This hearty kale salad is filled with crisp apples, salty Parmesan, and crunchy walnuts. A simple dressing of olive oil, lemon, and apple cider vinegar helps this salad come together in just a few minutes!

Apple Walnut Kale Salad
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Tips for a perfect kale salad

  • Kale is a tough green and it needs to be massaged to make it tender. After washing your kale, you want to massage it with your hands. I typically massage the dressing right in.
  • Use the right dressing. Kale is a very bitter green and it needs something to help soften it a bit. An acidic dressing like the one in this recipe will help break down the fiber in the kale, which makes it easier to chew.
  • Remove the kale stems. The stems are extremely bitter and very hard to chew. Do yourself a favor and de-stem the kale. You can either fold the leaves in half and slice the stem off or you can just tear the leaves right off the stem.
kale leaves

Tips for Advanced Preparation

This salad is super easy to prepare and since kale is such a hearty green, you can even make it an hour or two ahead of time without worrying about the kale getting soggy. If you do decide to make it in advance, I recommend waiting to add the walnuts until you’re ready to serve it. This helps them to stay nice and crunchy!

massaged kale in a bowl

How to Massage Kale

You need to be hands-on with your kale. Don’t skip this step. It’s important because kale is an intense leafy green. It’s tough, and it will stay tough unless you massage it. Get your hands in the bowl and massage the dressing onto the leaves for about a minute. The leaves should turn bright green as they soften.

kale salad on a plate

Make it a Main Dish

If you want to turn this side dish into a complete meal, here are a few of my favorite protein additions:

  • Chickpeas or cannellini beans
  • Quinoa or couscous
  • Wild rice or brown rice
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apple walnut kale salad

Apple Walnut Kale Salad

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.8 from 5 reviews
  • Author: Liz Thomson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 large salads 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: American


This delicious kale salad is filled with crisp apples, salty Parmesan, and crunchy walnuts. A simple dressing of olive oil, lemon, and apple cider vinegar makes this easy salad come together in just a few minutes!


  • 1 large bunch kale (810 leaves)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 red or green apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts


  1. De-stem the kale by pulling the leaves off the stem and tearing into smaller pieces.
  2. In a small dish, combine the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and salt, and drizzle it over the kale.
  3. Using your hands, massage the kale leaves with the dressing.
  4. Top with apples, Parmesan cheese, and walnuts.
  5. Serve immediately or keep it in the fridge for up to 2 hours until ready to serve.

More Kale Salad Recipes

What’s your favorite salad green?

This post was originally published in November 2015. Updated August 2020.