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My easy Kale Slaw recipe is a colorful and bright mixture of shredded curly kale, crunchy purple cabbage, and sweet, crisp carrots. Toss it all with tangy sweet poppy seed dressing, and you have one irresistible salad!

Yes, you can ENJOY superfood in this tasty Kale Salad with sweet cranberries, crunchy slivered almonds, and a velvety poppy seed dressing.

kale slaw with purple cabbage, carrots, dried cranberries, and slivered almonds in a white bowl with a serving spoon inserted sitting on a table.

Don’t let past experiences keep you from trying this easy and healthy substitute for regular mayonnaise-based coleslaw. Kale is loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber, calcium, and other minerals that are just plain good for you.

True confession — it took me a while to warm up to the taste of kale. I think it was more of a texture thing, but eating it in its raw state was key for me. And this Kale Salad recipe is a winner!

Once you have tried this easy kale slaw, you might also enjoy my Kale Cabbage Chicken Salad with Thai Peanut Vinaigrette. It is a flavorful combination and is a meal all by itself.

With the fall right around the corner, my Autumn Salad with Butternut Squash and Kale is another recipe to try. 

ingredients for kale slaw on a table.

Key ingredients & substitutions for Kale Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

  • Curly kale — The curly variety is used most in salads — other kale might taste bitter and be too “tough” for a salad.
  • Purple cabbage— Purple cabbage is the sweeter and softer cabbage and is so colorful! However, you can also use green cabbage or broccoli slaw here instead.
  • Carrots — Zucchini or celery is an alternative for carrots. 
  • Cranberries — Golden raisins could also add a little sweetness to this salad.
  • Almonds — Substitute with other nuts like pecans or sunflower seeds.
  • Poppy seed dressing — Use your favorite bottled dressing or make my easy homemade poppy seed dressing. Or, you may substitute with a sesame seed vinaigrette or sweet red wine vinaigrette.
  • Kosher salt — Use pink Himalayan or coarse sea salt as an alternative.

How to make Kale Slaw Salad Recipe

With kale, you always want to wash and rinse the leaves with cool water. Then cut out those tough ribs — no one wants to bite into them. They aren’t pretty in your salad, either!

removing the stem from kale; pulsing kale in a food processor.

STEP 1 | Chop the kale

Drain the curly kale leaves in a colander or place them in a salad spinner to eliminate all the excess water. That way, the salad doesn’t water down your flavor-packed dressing.

Chop the kale into small pieces or pulse in a food processor until the desired size. If you’re using a food processor, do it in batches to keep a good texture and size.

Then, place the chopped kale in a large bowl and set it aside. Don’t tear the kale, it simply won’t look as lovely in the bowl.

adding ingredients for kale slaw to a large bowl.

STEP 2 | Add other ingredients

Add the shredded cabbage, carrots, dried cranberries, and almonds. Gently toss the salad together to combine all those crisp and colorful flavor profiles.

STEP 3 | Toss in the dressing

Grab your favorite poppy seed dressing and pour it all over the top of the colorful salad. Toss with a rubber spatula or salad tongs until the salad is well coated and looking yummy.

Oh, don’t forget to season the salad with salt and pepper to taste. You have missed out if you have never salted and peppered your salad! They awaken the flavors and balance the sweetness of the dressing.

STEP 4 | Serve or chill

Serve this delightful and colorful salad immediately or cover and chill until you’re ready to serve later. 

Unlike many salads, curly kale keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, which means you get to enjoy it longer. 

tips

  • Don’t skip the Kosher or sea salt because it helps diminish the kale’s bitter flavor.
  • If you prefer a slightly softer texture, allow the salad to sit for about 30 minutes. 

Frequently asked questions

How do I make kale less bitter?

One of the ways is what I’ve done in this recipe. I’ve paired it with a sweet dressing like the poppy seed that brings lessens the bitter taste. Additionally, you will find other ways in the tips section above.

What does “massaging” kale mean?

Massaging kale is precisely what it sounds like. Add about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil per bunch and massage with your hands for 2 to 3 minutes by picking it up and rubbing it between your fingers. You can stop when you feel it noticeably softer. You don’t want the kale to become mushy, so don’t overdo it. 

However, since you’re using kale slaw dressing in this salad, massaging is unnecessary for this recipe. The dressing will soften it a bit, and you can let it sit in the fridge until it is as soft as you like. Then plate, top, and serve.

Won’t the salad get soggy with dressing on it?

Kale will hold up better than other salads because of its roughage, but it will soften some.

Toppings

Your salad is like an artist’s canvas, so paint it to your heart’s desire. Here are a few of my favorite topping suggestions.

  • Sprinkle a little feta cheese or goat cheese on top.
  • Add chopped red onion for an even more robust flavor. 
  • Consider adding more sweet crunch to sink your fork into — like some diced sweet apples or jicama.
  • Try tossing in a few sunflower seeds to make this side dish more interesting.

Feel free to experiment with nuts, cheeses, raw fruits, and veggies to satisfy your palate. 

kale slaw with purple cabbage, carrots, dried cranberries, and slivered almonds in a white bowl on a table.

Serving suggestions

Make it a complete meal by pairing this Crunchy Kale Salad with The Best Grilled Salmon or Grilled Shrimp on the Barbie. A side of Mashed Sweet Potatoes or Roasted Carrots with Honey will add just the right sweetness to the table as well.

a serving of kale in a small white bowl with a salad fork to the side on a table.

Behind the recipe: Creamy Kale Slaw recipe

America is figuratively and literally eating up the kale trend. From celebrity stars to famous doctors, even Walmart and McDonald’s are on the kale bandwagon. 

Kale has taken the health food world by storm — and for a good reason — with its whole laundry list of health benefits. It took me a while to warm up to the kale kick, but I have most definitely gotten there.

Whenever I find a recipe for a food that I didn’t like that turned me into a fan, it gets me excited to look for other recipes and foods that might do the same. Cheers to kale!

Please share!

Your shares are how this site grows and I appreciate each one. Do you know someone who would enjoy this recipe? I’d love it if you would share it on Facebook or on your favorite Pinterest board!

kale slaw with purple cabbage, carrots, dried cranberries, and slivered almonds in a white bowl on a table.

Kale Slaw

A colorful and bright mixture of shredded curly kale, crunchy purple cabbage, and sweet, crisp carrots tossed with tangy sweet poppy seed dressing, this kale slaw is one irresistible salad!
3.85 from 13 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Refrigerate 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 86 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups curly kale shredded and chopped
  • 1 cup purple cabbage shredded
  • 1/2 cup carrots shredded
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup poppy seed dressing
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions
 

  • Remove tough ribs from the kale and place the leaves in a colander.Rinse under cool running water and drain (or use a salad spinner).
  • Chop the kale into small pieces or pulse in a food processor (in batches) until the desired size.
  • Empty the chopped kale into a large bowl and add the shredded cabbage, carrots, dried cranberries, and almonds. Toss gently to combine.
  • Pour the poppy seed dressing on top and toss again until the slaw is coated. Season with salt to taste.
  • Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to serve. Keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Notes

  • Don’t skip the Kosher or sea salt because it helps diminish the kale’s bitter flavor.
  • If you prefer a slightly softer texture, allow the salad to sit for about 30 minutes. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 86kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 2gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 84mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4g
Keyword cabbage, dried cranberries, kale
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.
sheila thigpen in her kitchen

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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