This Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad is the great equalizer, mind-changer, and lunch brightener. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a “salad person” (or even a Brussels sprouts person or a kale person). The balanced combination of tasty toppings like nuts, dried cherries, and Parmesan, along with a helpful boost from a zippy, lightly sweet maple vinaigrette, are here to win you over, and you’ll be happy with the victory indeed.

Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad with Maple Vinaigrette in a white salad bowl topped with walnuts

Think you don’t like kale in any circumstance, regardless of the toppings or dressing? WELL, thanks to an easy but game-changing prep tip, you’ll be delighted to find yourself enjoying this salad’s roaringly “green” ingredients too.

Unlike chewy or even bitter kale and Brussels sprouts salads you’ve had before, the vegetables here are mild and tender. The transformation comes from massaging the kale and thinly slicing the Brussels sprouts. It’s a minor step that makes all the difference. You’ll want to pile both onto your fork!

To the existing kale and Brussels sprouts fans, this salad recipe will exceed your best and your wisest expectations. It’s yummy, not dry (and not overdressed), with a splendid combination of textures and flavors.

As with any salad (save for perhaps a kale Brussels sprout salad mix), this recipe does require some up-front prep work, but it can last for days in the refrigerator. The time you spend making it will be rewarded over and over as you enjoy the fruits of your labor throughout the week.

In addition to being a dynamite meal-prep recipe, this kale and Brussels sprouts salad is a looker. At a future time, I know it’s going to be a go-to of mine for potlucks and dinner parties, as it can be made well in advance and tastes excellent at room temperature.

A white salad bowl with kale and brussels sprouts salad topped with Parmesan cheese

Kale and Brussels Sprouts – Better, Together

Kale and Brussels sprouts are related. Both are cruciferous vegetables, a group that also includes species like cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, and cauliflower. Cruciferous veggies trace their heritage back to the same mustard plant and can also be referred to as members of the brassica family. They are packed with similar vitamins and fiber, though each has unique nourishment to offer. (See the Health Benefits section below for more details.)

Separately, kale and Brussels sprouts can make for a stellar salad. Caesar Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Crispy Chickpea Croutons, BLT Chopped Salad, and this Winter Salad with Kale and Pomegranate are but a few examples.

Together, they are even better. I combined kale and Brussels sprouts into the same salad for the first time when I was working on recipes for my upcoming cookbook, and I’ve adored the combination since.

Both kale and Brussels sprouts are hearty, and each offers its own unique nutritional profile. The subtle differences in color and texture at play when you put them into the same salad make for stellar presentation and enjoyable eating experience.

How to Make a Kale Brussels Sprouts Salad (That Actually Tastes Great)

I have four major tips to ensure that your kale and Brussels sprouts salads taste legitimately craveable and not like something only a bunny would eat.

TIP #1: Massage Your Kale

  • Thinly slicing, then massaging the kale breaks down its fibers, lessens its bitterness, and gives it an almost buttery texture. You’ll be able to see, smell, and feel the change.

Here’s the kale before massaging:

Chopped raw kale in a large salad bowl

And here it is after massaging. As you can see the leaves look slightly darker and almost moist, even though no liquid has been added. You can almost see the softness!

Massaged kale in a salad bowl

Taste a bite of it at each stage. You’ll notice a difference.

TIP #2: Thinly Slice Your Brussels Sprouts

As with the kale, prep is key for the best texture. Slicing the sprouts into very thin ribbons will make them enjoyable to eat and not overly hard or chewy.

Shredded Brussels sprouts in a food processor

  • I find the easiest way to shred Brussels sprouts is in a food processor using the slicing blade. This is the food processor I’ve owned happily for more than 10 years; I use a blade like this.
  • For more Brussels sprouts shredding tips and prep options that don’t involve a food processor, check out my post for Brussels Sprouts Slaw, which goes into detail.

TIP #3: Don’t Skimp on the Dressing

The maple vinaigrette in this recipe takes less than two minutes to stir together, and it’s fantastic. Don’t cheap out when you drizzle it over the top. The salad needs it.

Kale Brussel Sprout Salad with Walnuts and Parmesan in a white bowl

  • Since kale and Brussels sprouts are heartier, they can stand up to more dressing than other green salads. Their stronger taste also means that bright, acidic ingredients—like the lemon juice in this vinaigrette—are necessary to balance their more bitter natural notes.
  • Don’t go totally nuts on the dressing (you can always add more, but you can’t take it away), but don’t feel like you need to be as delicate as you would be with a salad that uses more tender greens like this Spinach Strawberry Salad.

TIP #4: Choose the Right Toppings

If you are prepping your kale and Brussels sprouts properly and dressing the salad well, you don’t need many toppings to create an impact. I like to use three different elements.

A large white bowl with kale, shredded brussels sprouts, Parmesan, and walnuts

  • Nuts. These add crunch, toastiness, and healthy, satisfying fats. I like walnuts in this salad. Pecans or almonds would also be scrumptious. Be sure to toast them first for max impact.
  • Fruit. I like something that’s both tart and sweet. Dried fruit is a quick, convenient option that yields wonderful results. Dried cherries are my choice in this recipe, and dried cranberries would be an excellent option too. If you’d like to use fresh fruit, try a kale Brussels sprout pomegranate salad or kale Brussels sprout apple salad.
  • Cheese. Parmesan is my favorite; it’s flavorful and nutty. Feta, blue cheese, or goat cheese are all delicious here too.

Of course, you can always add MORE toppings (kale Brussels sprout bacon salad anyone?), but a combination of the above three will taste elegant, balanced, and will convince salad skeptics.

