This colourful chicken and kale salad is made in minutes and is so incredibly tasty! It has all sorts of yummy savoury and sweet elements, such as kale, chicken, cranberries, almonds and creamy avocado. Sure to be a favourite, this easy kale salad can be enjoyed as a simple side or main dish.
I absolutely adore this kale salad. Using cooked chicken (like a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store’s deli), helps make this hearty green salad come together super quick.
It has a lovely sweet and savoury situation going on with the hearty kale, juicy chicken and sweet cranberries.
And this chicken and kale salad tasted extra yummy to me because we grew the kale ourselves. My parents typically grow kale every summer, but hubby and I decided to give it a go ourselves this year (and it won’t be the last, especially considering how nutrient dense kale is). We were so pleased with how much it grew, and it was so awesome to be able to go into the garden and cut it fresh.
How To Prepare the Kale
The longest part of making this salad is preparing the kale (and, I mean, that’s not even that long).
Remove the kale leaves from the tough, fibrous stems and cut into bite-sized pieces (if some of the thin, delicate stem in the upper part of the kale leaves remain, that’s okay).
Then you want to make sure your kale is well washed. And, as with making any green salad, ensure that your kale is spun dry of excess moisture after washing. That means it won’t be watered down and the vinaigrette will better cling to it.
How to Massage the Kale
After the kale leaves are cut into bite-sized pieces, washed and spun dry, place them into a mixing bowl. Then drizzle the kale with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper and massage the leaves with clean hands.
To massage the kale, you basically just want grab bunches of kale with your hands and scrunch it. Kale is super hearty, so don’t be afraid of squeezing it too hard or anything. Massaging kale help tenderize it, making it a lot more pleasant for eating.
I typically like to massage the kale for about three to four minutes. As you massage it, it’ll get tender, turn a little darker green and look more shiny/silky, and start to break down (and wilt a little in the best kinda way). Treat your kale with a little love and, in turn, you’ll have the most delicious green salad that you’ll want to make time and time again!
And, bonus, your hands will get moisturized from the olive oil too, LOL.
Assembling the Chicken and Kale Salad
Once the kale is prepped, then it’s just a matter of combining all the kale salad ingredients in a mixing bowl (including the vinaigrette) and stirring to combine.
I like to add most (but not quite all) of the vinaigrette at first, then decide if I want to add more. Remember, it’s easier to add than take away.
Tips and Variations
- I particularly love a “curly” kale variety for this chicken kale salad.
- Feel free to add more of an ingredient that you like. For example, if you really enjoy cranberries or almonds, toss some more into your salad.
- I love the bite and flavour that the red onion adds. However, if you want to remove some of that pungency, rinse the sliced red onion under fresh, cold water (then pat dry) before adding to your salad.
- Maple syrup is used as the sweetener in the homemade vinaigrette. Feel free to substitute with honey if that’s what you prefer or have on hand.
- Instead of cooked chicken, try cooked turkey (equally as delicious and a great way to use leftovers from another meal).
- Instead of dried cranberries, raisins are another yummy option.
- Mix up the nuts! I used slivered almonds, but sliced almonds, pecans, walnuts or pistachios would all be delicious options.
- Try another cheese. Crumbled goat cheese or blue cheese would be awesome options in this chicken and kale salad.
- Add more texture with the addition of some seeds (like sunflower or pumpkin seeds) or homemade croutons.
Can I Make This Salad Ahead of Time?
One of the great things about kale is that, unlike lettuce for instance, kale is quite hearty. Because of that, this kale salad can be made ahead of time without having to worry if it’s going to wilt too much or lose its fresh salad goodness.
I like enjoying this kale salad freshly made. However, if needed, you can totally make the salad and store in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days.
Something to keep in mind, though, is that if you are making the salad ahead of time, I would recommend adding the diced avocado just before you are ready to serve. Avocado has a tendency to oxidize, so keep that vibrant green colour and add just when you are about to enjoy.
Also something else to keep in mind, is that if you dress your salad and refrigerate for a bit, take the salad out of the fridge for about 10 minutes before enjoying just to allow the vinaigrette to loosen up again. Because there is olive oil in the vinaigrette, it tends to seize up in the fridge.
What To Serve With It
This chicken kale salad yields about four side servings or two main course servings.
And if you are serving this kale salad as a main, I really enjoy pairing it with some garlic bread.
More Yummy Salads
- Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
- Fall Farro Salad
- Apple and Gouda Mixed Green Salad
- Mixed Green Salad With Fruit
If you make this chicken and kale salad recipe, be sure to leave a comment below!
Chicken and Kale Salad
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1.5 tablespoons maple syrup, or more if you want the vinaigrette sweeter
- 1.5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
Chicken and Kale Salad
- 4 to 5 ounces kale, leaves removed from stems, chopped into bite-sized pieces, washed and spun dry (about 6 cups)
- pinch salt
- pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cups chopped cooked chicken, rotisserie chicken from your grocery store is great here (about 8 ounces or ½ pound)
- 1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
- ½ cup crumbled or cubed feta cheese
- ⅓ cup sweetened dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup slivered almonds
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced red onion
- Combine the olive oil, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and black pepper in a jar, cover and shake to combine.
Chicken and Kale Salad
- Place the kale in a mixing bowl with the salt, black pepper and olive oil. Use your clean hands to massage (scrunch) the kale for a few minutes. This helps to tenderize the kale and make it more pleasant for eating.
- Add the cooked chicken, avocado, feta, cranberries, almonds, red onion and about ¾ of the vinaigrette to the kale and mix in until everything is well incorporated. You can mix in more vinaigrette if you like or serve the remainder on the side. Enjoy!
A note on times provided: appliances vary, any prep and/or cook times provided are estimates only.
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