We eat salad all summer long and then winter hits and fresh salads go out the door. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you are looking for a healthier winter dinner recipe this Winter Roasted Butternut Squash Kale Salad is it!

Massaged kale is packed full of flavor with roasted butternut squash, roasted sweet potatoes, apples, craisins, pepitas and sunflower seeds, and the yummiest spiced chickpeas! Oh and don’t you worry, we top it all off with a spiced citrus dressing!

A photo of a large wooden bowl full of kale salad topped with roasted butternut squash, craisins, chickpeas, pepitas, apples and gouda cheese.

My mom always says she’s not a good salad maker.

Um, no one stinks at making a salad. It’s salad. Literally lettuce and  add-ins. Therefore you can do whatever you want.

I mean think about it:

Cobb Salad- veggies, meats and cheese.

Berry Salad- Nuts and berries.

Teriyaki Chicken Salad- Something normally over rice but totally works.

Buffalo Chicken Salad- Your wings just got a healthier new feel!

Smoked Chicken Salad- Your smoker meats loving husband can’t help but eat it!!

You guys, no one can be bad at a salad because you just add in 5 things and it’s delicious!!!

A photo of a large wooden bowl full of kale salad topped with roasted butternut squash, craisins, chickpeas, pepitas, and gouda cheese.

How to Make Kale Salad

Let’s break down each part of this fabulous salad:


The healthy super food that is the base for this healthy salad. It has protein and Vitamin K and is low calorie and super delicious! See section below for how to properly prepare the kale.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall and winter foods! It is great in a soup and sooooooo good roasted. I like to cut the butternut squash in half and remove the seeds and then remove the tough skin with a knife or a peeler. Then I chop it up into 1 inch cubes to roast them so they get all crispy on all sides.

Sweet Potato

The sweet potatoes are roasted with the butternut squash. Peel and chop them into 1 inch cubes and then toss them with olive oil and salt and pepper. I love the roasted chewy bites the sweet potatoes and squash add.


We bring some heat and yummy flavor to this salad with these roasted chickpeas! Drain them and dry them off with a paper towel and then toss them with the cumin, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. Then roast them with the butternut squash and sweet potatoes. They add the yummiest little crunch to this salad!

A photo of a large wooden bowl full of kale salad topped with roasted butternut squash, craisins, chickpeas, pepitas, and gouda cheese.


Craisins are dehydrated cranberries and they are sweet, tart and tangy. I love the chewiness and sweetness they add to this kale salad.


Pepitas are the seeds of a certain type of pumpkin. They are nutty in flavor and full of protein and nutrients like zinc and iron. Combined with the sunflower seeds, they bring the crunch and nuttiness that this salad needs!


The apple was a late addition to this salad, but I absolutely love it! We went with a honeycrisp because why wouldn’t you?! Honeycrisp is the best!! Just core and chop, no need to peel it. I love the crunchy sweetness it adds!


We loved smoked gouda in this salad. The flavor pairs perfectly with the roasted butternut squash and sweet potato. If you don’t have smoked gouda, then feta cheese is also delicious. I love the saltiness that the cheese adds!


Oh man, the dressing might be my favorite part! I’m such a sauce/dip/dressing kind girl, but honestly the dressing on a salad can make or break the salad for me. This dressing is sweet, creamy and tangy with a hint of cinnamon (trust me on this one) and full of bold citrus flavor. Just whisk together all the ingredients (olive oil, orange juice, cinnamon, white wine vinegar, mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt, sugar and salt) and set aside until you’re ready to serve the salad.

A photo of dressing being poured on a large wooden bowl full of kale salad topped with roasted butternut squash, craisins, chickpeas, pepitas, and gouda cheese.

How to Prepare Kale for a Salad

Raw kale isn’t the easiest to eat. It is quite tough and requires some extra lovin’ to be ready for a salad.

  1. 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.
  2. Then you rough chop the leaves into ribbons.
  3. To make kale salad nice and tender in texture it should be massaged before cooking by squeezing it with your hands and adding an acid such as lemon juice and some salt and pepper to help break it down.
  4. Once you have thoroughly massaged the kale, let it sit in the bowl for a least 5 minutes and up to 6 hours in the refrigerator.

A photo of a large wooden bowl full of kale salad topped with roasted butternut squash, craisins, chickpeas, pepitas, and gouda cheese all being tossed.

Is Butternut Squash Good for You?

Butternut squash is rich in vitamin A, potassium and fiber. It also promotes good digestion and blood pressure and healthy skin and hair.

Can Kale Salad Be Made Ahead of Time?

Kale salad is a great make ahead salad. You can assemble most of this salad up to 6 hours ahead of time. I would wait to add the pepitas, sunflower seeds, apple and dressing until right before serving it.

