Creamy, sweet, tart apple kale slaw is a powerhouse of flavor and vitamins. Maple syrup, tahini and lime make a fantastic tangy dressing while apples and kale give satisfying crunch and texture. This is a fast (15 minutes or less), vegan and gluten-free kale salad that's big on flavor!
This post is sponsored by Washington Apple Commission but the recipe ideas and opinions are my own.
What Inspired This Recipe
I love coleslaw with grilled and barbecued food but sometimes I want something a little more exciting than the usual mayo and cabbage. Apple kale slaw is the perfect variation. This easy recipe is a bright fresh salad. The addition of apple pairs so well with everything BBQ, complimenting the charred grilled flavors perfectly and still offering a creamy dressing.
For more apple salads and sides, try Crisp Apple Fennel Salad with Grainy Mustard Dressing, Apple Walnut Salad and my Brie and Apple Grilled Cheese with Hot Honey. Apples and cheese are such a classic combination and this once you try this combo, you'll be hooked!
I love leaving the skin on the apples for this tasty salad because it is full of fiber and nutrients. Using organic fruits and veggies is extra important when you aren't peeling them which is why I love using Washington Organic Apples.
Apples are such a versatile ingredient, I always keep a stash of organic apples in my fridge for my kids lunches, salads and baking.
Apple kale slaw is really simple to make with just these few, easy to find ingredients. Read on for ingredient notes.
- Washington Organic Apples - Did you know that each Washington State Organic apple is picked by hand! I love to buy organic whenever possible and it's more important than ever when you're eating your fruit whole. I feel good serving these sweet apples with the nutritious peel left on. For more information, check out the Washington Apples website.
- Kale - Crisp kale is a powerhouse veggie has been gaining popularity for years and for good reason. High in fiber and vitamins, it is awesome raw in this apple kale slaw. Dressing the kale a few hours before serving lets it soften nicely before eating.
- Tahini - A less common ingredient, tahini is sesame seed paste and you can find it in the grocery store by the nut butters. It adds a nice creamy texture and nutty flavor to this dressing. Use leftover tahini in things like Mutabal-Middle Eastern Eggplant Dip which is similar to baba ganoush.
Apple kale slaw is vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free so it fits into almost any diet. But if you are missing an ingredient, there are a few substitutions you can make.
- Cashews - Any nuts will be delicious in this salad. Pecans, walnuts and even peanuts will all be tasty and crisp. If you don't want nuts at all, try roasted chickpeas or omit altogether.
- Maple Syrup - Honey is a perfect substitute for maple syrup.
- Tahini - Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. Peanut butter is similar in texture to tahini and is the closest substitute. It will create the same texture but the flavor will have a distinct but mild peanut flavor.
- Salad Dressing - Apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar is a tasty substitute for the lime juice. You can also use ½ apple cider vinegar and ½ Dijon mustard. Use the same amount of acv (and mustard if using) as you would lime juice. If you just don't have lime, you can use an equivalent amount of fresh lemon juice instead.
- Oil - The olive oil can be swapped for a neutral vegetable oil too, if you prefer.
Want to change up this kale apple slaw recipe? Try these easy ideas for a twist!
- Wrap it up - Swap the nuts for sunflower seeds and spoon this slaw into a wrap along with some falafel or grilled chicken.
- In a sandwich - Omit the nuts and top a pulled pork or pulled jackfruit sandwich with slaw.
- Brassicas - Switch up your salad with what you have on hand. Any shredded leaves from the brassica family will be good. Try shredded green cabbage, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts or chard instead of kale. Other types of kale are great too. Large dinosaur kale, dark lacinato kale, decorative purple kale or Tuscan kale will all work just as well.
See recipe card for quantities.
Just a few simple ingredients transforms raw kale and crisp apples into a perfect accompaniment or light main dish. The sweet flavor paired with creamy tahini and salty nuts makes a great dish you'll make over and over.
Maple Tahini Salad Dressing:
1. Combine maple syrup, tahini and lime juice in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.
2. Add salt, pepper and chili flakes and whisk to combine.
3. Add olive oil and whisk until smooth.
4. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if desired.
Apple Kale Slaw:
1. To make these ingredients into a slaw, it's important to slice the ingredients into thin, small pieces so they will soften and absorb the dressing properly.
2. You can use a container of baby kale mix or you can buy a bunch of whole, large kale. If you have the large kale, trim the tough stems off by folding your kale in half with the center stem on one side. Then simple slice it off.
