Crunchy and light, this copycat Chick-Fil-A kale crunch salad with curly kale, cabbage and roasted almonds is super fast and easy to make. A versatile side dish with a light apple dijon dressing, it is vegan, plant-based and oil-free, too.
One of the few vegan menu items at Chick-fil-a, this kale crunch side salad is a convenient plant-based fast food option that's also really easy to recreate at home!
This copycat version of Chick-fil-a's kale crunch side salad is vegan, whole food plant based, oil-free, gluten-free and soy-free.
🧄 Ingredient notes
- Curly kale - Use standard, curly green kale for this recipe. If you can find it already cleaned and chopped, that'll save you some time, too! You may need to chop it a little bit finer, depending on how big the pieces are in the bag.
- Green cabbage - Shredded green cabbage adds crunch to the salad. For a time saver, buy a bag of cole slaw mix, which is mostly shredded cabbage.
- Apple cider vinegar - The apple in the apple dijon dressing. All good dressings have some acidity.
- Dijon mustard - Dijon mustard adds tanginess and helps the dressing to emulsify a little bit without added oil, although it is still a thin dressing.
📋 Substitutions and variations
Here are some suitable substitutions for the ingredients in this recipe:
- Curly kale - instead of curly green kale, you can use curly purple kale, which has a similar texture and taste. Or, you can use tuscan/lacinato/dinosaur kale, but this kale has a more bitter flavor. For a milder flavor, you can use chopped fresh spinach.
- Green cabbage - instead of green cabbage, you can use purple cabbage, savoy cabbage, napa cabbage or bok choy.
- Almonds - Instead of chopped almonds, use pre-sliced almonds. Or, substitute them for another nut or seed you enjoy, such as walnuts, pecans, pistachios, pepitas or sunflower seed kernels.
- Dijon mustard - Dijon mustard is the best option for this dressing, but if you have to substitute it, try using a whole grain mustard or other creamy mustard.
- Water - Instead of water, try substituting with olive oil, apple juice or aquafaba (the liquid in a can of chickpeas).
- Maple syrup - Instead of maple syrup, you can use cane sugar, agave nectar, honey (not vegan), or coconut sugar. If using a granulated sugar, heat the water up in the microwave slightly, then add your sugar and stir to dissolve. Then, add your other dressing ingredients.
- Apple cider vinegar - Use balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar instead.
- Nut-free - make this nut-free by omitting the almonds or replacing them with pepitas or sunflower seed kernels.
- SOS-free - make this SOS-free by omitting the salt
Switch things up with these variation ideas!
- Apple Kale Crunch Salad - add sliced or diced fresh apple to the salad
- Kale Crunch Pasta Salad - add cooked short pasta, like casarecce, penne, bowties, gemelli, fusilli, gigli, conchiglie or macaroni. Double dressing recipe to have enough to cover the pasta and the greens.
📊 Nutritional comparison: Chick-fil-a vs. copycat
If you order a kale crunch side salad at Chick-fil-a, here's the serving size and nutritional content, from their website, compared to my oil-free vegan copycat recipe.
|Allergens:||Tree nuts||Tree nuts|
|Cost:||$2.25 per serving||$0.75 per serving|
|Pros:||Convenient, vegan fast food option, lower sugar & sodium||Cheaper, less calories, lower fat, oil-free, more fiber, more protein, can control ingredients|
Here's how to make this super easy kale crunch salad, step-by-step.
Add chopped kale to a large bowl, then add shredded green cabbage.
Add all dressing ingredients to a small mason jar. Screw lid on tightly, then shake to combine and emulsify. Or, add all dressing ingredients in a bowl and use a fork or small whisk to combine. Pour dressing over salad and toss. Set aside while you toast the almonds.
Dry roast chopped almonds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly browned (about 1-3 minutes). Be careful because they go from fragrant to burnt very quickly.
Remove from heat, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and immediately transfer to a plate to cool.
Sprinkle the roasted, salted chopped almonds on top of the salad.
Toss salad together. Serve and enjoy! Or, separate into small containers for meals this week.
🧯 Food safety
- Wash hands with soap and water before cooking
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
⭐️ Expert tips
- Allowing the salad to sit 5-10 minutes with the dressing on it will tenderize the kale and cabbage a little bit.
- Don't over-toast the almonds. They don't need much time to become fragrant and lightly browned.
- Kale and cabbage are two of the few greens that keep well with dressing already on them. So, feel free to make this salad ahead of time or meal prep it.
🥡 Make ahead and storage tips
This salad can be made ahead with or without the dressing added to it. The dressed salad will keep stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. And, the separate dry salad and dressing will store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
This recipe does not freeze well.
☕️ Tea pairing
This recipe would be delicious paired with some proper Southern iced tea.
Chick-fil-a's kale crunch side salad has kale, cabbage, roasted, salted almonds and an apple dijon dressing that has vinegar, mustard, oil and other ingredients.
According to Chick-fil-a's nutrition and allergen page, the following items do not contain any dairy, meat, egg, honey or fish. At breakfast (before 10:30am): plain english muffin, hash browns, fruit cup, jelly. For lunch or dinner (after 10:30am): waffle fries, fruit cup, kale crunch salad, potato chips, apple sauce. For drinks: iced tea, lemonade, sodas, water, apple juice, fruit punch orange juice and coffee. For sauces: polynesian sauce, barbeque sauce, balsamic vinaigrette dressing, italian dressing, apple cider vinaigrette dressing. For toppings: saltine crackers, roasted nut blend, harvest nut granola, crispy bell peppers, chili lime pepitas, tomato, pickles and lettuce.
🗺 Cultural influences
This recipe is inspired by my background as a native of Houston, Texas (where Chick-Fil-A is super popular). This recipe happens to be one of the few vegan recipes served at Chick-Fil-A. See About for more information on my cultural influences and how I attribute recipes.
💜 More recipes you'll love
If you love this crunchy kale cabbage salad recipe, check out these delicious plant-based salad and oil-free salad dressing recipes!
Kale Crunch Salad Chick-Fil-A Copycat
- 6 cups curly kale chopped finely, about 110g
- 1.5 cups green cabbage shredded, about 100g
- ⅓ cup almonds chopped, about 50g or 1.8 oz.
- In a large salad bowl, place your chopped kale and shredded cabbage.6 cups curly kale, 1.5 cups green cabbage
- Make the apple dijon dressing: In a small mason jar or bowl, add apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, maple syrup, salt and water. Place lid on mason jar tightly, then shake until combined. In a bowl, use a fork to mix the ingredients together.1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, ½ tablespoon dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, ¼ teaspoon sea salt, 2-3 tablespoons water
- Pour dressing onto kale and cabbage. Toss to combine and let sit while you roast the almonds. The kale and cabbage will be more tender, if allowed to marinate in the dressing for 5-10 minutes.
- Dry roast chopped almonds in small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 1-3 minutes. Be careful because they go from fragrant to burnt very quickly. Remove from heat, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and immediately transfer to a plate to cool.⅓ cup almonds
- Sprinkle the roasted, salted chopped almonds on top of the salad. Serve and enjoy!