best!)
How To Make An Apple Bacon & Cranberry Kale Salad
1. Cook your bacon. Cook the bacon using your preferred method. This is mine:
- Place your bacon in the freezer to firm up a bit. Then take a sharp knife and cut it into bite-sized pieces. (It helps if you stack a few slices of bacon on top of each other.) Next heat a skillet over medium heat and spray it with cooking spray once hot. Add your chopped bacon and cook until it’s brown and crispy (ours usually takes 10-15 minutes depending). Then transfer your bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel and let it cool completely. (They’ll crisp up as the cool!)
2. Make the dressing. Whisk your dressing ingredients together and keep it stored in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of your salad.
3. Massage your kale. Cut the kale leaves off each stem and place them in a large bowl. Then drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil over the top (or give them a spray with your cooking spray). Using both hands, gently rub the leaves together for at least 5 minutes. (The kale should soften, shrink in size and turn a bright vibrant green color.)
4. Prepare the rest of your ingredients. Core and dice your apples, crumble the goat cheese and grab your dried cranberries.
5. Toss! Add your apples, dried cranberries and bacon bits to the bowl with your kale and pour your desired amount of dressing over the top. Toss the salad until it’s coated to your liking, then sprinkled your goat cheese over the top.
6. Serve! Serve immediately and enjoy!
We absolutely love this salad! With all it’s sweet and salty components, it’s the perfect salad for fall! You can serve it as a side dish to any protein or add some chicken and make it a full meal! I’m thinking this would be fantastic served with my apple and brie stuffed chicken, roasted maple mustard salmon or maple bbq baked salmon! Any way you serve it – it’s delicious!
- What is a chopped salad? Chopped salads are salads where all the ingredients are cut or “chopped” into a similar size. What’s the hype? Now you get a little bit of everything in every single bite! They’re so good!
- Do I have to massage my kale? Yes yes yes, a thousand times YES! Massaging your kale is essential for making the best kale salad!
- What does massaging my kale do? It helps soften the leaves by breaking down the fibers and makes them much easier to chew and digest. (Plus it brings out the kale’s subtle flavor!)
- Should I peel the skin off my apples? It’s not needed. I personally like keeping the skin on because it makes the salad look so pretty!😉 If you don’t like the skin though – take it off!
- I don’t like goat cheese! What other cheese can I use? Feta cheese would be a great substitute!
- Can I prep anything beforehand? Yes! You can cut and massage your kale, cook your bacon and make your maple vinaigrette at least 1-2 days before you plan on eating it. Keep each ingredient stored in air tight containers – store your kale and vinaigrette in the refrigerator and your bacon in the pantry (or somewhere at room temperature).
Why you’ll love this chopped kale salad recipe
- Perfect for non-kale lovers! Bacon makes everything better & this salad’s no different! Those kale haters will be so focused on all the other ingredients, they won’t even notice they’re eating kale!😉
- Switch it up! Not a fan of goat cheese? Use feta instead! Can’t find dried cranberries? Replace them with raisins! There’s so many options!
- An easy side dish for Fall! Loaded with fresh seasonal ingredients that are so easy to prepare! This would be a great side salad for the holidays or any family gathering!
More kale salad recipes you might like:
- Citrus Pomegranate Kale Salad with Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette
- Apple, White Cheddar & Toasted Pecan Kale Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Kale Salad
- Summer Peach & Blueberry Kale Salad
[Made one of my recipes? Make sure to tag my Instagram @kalefornia_kravings & leave a review in the comments. I love seeing what you create!]
Apple Bacon & Cranberry Chopped Kale Salad
For the kale salad:
- 1 bunch of green kale, leaves cut off the stem & chopped
- 1 Honeycrisp apple, cored & diced
- 6-7 slices of bacon, cooked & crumbled or chopped*
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup goat cheese, crumbled
- Olive oil, for massaging the kale
For the maple vinaigrette:
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste (I add a lot!)
To make the vinaigrette:
- Whisk your vinaigrette ingredients together and keep it stored in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of your salad.
To make the salad:
- Place the kale leaves in a large bowl and drizzle them with your oil. Then rub the leaves together with your hands for at least 5 minutes or until the kale begins to soften and shrinks in size.
- Next add your apples, dried cranberries and bacon bits to the bowl and toss in your desired amount of dressing.
- Sprinkle your goat cheese over the top and serve!