As the weather cools down, hearty autumn kale salad recipes become very appealing. This flavorful autumn kale salad recipe features tender kale, juicy grilled chicken breast, a medley of veggies, and a homemade vinaigrette. It’s one of the tastiest kale chicken salad options for fall.

Introducing Autumn Kale Salad

This seasonal autumn kale salad recipe takes advantage of cooler weather produce like kale and apples. The combination of textures and flavors makes for a satisfying meal that’s perfect for fall. Massaged kale leaves, crunchy veggies, protein-packed chicken, and a tangy dressing come together in this easy kale salad recipe.

Kale salads have become popular for good reason – they’re customizable, healthy, and delicious. With so many kale salad ideas to choose from, this autumn kale salad recipe highlights the best of fall flavors. Enjoy as a weekday lunch, weekend dinner, or bring it to your next autumn potluck or picnic.

Autumn Kale Salad Ingredients

One of the best parts of this autumn kale salad recipe is being able to take advantage of seasonal ingredients. The star players in this flavorful fall salad include:

  • Kale – Lacinato or dinosaur kale is perfect for fall. The leaves are tender and become soft when massaged.
  • Chicken breast – Grilled or roasted chicken breast provides lean protein. Feel free to use leftover cooked chicken.
  • Apples – Sweet, crunchy apples complement the hearty kale. Opt for a tart variety like Granny Smith.
  • Pomegranate arils – The juicy seeds add pops of flavor and vibrant color.
  • Pumpkin seeds – Toasted pumpkin seeds provide texture and nuttiness.
  • Feta cheese – Salty, tangy feta cheese pairs nicely with the kale and apples.

Using seasonal ingredients like these elevates the flavor of this autumnal salad.

Feel free to customize your autumn kale salad recipe with other seasonal goodies like beets, acorn squash, or fresh herbs.

How to Make Kale Salad with Chicken

To take this autumn kale salad recipe to the next level, pay attention to preparing the main ingredients:

  1. Start by massaging the kale leaves to soften them up. Remove thick stems then chop leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and rub the leaves for 2-3 minutes until darker in color.
  2. Cook the chicken breasts however you prefer – grilled, baked, or pan seared. Grill for added flavor. Roast at 400F for moist, juicy chicken. Pound to an even thickness so the chicken cooks evenly.
  3. Assemble the salad starting with the massaged kale leaves as the base. Top with sliced grilled chicken breast, chopped apples, pomegranate arils, crumbled feta, and toasted pumpkin seeds.
  4. Make a simple dressing by whisking together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, maple syrup, and salt and pepper. Adjust to taste.
  5. Drizzle the dressing over the salad when ready to serve. Toss everything together until evenly coated.
  6. Garnish with extra pumpkin seeds, black pepper, and shaved Parmesan cheese. Serve salad piled on a bed of spinach or arugula for an extra pop of color.

That’s all it takes to put together this tasty autumn kale chicken salad! The prep work pays off in a salad that’s bursting with flavor, texture, and nutrition.

Taking the time to properly prepare each component pays off in the finished autumn kale salad.

Autumn Kale Salad Recipe Variations

One of the best things about this autumn kale salad is how customizable it is. Don’t be afraid to switch up the ingredients to suit your taste.

Try swapping in different greens like spinach, arugula or cabbage. Mix and match fall produce like diced apples, pears, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, or fresh figs. Top with your favorite seeds or nuts like walnuts, pecans or pepitas.

Instead of chicken, use leftover turkey, hard boiled eggs, beans or lentils as the protein source. And feel free to experiment with different dressings besides apple cider vinaigrette, like lemon, tahini, Greek yogurt ranch or Caesar.

Best Type of Kale for Salads

Not all kale is created equal when it comes to salads. Here are some top varieties to use:

  • Lacinato or dinosaur kale – Dark blue-green color with long leaves. Becomes tender when massaged.
  • Curly green kale – Ruffled leaves with firm texture. More delicate than Lacinato.
  • Red kale – Adds color and earthy flavor. The leaves are hearty.
  • Baby kale – Immature leaves are very tender. Great raw salad green.

In general, Lacinato and curly kale are best for salads since the leaves break down nicely when massaged. Baby kale works too since the tiny leaves don’t need much massaging.

Massaging Kale for Salad

Massaging helps soften kale’s naturally fibrous texture and reduce any bitterness. By breaking down the plant cell walls, massaged kale becomes more tender and easier to digest. Here’s how to massage kale for salad:

  1. Start with lacinato or curly green kale. Remove any thick stems and chop leaves into bite-size pieces.
  2. Wash and dry the kale thoroughly since any moisture will hinder massaging.
  3. Place kale in a large bowl and drizzle over a bit of oil – olive or avocado oil work well.
  4. Use your hands to rub, squeeze, and scrunch the kale leaves for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Set aside and allow kale to rest for 5-10 minutes after massaging.

Massaged kale will appear darker and shinier. The leaves become more pliable and tender. Always massage kale just before assembling salad for maximum texture.