A green kale brussels sprouts salad in a bowl with a fork

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad Health Benefits

In addition to making for a seriously scrumptious lunch, light dinner, or side dish, this salad offers a wealth of nutritional benefits.

  • Kale. This nutrient-dense veggie brings a substantial amount of Vitamin-A, Vitamin-C, and antioxidants to this salad.
  • Brussels Sprouts. Brussels sprouts are packed with fiber, Vitamin-K, and Vitamin-C.
  • Walnuts. Walnuts are rich in numerous antioxidants and healthy omega-3 fats. They give the salad crunch and queue your brain that what you are eating is filling and satisfying.
  • Dried Cherries. Cherries bring anti-inflammatory compounds, potassium, and fiber to this salad. Also they are bright, chewy, and delicious.

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

  • To Make Ahead and Have the Recipe Taste Fresh For Serving. Wash and chop your kale and Brussels sprouts up to 1 day in advance and store them in the refrigerator. Prepare your dressing up to 1 day in advance, storing it separately in the refrigerator. You can also toast the walnuts and shred the Parmesan cheese up to 1 day in advance. Store the walnuts at room temperature, and store the Parmesan in the refrigerator.
  • To Store. When stored in an airtight storage container, shredded Brussels sprouts can last for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. Kale can sometimes last a full week (wrap the leaves in a paper towel and refrigerate them in a ziptop bag), but once you’ve mixed the two, you’re going to need to base your storage off of the Brussels sprouts.
    • After the dressing is added to the salad, it can last about 2 days (though I’ve pushed it for longer and just added more dressing).
    • If you know you are going to be enjoying the salad over several days, wait to dress individual servings until within a few hours of enjoying them. I also like to make and save extra dressing perk up my leftover salad servings as I go.

What to Serve with Kale Brussels Sprouts Salad

kale and brussels sprouts salad mixed in a bowl with Parmesan, cherries, and walnuts

Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe 

I looked forward to lunch every day that this vibrant, healthy, and hearty kale and Brussels sprouts salad was in my refrigerator. I hope it brings a beam of happy meal time anticipation to your week too!

If you try this recipe, please leave a comment to let me know how it came out. Your feedback and 5-star ratings keep me going and are so helpful to other readers too.

Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad with Maple Vinaigrette in a white salad bowl topped with walnuts
Print Review
5 from 1 vote

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad

This Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with maple vinaigrette, walnuts, and Parmesan is stunning and absolutely delicious. It keeps well in the refrigerator, so it's great for meal prep and entertaining.
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 8 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Servings: 8 servings as a side; 4 to 6 as a main

Ingredients
  

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw walnut halves - or raw whole almonds
  • 1 large or 2 small bunches curly kale - about 1 1/4 pounds stems removed and finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 ounces Brussels sprouts
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup dried cherries - or dried cranberries

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice - about 1 1/2 medium lemons
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts into a single layer on an ungreased, rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until they smell fragrant and toasty and a nut is light tan on the inside when broken in half, tossing once halfway through. Remove to a cutting board. Let cool, then roughly chop.
  • Meanwhile, place the kale in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt. Massage the kale with your hands by grabbing large handfuls a few at a time and squeezing gently until the kale is darker in color and more fragrant (this step makes the kale more tender and less bitter in taste—don’t skip it!).
  • Shred the Brussels sprouts: For the fastest possible shredding, cut the bottom end off of the Brussels sprouts, then shred them using a food processor slicing blade like this one. Alternatively, you can carefully slice the Brussels sprouts with a mandoline (if using a mandoline, I recommend holding the stem, slicing from the top, and discarding the bottom stem; be careful and watch your fingers). If you do not have a food processor OR a mandoline, you can use a sharp chef's knife: remove the stems and any wilted outer leaves, then slice the sprouts into very thin ribbons. For all methods: once the Brussels sprouts are sliced, place the shreds in a bowl with the kale, then toss and fluff them with a fork or your fingers.
  • In a small bowl or large liquid measuring cup, stir together the dressing ingredients: the oil, lemon juice, Dijon, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. (Alternatively, you can shake the dressing together in a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid.)
  • Dress and assemble the salad: Pour half of the dressing over the salad, then toss to combine (I like to use tongs for this). Sprinkle the Parmesan, cherries, and chopped nuts over the top, then lightly toss again. Drizzle with additional dressing as desired.

Notes

  • TO MAKE AHEAD AND HAVE THE RECIPE TASTE FRESH FOR SERVING: Wash and chop your kale and Brussels sprouts up to 1 day in advance and store them in the refrigerator. Prepare your dressing up to 1 day in advance, storing it separately in the refrigerator. You can also toast the walnuts and shred the Parmesan cheese up to 1 day in advance. Store the walnuts at room temperature, and store the Parmesan in the refrigerator.
  • TO STORE: When stored in an airtight storage container, shredded Brussels sprouts can last for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. Kale can sometimes last a full week (wrap the leaves in a paper towel and refrigerate them in a ziptop bag), but once you've mixed the two, you're going to need to base your storage off of the Brussels sprouts.
    • After the dressing is added to the salad, it can last about 2 days (though I've pushed it for longer and just added more dressing).
    • If you know you are going to be enjoying the salad over several days, wait to dress individual servings until within a few hours of enjoying them. I also like to make and save extra dressing perk up my leftover salad servings as I go.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 8), Calories: 313kcal, Carbohydrates: 19g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 8mg, Potassium: 374mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 1624IU, Vitamin C: 61mg, Calcium: 170mg, Iron: 2mg
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
All text and images ©Erin Clarke / Well Plated
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