This Kale Apple Slaw Salad is the perfect autumn harvest coleslaw! Fresh cabbage and kale from the garden pair with red onion, almonds and raisins with a sweet and tangy Honey Apple Cider Vinaigrette. This healthy No Mayo kale crunch salad is perfect for the Thanksgiving table, a superfood lunch, or an easy fall side dish. Ready in just 15 minutes!
We're just on the edge of fall turning to winter in Minnesota. My garden is dwindling, but the kale and cabbage needed to be used. These two veggies can be a little dull on their own, but this Kale Apple Slaw brings them to life! The apples in season bring a juicy crisp freshness, and the Honey Apple Cider Vinaigrette brings it all together.
If you've got lots of kale, make Parmesan Kale Chips or try Freezing Mixed Herbs and Garden Greens to use all winter! And before the season's over, give this Maple Butternut Squash Fall Harvest Salad a try too!
Ingredients & Substitutions
This ingredient list is full of fall seasonal produce. Crispy, colorful, and a vibrant balance of sweet with savory!
- Cabbage - You can use any type of cabbage, even purple cabbage for a different look. The key is to slice it very thin! You won't need the whole head of cabbage, use the other half for Beef Cabbage Soup.
- Kale - Not everyone loves kale, but the important part here is to also slice it very thin. Those beautiful green ribbon streaks give this salad a crunch without being tough and fibrous. So if you aren't a huge kale fan, you don't really taste it all that much. If you want to skip it, thinly sliced spinach would also work. Kale fans, try this Bacon Kale Spaghetti!
- Apple - Apple brings a bit of sweetness and just screams all things autumn!
- Red Onion - Adds a sharp tangy flavor to combat the sweet. If you aren't an onion fan, you could use a milder shallot, scallions or chives, or just leave it out.
- Almonds - I used snacking almonds that were already roasted and salted and just gave them a rough chop. If using raw nuts, you can give them a quick toast in a dry pan on the stove. You could also substitute pistachios, pumpkin or sunflower seeds or even candied pecans from this Blueberry Goat Cheese Salad.
- Raisins - The chewy sweet raisins are a nice contrast with all the crunchy greens. You could substitute other dried fruits like cherries, cranberries, or sliced apricots.
- Parmesan Cheese - I like to buy a block of Parmesan cheese and peel big shavings with a vegetable peeler. Then crumble the shavings into the salad for nice big chunky pieces. I find a block of Parmesan is the best quality, and often can be the cheapest way to buy it. Plus it lasts much longer in the fridge than anything pre-shredded.
- Honey Apple Cider Vinaigrette - This dressing just works so well with this kale apple coleslaw! Homemade Vinaigrettes are so easy to make, just add everything to a jar and shake it! It's heavy on the honey because all those healthy veggies need a touch of sweetness. The apple cider vinegar is so perfect for the fall theme, but if you don't have it, fresh lemon juice would be my next substitute.
See recipe card for quantities.
Step 1 - Make the Honey Apple Cider Vinaigrette - Add all the ingredients for the dressing to a jar with a lid and shake until well combined. You could also whisk them in a bowl.
Step 2 - How to Slice the Kale - How you slice the veggies for this salad is very important! Kale is a tough and fibrous leafy green, which is why it's so healthy! To combat that toughness, you want to slice the kale in very thin ribbons. To do this, slice the kale off the stems.
Take the leaves and bundle them up into a tight "wad" on your cutting board, holding them firmly with your left hand. With your knife in your right hand, very thinly slice through your wad of kale, producing thin ribbons of green. Beautiful and easy to eat!
Step 3 - How to Slice the Cabbage - Again you want thin slices of cabbage so they are easy to bite into. Cut the cabbage in half through the core and stem, then into quarters. Cut the core out with an angled cut. Then slice the cabbage very thin. Measure 2 to 3 cups so you don't cut more than you need, save the rest for another use.
Step 4 - How to Julienne Apples - A fancy term, julienne means to cut in a matchstick shape. First cut the apple off the core giving you 4 pieces. Cut into thin slices, then stack those slices and cut into thin matchsticks. Julienne apples give this salad a gorgeous elegant look!
Step 5 - Add all ingredients to a bowl including the dressing and toss very well until completely incorporated.