Does Kale Get Soggy in Dressing?

To prevent soggy kale salad, follow these tips:

  • Only dress the amount you plan on eating right away.
  • Choose thick, acidic dressings like vinaigrette rather than creamy dressings.
  • Mix in sturdier greens like purple cabbage that can absorb extra dressing.
  • Serve dressing on the side to control how much gets added.
  • Enjoy dressed salad within 30 minutes before leaves become mushy.

With proper techniques, it’s easy to enjoy crisp kale salads without the dreaded sogginess.

How to Meal Prep Kale Salad

For grab-and-go kale salad throughout the week:

  1. Prep salad components like kale, chicken, veggies but keep them separate.
  2. Store greens, protein, add-ins in individual airtight containers.
  3. Make dressing ahead; carry separately until ready to eat.
  4. Combine everything when ready to eat and add desired dressing amount.

Keeping ingredients separate maintains texture and freshness. Kale salad stored properly in the refrigerator should last 3-5 days.


Some of the top nutrients you’ll gain from this autumn kale salad include:

  • Vitamin K from kale
  • Vitamin C from kale and fall fruits
  • Fiber from kale and apples
  • Protein from chicken or alternate protein source
  • Antioxidants like beta carotene and flavonoids

Enjoy the nutritional benefits of eating seasonal produce in a tasty salad packed with superfood kale!

The Nutritional Benefits

Beyond amazing taste, this autumn kale salad recipe nourishes your body with:

  • Fiber from kale to support digestion.
  • Protein from chicken to build muscle.
  • Vitamin C from kale and apples for immunity.
  • Iron from kale to prevent fatigue.
  • Calcium from feta for strong bones.

Each bite packs a nutritious punch thanks to the stellar combination of healthy kale and lean chicken breast.

Reasons to Love Kale Chicken Salad

Beyond the flavor, there are plenty of reasons this autumn kale salad recipe should be on your regular rotation:

  • It’s endlessly adaptable to your tastes.
  • Easy to prep ahead of time.
  • Kid-friendly and family-pleasing.
  • Makes great leftovers for lunch.
  • Allows you to use the season’s freshest produce.

This chicken kale salad truly has it all – convenience, nutrition, and flexibility for everyone to enjoy.

Get Creative with Variations

One of the best aspects of this autumn kale salad recipe is the wide range of possible variations. Get creative with mix-ins like:

  • Dried cranberries, raisins, currants
  • Chopped pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts
  • Roasted fall veggies – butternut squash, brussels sprouts, beets
  • Other fruits – pear, persimmon, grapes, figs
  • Alternative protein – chickpeas, hard boiled egg, salmon
  • Leafy greens – spinach, arugula, cabbage, chard

Playing around with different add-ins allows you to discover new favorite autumn kale salad recipes.

Perfect Autumn Kale Salad Tips

To take your autumn kale salad recipe to the next level, keep these tips in mind:

  • Toast the seeds – Lightly toast pumpkin seeds to intensify the crunch.
  • Use a sharp knife – Thinly slice kale, apples, chicken for the perfect bite.
  • Whisk dressing well – Emulsify the oil and vinegar completely.
  • Use big bowls – Give yourself room to toss everything together.
  • Season generously – Don’t be afraid of salt, pepper, garlic.

With attention to detail, your autumn kale salad will be a huge hit!

Serving Suggestions

Here are some ideas for gorgeous presentation when serving this seasonal kale chicken salad:

  • Pile salad on a bed of peppery arugula.
  • Garnish with extra shaved feta and pomegranate seeds.
  • Scoop portions into hollowed out apples or pears.
  • Pair with fresh bread or pear and walnut salad.
  • Offer lemon wedges for an extra hit of brightness.

With endless options for plating and pairing, you can serve this autumn kale salad in style.


This autumn kale salad recipe truly has everything you want in a fall dish – hearty greens, seasonal produce, lean protein, crunch, creaminess, and lots of flavor. The combination of textures and tastes satisfies both healthy appetites and savory cravings. For an easy weeknight dinner or impressive holiday side, give this chicken kale salad a try this autumn!


What’s the best kale to use?

Lacinato or dinosaur kale is ideal, but curly green kale also works well in this autumn kale salad recipe.

Can I prep the salad in advance?

Yes, chop and massage the kale up to 3 days ahead and store feta, seeds, dressing separately until ready to assemble.

What protein works besides chicken?

This autumn kale salad takes well to grilled shrimp, seared salmon, chickpeas, hard boiled eggs or lean steak.

How do I toast pumpkin seeds?

Spread seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until lightly browned.

Can I use bottled dressing?

For the best flavor, make the simple apple cider vinaigrette – but a store-bought dressing will also work.

Myra Henry created the Keto Taco Salad blog to share my favorite delicious low-carb recipes without sacrificing flavor. when i started the keto diet 2 years ago, I discovered a love for making healthy Mexican dishes like keto taco salads. My blog features easy keto taco salad recipes and tips for keto success.

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