Apple White Cheddar Kale Salad with Toasted Pecans

This Apple White Cheddar Kale Salad is an easy and refreshing side dish for Fall! Massaged kale is tossed with sweet apples & pomegranates, chunks of cheddar cheese & toasted pecans then finished off with a simple maple dijon dressing!

A large serving bowl filled with an apple white cheddar kale salad topped with toasted pecans

Another one of my favorite Fall kale salads! This apple white cheddar kale salad with toasted pecans is a sweet and savory lover’s dream! I first stumbled across this combo last year in the form of a grilled cheese sandwich and it was divine! The sandwich had white cheddar, apples and a maple apple cider jam (delicious…..I know!🤤), which got me thinking of other ways I could incorporate this combo.

I love the crunch from the toasted pecans paired with the sharp cheddar cheese and sweetness of the apples and pomegranates! It all just works together! It’s light and refreshing enough to serve as a side dish and so easy to prep beforehand too! I’m thinking easy Thanksgiving sides, side dishes for Christmas dinner or even a festive side dish for Christmas potlucks!

Ingredients used to make an apple white cheddar kale salad

Ingredients For Your Kale Salad

  • Green kale: Used as the base of your salad! We’ll be massaging the kale beforehand to make it tender and more flavorful!
  • Apples: Sweeter apples work the best for this salad! We love using Honeycrisp apples but Fuji or Envy apples would work too.
  • White cheddar cheese: Good quality white cheddar cheese is the key to this salad! I love using extra sharp cheddar (just because I love that super sharp bite) but mild or regular white cheddar will work too. This one’s more of a personal preference so feel free to use your favorite. (Even if it’s yellow cheddar!😉)
  • Pomegranate arils: Add as little or as much as you want!
  • Pecans: Toasting your pecans elevates this salad even more!
  • Maple dijon dressing: A sweet and tangy homemade dressing that ties all your ingredients together! IT’s only 6 ingredients and I bet you already have them on hand!
A large clear bowl filled with massaged kale, diced apples, white cheddar cheese cut into cubes and pomegranate seeds
A small white bowl filled with maple dijon dressing

How To Make An Apple & Cheddar Kale Salad

1. Make your dressing. Whisk your dressing ingredients together and keep it stored in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of your salad.

2. Toast your pecans. Lay your pecans out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and toast them in the oven at 375 degrees for 5-6 minutes.

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, slice your cheese and deseed your pomegranate.

4. Toss and serve! Add your apples, cheese and pomegranate to the bowl with your kale and toss in your desired amount of dressing. Sprinkle your toasted pecans over the top and serve!

A clear salad bowl filled with freshly made apple cheddar kale salad

Variations & Substitutions

Can’t find some of these ingredients? (Or not a fan of them?) No problem! Here are a few simple swaps you can try instead!

  • Kale: Replace it with spinach or mixed greens!
  • Pomegranate arils: Replace them with dried cranberries!
  • Toasted pecans: Try it with store bought or homemade candied pecans! OR simply swap them out for walnuts or chopped almonds! (Toasting directions are the same for all nuts.)

Make it a full meal by topping it with your favorite chopped grilled chicken too! This would be perfect for a meal-prepped lunch or an easy weeknight dinner!

FAQ’s

  • Should I peel the skin off my apples? It’s not needed. You’ll hardly notice the skin once it’s all mixed together!
  • Do I have to massage my kale? YES! I’m a big believer that massaging your kale is the only way to have it in a salads! It helps break down the fibrous leaves, tenderizing them and making them easier to eat and digest. Plus it brings out the kale’s subtle flavor too!
  • Can I keep my leftover kale salad? Absolutely! Kale salads are the best when it comes to leftovers! (Your kale leaves won’t become soggy like most other green salads do after sitting.)
    • To Store: Place your leftover salad in an airtight container and keep it stored in the refrigerator. T should stay good for up to 6-7 days if stored properly. (I’d suggest removing any pecans before storing though. Those can become soggy after a few days.)
An up close photo of an apple white cheddar kale salad topped with toasted pecans

Why you’ll love this kale salad recipe!

  • Sweet & savory! Anyone who loves a good sweet & salty combo is going to adore this salad!
  • Get those greens in! Add this salad as a refreshing side to any heavy meaty dish you serve this Fall & Winter!
  • Impress your guests! Absolutely gorgeous once it’s all tossed together! You can thinly slice the apples & arrange them elegantly or chop it all up & toss it together! (The pomegranates are what really make it pop!)

More salad recipes you might like:

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Apple White Cheddar Kale Salad with Toasted Pecans

This apple white cheddar kale salad is a refreshing and easy side dish for Fall! Massaged kale is tossed with sweet apples & pomegranates, chunks of cheddar cheese & toasted pecans then finished off with a simple maple dijon dressing!
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple, fall salad, kale salad, kale salad recipes, maple dijon dressing, toasted pecans, white cheddar, winter salad
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Caitlin

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 4 cups of green kale, leaves cut of the stem & cut into bite-sized pieces (packed)
  • 1 large Honeycrisp apple, cored & chopped
  • cup pomegranate arils
  • 4 oz. white cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup pecans*

For the maple dijon dressing:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions

To make the dressing:

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

To toast the pecans:

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper. Then spread your pecans out on the baking pan and toast for 5-6 minutes or until they just start to darken. Set them aside to cool once done.

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, cheddar cheese and pomegranate to the bowl and toss in your desired amount of dressing.
  • Sprinkle your toasted pecans over the top and serve!

Notes

*Candied pecans can be used instead. (If using candied pecans, skip the directions for toasting.)
Regular cheddar cheese can be used to replace the white cheddar.

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