A close up photo of a kale salad topped with roasted butternut squash, craisins, chickpeas, pepitas, and gouda cheese.

What is the Best Kale for Salad?

Lacinato Kale (aka Dinosaur Kale, Tuscan Kale or Black Kale) is the best for a salad, and is usually the kale you’ll find most commonly at the grocery store. 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.

How Long Does Kale Salad Last in the Refrigerator?

Once you have assembled the salad with the salad dressing, it won’t last must longer than a day. It’s a typical salad that gets a little soggy after a while. The massaged kale on its own will last in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

A photo of a large wooden bowl full of kale salad topped with roasted butternut squash, craisins, chickpeas, pepitas, and gouda cheese with dressing that needs to be stirred in.

Winter Roasted Butternut Squash Kale Salad is the hearty, healthy salad you need all winter long! It is full of flavor and packed with all the delicious toppings you crave. Every bite is perfection!

What Are The Benefits Of Eating Butternut Squash?

Butternut  squash is low in calories but high in many nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium. This makes it a great option for feeling more full without high calories.

Can I Eat Raw Butternut Squash?

You could eat butternut squash raw but most people will choose to eat it roasted or baked.

Is Squash Keto?

Many winter squashes are a bit too high for many keto fans, butternut squash has just about 15 net carbohydrates per cup, making it acceptable for some keto dieters to enjoy.

Is It Better To Eat Kale Raw Or Cooked?

Cancer studies often show that raw kale is more beneficial than cooked, while some cholesterol studies show that steamed kale is more beneficial than raw.

Like many other things, eating both raw and cooked versions would be your best choice.

Which Is Healthier, Spinach Or Kale?

Kale and spinach are healthy for different reasons so it depends on what you’re looking for.

We prefer to throw both in our smoothies by buying the “power greens” container at the store so that we don’t have to choose.

Kale and spinach are extremely nutritious and have several benefits.

Comparing the two, kale offers more than twice the amount of vitamin C as spinach, spinach provides more folate and vitamins A and K.

More Crazy Delicious Salad Recipes You’ll Love:

Winter Roasted Butternut Squash Kale Salad

4.60 from 5 votes
Servings: 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


A packed full of flavor with half of the calories kale salad that's perfect all year, but especially will fill you up during those cold winter months you want a healthier dinner but are too cold to grill.


Spiced Citrus Dressing

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Orange Juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons White Wine Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons Mayonnaise, Or Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 3 teaspoons Sugar
  • 1 Pinch Salt

Roasted Squash and Sweet Potatoes

  • 1 Small Butternut Squash, Chopped *see note
  • 1 Sweet Potato, Peeled or Unpeeled, and chopped in 1" pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 Can Chickpeas, Drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne

For the Salad

  • 2 Bunches Kale, stems removed
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Pinch Salt
  • 1 Pinch Pepper
  • 1 Cup Craisins
  • 1/3 Cup Pepitas
  • 1/4 Cup Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/3 Cup Smoked Gouda, Shredded, OR feta cheese


For the Salad

  • Tear the stems off of the kale and chop into pieces. Add to a bowl and add a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Massage the leaves with your hands and set aside in the fridge until you're ready, up to 6 hours ahead of time.

For the Dressing

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.
    2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, 3 Tablespoons Orange Juice, 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon, 3 teaspoons White Wine Vinegar, 3 Tablespoons Mayonnaise, 3 teaspoons Sugar, 1 Pinch Salt

For the Roasted Veggies

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place the sweet potatoes and squash on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until tender and the edges are browning.
    1 Small Butternut Squash, 1 Sweet Potato, 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt, 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
  • Pat the chickpeas until dry and toss with the seasonings. Add to the cookie sheet with the squash.
    1 Can Chickpeas, 1/4 teaspoon Cumin, 1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika, 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne
  • Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove everything to cool.

For Assembly

  • Toss all of the ingredients in a bowl with the kale and add the dressing, stirring well to combine.
    2 Bunches Kale, 1 Lemon, 1 Pinch Salt, 1 Pinch Pepper, 1 Cup Craisins, 1/3 Cup Pepitas, 1/4 Cup Sunflower Seeds, 1/3 Cup Smoked Gouda


Slide a knife down and around the butternut squash to remove the peel or use a peeler. Remove the seeds and chop into 1" pieces. 
This salad will keep for 1-3 days in the refrigerator.


Serving: 1gCalories: 265kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 5gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 367mgPotassium: 671mgFiber: 5gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 17277IUVitamin C: 70mgCalcium: 111mgIron: 2mg
Author: Sweet Basil
Course: 200+ Easy Side Dish Recipes Every Mom Needs
Cuisine: American

A photo of a large wooden bowl full of kale salad topped with roasted butternut squash, craisins, chickpeas, pepitas, apples and gouda cheese.


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