Kale Salad with Apples and Chicken


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This kale salad with apples and chicken is bursting with autumn flavors in every single bite. It’s simple to make, tossed with fresh ingredients, and makes for the perfect seasonal salad recipe that’s crunchy, hearty and sweet.

Kale salad with chicken and apples on a white table

With fall just around the corner, it’s time to switch up our salad base from spinach and arugula to fresh kale! Not only is it a nutritional powerhouse filled with fiber and antioxidants, but it gives a heartier texture and flavor to make the best autumn and winter salads.

You can make a simple massaged kale salad or my roasted beet and kale salad. But this kale salad with apples and chicken always hits the spot.

Ingredients for the kale salad recipe in individual bowls on a table.

Kale Salad Recipe Ingredients

This recipe comes together quickly if you’ve made your shredded chicken ahead of time. Here’s what’s in it:

  • Kale: You can use any variety (I’m using curly kale).
  • Shredded Chicken: I always have some ready to go in my fridge or freezer. But it’s easy to whip up on the fly as well.
  • Apple: I love a sweet Gala or Honeycrisp, but choose your favorite.
  • Dried Cherries: For that burst of natural sweetness (I always recommend buying unsweetened dried cherries).
  • Raisins: Because more of that fruity, sweet taste balances the kale.
  • Red Onion: A sweet red onion adds a pop of color and flavor.
  • Walnuts: For a little crunch and fall vibes.

The salad is drizzled with my Apple Cider Vinaigrette to match the flavors perfectly. It’s an easy salad dressing to make at home and tastes much better than anything store-bought.

Do You Need to Massage Your Kale?

You might be thinking that kale isn’t the best option because of its toughness, unless it’s in the form of baked kale chips. But, the secret to getting those soft leaves is to give it a nice massage. 

I’ve chatted about this on my massaged kale salad recipe. But here’s a quick run-down of how to massage your kale for this recipe:

  • Remove the leaves from the stems (either by hand or cutting them off).
  • Tear or cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
  • Massage the leaves with your hands until the kale softens and just starts to wilt (about 2 minutes).
Kale salad drizzled with apple cider vinaigrette.

How to Make Kale Salad with Apples and Chicken

Now that we’ve given our kale a massage, it’s time to toss in the fun stuff. Here’s what to do next:

  1. Top the salad with shredded chicken, diced apples, onions, raisins, dried cherries, and walnuts.
  2. Whisk the apple cider vinaigrette in a small bowl. This includes the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. 
  3. Drizzle the apple cider vinaigrette over the salad, give everything a little toss, and serve. If you’d like a little extra crunch, you could also crumble bits of apple chips onto the salad.
An individual plate of kale salad next to a big serving bowl.

More Fall Salad Recipes You’ll Love

Kale salad recipe in a serving bowl with wooden serving spoons.

Kale Salad with Apples and Chicken

5 from 18 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


Just toss kale with diced apples, shredded chicken, dried cherries, raisins, red onion and chopped walnuts for a delicious fall or autumn inspired salad.



  • Add the kale to a large mixing bowl.
  • Top the kale with the shredded chicken, diced apple, dried cherries, raisins, red onion and walnuts.
  • Drizzle the salad with the apple cider vinaigrette, then toss it all together.

Lisa’s Tips

  • I’m loving these olivewood salad tongs. They just have that perfect fall vibe for a beautiful salad presentation.
  • To make this salad Whole30 compliant, swap the apple cider vinegar for my Dijon vinaigrette (it doesn’t have any honey). 


Calories: 362kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 76mg | Potassium: 697mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 8682IU | Vitamin C: 104mg | Calcium: 151mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Apple Chicken Salad, Kale Salad, kale salad recipe
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Recipe originally published Sept 2014, but updated to include new photos.

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Last week, my son asked me to go to grocery store to pick up two pounds of Kale for a recipe that his girlfriend wanted to make. It looked like a tremendous amount for three people (four bunches), but what did I know. I did what he asked. We ate her dish which was a delicious creamy sardine soup about four days ago. We only used about 4/10 of a pound and had a lot of Kale left. I hate wasting food, and so I went to my “Go To” recipe website, Downshiftology looking for a recipe using Kale. I selected Kale Salad with Apples and Chicken which I already had in stock. Your recipe was delicious and not hard to make. The meal was great and the flavor of the vinaigrette dressing was especially nice. The meal was a hit and will now be in our regular rotation. Thanks so much. *****5 stars

  2. Best salad ever this is one way I get my son to come over when I tell him I’m making kale chicken salad we  love it 5 stars

  3. This was my heavenly lunch for the last couple of days. I had a big piece of blue cheese leftover from a cheeseboard and then this recipe popped up my feed. Swapped the chicken for the cheese and the rest is history. Was supposed to eat it just for one day, but made the recipe three days in a row. Thanks Lisa for the great inspiration!5 stars

  4. Excellent recipe!  I exchanged the cherries and raisins for craisens and left out the chicken so use as a side dish.  Can’t wait to try it with the chicken!  Thank you for the recipe!5 stars

  5. This is my family’s FAVORITE salad. Even my dad who dislikes anything green loves this. I have also replaced the raisins with cranberries and it is delicious as well.5 stars

  6. This salad is delicious! I never thought would enjoy a salad with kale as the main leafy green, but since I got all the ingredients for this salad, it’s all I want to eat! Amazing. I know I have to stop eating this salad to try out the others you have in your website. I just can’t say enough.5 stars

  7. The kale salad was amazing. Cant wait to have leftovers for lunch. Does the nutritional info include the dressing? Thanks!5 stars

  8. Delish – absolutely delish! Made this for dinner tonight and I cannot wait to enjoy leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Thanks for a great-tasting crockpot recipe!!5 stars

  9. thabks for sharing this tip! It’s going to be my first time to bake spaghetti squash and I’m lucky to have read your post I’m so excited that I won’t fail because your tips are easy and perfect!5 stars

  10. This salad was a hit for my boyfriend and I… and he isn’t a salad guy! I didn’t have cherries/raisins, so I used dried cranberries instead. It still tasted delicious! Guilt free, and quite a filling salad. A+!5 stars

  11. I made this salad tonight for supper. So simple and very delicious!! I’ll be making this again soon (probably tomorrow 😄). Thanks for another great recipe, Lisa!5 stars

    1. Hi Sue – So glad you loved this recipe! It’s definitely the perfect salad for Fall and tastes delicious paired with a warm soup :)

  12. I love the addition of dried cherries and walnuts! It gives such great texture and flavor to this salad! Absolutely delicious!5 stars