Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best recipes, and this kale apple salad proves just that. The vinaigrette, made with fresh thyme and apple cider vinegar, offers just enough flavor without overpowering the others.

Photography of kale apple salad on a large white plate set on a white surface.

I thought our Goodbye Garden Party needed some greens, and this autumn-inspired salad, made with baby kale, was just the ticket. And in my eye, every great salad needs a bit of cheese, and goat cheese was the ideal pairing for this salad that’s sweet, tart and nutty.

Unlike regular kale, baby kale strikes a balance between being hearty and tender. If kale and spinach had a baby it would result in baby kale. It’s glorious. But if you can’t find baby kale, look for Lacinato kale instead. At last resort use the curly variety, just give it a good massage before using.

Why would you massage kale?

Well, if you’re using curly kale, or even Lacinato (dinosaur) kale, the leaves can be awfully tough. Massaging chopped kale for 30 seconds to a minute really benefits the texture of the greens, making them more tender and easier to eat.

Photography of kale apple salad on a large white plate set on a white surface.

What kind of kale is best for salads?

The variety of kale that’s best for salads is called Lacinato kale, you may see it labeled as dinosaur, Tuscan or black kale as well. Lacinato kale has flatter leaves that look almost bubbly. It’s more tender, nutty, and overall more enjoyable than curly kale. I use Lacinato kale in this Herbed Kale & Sorghum Salad

I also love using baby kale (immature kale leaves) in salads. It’s significantly more delicate than mature kale, but is still heartier than spinach or arugula. Baby kale has a slight peppery flavor but is milder in flavor than the mature varieties. You’ll often find baby kale sold in 5 ounce plastic containers.

Photography of kale apple salad on a large white plate set on a white surface.

What do you serve with kale salad?

Good thing I’ve got a whole menu featuring this kale salad ready to go! Check out the complete Goodbye Garden Party menu below for some great pairing ideas.

Additional ideas of what to serve with a kale salad:

Photography of kale apple salad on a large white plate set on a white surface.

Are you ready to throw your own Goodbye Garden (and grilling) Party? Check out the complete menu below!

Goodbye Garden Party Menu

Red Wine Apple Cider Sangria

Autumn Kale Apple Salad with Goat Cheese & Pistachios

Thyme & Dijon Turkey Burgers

Trapanese Pesto Pasta

Deconstructed Apple Crisp

photography of a large spread of food on a white background

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Photography of kale apple salad on a large white plate set on a white surface.

Autumn Kale Apple Salad with Goat Cheese & Pistachios

  • Author: Lauren Grant of Zestful Kitchen
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 6 cups (Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main dish) 1x
  • Category: Salad


This fall-inspired kale apple salad is simple yet flavorful. Made with tender baby kale and tossed with a thyme and maple vinaigrette, this healthy salad is delicious with any fall menu.



For the salad:

1 container baby kale (5 ounces) or 5 cups chopped kale

1 medium Honeycrisp apple, cored and thinly sliced

½ cup crumbled fresh goat cheese (2 ounces)

¼ cup roasted and salted shelled pistachios

For the vinaigrette

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

3 teaspoons minced shallot

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

Salt and pepper to taste


For the salad:

In a serving bowl combine kale, apple, goat cheese, and pistachios.


For the vinaigrette:

Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, shallot, and thyme; season with salt and pepper.


Drizzle vinaigrette over salad, toss to combine and serve.


Add some protein to make this salad a main dish. I like to add grilled chicken, crispy prosciutto or crispy tofu.

Equipment you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Large bowl—that’s it!

What you’ll need for this recipe:

Baby akle

Honeycrisp apple

Goat cheese (Chevre)


Maple syrup

Fresh thyme



  • Serving Size: 1½ cups
  • Calories: 227
  • Sugar: 8g
  • Sodium: 108mg
  • Fat: 16g
  • Saturated Fat: 5g
  • Carbohydrates: 16g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 7.5g
  • Cholesterol: 15mg
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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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