Copycat Chick-fil-A kale crunch salad recipe is easy to make at home. Only a few simple ingredients are needed to make this salad and the Chick-fil-A salad dressing at home. As a bonus, you can have this salad year around and for less money!
If you have not had this salad, it really is the best kale salad I have found at a fast food restaurant. Actually, it might be the only kale salad at a fast food restaurant.
Back to this kale salad, it is surprisingly simple and made with a few simple ingredients. I especially love the delicious apple dijon dressing. The combination of lemon, dijon, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and honey (vegans use blue agave) make the perfect sweet and tangy dressing.
While not necessary, I recommend making it a 'massaged kale salad'. Massaging the kale softens the fibrous textures, making the salad more enjoyable to eat. While I can keep talking about this salad. Let's get to the good stuff and learn how to make this healthy salad at home.
Why You Will Love This Salad
- Made with simple ingredients
- It is easy to customize this salad and add your favorite ingredients.
- Copycat recipe that can be made at home for a fraction of the price.
The star of the show is the kale crunch salad dressing, which is a dijon mustard vinegarette. The flavors all come together to make a tangy and sweet dressing that leaves you, or at least me, wanting more.
Making the salad dressing is really just combing all the ingredients. It really is that easy. I like to make it in a mason jar. It is easy to store any leftover dressing for later.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - 2 tablespoons - Balances out the flavor and adds a "zing" to the flavor.
- Dijon Mustard - 1 tablespoon - Adds a rich flavor and a thicker texture to the salad.
- Lemon - 2 teaspoons - Perks up the overall flavor.
- Olive Oil - ¼ cup - extra virgin olive oil is perfect for this dressing.
- Sweetener - 2 tablespoons - The Chick-fil-A salad dressing uses honey. For a vegan salad use blue agave instead.
Kale - 2 bunches - This is the base of this salad and you can use any variety.
Green Cabbage - 1 cup - I love shredded cabbage in a salad. It adds a texture and crunch while adding to the overall flavor profile.
Roasted Almonds - ¼ cup - Use almond slivers to make a perfect copycat recipe.
Apples(optional) - Use crisp apples for a sweet flavor and a nice crunch.
Dried Sweet Fruit (optional) - I always recommend using dried and sweetened fruit when making a kale salad. The sweetness helps balance the bitterness of kale to create a well-rounded salad. Dried cranberries are easy to find and taste great with this salad.
Preparing The Salad
Preparing the Kale
Start by de-ribbing the kale. You can de-rib kale with a knife or tear it off with your hands. Next, cut the kale into small pieces. I find that I like to chop the kale over and over again to achieve small pieces.
Then take the kale and place it in a bowl. Toss with about a teaspoon of olive oil and a small squeeze of lemon. Use your hands to massage the kale. I know it sounds strange, but this extra step helps to soften the texture of kale. Allow the massaged kale to sit for a couple of minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
Preparing the other ingredients
Cabbage - While the kale is softening, slice the cabbage and cut the slices. Then cut the slices into bite-sized pieces.
Apples - Cut the apples into the desired shape. I prefer thin slices for a dramatic look on top. Another option is to cut the apple into bite-sized pieces. Toss the pieces into the salad. It is up to personal preference.
Roasted Almonds - The Chick-fil-A kale crunch salad uses almond slices sprinkled on top. Buy sliced almonds or slice whole almonds.
Putting the salad together
Toss the kale, cabbage, ½ the sweet dried fruit, and the cut-up almonds
- If using bite-sized apples, toss half of them in the salad and save the other half for the top.
- If using sliced apples, set them aside for the top of the salad.
Once the ingredients have been tossed together, it is time to top the salad. If using sliced apples, fan them out on top of the salad. I like to do this in sections, which makes it easier to serve. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients around the top of the salad. If using pretzels, break them into small pieces and scatter them across the top.
Additions and Substitutions
- Parmesan Cheese - The Chick-fil-A kale salad recipe has parmesan on top. I recommend a simple sprinkle of shaved parmesan on top.
- Feta, Goat, or Blue Cheese - Feta, goat, or blue cheese would also taste great in this salad. I recommend limiting the amount to a ¼ cup or less. Any of the cheeses can be tossed in the salad or sprinkled on top.
- Blue Agave vs. Honey - I developed this recipe using blue agave. The great thing about blue agave is that it is vegan and has a sweet syrup like honey. If you are not vegan, feel free to substitute blue agave for honey.
- Dried Fruit - Just about any dried and sweetened fruit would taste great in this salad. I was feeling funky so I went with dried pineapple. Other substitutions include golden raisins, dried cranberries, or even crystallized ginger.
Frequently Asked Questions
That depends on the mustard used in the dressing. I use Grey Poupon, which is vegan. However, some mustard is made with honey and is not vegan. If in doubt, always google to verify.
This salad can easily be gluten-free if you use specific gluten-free pretzels. Another option is to omit the pretzels altogether.
Yes and no. This salad can be very healthy. For the healthiest version of this salad, I recommend omitting the pretzel sticks and limiting the dried sweetened fruit.
Yes! You can make this salad up to a day in advance. However, wait to put up the apple until right before you serve it. This will avoid the apple browning.
More Salad Recipes
Chick-fil-A Copycat Recipe Kale Crunch Salad
Lemon Dijon Dressing
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (54g)
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon (10g)
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard (15)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (30)
- 2 tablespoons blue agave syrup (42g)
- salt and pepper to taste
Apple Kale Salad
- 2 bunches kale, any variety
- 1 cup (89g) green cabbage
- ¼ cup (36g) almonds
- ¼ cup (10g) dried fruit (optional)
- 1 crisp apple (optional)
Lemon Dijon Dressing
- In a small bowl or a shaker, mix all the ingredients together until fully combined¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (54g), 2 teaspoons fresh lemon (10g), 1 tablespoon dijon mustard (15), 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (30), 2 tablespoons blue agave syrup (42g), salt and pepper to taste
Apple Kale Crunch Salad
- Kale Prep: De-rib the kale. Cut the kale into small pieces. Toss the desired amount of dressing on the kale and toss with your hands. Work the dressing in the kale by gently rubbing it for 3 minutes.2 bunches kale, any variety
- Salad: Slice the cabbage into thin strips. Then cut the strips into bite-sized, Toss the kale and cabbage together and then toss with the dressing. Top with the sliced almonds.1 cup (89g) green cabbage, 1 crisp apple (optional), ¼ cup (36g) almonds, ¼ cup (10g) dried fruit (optional)