Try this copycat Chick Fil A Kale Crunch Salad for a healthy lunch meal prep! Kale, cabbage, and almonds have been drizzled with a delicious apple cider vinaigrette. I also added grilled chicken for some high-quality protein, turning this kale crunch side dish into an entrée salad! You’ll love how easy this Chick-fil-a kale salad is to make. It’s the perfect low calorie lunch for busy weekdays!
The Kale Crunch Side Salad is Chick-fil-a’s menu replacement for the Superfood Side Salad. Here are the changes they made:
- Swaps shredded cabbage for the broccolini
- Uses salted, roasted almonds instead of a sweetened mixed nut trio
- Eliminates the sweetened, dried cherries
- Uses apple Dijon dressing instead of maple vinaigrette
I’m thinking these changes were cost-saving for the restaurant. Cabbage is almost always a less expensive option than broccolini, and dried cherries tend to be quite pricey. The plain almonds may also have cost less than the mixed nuts containing pecans.
Though I find some of these changes unfortunate (I wish they kept the cherries!), the resulting Kale Crunch Salad is delicious. Not only that, but unlike the Superfood Side, most of the Kale Crunch ingredients have no added sugar. The only sweetened ingredient in the Kale Crunch Salad is the dressing.
With the Superfood salad, the cherries, nuts, and dressing all contained added sugar. It was a bit much, and I’m glad they decided to cut back on the sugar in this new salad.
Less expensive, healthier, but still delicious… sounds like a winning combination to me!
- Benefits of Making Copycat Kale Crunch Salad
- What is in Chick Fil A Kale Crunch Salad?
- How to Make Chick Fil A Kale Crunch Salad
- Chick Fil A Kale Crunch Salad Dressing Recipe
- Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- What are some other kale recipes?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Other Copycat Salad Recipes that You May Enjoy
- And now for the disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
Benefits of Making Copycat Kale Crunch Salad
Why should you make this copycat Chick Fil A Kale Crunch Salad? I talked a bit about this above, but here are a few more reasons for you:
- You can have it on Sunday! Chick Fil A is well-known for keeping its locations closed on Sunday. When you make this copycat salad, you can enjoy this Chick Fil A favorite, regardless of what day of the week it is.
- This copycat has no added sugar and no unwanted preservatives.The apple Dijon dressing that comes with the kale crunch side contains added sugars from apple juice concentrate and maple syrup. It also contains added preservatives potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate. Making your own means you can stick with minimally processed, whole food ingredients instead!
- Super easy meal prep. This healthy meal prep comes together in a flash and requires few ingredients. The hearty greens, chicken, and almonds here will stay fresh 3-4 days in the fridge. Just make sure to keep the dressing separate until serving time and enjoy this for lunch on busy weekdays.
- Low calorie, nutrient dense, protein packed meal. If you’re looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, this low calorie, high volume salad is a winner. Get more details on the nutrition here in the Expert Tips section below!
What is in Chick Fil A Kale Crunch Salad?
Here are the main ingredients in the Chick Fil A Kale Crunch Salad, as well as my copycat version:
- Green cabbage
- Kale (Chick Fil A uses curly kale, I went with Lacinato kale)
- Apple Dijon Dressing
Because I wanted to make this salad an entrée, I also added grilled chicken to my version. I have tips on making the salad vegan or vegetarian in the FAQs below.
I decided to reconfigure Chick Fil A’s apple Dijon dressing to cut out the added sugar and additives. Here are the ingredients needed for my version:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Dijon mustard
- Apple cider
- Sugar-free syrup
- Apple cider vinegar
- Crushed garlic clove
- Salt and pepper
For kitchen equipment, it’s helpful to have a stovetop grill pan to grill the chicken and a skillet to toast the almonds. If you are meal prepping, I recommend having some salad containers handy with separate lidded dressing cups.
How to Make Chick Fil A Kale Crunch Salad
To make your salad, start by preparing the chicken. Mist a stovetop grill pan with cooking spray. Put the pan over medium heat.
Leave the chicken on the grill until it has reached the minimum safe internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This took approximately 10-15 minutes per side. The chicken breasts should have nice grill lines on both sides.
While the chicken breasts cook, toast your almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir them frequently to prevent burning. They should become lightly toasted in 3-5 minutes.
Pro tip: buy roasted, salted almonds and you can skip the dry toasting step!
Next, rinse your kale in cool water, dry it, and chop it into bite sized pieces. You should remove the thick stems from the kale since this is a raw kale salad.
Put the kale into a large bowl and massage it with clean hands for a few minutes. This will help make your kale more tender and delicious!
If you did not buy store-bought shredded cabbage, it’s time to shred your cabbage. The right food processor blade can make quick work of this!
Divide your chopped kale and cabbage between four bowls or meal prep containers. Cut your grilled chicken into bite size chunks and add ¼ of the chicken to each salad bowl. To finish the assembly, add ¼ of the almonds to each salad container.
