Cranberry Apple Pecan Kale Salad

I know kale gets a bad rap, but I promise this cranberry apple pecan kale salad will have the biggest kale haters swooning over it! It’s topped with chunks of apple, candied pecans, dried cranberries, and my favorite part – bacon!

A close up of a bowl of tossed cranberry apple pecan kale salad.

Kale. You either love it or hate it. It’s earthy and slightly bitter, which means unless it’s chopped up and tossed into pasta (like this kale, spinach, and basil pesto baked pasta) or soup (like this veggie loaded lentil soup), my kids will not be eating it. ??‍♀️

While kale may not be my green of choice, I do like the texture of it. It’s crisp and chewy. It doesn’t hurt that it’s packed full of vitamins and nutrients either. I’ve had a few kale salads over the years that I’ve really enjoyed. My sweet kale superfood salad is one, along with a kale/wild rice/butternut squash/grilled chicken salad, and this cranberry apple pecan kale salad. It’s loaded with a variety of textures and flavors that perfectly meld together. 

A fork full of cranberry apple pecan kale salad.

We usually serve this as a side salad. It’s light and perfect for a heartier meal. If you want to serve it as a main dish, I’d recommend adding these ingredients:

  • Gorgonzola or Feta cheese
  • Grilled chicken
  • Roasted pepitas

You can definitely add any of those ingredients to it if you plan on eating it as a side too!

A mason jar of homemade dressing for the cranberry apple pecan kale salad.

This kale salad comes together in minutes. Simply chop the ingredients and toss in the homemade dressing. We love making a sweet dijon vinaigrette using apple cider and grainy mustard. It’s divine! For the dressing you’ll need:

  • Shallot
  • Whole grain and regular Dijon mustard
  • Maple syrup
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Apple cider
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil or a mild tasting oil

Simply pulse everything in a food processor or whisk vigorously to emulsify it, then pour it over the salad and toss.

A big bowl of cranberry apple pecan salad with crumbled bacon.

This salad is best if enjoyed within an hour or so of making it. If you want to make it ahead, simply keep the dressing in a separate container and toss when ready. I’d also suggest holding off on cutting the apple so you don’t end up serving it with a bunch of brown apple chunks.

I love this kale salad because it has so much flavor going on. It’s sweet thanks to the apple and candied pecans, slightly salty because of the bacon, and tart and tangy with the dried cranberries and vinaigrette. The kale is so mellow and tender it’s almost unrecognizable (my kids actually ate it and liked it)! However, if you do want to swap it out for some other greens, try shaved brussels sprouts or a spring mix.

An overhead view of a big serving bowl of cranberry apple pecan kale salad with dress ing and extra toppings.

Do you love using kale in salad? Leave a comment below and let me know what your favorite kale salad is!


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Healthy and easy cranberry apple pecan kale salad.

Cranberry Apple Pecan Kale Salad Recipe

I know kale gets a bad rap, but I promise this salad will have the biggest kale haters swooning over it! It’s topped with chunks of apple, candied pecans, dried cranberries, and my favorite part – bacon!
5 from 3 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Salads & Sides
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Servings: 4 small servings or 2 large servings
Author: Natalie Dicks
Print Recipe


  • 6 c. kale chopped
  • 1 apple cut into 1/4-inch chunks
  • 2/3 c. candied pecans whole or coarsely chopped
  • 6 strips bacon cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries
For the dressing:
  • 1 tbsp. shallot coarsley chopped
  • 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 tsp. coarse kosher sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 c. olive oil or mild tasting oil


  • In a medium serving bowl combine kale, apple, pecans, bacon, and cranberries
  • In a small food processor combine the ingredients for the dressing. Pulse until creamy and emulsified. 
  • Toss salad in dressing and serve immediately.


-You can easily add feta or gorgonzola cheese, roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or grilled chicken to make this a more substantial salad.
-Don't like kale? Swap it out for shave brussels sprouts or a mixed greens!

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  1. I totally agree with you -NATALIE that Kale gets a bad rap! Every time I eat Kale! I gag!
    I decided to make your Cranberry Apple Pecan Kale Salad for potluck! Since I didn’t want anything left over and no one would notice if I left some on my plate! Needless to say when I went back for seconds there wasn’t anything left in the bowl! This recipe is a keeper for sure!