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If you’re on the fence about kale, let me tell you, this kale crunch salad will turn it around for you. I’ve got a special technique to remove the bitterness, plus a sweet maple dressing and the best crunchy toppings: dried cranberries, sliced almonds, and hemp hearts!
I’m so happy to partner with my friends at Eaton Hemp to bring you my best kale salad recipe yet! Hemp hearts make a delicious addition to recipes when you need a boost of healthy fats and also give this kale crunch salad the best texture.
(Use code WHOLESOMEYUM to save 30%!)
What Is Kale Crunch Salad?
Just like it sounds, kale crunch salad is a salad made with kale and crunchy toppings! The name was popularized by a certain fast food chain, but the homemade version is much healthier.
Kale Salad Ingredients
This crunch kale salad recipe is made with just 4 ingredients, plus the dressing:
- Curly kale – I’ve used curly kale, but see below for other options. Make sure to discard any thick stems (especially if you buy it already chopped!).
- Dried cranberries – I make my own sugar-free dried cranberries (it’s way easier than it sounds!), but the kind at the store will do. Just know they typically have a lot of sugar added.
- Eaton Hemp Hearts – The hemp hearts add a major nutrition boost and crunch.
- Almonds – I prefer sliced almonds for this type of salad, but slivered will work as well. For a nut-free option, try sunflower seeds… or simply more hemp hearts!
Kale salad dressing:
- Sugar-Free Maple Syrup – All the maple flavor, none of the sugar and carbs. Of course, if you aren’t avoiding sugar like me, you can use regular maple syrup here.
- Apple cider vinegar – This gives the dressing great flavor, but you could also use red wine vinegar.
- Dijon mustard – This helps the dressing to emulsify, don’t skip it.
- Sea salt & black pepper
- Olive oil
How To Make Kale Crunch Salad
- Make dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly pour olive oil into the bowl while whisking constantly, until emulsified.
- Massage kale. Pour chopped kale into large bowl and drizzle with dressing. Massage dressing into the leaves until kale is no longer rigid.
FYI: Massaging is the key to avoiding bitter kale! It makes the leaves more tender, easier to chew, and less bitter. The only kind of kale that doesn’t require this is baby kale.
- Add toppings. Sprinkle on cranberries, hemp hearts, and almonds. Toss and enjoy!
Crunchy Kale Salad FAQs
Which kale is best for salads?
I’ve used curly kale in this salad, and it’s the most common kale, but you can also use lacinato kale or red kale if you have access to those varieties.
Can you eat raw kale in salads?
Yes, raw kale is great in salads! Raw kale can be tough, which is why we massage the dressing into the leaves. It starts to break the kale down and will make the leaves more tender.
Don’t skip this step!
Can you make this nut-free?
Yes, simply swap out the almonds for sunflower seeds or extra hemp hearts.
Can you use a different dressing?
Sure! You just need one that contains both oil and an acid (like vinegar or lemon juice) to soften the kale. Zesty Italian dressing would also pair well here.
One of the best things about making kale salad is unlike other greens, you can make it ahead, even with the dressing!
In fact, it will last in the fridge for up to a week. However, if you’re making it more than a day in advance, you might want to add the crunchy hemp hearts and almonds right before serving, so that they maintain their crunch.
More Healthy Salad Recipes
If you like this recipe for kale crunch salad, you might also like some of these other salad recipes:
- Creamy Cucumber Salad – Simple, refreshing, and made with just a few common ingredients.
- Best Greek Salad – This salad is loaded with flavor and crunch, top it with a juicy chicken breast to make it a full meal.
- Cauliflower Tabbouleh – While traditional tabbouleh is made with wheat, this version uses cauliflower for a healthy, vegetable-filled salad.
- Israeli Salad – This salad goes with anything, is made with basic ingredients, and takes just 10 minutes to make.
Reader Favorite Recipes
The recipe card is below! Readers also made these similar recipes after making this one.
Kale Crunch Salad Recipe
This kale crunch salad is loaded with curly kale, a homemade vinaigrette, and sweet and savory crunchy toppings! Ready in 10 minutes.
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Get RECIPE TIPS in the post above, nutrition info + recipe notes below!
Click on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.
Pour the olive oil into the bowl in a thin stream, whisking constantly, until emulsified.
Place the chopped kale into a large bowl. Pour the dressing over it and massage with your hands for 2-3 minutes, until kale is no longer rigid.
Add the cranberries, hemp hearts, and almonds. Toss to coat.
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Serving size: 1 cup
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Nutrition Information Per Serving
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database. You can find individual ingredient carb counts we use in the Low Carb & Keto Food List. Net carb count excludes fiber, erythritol, and allulose, because these do not affect blood sugar in most people. (Learn about net carbs here.) We try to be accurate, but feel free to make your own calculations.
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