Shaved Apple Kale Salad with Pecans

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apple kale salad
Wellness Mama » Blog » Recipes » Shaved Apple Kale Salad with Pecans

While kale is nutritious, it can be a little hard to swallow sometimes. Prepare it right though, and kale is a healthy, delicious dish! This shaved apple and kale salad recipe has crisp yet tender kale. And the sweet and tangy taste appeals even to young taste buds.

My kids are fairly adventurous eaters (even the youngest ones) since we haven’t relied on processed foods to satiate their appetites. However, they are still kids after all. My kids take a pass when it comes to cooked kale, but they love kale chips, and now this kale apple salad too!

Tasty Kale Salad Recipe

This salad takes a few ingredients and little prep, but the result is really impressive! It’s easy enough for a weeknight meal. Add some diced or whole chicken breast and it makes a great main dish salad. Or leave it as is for a tasty side dish. It’s also naturally gluten-free and dairy-free.

Tender Kale Leaves

Kale is a great way to up the calcium content of a diet without needing dairy. Even if you can have dairy, kale has high levels of vitamins A, C, K, and other nutrients.

The key here is to gently massage the kale (yes, massage!) which breaks it down and makes it tender enough for a salad. Small leaves of curly kale or Russian kale are best for salads. Some people also like lacinato kale, which has a slightly sweeter taste.

Check out this video for a fun shortcut way to de-stem the kale for the salad.

Note: While kale isn’t on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list it leans to the pesticide-laden side of the list. So when possible buy organic.

Crisp Red and Gold Apples

An apple a day may or may not keep the doctor away, but it’s a tasty way to get more fiber and nutrition. I use this spiralizer to shave the apples into thin slices. They add just the right light crunch and sweetness to the salad. I like to use Fiji or Honeycrisp apples with the skin on for a nice pop of color.

Conventional apples are one of the most pesticide contaminated foods. They’ve consistently made the Dirty Dozen list every year. Prioritizing organic apples when it fits the budget can really help cut down on pesticide intake.

Sweet and Spicy Onions

The onions are optional in this recipe, but they help round out the flavor and add extra crunch. Since this apple kale salad is made with a vinaigrette, the onions take on a sweet and spicy flavor similar to my easy 5-minute pickled onion recipe.

The best part though is that onions are high in an antioxidant called quercetin. Researchers have studied this nutrient for its ability to fight cancer, boost immune function, and more. I talk more about the benefits of onions and quercetin in this post here.

Pure Olive Oil

The dressing makes the salad. And olive oil is the star in this one with its smooth nutty flavor and nourishing healthy fats.

Unfortunately, real olive oil can be difficult to find on grocery store shelves. Certain manufacturers thin olive oil with cheaper, unhealthy substitutes, like canola oil. I cover that topic and how to find unadulterated olive oil in this post.

The bottom line, real olive oil is full of health benefits, but it can be a little pricey. I reserve my pure extra virgin olive oil for topping things like this salad. I use tallow, butter, and lard to cook and fry with since they’re cheaper.

Tangy Apple Cider Vinegar

It seems like there are as many uses for raw apple cider vinegar as there are for coconut oil! Both have a prominent place on my pantry shelf. Apple cider vinegar which still has the mother is much more pungent than white vinegar. It’s also full of beneficial bacteria and acetic acid.

Apple cider vinegar isn’t that hard to make at home from apple scraps. But Bragg’s is a popular brand for those who just want to buy a healthy version.

Apple Kale Salad Toppings

I keep my salad toppings fairly simple with apples, onions, and pecans. Here are some other topping options though if you want to dress it up further.

  • Feta, parmesan, or goat cheese
  • Cooked quinoa
  • Diced butternut squash
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Dried cranberries
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Chickpeas (roasted or boiled)
  • Chicken breast

This salad is basically autumn in a bowl! Here’s how to make it: 

apple kale salad

Shaved Apple and Kale Salad Recipe

This light and delicious salad is perfect for fall. Full of sweet flavors, crunchy pecans, and nutrient-dense kale, it makes a great side. Top it with chicken for a full meal.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Calories 280kcal
Author Katie Wells





For the Vinaigrette:

For the Salad:

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 3 apples
  • 6 cups kale
  • ½ small red onion (very thinly sliced)


  • Make the vinaigrette by whisking together all the vinaigrette dressing ingredients and then set aside.
  • In a small skillet, toast the pecans over medium heat on the stove until aromatic. Watch them carefully to prevent burning.
  • Remove the pecans to a shallow bowl and set aside to cool.
  • Use the broad blade of a spiralizer to thinly slice the apples into ribbons and place them in a small bowl.
  • Pour the vinaigrette over the apples and toss to coat. Let sit for 2 minutes to keep the apples from browning.
  • Meanwhile, remove the center stem from the kale and tear or chop the kale into small pieces.
  • Place them in a large bowl and massage kale with your hands for about a minute until it just starts to soften and wilt. This makes it much more tender in a salad.
  • Add the apples and salad dressing to the salad bowl with kale.
  • Add the toasted pecans and red onions and toss to combine.
  • Serve and enjoy!


Nutrition Facts
Shaved Apple and Kale Salad Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 280 Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Fat 22g34%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 13g
Sodium 53mg2%
Potassium 431mg12%
Carbohydrates 21g7%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 13g14%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 6753IU135%
Vitamin C 70mg85%
Calcium 194mg19%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Spiralize zucchini, carrots, or sweet potatoes for a new spin on veggies, literally!
No spiralizer? Thinly slice apples with a knife or mandolin.

Like this recipe? Check out my cookbook, or get all my recipes (over 500!) in a personalized weekly meal planner here!

Do you ever eat kale in a salad? What are your favorite toppings to have with it? Leave a comment and let me know!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


8 responses to “Shaved Apple Kale Salad with Pecans”

  1. Melissa O Avatar
    Melissa O

    The video link to how to de-stem the kale – pure genius! Can’t wait to try this salad! I’ll have to buy my ACV though. When I tried sourdough starter, it was an epic fail. I’m not ready to tackle another project like that again yet.

  2. Judy Bernes Avatar
    Judy Bernes

    4 stars
    This was a veerry yummy dressing for a fresh salad! I substituted baby spinach and toasted (about half the amount was lots) the pecans and used up a green-house cuc. Nice tangy flavor over all.

  3. vicky rafaël Avatar
    vicky rafaël

    3 stars
    Have you an idea how to make a full meal of this delicious salade – > as it seems because we are growing toward vegans-lifestyle. Thanks

  4. Estee Avatar

    Awesome salad! My husband & I really enjoyed it. Instead of the maple syrup, I used a little raw honey… I’ve tried kale many ways & this was honestly THE most palatable & enjoyable yet! Thanks Katie. (Massaging the kale leaves is so key!!)

  5. Vincent Avatar

    5 stars
    What I love most is that this is just different. There’s a temptation to always make salads roughly the same way, which gets boring fast. It would also be fun to change out the ingredients based on personal preferences and styles.

    Although – I imagine it is a hit as-is too!

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