We’re so ready for fall over here and to kick it off I’m here to bring you something super fresh and bursting with a mix of sweet, tangy and salty flavors. AKA a delicious flavor explosion you won’t be able to get enough of.
Kale salad recipes, in my opinion, get a bad rap, but this brussels sprouts kale apple salad has crisp greens, juicy honeycrisp apples, tangy & creamy gorgonzola cheese, and a crunchy nut & seed mixture. Take all of that, toss it in a light, perfectly sweet maple cider dressing and you’ve got yourself a damn good fall and winter salad.
Not only is this salad a wonderful meal prep lunch, but it’s also the perfect side dish for the holidays (yes, we’re thinking about Thanksgiving already!)
Give this gorgeous salad a try the next time you need some lunch inspo, and feel free to customize it with different proteins and fall produce! You’ll make this one again and again, promise.
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Everything you’ll need to make this brussels sprouts kale apple salad
This deliciously crunchy kale apple salad is packed with all of the textures and flavors you crave. Sweet, tangy, salty and oh-so addicting. Plus, kale is a superfood, so this salad is extra special. Here’s everything you’ll need to make it:
- For the dressing: we’re using a light, sweet & tangy maple cider vinaigrette made with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic, pure maple syrup, grainy dijon mustard, salt & pepper.
- For the salad: you’ll need brussels sprouts, kale, red or green cabbage, apples (I love honeycrisp the best!), red onion, dried cranberries or cherries and tangy gorgonzola crumbles.
- For the nut & seed crunch: we’re making a sweet and salty topping with pecans, pumpkin seeds, maple syrup and salt. SO GOOD.
Easy ways to customize
You can truly make this brussels sprouts kale apple salad your own with some simple ingredients swaps. Here’s what we suggest:
- Choose the cheese. If you’re not a fan of gorgonzola, feel free to use goat cheese, feta cheese, shredded parmesan or even white cheddar cheese. They will all still be delicious.
- Choose your fruit. I love using honey crisp apples but fuji, pink lady, etc. work just as well. Pears would also be perfect in this salad! They will break down more in the salad, so if you use them it’s best to eat the salad right away. I also think pomegranate seeds would be beautiful in the salad.
- Make it vegan and/or paleo. Simply leave out the cheese.
- Go nut free. You can also use extra pumpkin seeds instead of pecans. Easy!
Add a beautiful seasonal twist
This brussels sprouts kale apple salad would also be amazing with diced, roasted butternut squash or sweet potatoes. About 2 cups should do the trick — be sure to check out our guide for roasting the best butternut squash here!
Looking to add a boost of protein?
With the nuts and cheese included in this kale apple salad you’ll actually get almost 9g of protein per serving, but cooked, chopped chicken breast, roasted chickpeas or even bacon would be a delicious way to add even more protein! Bonus points if you double the dressing and use it as a marinade for the chicken. YUM.
Tips for using kale in salads
Raw kale leaves are much tougher than a leafy green like spinach, so don’t forget these tips for making kale salads:
- Chop it small. Be sure to chop it very finely so that the bites aren’t too large. Use a sharp knife or salad chopper, or pulse the kale a few times in a food processor.
- Massage it. Add the maple cider dressing to your bowl with the kale, brussels sprouts & cabbage first and toss it all together really well. You can even do this with your hands and “massage” the dressing in so that all of the kale and crunchy veggies are well coated.
- Let it marinate. You’ll then want to let the dressed kale, brussels sprouts and cabbage sit for a bit (while you make the nut & seed mixture) so that the veggies soak up all of the flavor.
The best ways to shred brussels sprouts
Along with finely chopping up your kale, you’ll also need to shred all of those brussels sprouts. Here are 3 easy ways to do it:
- Use a food processor: trim the small stem off of the brussels sprouts and add them to your food processor about a handful or so at a time. Use the slicing attachment on your food processor and pulse until they’re nice and shredded.
