An easy, gorgeous kale apple slaw with a perfect balance of earthy and sweet flavors. Shredded kale, crisp apples and crunchy pecans are tossed in lemon poppyseed dressing. This slaw is perfect for meal prep and for dinner parties and holidays!
I love this kale slaw all year, but when autumn rolls around I always add apples and pecans to make it taste more seasonal.
This slaw is a truly delicious way to eat kale! The bitter, earthy flavor of kale is muted by tart, sweet apples, sweet and crunchy pecans and a lemon poppy seed dressing with just a hint of sweetness and a savory kick from minced shallot.
Why You'll Love This Kale Slaw
- The flavor! Kale + apples + pecans are sweet, earthy and crunchy. The lemon poppy seed dressing is tangy and slightly sweet, with savory minced shallot.
- This slaw is very easy to make AND very pretty. It looks really impressive and is a go-to side dish for dinner parties and winter holidays.
- It's also healthy and stays fresh for several days. Perfect for meal prep & lunches!
- Using a bag of chopped kale makes this recipe quick and easy
Why is this called kale "slaw" instead of salad? It's because the kale is shredded into thin pieces.
This is easy to do in a food processor or you can buy a bag of pre-shredded kale slaw.
The lemon poppy seed dressing is a vinaigrette that can also be used on regular cabbage slaw or spinach salad. If you're looking for a creamy poppy seed dressing, try my recipe for bagged kale salad with creamy poppyseed dressing, made from Greek yogurt.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Shredded kale: To make this kale slaw, I buy a bag of chopped kale and pulse it in the food processor until the leaves are finely chopped. Or, to make this recipe really easy, you can buy a bag of pre-shredded kale slaw.
Using a large bunch of curly kale to make slaw is less convenient but also an option. Just strip the leaves from the stems (here's a video that shows you how to stem kale) and then pulse the leaves in a food processor.
Kale substitutions: I prefer curly kale for this slaw because it shreds so easily in the food processor. Once shredded, the texture is soft and only slightly chewy. It's also easy to eat neatly with a fork! But you can also make this slaw with thinly sliced or chopped lacinato/Tuscan kale, or any type of bagged slaw from the grocery store.
Apples: Use any variety of apple that you like. I add thin slices of apple to the slaw, but you can cut the apple into matchsticks or cubes if you like.
Apple substitutions: Instead of fresh apples, add any type of dried fruit to the salad for a touch of sweetness.
Pecans: Pecans are perfect for autumn, but go ahead and use your favorite type of nut. Slivered almonds, walnuts and pistachios are all delicious. Roasted nuts have more crunch and flavor and candied or spiced nuts are even better! This slaw can also be nut-free!
Lemon poppy seed dressing: This poppy seed vinaigrette is just slightly sweet and can be used any type of salad or slaw. It's made from fresh lemon juice, vegetable oil, shallot, Dijon mustard, poppy seeds, sugar and salt.
Dressing ingredient substitutions: For this dressing, the neutral flavor of vegetable oil is my first choice. I love olive oil, but not for this salad dressing. You can use olive oil if you insist, but just know that it's not the best choice for poppy seed dressing.
For sweetness, you can substitute honey for sugar, but it will change the flavor of the dressing slightly.
And the poppy seeds, while pretty and crunchy, aren't absolutely necessary. You can still make this yummy vinaigrette without them!
How to Cut Curly Kale
The easiest and most convenient way to cut curly kale is to put the leaves in a food processor. Pulse the blade for 10 to 20 seconds until the leaves are finely chopped. This method tenderizes the leaves a little bit and also make the kale easier to eat neatly in a salad.
For ultimate convenience, buy a bag of pre-washed, pre-chopped kale. Then use a food processor to shred the kale using the regular blade. A food processor can also shred curly kale leaves that have been stripped from the stem, if you choose to buy a bunch of fresh kale stems.
Step 1: Fill the food processor bowl to the top with leaves from a bag of pre-chopped kale.
Step 2: Pulse the kale leaves for 10 to 20 seconds, until the leaves are finely shredded
How to Cut an Apple
There are many ways to cut an apple. I think it's easiest to make four straight cuts around the core, then slice the 4 pieces into wedges.
Make a slice about ¼-inch from the stem.
Slice off the other side of the apple.
Cut off the the two remaining short side of the apple.
Lay each piece of apple flat, then slice them into your desired thickness.
How to Prevent Sliced Apple from Browning
You can use this trick for any recipe that uses fresh apples. It can also keep sliced apples fresh for lunch boxes!
Salt works better than lemon juice for preventing apples from browning. It does this by preventing the enzymes in sliced apples from reacting when exposed to air.
Using salt water to prevent freshly sliced apples from turning brown is easy:
- Combine 1 cup water with l/2 teaspoon salt
- Stir until the salt dissolves.
- Add apple slices and let soak 5 minutes.
- Rinse very well with cold water. Pat dry.
Step-by-Step Recipe Instructions
Step 1: Chop/shred the kale leaves in a food processor.
Step 2: Slice an apple. To keep the apple from browning, soak the slices in salt water (see instructions above).
Step 3: Whisk together shallot, lemon juice, Dijon, vegetable oil, poppy seeds, sugar and salt.
Step 4: Toss together kale, apple, pecans and poppy seed dressing.
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Kale Apple Slaw with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
An easy, gorgeous kale apple slaw with a perfect balance of earthy and sweet flavors from shredded kale, sliced apples, sweet pecans and lemon poppy seed dressing.
This salad looks pretty and keeps well in the refrigerator, making it a good choice for meal prep, lunches and also holidays.
- Prep Time: 15
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: salads and bowls
- Method: toss
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
- 4 to 8 ounce bag of chopped kale OR 1 large bunch of curly kale. Or instead, you can buy a bag of pre-shredded kale slaw.
- 1 apple (any variety), thinly sliced
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon poppyseeds
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoons salt
- ⅓ cup sunflower oil (or any type of vegetable oil)
- Optional: 1 cup roasted pecans or other nuts, including candied nuts
A bag of pre-shredded kale slaw is ready to use. But if you’ve bought a bag of chopped kale, or a bunch of curly kale, you’ll need to shred the kale first.
Bag of chopped kale: Fill the food processor bowl to the top with leaves. Pulse on and off for 10 to 20 seconds, until the leaves are finely chopped/shredded to your liking.
Bunch of kale: Run your hand down the stem to pull off the washed leaves. Put the leaves in the bowl of the food processor until finely chopped/shredded to you liking.
- In a large bowl, combine shredded kale and sliced apples.
- In a small bowl or jar, combine shallot, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, poppy seeds, sugar and salt. Slowly pour in the vegetable oil, whisking as you pour.
- Pour the lemon poppy seed dressing over the kale and apples. Toss well.
- Add nuts, if using.
The flavor and texture of this slaw stays fresh for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. However, if you want the apples to stay fresh (and not brown) you'll need to use the salt soaking method before adding the apples to the salad.
Apple salt soaking method (to prevent apples from browning): First, combine 1 cup water and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir until the salt dissolves. Add apple slices and let soak 5 minutes. Rinse very well with cold water. Pat dry.
Nuts will start to lose their crunch if left in the slaw for more than a day, so I recommend adding nuts right before you eat the salad.
For instructional photos of kale shredded in a food processor, see blog post above.
For photos and instructions of the easiest way to slice an apple, see the blog post above.
Keywords: kale apple slaw, kale slaw, lemon poppy seed dressing