This kale salad is the direct result of a trip to a restaurant in Arizona. Do you ever eat something at a restaurant and then go home and try to recreate it? I do that all the time! This is a healthy and delicious kale salad packed with apples, bacon, craisins, almonds and of course, smoked chicken, all tossed with a simple poppy seed dressing.
Awhile back we headed to Arizona for our nephew’s high school graduation and our readers all recommended we head to Oregano’s Pizza Bistro for dinner. Thank you for the tip, friends! It was so good! We loved the appetizers, the pizza, the sandwiches and even that pizza cookie for dessert.
But the real winner in my opinion was the Kale Salad with Cranberries that I ordered with chicken. Their chicken was amazing! So smoky, juicy and tender.
We immediately came home to create a copycat!
I’ve heard several people rave about the power greens kale salad that they sell at Costco. It is pretty dang good, but this is even better…like WAY better actually!
How to Smoke Chicken Breasts
For this recipe you are going to want to get the chicken breasts going in the Traeger smoker. For all the details on how to smoke chicken perfectly and for the best smoked chicken rub in town, head over to our Traeger Chicken recipe. Once that is going, you can start working on the kale and all the delectable add ins.
How to Prepare Kale for a Salad
Kale that is completely raw can be a little difficult to chew, so you’re going to want to give it some extra TLC to make it perfect. Start by tearing the stem out. I like to fold each in half like a taco and then just rip the stem out of the middle. Then you rough chop the leaves into ribbons.
To make kale salad nice and tender in texture it should be massaged before cooking by squeezing it with your hands. Start your essential oil infuser and put on some calming orchestral music and the kale will be in the mood for a good massage. JK…you can skip that stuff and just add an acid such as lemon juice and some salt to help break it down. Once you have thoroughly massaged the kale, let it sit in the bowl for a least 5 minutes and up to an hour.
How to Make Kale Salad with Cranberries
While the kale rests and the chicken finishes up in the smoker, you can prep all the yummy additions in this kale salad recipe. You can bake the bacon in the oven. Head to our Killer Maple Mustard Croissant Breakfast Sandwiches for the details on cooking bacon in the oven. It is the only way we cook bacon now!
You can also chop up one apple (no need to peel!) and about a cup and a half of broccoli. Measure out your craisins, almonds and Parmesan cheese as well. Once the chicken is done, rested, cooled slightly and sliced, you can combine everything together and give it a good toss.
How to Make Poppy Seed Dressing
Poppy seed dressing goes great with kale salad recipes. This poppy seed dressing is super simple and uses normal household ingredients. Add the vinegar, mayo and milk into a blender and mix them together thoroughly. Pulse in the vegetable oil. Then add the remaining ingredients (sugar, salt, ground mustard, minced onion and poppy seeds) and mix everything together. You can add as much or as little as you want to the salad and toss the dressing throughout.
Can Kale Salad be Made Ahead?
Yes! Kale salad is one salad that is better to make and dress ahead of time to tenderize the kale. Once you have added the dressing, it is best eaten within a day. I also save the bacon and almonds to add just before eating so they don’t get soft and soggy.
What is the Best Kale for Salad?
Lacinato Kale (aka Dinosaur Kale, Tuscan Kale or Black Kale) is the best for a salad. This kale is flat, not curly, and has tender leaves. It also has a mild, nutty flavor that is so tasty. Even though the leaves are more tender than other types of kale, they are still on the tough side, so slice it into thin ribbons for ease of eating.
Is Kale Salad Good for You?
Kale on its own is quite healthy. It is a great source of vitamin C and iron and contains fiber, antioxidants, calcium and vitamin K. The nutrients in kale can also help boost well-being. This kale salad recipe also contains bacon and almonds which had delicious protein and the apple and broccoli also add flavor as well as even more nutrients.
And let’s not forget the smoked chicken! It is so tender, juicy and packed with smoky flavor. As with all things, a good balance is key for a healthy diet, but this kale salad is a great addition to a healthy diet.
How Many Calories in Kale Salad?
Scroll down to the recipe card to see all the nutritional information for this kale salad recipe.
How Long Will Kale Salad Keep in Fridge?
Kale salad is great for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. If you add the dressing, it is best eaten within a day. I like to save the almonds and bacon to add right before eating.
How Do You Store Kale Salad?
Kale salad should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
We have a couple of other fantastic recipes on the blog that use kale. You should definitely try our Harvest Cobb Salad and Roasted Chickpea and Garlic Caesar Salad Pitas! But this kale salad with smoked chicken and cranberries is my new favorite! I will find anyway to eat this smoked chicken, and this kale salad recipe is just ticket!
More SALAD RECIPE You’re Sure to Love:
- Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad
- Best Broccoli Salad
- Southern English Pea Salad
- Harvest Cobb Broccoli Salad
- Grilled Peach Avocado Caprese Salad
- Balsamic Glazed Grilled Chicken Salad
- Harvest Cobb Salad with Maple Poppy Seed Dressing
- Grilled Flank Steak Summer Salad
- Easy Teriyaki Chicken Salad
- Double the Meat Hold the Bread BLT Salad
- 7 Layer Pea Salad
Smoked Chicken Power Greens Kale Salad
Poppy Seed Dressing
- 1/4 Cup White Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Milk
- 1/3 Cup Sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Ground Mustard
- 1 Tablespoon Onion, minced
- 1/3 Cup Mayonnaise
- 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Poppy Seeds
For the Salad
- 2-3 Chicken Breasts, smoked, cooked and sliced thin
- 1 Bunch Kale, washed, stem removed and chopped into ribbons
- 1/4 Lemon
- 2 Pinches Salt
- 1 Apple, large red chopped
- 4 Slices Bacon, cooked and chopped
- 1/2 Cup Almonds, sliced
- 1 Cup Craisins
- 2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese, shavings
- 1 1/2 Cups Broccoli, chopped
Poppy Seed Dressing
- In a blender, combine the vinegar through the mayo. Pulse in the vegetable oil and then remove to a bowl and stir in the poppy seeds.
- Place the chopped kale in a large bowl and squeeze some lemon over the top along with some salt. Toss everything together while squeezing and massaging the kale. Set aside in the fridge to rest for up to 12 hours or at least 5-10 minutes.
- Follow the recipe for smoked chicken and set aside.
- Prepare all other ingredients and once the chicken has cooled a bit slice very thin.
- Pile everything together in a bowl and toss with desired amount of dressing. Serve within 1 day.
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Awesome combination of flavors. Exactly what I was looking for even without all the ingredients. I didn’t have bacon and just added rotisserie chicken pieces, but I can imagine how wonderful those added flavors would have been. One question, my poppy seed dressing doesn’t look as nice and creamy as yours. I used miracle whip since I didn’t have mayo and just cut out the vinegar and put less sugar in. Otherwise, I followed instructions, but it looks piece-y and separated. Any advice?
Thanks for the feedback Michelle! So glad you enjoyed it! For the dressing, I would try using mayonnaise next time. The combo of mayo, oil, and vinegar gives it that super cream texture!
Thank you!! Xoxo!