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Autumn Kale Salad with Honeycrisp and Cheddar

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Crisp kale leaves coated in sweet apple cider vinaigrette with crunchy honeycrisp apples, brown bread croutons and tangy savory cheese. You’ll want to repeat this fall salad over and over!

Overhead view of autumn kale salad

Oh good! You’re here. I have someone I want you to meet. This is my brand new bestie, Autumn Kale Salad. She’s legit. THE BEST. You’re gonna love her.

You’re thinking, another kale salad Lauren? Yes. Another one. Because there are so many good things to love about it. Plus, if you’re not into kale you can always substitute spinach so listen up.

Side close up of autumn salad

What exactly is there to love about autumn kale salad? Here’s a neat little list of why she is – in the words of Gretchen Weiner – so fetch.

  • curly kale
  • honeycrisp apple
  • brown bread croutons
  • sharp cheddar cheese
  • crunchy pepitas
  • maple apple cider vinaigrette

overhead view of autumn kale salad

Prepping the Kale so it taste good

Curly kale is clearly my favorite of all the kales. It’s the kale equivalent of the Little Black Dress. We’ve used if for the Grilled Pineapple Kale Salad (and that’s now on the Bonefish Harry’s menu, so don’t mind while I brush my shoulders off for a hot sec).

Not a huge curly kale fan? Try this:

  • Remove the leaves from the stem and tear or chop that into smaller pieces
  • Then wash them, this removes bitterness from the leaves
  • Massaging the dressing into the leaves = less bitter kale, softer but not soggy leaves

If you’re still not convinced you can always try tuscan kale which is a little softer or substitute spinach or romaine. You’ve got options.

Apples + Cheese is a thing and we’re here for it

Yaaaas. The queen of the apples. Don’t get me wrong I have serious other favorite varieties but honeycrisp is usually my go to. They’re huge, sweet, and crunchy but not too hard. Which makes them perfect for dipping in ridiculous amounts of honey roasted peanut butter. Or putting on salads.

Do you remember that time you found out putting cheese on apple pie was a thing? Was it just this very moment? I remember being 100% weirded out by it, but after this cheddar and honeycrisp combo happening in this Autumn Kale Salad, I’d give it a go.

The cheddar with the apple is the perfect combo of sweet and savory with just the right amount of fat.

Overhead shot of salad served in bowls

crunchy things

Are you ready for a crouton revolution? Here it is.

The brown bread I used for these croutons is actually the bread from the Cheesecake Factory that they started selling in the store. Yes, that is a thing and I am in love.

If you can’t find that, great news, there’s a recipe for it. I got tired of paying the marked up price for it so we just went ahead and made a recipe for this Honey Wheat Brown Bread. Once you have all the delicious bread baked you can just freeze it and pull it out when needed.

The bread is a smidge sweet but crispy and just a little savory from the sprinkle of salt.

And don’t forget the pepitas! Little crunchy pumpkin or squash seeds. Roasted and with the shell removed – bless 2018.

Maple Apple Cider Vinaigrette

In addition to the autumn kale salad introduction, I’ve got one more for you. This dressing. You are going to want it on repeat all fall.

Maple Apple Cider Vinaigrette is a combo of the familiar go to salad vinaigrette with just the right amount of sweet fall flavors. A teenie bit of garlic, apple cider vinegar, apple cider, real maple syrup and some zippy dijon.

Things are about to get real darn tasty. And don’t forget, this is definitely a make ahead salad if you want it to be. I’ve dressed this salad the day before and it was still just as yummy the following day. Maybe just wait on the croutons.

So when you meet my girl Autumn Kale Salad, make sure you tell her I said hi!

Overhead shot of autumn kale salad served in bowls


Overhead shot of autumn kale salad served in bowls

Autumn Kale Salad with Honeycrisp and Cheddar

The best fall salad!  Crunchy kale, sweet honeycrisp apple, sharp cheddar cheese, crunchy brown bread croutons coated with maple apple cider vinaigrette.
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Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: autumn salads, fall salads, fruit and cheese salads, kale salad, salads for thanksgiving, ways to use extra apples
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Calories: 1020kcal
Author: Lauren


Autumn Kale Salad

  • 1 head kale stems removed and chopped
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese cut into bite size pieces
  • cup pepitas
  • 2 honeycrisp apples sliced very thin
  • brown bread croutons
  • maple apple cider vinaigrette

Brown Bread Croutons

  • ½ loaf sweet brown bread about 4 cups, cut in cubes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Maple Apple Cider Vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • optional 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes


  • Make the croutons:  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Cut or tear the brown bread into bite sized pieces.  Toss with olive oil and spread into an even layer on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes until crispy.
  • Make the dressing:  In a bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, apple cider, dijon, garlic, salt and pepper.  Slowly pour in olive oil while whisking quickly.  Alternatively:  Combine all ingredients in a mason jar, cover tightly and shake vigorously until blended.  Set aside.
  • Make the salad:  Remove the kale leaves from the stem.  Chop or tear into smaller pieces.  In bowl, toss the kale, croutons, and cheddar together with dressing, massaging it into the leaves.  Use as much or as little dressing as you like!
  • Make it pretty:  plate the salad in a big bowl and top with apple slices and pepitas.  Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours.


This salad holds up great if you want to make ahead.  If making ahead, add the croutons right before serving instead.


Calories: 1020kcal | Carbohydrates: 133g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 2074mg | Potassium: 770mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 3609IU | Vitamin C: 44mg | Calcium: 440mg | Iron: 8mg


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Recipe Rating


Monday 22nd of October 2018

Oh man, that salad sounds sooo good. I love how well balanced it is. I also love that dressing - it sounds so yummy. This is perfect lunch salad. I'm definitely trying this.


Monday 22nd of October 2018

Such a great salad! I love pairing slightly tart apples (granny, honeycrisp and cox are my favorites!) with kale and some kind of cheese. I never tried it with cheddar though, thank you for the idea!

Sam | Ahead of Thyme

Sunday 21st of October 2018

YUM, I love all the ingredients and flavour combo in this salad! So refreshing and perfect for fall. Pinning to try later!

Eileen Kelly

Sunday 21st of October 2018

I could live off salads like this one! I love the crunch from kale. The apples, delicious! The cider vinaigrette is fantastic! A perfect salad for a fall day!

Anne Murphy

Sunday 21st of October 2018

I could never get kale salad until I tried massaging the leaves - what a difference that makes! I was really astonished... so good. This looks like a terrific hearty salad - just right for this weather!


Monday 22nd of October 2018

Right?! It's a game changer!