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

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!
5 from 6 votes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Kale Apple Salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
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)
  • ¼ 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
  • tsp salt
  • tsp pepper
  • 1 small clove garlic , peeled and minced


  • 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.
  • Next whisk togehter dressing ingredients. Sample and adjust salt/pepper/maple syrup to taste if needed. Set aside.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Add almonds, cheese, and apple to the kale. Whisk dressing once more before adding to salad. Toss to coat and top with bacon. Enjoy!


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!


Calories: 347kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 26mg, Sodium: 297mg, Potassium: 540mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 6860IU, Vitamin C: 86mg, Calcium: 250mg, Iron: 2mg
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!

Jenn Laughlin Headshot Photo - About the Author
About The Author:

Jenn Laughlin

Jenn Laughlin created Peas and Crayons in 2009 after graduating with B.S. in Dietetics from Florida State University and working as a Nutrition Educator for WIC. The goal was simple: create and share delicious tested and perfected recipes with vegetables as the star!

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Such a simple recipe but so delicious. My whole family loved it. A good salad dressing is key and this salad dressing is what made this salad so good! Thank you for this recipe!!!

  2. 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.