- Use a box grater: you can shred your brussels sprouts against a box grater on the side with the largest holes. I’d suggest spraying the grater with a bit of cooking spray so that the sprouts easily glide against the grater.
- Shred them with a knife: this is the method I typically use, and once you get the hang of it it will go pretty quickly. Using a sharp knife cut the stem off of your brussels sprouts and then cut them in half lengthwise. Then, with each half laying flat side down, chop your brussels sprouts into fine shreds. No need for them to be perfect!
Store this brussels sprouts apple salad for later
Because this salad is filled with crunchy veggies, it will actually be delicious over the course of a few days after it marinates in the dressing! Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. The nuts will soften a bit over time, so if you’re prepping this salad ahead of time I’d recommend leaving the nut mixture off until you’re ready to serve.
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I hope you love this crunchy brussels sprouts kale apple salad recipe! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!
Brussels Sprouts Kale Honeycrisp Apple Salad with Maple Cider Dressing
Sweet & crunchy brussels sprouts kale apple salad with a light maple cider dressing. This beautiful, fall-inspired kale apple salad has wonderful flavors and textures from tangy gorgonzola, dried cranberries and a pecan pumpkin seed crunch mixture. Enjoy the perfect lunch or side dish all season long!
- For the maple cider dressing:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, depending on how sweet you like your salad dressing
- 1 teaspoon grainy dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the salad:
- 8 ounces brussels sprouts, stems and outer yellow leaves removed
- 2 cups very finely chopped kale, stems removed
- 1 cup shredded red or green cabbage
- 2 medium-large honeycrisp apples, sliced
- ¼ of a red onion, thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries (or sub dried cherries)
- 1/3 cup gorgonzola crumbles*
- For the salted pecan pumpkin seed crunch:
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
- ½ tablespoon pure maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
In a medium bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing: olive oil, apple cider vinegar, pure maple syrup, dijon mustard, minced garlic, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add a little more maple syrup if you like a sweeter dressing.
Next, shred your brussels sprouts: shave the brussels sprouts by using a food processor with the slicing attachment and pulse until the brussels sprouts are thinly sliced. If you don’t have a food processor, feel free to use a sharp knife to thinly slice. Add shredded brussels sprouts to a large bowl.
In the large bowl with the brussels sprouts, add the shredded kale and cabbage and pour dressing over. Use tongs or clean hands to mix everything together for 1-2 minutes. It may seem long but this helps to break down the kale and evenly distribute the flavor of the dressing. Allow it to sit and marinate while you make the pecan pumpkin seed crunch.
To make the pumpkin pecan crunch: place pecans and pumpkin seeds in a skillet over medium heat. Toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently until they turn slightly golden brown and fragrant, then turn off heat and immediately add in maple syrup and a pinch of sea salt. Stir for 30 more seconds to coat, then transfer to a plate or piece of parchment paper to cool for a few minutes. Some of the nuts will slightly stick together but this is what we want for the ‘nut crunch’ in the salad. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Add the sliced apples, red onion and dried cranberries/cherries and gorgonzola to the salad and toss to combine. Sprinkle the nut mixture on top and toss again. If you are serving the salad later, I recommend leaving the nut mixture out until you are ready to serve so it stays nice and crunchy. Enjoy!
Adding 2 cups of diced roasted butternut squash or sweet potatoes to this salad is delicious!
Pears would be an excellent sub for the apples. They will break down more in the salad though so it’s best to eat right away.
To make it vegan: leave out the gorgonzola.
To make it nut free: use extra pumpkin seeds instead of pecans.
Serving: 1serving (based on 4)Calories: 401calCarbohydrates: 36.6gProtein: 8.6gFat: 27.5gSaturated Fat: 5.1gFiber: 7.3gSugar: 24.2g
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
This post was originally published on September 8th, 2021, republished on December 19th, 2022, and republished September 19th, 2023.