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Kale Salad Recipe with Honey Lemon Dressing

You will love this Autumn-inspired Kale Salad Recipe with apples, pears, cranberries, and toasted pecans with honey lemon dressing. It’s so easy to prepare and it’s one of the few green salads that can be made ahead.

Autumn Kale Salad Recipe is loaded with apples, pears and pecans. The honey-lemon dressing softens kale and makes it so fresh.

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Kale Salad Recipe

We love this seasonal Kale Salad in the cooler months because it is loaded with all of our favorite Fall ingredients: crisp apples, pears, pecans, and kale of course! The simple honey-lemon dressing coats every bite of this kale salad and makes it completely fresh, healthy, and delicious!

This salad and a bowl of Creamy Sweet Potato Soup are all we need for the perfect Fall meal.

Kale Salad Ingredients

Is Kale Healthy?

Kale is considered a superfood. It is packed with Vitamin K, Vitamin A and Vitamin C and is considered one of the most nutritious foods. It also offers antioxidants and has so many health benefits. See the nutrition label below for details on this salad.

Kale is more versatile than you think. It’s also great in soups like Zuppa Toscana and our Sausage Kale Soup.

Healthy Kale Salad in bowl with serving spoons

How to Make Kale Salad Dressing:

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper in a measuring cup and stir until dissolved.

Pro Tip: If your honey doesn’t dissolve readily, you can place the bottom of your dressing container into a bowl of hot water to warm it slightly, which should do the trick!

kale-salad-recipe-with-honey-lemon-dressing-8

How to Prepare Kale:

Strip kale leaves (hold the stem in one hand and pull the leaves off with the other). Discard the stems as they are fibrous and tough.

Chop leaves into bite-sized pieces and double rinse the chopped leaves to catch any trapped dust in the curly leaves then thoroughly dry in a salad spinner.

How to prepare kale stripping off the leaves

Why Should You Massage Kale?

Raw kale is naturally a tough green and massaging it helps to soften it up so you can enjoy it without having to cook it. Be sure not to over-massage it so you don’t end up with mushy kale. Rub the kale and dressing together just until the kale starts to wilt.

How to Make Autumn Kale Salad:

1. Place kale in a salad bowl, add cranberries, and drizzle with all of the dressing. Use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale, just until the kale starts to wilt. This will help to soften it. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Adding dressing to kale salad

2. Before serving, top with sliced apples, sliced pears, thinly sliced onions, and toasted pecans. Toss to combine.

Kale Salad ingredients combined in a bowl with kale, apple, pears, pecans, cranberries, onion

Can I Make Kale Salad Ahead?

We completely LOVE that this Autumn Kale Salad is a make-ahead salad. Most green leaf salads like our Autumn Chicken Salad must be eaten soon after they are made but this one just gets better with time! I recommend letting the kale marinate with the dressing for 4 hours or overnight. We’ve enjoyed this salad after 2 hours but the leaves are softer and just right after marinating 4 hours.

PS. The lemon dressing preserves the fruit so leftovers of this kale salad are still very tasty the next day – perfect for a work or school lunch! 🙂

Tossed kale salad with apple, pear, pecan, onion, cranberries

This kale salad is loaded with the good stuff. Every bite is so satisfying! The make-ahead option makes it perfect for serving up at your next party.

What to Serve with Kale Salad:

There are some recipes that end up on the regular rotation during the cooler months. These are the dishes we love to cozy up with and they pair perfectly with Kale Salad. Check out more of our favorite Fall Recipes Here.

Kale Salad Recipe with Honey Lemon Dressing

4.92 from 12 votes
Prep Time: 4 hours
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 5 minutes
Autumn kale salad recipe with apples and pears

This Autumn Kale salad is loaded with crisp apples, pears and crunchy pecans. The simple honey-lemon dressing coats every bite and makes it completely fresh, healthy and delicious!

Author: Natasha of NatashasKitchen.com
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $6-$7
Keyword: kale salad
Cuisine: American
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Calories: 275 kcal
Servings: 6 as a side salad

Ingredients

Ingredients for Salad Dressing:

Ingredients for Kale Salad:

  • 1 bunch kale (8 cups loosely packed) well rinsed
  • 1 cup craisins dried cranberries
  • 1 small red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 apple (I used a crisp fuji apple)
  • 1 pear (firm)
  • 1 cup pecans toasted on a dry skillet

Instructions

  1. Combine all dressing ingredients and stir together until honey dissolves then set aside.
  2. Rinse and strip kale leaves. Chop in bite-sized pieces. I rinse the chopped leaves a second time to ensure there isn't any dust hidden in the curly leaves then dry in a salad spinner.
  3. Place kale in a salad bowl, top with 1 cup craisins and drizzle with dressing. Use hands to stir well and massage lightly until kale just starts to wilt. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

  4. Before serving, add sliced apples, sliced pears, thinly sliced onions and toasted pecans. Toss to combine.

Nutrition Facts
Kale Salad Recipe with Honey Lemon Dressing
Amount Per Serving
Calories 275 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Sodium 200mg9%
Potassium 226mg6%
Carbohydrates 34g11%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 24g27%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 975IU20%
Vitamin C 19mg23%
Calcium 37mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen

 

Autumn Kale Salad Recipe is loaded with apples, pears and pecans. The honey-lemon dressing softens kale and makes it so fresh. Easy, excellent kale salad! | natashaskitchen.com

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Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Lara
    October 14, 2020

    I tried this salad and it was amazing even without cranberry(as I didn’t have at the moment)
    Thank you Natasha

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 14, 2020

      You’re welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed that Lara!

