Kale Apple Salad with Bacon and Cheddar

This flavorful Kale Apple Salad features tender massaged kale, crispy bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, and a delicious fresh lemon dressing!

Kale Apple Salad with Bacon and Cheddar

Apples and kale are available year round here in the US, but I find they’re the BEST in the cooler months, making this tasty kale apple salad a total powerhouse right now.

So while most of America is chugging their pumpkin spice lattes, I’ll be over here face planting into this deeeeelish massaged kale salad.

Is that weird? Maybe a little.

Of course I’ll also be making this fluffy cinnamon sugar streusel-topped Pumpkin Bread for dessert because, DUH!

Apple Kale Salad Bowl

Can I make this Apple Kale Salad Vegetarian?

YES! Absolutely! As written, this salad is gloriously gluten-free. To make it vegetarian friendly you’ll simply want to nix the bacon and replace it with plant-based bacon bits, smokey tempeh bacon, or your favorite alternative.

You can also forego the “bacon” vibe altogether and jazz this salad up with juicy dried cranberries in it’s place.

What Other Cheeses Can I use?

I went with sharp cheddar since I always have a million bars of Cabot cheddar on hand at any given time.

You could also use feta cheese, gorgonzola cheese, bleu cheese, or goat cheese.

I think I’m going to give gorgonzola a try next to mimic this super yummy bagged salad mix that my grocery store carries.

Plated Kale Salad with Apples and Bacon

Kale Apple Salad with Bacon and Cheddar

I’m a total sucker for this flavor combination!

The tender, almost silky texture of the massaged kale is positively perfect with the sweet and juicy apple chunks, crispy smoky bacon, and creamy sharp cheddar cheese.

To add a little extra texture and nuttiness to the salad, I added some chopped sliced almonds.

I’m also a big fan of adding candied walnuts or pecans for a savory sweet vibe that can’t be beat!

Kale Apple Salad with Bacon and Cheddar
5 from 3 votes

Kale Apple Salad with Bacon and Cheddar

This flavorful Kale Apple Salad features tender massaged kale, crispy bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, and a fresh lemon dressing!

Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword Kale Apple Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 347 kcal
Author Jenn Laughlin – Peas and Crayons


  • 4 cups chopped curly kale
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3-4 slices bacon (see notes for vegetarian options)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds (toasted, roasted, or regular)
  • 2-3 oz sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium honeycrisp apple (fuji is another tasty option!)


  • 2 TBSP avocado oil
  • 2 TBSP fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1-2 TBSP pure maple syrup to sweeten dressing to taste
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 small clove garlic , peeled and minced


  1. To transform curly kale leaves into silky, tender salad greens, let's massage our kale! After washing and drying, start by removing the leaves from the stem. Finely chop the leaves and measure out 4 cups of kale. Add to a large bowl with 1/8-1/4 tsp oil and a teeny tiny pinch of salt. Massage oil into leaves until tender and vibrant green.

  2. Next whisk togehter dressing ingredients. Sample and adjust salt/pepper/maple syrup to taste if needed. Set aside.

  3. Cook bacon until via preferred method until crispy or grab your favorite vegetarian alternative. I like to coarsely chop mine then saute in a frying pan until nice and crisp, then allow it to try between paper towels while I prep the salad. If cooking in strips, crumble once cooled.

  4. Next coarsely chop your sliced almonds (or leave whole for more texture), cube cheese into small fork-friendly bites (approx. 1/2 inch cubes), and finely dice apple.

  5. Add almonds, cheese, and apple to the kale. Whisk dressing once more before adding to salad. Toss to coat and top with bacon. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

This recipe yields 4 side salads or 2 large meal-sized salads.

To make it vegetarian simply replace bacon with plant-based bacon bits, smokey tempeh bacon, or your favorite alternative. Juicy dried cranberries can also be added in place of bacon. 

I’m also a big fan of adding candied walnuts or pecans for a savory sweet vibe.

Nutrition Facts below are estimated for both salad and dressing using an online recipe nutrition calculator. Adjust as needed based on any extras/swaps and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
Kale Apple Salad with Bacon and Cheddar
Amount Per Serving
Calories 347 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 26mg9%
Sodium 297mg13%
Potassium 540mg15%
Carbohydrates 20g7%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 12g24%
Vitamin A 6860IU137%
Vitamin C 86mg104%
Calcium 250mg25%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Kale Apple Salad with Bacon

If you get a chance to try this kale apple salad, let me know!

Leave some love in the comment form below or tag your photos with @peasandcrayons on Instagram so I can happy dance over your creation. I can’t wait to see what you whip up!

KALE YEAH! More Tasty Kale Recipes:

Ooh! And def check out my tasty round up of 11 Ways to Eat More Kale for some more delicious options!

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Recipe Rating


  • Tari

    5 stars
    Oh my gosh, This salad has become our new favorite kale salad. I’ve made it 3 times in the last 2 1/2 weeks. Our friends last week loved it, so I’m making it again today for dinner with different friends. I have used Mexican Cotija cheese, which crumbles nicely and it has a slightly salty taste.

  • Liz

    5 stars
    We just went apple picking so we have TONS of apples to use up! This is going to be the perfect way to do it! YUM!

    • It’s going to be epic! So excited for you to try the recipe! xoxo

  • Ashley

    5 stars
    I love this simple kale salad. So delicious!

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