This sweet and crunchy kale apple salad is packed full of flavor! It’s an easy recipe topped with chickpeas, crunchy toasted pecans, and vegan feta cheese in a zesty apple cider vinaigrette.

Overhead view of kale apple salad topped with chickpeas and vegan feta on a rectangular platter.

This amazingly delicious kale apple salad is jam-packed with all the good stuff. Tender massaged kale, hearty chickpeas, and crunchy toasted pecans rounded out with creamy vegan feta cheese and the zestiest apple cider vinaigrette. The salad and the dressing are quick to put together. This recipe has so many delicious flavors wrapped up in a single bowl, not to mention the combination of textures. It’s perfect as a cold lunch, picnic side dish, or even a holiday side!

Why You’ll Love This Kale Apple Salad

  • Sweet and crunchy. The combination of earthy kale, sweet apples, toasty pecans, and creamy feta is next-level good. The zingy apple cider dressing ties everything together perfectly.
  • Easy ingredients. This salad packs tons of flavor for the short list of ingredients involved. Everything you need is easy to come by in most local grocers, and organic food stores.
  • Quick. It takes minutes to assemble this salad. After giving the kale a quick massage (yes, it’s a thing! More on this later), you simply toss in the other ingredients and enjoy.
Kale apple salad ingredients combined in a metal bowl.

Notes on Ingredients

Here are some brief notes on the ingredients you’ll need for this easy apple kale salad and the vinaigrette dressing. Scroll to the recipe card for a printable ingredients list.

  • Kale – You’ll want to trim the kale leaves from the hard stems, wash them, and tear them into smaller pieces.
  • Chickpeas – You can use a can of raw chickpeas (remember to drain and rinse them first), or you can make this salad with crispy roasted chickpeas.
  • Apples – Use any apple variety you’d like. I find that the best apples for salads are crisp, crunchy varieties that don’t brown quickly, like Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apples.
  • Pecans – I use toasted pecans, but you can also leave the nuts raw and chop them. Candied pecans are also a nice twist!
  • Vegan Feta Cheese – You can make vegan feta from tofu (it’s SO easy, with just 6 ingredients), or use your favorite brand of plant-based feta from the store.

For the Dressing

  • Maple Syrup – I love the unique sweetness of pure maple syrup, but agave nectar is a close second!
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar plays nicely off the apples in this salad, but you can replace it with red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar in a pinch.
  • Olive Oil – Choose a good-quality olive oil, or you can use another kind of oil, like avocado oil. You’ll also need salt and pepper to round out the seasoning.

Can I Use Another Salad Dressing?

Certainly! If you’d prefer to swap out the vinaigrette in this recipe, try a honey apple dressing, or the lemon poppyseed dressing from my kale chickpea salad. A classic balsamic dressing would also be tasty here, as would the simple sweet dressing from my kale slaw recipe.

How to Make Kale Apple Salad

This kale and apple salad couldn’t be easier to make. Check out the steps below, and scroll down to the recipe card for the printable recipe instructions.

  • Make the dressing. First, you’ll whisk together the dressing ingredients (you can also combine them in a jar with a lid and give it a shake).
  • Massage the kale. Add your washed and chopped kale to a large bowl. Drizzle over about half the dressing, and use your hands to work it into the leaves. Do this for a good 1-2 minutes so that the kale becomes soft. For an in-depth tutorial on how to massage kale, see my classic kale salad recipe.
  • Add the toppings. Add your chickpeas, apples, pecans, and feta. Top the salad with the last of the dressing, toss, and enjoy!
Kale apple salad topped with chickpeas and vegan feta on a rectangular platter.

Tips for Success

  • Substitute the kale. If kale isn’t your jam, you can still make a delicious salad! Feel free to substitute the kale in this recipe with arugula or lettuce. Since other types of lettuce tend to break down more quickly in the dressing, I suggest leaving off the dressing until you’re ready to serve.
  • More toppings. There are so many ways that you can customize a kale apple salad! Try adding seasonal veggies like cooked butternut squash, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, or asparagus.
  • Fruit and nuts. In place of pecans, top this salad with chopped walnuts, slivered almonds, dried cranberries, currants, or raisins.

What to Serve With Kale and Apple Salad

I love this salad as a light lunch during the week, topped with marinated tofu, tempeh, or vegan chicken to make it a bit more hearty. You can also serve it as a side to pasta dishes like this creamy pumpkin alfredo or this garlic and mushroom pasta. It’s also festive enough to serve as a holiday side dish next to vegan turkey and vegan stuffing!

How to Store Leftovers

  • Refrigerate. It’s best to store the salad and dressing separately. Store the salad inside an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Keep the dressing in a mason jar and refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks.

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Overhead view of kale apple salad topped with chickpeas and vegan feta on a rectangular platter.

Kale Apple Salad

This sweet and crunchy kale apple salad with chickpeas and vegan feta is packed full of flavor! It's an easy recipe topped with crunchy toasted pecans and a zesty apple cider vinaigrette.
5 (from 6 ratings)

Ingredients

Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salad

  • 6 cups kale, de-stemmed, washed and torn
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1 apple, sliced thinly
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pecans
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled vegan tofu feta cheese or store-bought vegan feta

Instructions 

Salad

  • In a bowl, place the kale. Add in half the dressing and massage into the kale for two minutes, until the kale has been broken down. Add the rest of the ingredients and the rest of the dressing. Toss to combine. If you'd like, place the pecans and feta cheese in a bowl first, then sprinkle on top.

Maple-Apple Vinaigrette Dressing

  • Whisk or shake the ingredients together in a jar with a lid. Enjoy!

Notes

  • TO STORE: You can store this salad in an airtight tupperware container in the fridge without the dressing. You can store the dressing in a mason jar. The salad lasts about 3 days in the fridge. The dressing can last up to two weeks if stored properly.
Calories: 294kcal, Carbohydrates: 28g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 326mg, Potassium: 779mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 13419IU, Vitamin C: 164mg, Calcium: 225mg, Iron: 2mg

Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.