      Reply

  • Kate Hill
    October 13, 2020

    Easy to make salad and dressing; so crunchy and delicious! Will be on repeat in our home!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      October 13, 2020

      So glad to hear that, Kate!

      Reply

  • Donna Brady
    October 13, 2020

    Natasha, I have a bed of kale in the garden but it isn’t curly leaf. Do you think I could use it in this recipe?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 13, 2020

      Hi Donna, that may work! I would love to know how you like it!

      Reply

  • Malak
    October 9, 2020

    Hi natasha can you do stuffed crust pizza thanks for all the recipes

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 9, 2020

      Hi Malak, thank you so much for that suggestion!

      Reply

  • Connie
    October 8, 2020

    What a wonderfully refreshing salad! I did have to improvise a little with what I had on hand. Because the lemon was really tart, I added a little more honey. Also substituted Trader Joe’s Cruciferious Crunch mixture (has lots of kale in it). Didn’t have time to refrigerate 4 hours so just fixed it and served. It turned out delicious in spite of me!! Thanks Natasha for another great recipe!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 8, 2020

      You’re welcome! I’m so happy you enjoyed it, Connie!

      Reply

  • Nomakeup.net
    October 7, 2020

    My husband and I both loved this recipe.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 7, 2020

      That’s so great! Thank you for sharing that wonderful review!

      Reply

  • Lily
    October 6, 2020

    This salad was so easy to make and tasted delicious, we had it as a side to dinner and it was the first thing gone. So much flavor in a simple side salad.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 6, 2020

      Isn’t it amazing! I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe, Lily!

      Reply

  • Erin
    October 6, 2020

    What a wonderful fall salad. All my favorites in one place!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      October 6, 2020

      So glad to hear that, Erin!

      Reply

  • Betsy
    October 6, 2020

    Delicious and easy! Perfect salad for these autumn evenings. The honey lemon dressing is so bright, light, and yummy!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 6, 2020

      I’m so happy you enjoeyd that Betsy! Thank you for sharing that wonderful review!

      Reply

  • Karen
    September 16, 2020

    Hi Natasha,

    I love kale salad! The recipe that I make is very similar. The direction tells you to massage the chopped kale with your fingers after adding the oil before the lemon juice. It really does help take the bitterness out and tenderize the leaves without having to wait 4 or 24 hrs.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 17, 2020

      Hello Karen, that’s nice to know. Thanks for the tip, I should try that next time!

      Reply

  • Cindy Chu
    November 2, 2018

    Hi Natasha, does it really takes 4 hours to make this salad?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 2, 2018

      Hi Cindy. It takes about 5 minutes to put together but the time for the flavors to absorb for best taste takes about 4 hours to overnight in the fridge. 🙂

      Reply

  • Manny
    July 2, 2018

    Hi Natasha, can you substitute organic Agave Nectar for the honey? Otherwise I will be trying this for dinner tonight

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      July 2, 2018

      Hi Manny, I honestly haven’t tried that and can’t really say. Agave and is one and half times sweeter than honey you you’d have to watch the amount you put it. If you experiment, let me know how you liked the recipe

      Reply

    • Diane
      November 1, 2019

      We make a slightly different variation of this salad, but same type of honey lemon dressing.
      But sweeter. Experimented tonight and ended up with 4 T lemon juice, 3 T honey, 1 T Agave, 2 T oil, + salt and pepper. This is the only way I can eat Kale!

      Reply

  • Bart
    June 18, 2018

    What a wonderful filling salad! the fruit offers a hint of sweetness that makes this salad an absolute favorite to anyone who eats at. Because it keeps for days I like to keep it for a midday meal or whenever I’m on the go.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 18, 2018

      I’m so happy to hear that! Thank you for sharing your great review, Bart!

      Reply

    • Sophie
      November 4, 2019

      Hi! Great recipe. I added a little extra honey as I like this style of salad a little sweeter, used one salad topper package of cranberries and glazed walnuts for time’s sake, and added feta cheese. I loved the results

      Reply

      • Natashas Kitchen
        November 4, 2019

        I’m happy to hear you enjoyed this recipe Sophie! Thank you for that awesome feedback.