Chick Fil A Kale Crunch Salad Dressing Recipe
I usually make the salad dressing first and set it aside while I assemble the salads. The salads should not be drizzled with dressing until right before serving. This will help keep your salad from getting soggy.
Make the Kale Crunch Side dressing by putting the apple cider, syrup, olive oil, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a jar. (A half-pint mason jar works well for this.) Put the lid on the jar and give it a good shake to mix the ingredients.
That’s all there is to it. You might be able to throw this salad together in less time than it would take to hit the drive-thru!
Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). If I had to pick the ideal sort of meal that could help support weight loss, this would be it. Why? Well, we’ve got:
- low calorie kale and cabbage that add a ton of volume and fiber,
- plenty of high quality lean protein from chicken,
- and some healthy fat in the almonds and the dressing
If anything, this salad is a bit on the low side for calories. If you wanted to round out the meal, add an ounce of low fat cheese and an ounce of whole grain crackers. This brings things up to around 500 calories and adds two additional food groups to the meal. Nice!
If you have a fat loss goal, the one way to really “go wrong” with salads is to pile on the added oils, nuts, and seeds. I inadvertently sabotaged my weight loss efforts for too long with “healthy” salads containing 1000+ calories of things like olive oil and nuts. Cue my frustration.
Remember that a little can go a long way when it comes to fats (and particularly added fats). We need some fat in the diet, it is essential, but it can be easy for some of us to go overboard. Fat is definitely not “bad,” but it is possible to get too much of a good thing!
It can be frustrating to set a goal and not achieve it. If you are working towards a healthier lifestyle to achieve fat loss, your healthy diet needs to support that goal.
Some people need to gain weight for health, while others could benefit from weight loss. Eating in a healthy way that also supports your goal can prevent you from feeling like you’re spinning your wheels but going nowhere.
What are some other kale recipes?
Kale is a super food to include in your diet! It is rich in an assortment of phytonutrients, essential vitamins, and minerals. If you’re looking for more ways to use kale, make these recipes your next stop:
- Rainbow Veggies Salad with Georgia Peanut Sauce
- Garlic Kale Chips
- Kale Apple Slaw with Brussels Sprouts, Tahini, and Dates
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you make Chick Fil A Kale Crunch Salad vegan?
As long as you substitute the chicken for another protein, my copycat kale crunch salad is vegan. I recommend using flavored tofu in place of the chicken. My Smoked Tofu would be absolutely ace here.
Chick Fil A’s kale crunch side also appears to be vegan. However, their dressing contains natural flavors from an unspecified source.
Is Chick Fil A Kale Crunch Salad gluten free?
My copycat version of the kale crunch side is naturally gluten free, as long as you use gluten free ingredients. (That means using a gluten free Dijon mustard and so on.)
Chick Fil A states that they cannot guarantee that their menu items will be completely free of gluten. This is due to the use of shared cooking and preparation areas, restaurants that are not free of gluten, etc. The only way to ensure that your kale crunch salad is gluten free is to make it yourself.
Is Chick Fil A Kale Salad keto?
My homemade copycat kale salad (with dressing) contains 9.4 grams net carbs per serving and could fit most low carb diets. However, the apple cider and Dijon mustard vinaigrette is not particularly keto diet friendly. Cider is a high carbohydrate ingredient, similar to apple juice.
To make this salad keto friendly, you will need to modify the dressing recipe to exclude the cider. If you like a sharp vinegar-based dressing, more apple cider vinegar may be used in place of the cider.
What are the calories in Chick-Fil-A kale salad?
The original Chick Fil A Kale Crunch Side is a very small side salad containing 120 calories. My copycat kale salad is an entrée salad with high quality protein added that clocks in at 316 calories.
(BTW, being higher calorie isn’t necessarily a negative. It’s important to eat enough calories to have energy throughout the day and meet your essential nutrient needs!)
Can I substitute spinach for kale in this recipe?
Yes! If you don’t like using raw kale in salads, spinach would make a fine substitute.
Aside from almonds, what other foods are good sources of vitamin E?
This kale crunch salad copycat is packed with almonds, a rich source of vitamin E. What follows is a list of other foods that are good or excellent sources of vitamin E. That means that they contain at least 10% DV of this nutrient:
- Wheat germ oil
- Sunflower seeds
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
- Peanut butter
- Spinach (½ cup, boiled)
Other foods can make small contributions to your daily vitamin E intake as well, such as broccoli, kiwi, and mangoes. I highly recommend limiting added oils if you are looking for weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight after weight loss. Try to include other vitamin E sources (such as almonds!) if this describes you.
Other Copycat Salad Recipes that You May Enjoy
This isn’t my only salad copycat recipe on the site! Check out these other recipes for salads that were inspired by restaurant favorites:
- Wildflower Bread Chopped Salad Copycat Recipe (Gluten-Free!)
- Chop Salad Bowl (another Wildflower Bread Copycat)
- Cheeseburger Salad (Favorite Burger Copycat!)
- Spicy Chicken Southwest Salad
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And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let’s get cooking!
For more information please see the list of Kale salad at chick fil a