Use a vegetable peeler to shave big pieces from a block of Parmesan cheese, then crumble the shavings a bit with your fingers. You'll want a large bowl and a big spoon to toss and toss until the dressing coats each bite!
Step 6 - Pour into a bowl or platter and serve immediately or let it hang out in the fridge for an hour so the flavors can develop!
Tip: Slice your apple last so it won't start to brown. Once everything is coated in dressing, your apples will stay fresh!
Storage & Make Ahead Instructions
Storage - Store leftover Kale Apple Coleslaw in the fridge and eat the next day. It will be a little less crispy as it sits, but still good the second day. Some say you can, but I would not recommend freezing this coleslaw.
Make Ahead Instructions - Like any homemade vinaigrette, the Honey Apple Cider Dressing will keep for a couple weeks in the fridge, so it can easily be made up in advance. Just let it sit out on the counter awhile before adding to the salad so the oil can come back to room temperature.
The entire salad can be made ahead, tossed with the dressing, wrapped and kept in the fridge anytime the day of serving. If you want to make it a day in advance, wait to add the apple and the dressing until the day you serve it. This makes it perfect to bring to Thanksgiving, or transport to any occasion.
What to Serve with Kale Apple Slaw
This Autumn Crunch Salad is actually really versatile and a delicious way to eat your greens!
- Thanksgiving - Balance all the indulgent turkey and Garlic Mashed Potatoes! Perfect to make up ahead of time and bring for the holidays.
- Dinner Side Dish - This crispy kale salad would be a tasty side dish with Maple Butternut Squash Soup, Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sausage and Kale, Sweet Potato Corn Chowder or these Easy French Dip Sandwiches!
- Summer BBQ - So yes this is a seasonal fall salad, but this apple kale slaw would be great all summer too! There's no mayo so you don't have to worry about it sitting out, and would go great with Honey Mustard Dry Rub Ribs, barbecued pork or anything off the grill!
The key to this kale apple coleslaw is to slice everything thin, almost shredded. This gives the salad a crisp lightness, even with dense hearty greens like kale and cabbage.
Use the same apples you like to eat! For me that's the crispy crunchy and super juicy varieties like Honeycrisp, Sweet Tango, or Pink Lady. Really any apples are ok!
This kale apple coleslaw is gluten-free. It could be made vegan by substituting the honey for maple syrup and omitting the cheese.
Not for this recipe. Massaging kale with a bit of olive oil is meant to break down the fibers in the leaves, making them easier to eat. It's a great method and works when you want to keep the kale in big pieces to act like a lettuce salad. Kale is hearty and fibrous, so for this recipe we instead slice it super thin, almost shredded to make it more palatable.
More Favorite Recipes for Fall!
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Kale Apple Slaw Salad with Honey Apple Cider Vinaigrette
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For the Salad
- 2 to 3 cups cabbage thinly sliced
- 3 to 4 leaves kale thinly sliced
- 1 apple julienne sliced
- ¼ red onion sliced
- ¼ cup almonds
- ¼ cup raisins or dried cranberries
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
For the Dressing
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 grinds fresh black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- Add all the ingredients for the dressing to a jar with a lid and shake until well combined. Or whisk together in a bowl.
- For the Kale - Slice the leaves off the stems. Take the leaves and bundle them up into a tight wad on your cutting board, holding them firmly with your left hand. With your knife in your right hand, very thinly slice through your wad of kale, producing thin green ribbons.
- For the Cabbage - Cut the cabbage in half through the core and stem, then into quarters. Cut the core out with an angled cut. Then slice the cabbage very thin.
- For the Apple - First cut the apple off the core giving you 4 pieces. Cut into thin slices, then stack those slices and cut into thin matchsticks.
- Roughly chop your almonds. I used roasted and salted snacking almonds. If using raw nuts, you may want to toast them in a pan for a few minutes.
- Shave pieces from a block of Parmesan cheese using a vegetable peeler. Crumble the shavings with your fingers, keeping some big pieces. Add all ingredients for the salad to a large bowl, add in the dressing and toss very well with a spoon.
- Pour into a serving bowl and serve right away or cover and refrigerate for an hour or more.
- Kale Apple Slaw can be made ahead completely, anytime the day it is to be served, wrapped and kept in the fridge.
- Be sure to wash your kale leaves very well, I've found some pretty interesting creatures in my garden greens!