Chopped Apple, Bacon & Cranberry Kale Salad

Fresh apples, crispy bacon, tart cranberries and tender kale are all tossed in a tangy maple dressing and sprinkled with creamy goat cheese!

Chopped kale salad with apples, bacon, dried cranberries and goat cheese in a white bowl with a wooden salad tong digging into it

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again…I’m sucker for a good salad. (Especially if it involves bacon!😉) AND if you’re a sweet and salty lover like me then you have to try this easy kale salad! Picture biting into a crisp fresh apple, followed by some salty bacon bits AND THEN just when you think your taste buds have seen it all – you get hit with creamy goat cheese and a shot of tangy vinaigrette! Talk about a wild ride for your mouth right?! (Oh geez that sounded dirty. Sorry mom…🥴) But not sorry because this chopped apple, bacon and cranberry kale salad will knock your socks off! And it’s perfect for parties too!

Ingredients to make a chopped apple, bacon and dried cranberry salad

Some of you might be thinking…”why is this called a chopped salad?” Well I’m glad you asked! Chopped salads (besides being one of my favorites) are just 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!

Your Kale Salad Ingredients

To make this easy kale salad recipe you’ll need:

  • Green kale: Mild in flavor and sturdy enough to hold up to your other ingredients.
  • Apples: I love using honeycrisp apples for this salad because they’re super sweet and are always so crisp and fresh. (You can even use a different type of sweet apple too. I’d suggest using either fuji or envy apples.)
  • Dried cranberries: Adds a little bit of tang without overpowering the other ingredients.
  • Bacon: Use real bacon for the best results! (Store bought bacon bits can be used instead but they won’t have the same crispiness as real bacon.)
  • Goat cheese: Adds so much creaminess to your salad! (Not a fan of goat cheese? Try using feta cheese instead.)
  • Maple syrup: Make sure to use the real stuff! This is for your salad dressing and adds a touch of sweetness.
  • 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 which can overpower your dressing.
  • Olive oil: Highly reccomend using Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil from Bertolli! We use this for all of our dressings and it has the perfect mild flavor!
Chopped kale salad served in a large bowl surrounded by a jar of cooked bacon bits, diced apples and wooden salad tongs

How to make the best apple and kale salad

  1. Cook the bacon. 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 high heat, spray it with non-stick cooking spray and add your bacon pieces. Cook the bacon until it’s brown and crispy (ours usually takes 14-16 minutes). Then transfer your bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel and let the pieces cool completely.
  2. Massage your kale. Begin by cutting the leaves of the stems and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the top and rub the leaves together with your hands. Massage your kale for 5 minutes or until softened. (Your kale should turn a bright green color and shrink in size.) Set it aside once your done.
  3. Make the dressing. Whisk your dressing ingredients together and keep it stored in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.
  4. Prepare the rest of your ingredients. Dice your apples, crumble the goat cheese and grab your dried cranberries.
  5. Toss your salad. Add your massaged kale, diced apples, dried cranberries and bacon bits to a large bowl and pour your desired amount of dressing over the top. Toss the salad until everything is coated to your liking.
  6. Serve! Sprinkle your goat cheese over the top and serve immediately.

We’ve been absolutely loving this salad lately! With all it’s sweet and salty components, it’s the perfect salad for fall! You can serve it as a side dish or as a main dish and it’s always a huge hit with all of our guests! (Plus it’s perfect for that non-kale lover in your life because who can say no to bacon right?!😉

Close up of an apple and cranberry kale salad

FAQ’s for making this salad

  • Do I have to massage my kale? Yes yes yes, a thousand times YES! Massaging your kale is essential to making the perfect kale salad!
  • What does massaging my kale do? It helps to 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 too!)
  • What apple is the best for this salad? I love using honeycrisp apples for this salad because they’re just sweet enough and still have a crisp bite to them. (Fuji’s or Envy apples would also be great too!)
  • Can I make my kale salad in advace? Absolutely! All components of this salad (except for the apple) can be made in advance. Make sure to store each component separately in an airtight container and keep the massaged kale, goat cheese and dressing in the fridge. The bacon bits and dried cranberries can be stored at room temperature.
  • How long will my kale salad last? This salad will last up to 3 days if stored in an airtight container in the fridge. If you think you might have a lot of leftovers I would suggest keeping the bacon and goat cheese separate until you’re ready to eat.

Why you’ll love this chopped kale salad recipe

  • So much flavor! Crisp apples, salty bacon, tart cranberries and creamy goat cheese. There’s so much going on your taste buds won’t know what hit’em!
  • Easy to customize! Don’t like goat cheese? Try using feta instead. Not a fan of dried cranberries? Replace them with raisins! There’s so many options!

More kale salad recipes you might like:

[Made one of my recipes? Make sure to tag my social media @kalefornia_kravings – I love seeing what you create!]

Chopped Apple, Bacon & Cranberry Kale Salad

Fresh apples, crispy bacon, tart cranberries and tender kale are all tossed in a tangy maple vinaigrette and sprinkled with creamy goat cheese! This salad has it all and is the perfect side dish for fall!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American, Fall food, Gluten free
Keyword: apple, apple and bacon salad, bacon, dried cranberries, easy, goat cheese, kale salad, maple vinaigrette
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Caitlin

Ingredients

For the kale salad:

  • 1 bunch of kale, leaves cut off the stem and chopped into pieces
  • 1-2 medium honeycrisp apples, diced
  • 6-7 bacon slices*
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • cup goat cheese crumbles

For the maple vinaigrette:

  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

To make the vinaigrette:

  • Whisk the dressing ingredients together and keep it stored in the fridge while you prepare the rest of your salad.

To make the salad:

  • Place your bacon in the freezer to firm up a bit, then take a sharp knife and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Next heat a skillet over medium high heat, spray it with non-stick cooking spray and add your bacon pieces. Cook the bacon until it's brown and crispy (ours usually takes 14-16 minutes). Then transfer your bacon pieces to a plate lined with a paper towel and let the them cool completely.
  • While the bacon cools, add your kale leaves to a large bowl and drizzle them with a small amount of olive oil. Then use your hands to massage the leaves for 5 minutes or until they begin to soften and turn a bright green color.
  • Next add your diced apples, cooled bacon bits and dried cranberries and pour your desired amount of dressing over the top. Toss the salad until everything is coated to your liking.
  • Sprinkle with goat cheese right before serving.

Notes

*Store bought bacon bits can be used instead too! Use between 2-3 Tbsp for your salad.

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