3. Chop your kale cross ways into small bite size pieces.
4. Add slivered onion and chopped kale to a large salad bowl and toss with half the dressing. Let this sit so the kale starts softening while you finely chop your apples.
5. Cut fresh apples in half and remove cores. Then cut your apples into thin slices.
6. Cut them crosswise to make thin, bite size pieces.
7. Add apples and most of cashews into bowl of kale. Drizzle remaining dressing over top of the slaw and toss to combine.
8. Serve, garnishing apple kale slaw with the remaining cashews.
- Apple kale slaw is really easy to make but be sure to season your dressing generously to taste. Salt and pepper go a long way to making the flavors pop. Once it's made, give it a good massage or stir and let it sit at room temperature for a bit to soften the kale nicely.
- Kale can be bouncy and hard to contain at first when tossing it with the dressing. It helps to use a large bowl while tossing the slaw then pour it into a smaller bowl for serving.
- To make this salad even more stunning, use half purple kale and half green kale.
What To Serve With Apple Kale Slaw
Apple kale slaw is a perfect side dish for anything grilled or barbecued. For a great main dish, add fish, meat or vegetable protein. It makes an easy, delicious and nutritious meal.
- Grilled chicken, plain or with BBQ sauce.
- Roasted, baked or fried salmon. Try this tasty miso baked salmon or furikake salmon.
- Quinoa and vegetable stir-fry seasoned with garlic and fresh herbs.
- Lentil soup or stew is another great side on a cold night. Lentil Mushroom Stew or Vegan Italian White Beans are hearty and delicious.
- Get fancy on a Friday night with grilled steak or BBQ ribs.
Other protein options such as tofu or chickpeas, and vegetable dishes like roasted sweet potatoes pair really well too.
Storage and Make-Ahead Tips
Apple kale slaw is excellent right away or made ahead by a few hours so the crunchy apples and kale soften and absorb the dressing more. If making ahead, keep the cashews out and toss them in just before serving to keep them from softening too much.
You can make the maple tahini dressing ahead up to 5 days and add to the slaw the same day you plan to serve it. Once the homemade vinaigrette is made, keep it covered and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Leftovers will keep safely for up to 5 days in the fridge, though the texture is best the next day. This recipe is not good for freezing.
Note: This slaw recipe does not contain any dairy, egg or meat product so it is fine left out all day making it excellent for picnics and potlucks. If keeping it longer than a day, it should be refrigerated to prolong the life of the kale and apples.
Organic Washington apple orchards receive nutrition and fertilizers consisting of compost, animal manure, fishmeal, plant residues and other natural nutrients. Natural pest control methods are derived from plant extracts, the fermentations of yeast, beneficial insects, mating disruption pheromones and systems that bait and trap pests. Weeds may be controlled by mulching, cover plantings and mechanical methods.
Here are three tips for selecting the best apples.
First, look for apples with shiny, not dull skin. Shiny apples are crisp and tasty!
Pick apples that feel firm when you give them a gentle squeeze.
Avoid apples that have bruises or punctures.
Growers recommend that you refrigerate your apples for best quality. Apples stay freshest when they’re refrigerated in the crisper.
Organic apples add wonderful, sweet flavor to every recipe. This easy kale apple slaw is a great way to add raw kale to your regular diet. (See the nutritional information in the recipe card below.)
Let me know how you like this apple kale slaw by leaving a comment or star rating below!
Cheers and happy cooking, Friends! Sabrina
Apple Kale Slaw With Maple Tahini Salad Dressing (V)
Apple Kale Slaw
- 5 c Kale, chopped into bite size pieces (press kale down to measure 5 packed cups)
- 2 c Washington Organic Apples, cored and finely sliced
- ½ c Red Onion, slivered
- 1 c Cashews raw or toasted
Maple Tahini Dressing
- 3 tablespoon Maple Syrup
- 3 tablespoon Tahini
- 2 tbsp Lime Juice
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ⅛ teaspoon Each: Chili pepper flakes and ground black pepper
Maple Tahini Dressing
- Combine maple syrup, tahini and lime juice in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Add salt, pepper and chili flakes and whisk to combine.
- Add olive oil and whisk until smooth. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if desired.
Apple Kale Slaw
- Add slivered onion and chopped kale to a large bowl and toss with half the dressing. Let this sit so the kale starts softening while you finely chop your apples.
- Add in apples and most of cashews. Drizzle remaining dressing over top and toss to combine. Serve, garnishing the top with the remaining cashews.