        Reply

  • Carol
    December 7, 2017

    The dressing was delicious! I did a no oil version and blended raw cashew to thicken. Yum!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 7, 2017

      I’m glad you like it Carol! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      Reply

  • Katie Bennett
    October 2, 2017

    Wow this was incredible. Left out the onions just because I don’t like onions. But wow <3

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      October 2, 2017

      I’m glad you love the recipe Katie! Thanks for sharing!

      Reply

  • Jo
    August 6, 2017

    Just made this for dinner. ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!! I did not put the onion in as my husband will not eat them. I have kale growing in my garden so will definitely make this again and again!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 7, 2017

      That’s great to hear Jo! Thanks for sharing your fantastic review!

      Reply

  • Ruslana
    April 16, 2017

    Just made the salad and loved it. It was not bitter at all I left it in the fridge overnight and added the rest of the ingredients in the morning. So easy to make and so good. Thank you!!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 17, 2017

      You’re welcome! I’m happy to hear you enjoy the salad! 🙂

      Reply

  • Sara
    April 13, 2017

    Loved the recipe! Will make it frequently, thanks for sharing!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 14, 2017

      You’re welcome Sara! I’m happy to hear you loved the salad!

      Reply

  • Alina
    January 14, 2017

    Can I use walnuts instead of pecans? And yellow onion? Would it make a bug difference?

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      January 14, 2017
  • Angela
    December 16, 2016

    I made this tonight with spinach/red lettuce instead of kale cause I didn’t have the time to marinade the kale. This recipe is fantastic!!!!!!!!!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 17, 2016

      Angela, thank you for the great review!

      Reply

  • Tina
    November 23, 2016

    Was wondering if i could subsititue the Kale with another type of lettuce/salad? Which would be the best?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 23, 2016

      Hi Tina, I think it could work ok to use a different type of green as a base. As I mentioned to another reader, I think spinach would be ok but add dressing to taste and you don’t want to marinate the salad in advance since spinach wilts much quicker. Also, you might use less craisins so they don’t overwhelm the salad.

      Reply

  • Tanya
    November 15, 2016

    Thanx for wonderful recipe. I was surprised but my hubby really liked it but the only thing is he wants to substitute kale with spinach or something else( he thinks that kale has bitter taste). Have you tryed substituting it? Thanx

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 16, 2016

      Hi Tanya, I think spinach would be ok but add dressing to taste and you don’t want to marinate the salad in advance since spinach wilts much quicker. Also, you might use less craisins so they don’t overwhelm the salad. P.S. Once kale has had time to marinate, I haven’t noticed a bitterness when using fresh kale.

      Reply

  • olga
    November 12, 2016

    I made this to use up left over kale from Zuppe Tuscana. Wow, I was surprised how good it tasted!, even my husband liked it. Definitely will make a batch for Thanksgiving.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 12, 2016

      I’m so happy you enjoyed it!!! You’ll have to try the kale and blueberry one as well – it’s a little different but also very good!

      Reply

  • Tzivia
    November 8, 2016

    Wow mmmmm yummmm another really great awesome hot salad recipe must try

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 8, 2016

      You won’t be dissapointed Tzivia 😄. I would love to hear your review.

      Reply

  • Jan hunter
    November 6, 2016

    Making for Thanksgiving

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 6, 2016

      Great choice!! 🙂

      Reply

  • Ellen suchniak
    November 6, 2016

    I appreciate that kale holds up so well, and I’m planning this for my volunteers serving the homeless to have something to eat also. I wonder if shallots would work, since sometimes red onion can be strong. Yours is my FAVORITE blog. I love your family updates included.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 6, 2016

      Thank you Ellen, yes shallots would work great! 🙂

      Reply

  • Joanne
    November 3, 2016

    Had everything in the house to make this for dinner except the kale. Going to substitute spring mix as I have a big Costco container of it. I have the dressing ready to go and its super yum! Thanks for the inspiration to eat more greens!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 3, 2016

      You are very welcome Joanne 😁. There is no need to marinate the salad if using spring mix. Let me know how it turns out 😁.

      Reply

  • Olga
    November 3, 2016

    Hi,Natasha. Sure looks good. Kale is very healthy for you and if u have low irion it helps too. What if I don’t have pears,what other fruit will work?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 3, 2016

      Hi Olga, that is a great point about iron in kale! Thank you for sharing that with us! 🙂 You can use 2 apples instead and it will be just as delicious 🙂

      Reply

  • Sara @ Last Night's Feast
    November 3, 2016

    This looks so healthy and delicious!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 3, 2016

      Thank you so much Sara! 🙂

      Reply

  • Elizabeth
    November 2, 2016

    First Comment! This lookes really healthy and delish! Will make this when I have a day off! Perfect for my lunch.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 3, 2016

      I hope you LOVE it!! 🙂 Thanks for the first comment! You’re awesome 🙂

      Reply

    • Bill
      March 2, 2020

      Interesting dressing, oil to acid ratio exactly opposite from what you would normally expect. Kale has been doused and in the fridge since last night and I’ll be look forward to the end result tonight.
      Bill

      Reply

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