Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad

This kale and Brussels sprouts salad is a vibrant combination of zingy raw greens, sweetly spiced nuts, and crisp apple tossed in a honey-mustard vinaigrette. Healthy, delicious, and you can even make it ahead of time.

A kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad tossed with a honey-mustard dressing and topped with parmesan cheese and sweet-spicy nuts

We’ll celebrate a pan of perfectly roasted Brussels sprouts with crisped edges and a subtly sweet caramelized taste as much as anyone. But when we’re itching to venture beyond the usual, this brilliant winter salad is our answer. Able to make it in advance? Suitable to serve at room temperature? Scalable for a crowd? Check, check, and check. Best yet, this stunning toss of zingy raw greens, sweetly spiced nuts, and crisp apple tastes phenomenal. And, bonus, it can easily be made vegan.–Jenny Howard

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 4 to 6
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  • For the sweet-and-spicy nuts
  • For the honey-mustard vinaigrette
  • For the salad
  • For serving (optional)


Make the sweet-and-spicy nuts

In a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, toss the nuts, butter, sugar, cayenne pepper, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted, the sugar dissolves, and the nuts are completely coated, about 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to piece of parchment or wax paper to cool. Before using, break them apart. (You’ll have more candied nuts than you need for the recipe. Since when has that ever been a problem? Extras keep, covered at room temperature, for up to several days and make a lovely nosh alongside cocktails. They’re also pretty terrific atop ice cream.)

Make the honey-mustard vinaigrette

In a large bowl, combine at least 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and about 4 tablespoons lemon juice. Add the shallot, whole-grain mustard, Dijon mustard, vinegar, honey, and salt. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and, if necessary, adjust the ingredients according to personal preference. (If you prefer a less acidic dressing, consider adding a touch more honey, but keep in mind that the pronounced lemon stands up quite nicely to the earthy greens.)

Make the salad

In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse the Brussels sprouts 10 to 15 times, until just shredded, being careful not to pulverize them into tiny bits. Transfer to the bowl with the vinaigrette. Add the kale leaves to the food processor and pulse 4 to 6 times, until shredded, again being careful not to chop too finely.

In the large bowl with the vinaigrette and Brussels sprouts, add the shredded kale along with the dates, apple, salt, and pepper. Toss thoroughly to coat in dressing. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 12 hours before serving.

To serve (optional)

Toss the salad with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Transfer the salad to a shallow serving bowl and garnish with a handful of sweet-and-spicy nuts, and, if desired, more pepper and shaved Parmesan.

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    Not Into Brussels Sprouts?

    • Make the entire salad with kale. Or even shredded green cabbage. Either sturdy green leafy things will do well in a salad recipe such as this in which the greens are doused with the vinaigrette and then left to rest for at least a couple hours so the leaves can soften somewhat.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    I really enjoyed this kale and Brussels sprouts salad and can see making it part of the regular rotation at dinner. I did add some red cabbage to the mix, just because I had some, and quickly shredded it with my food processor.

    I made the spiced nuts and am glad I did; they are just so good. I used a combination of sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I wouldn't skimp on these—they are delicious eaten out of hand and definitely didn't last long before the dish was empty.

    The dressing was perfect as well. With enough acidity and sweetness, it works nicely with the apples and works as an effective marinade for these tougher greens. I did have my doubts about marinating the apples, as I thought they would get mushy. I used a Honeycrisp, however, and it stood up to my 6-hour marinade beautifully.

    I think the only thing I would change is to omit the Parmesan next time and instead use a little more salt on the nuts. I didn't find that the cheese added much. This salad is just as good without it, I think.

    All in all, I quite enjoyed this hearty winter salad and look forward to making it again.

    I was excited to get started on this salad as all the ingredients sounded yummy to me. But when I read the directions, I had my doubts that this would really work. Everything told me that it wouldn’t work, so I set out to prove this recipe wrong.

    Against my better judgement, I threw whole Brussels sprouts into the food processor and waited for disaster to occur. After 5 short pulses of about 3 seconds each, I had perfectly shredded sprouts. Not a hard bit of the core was left intact. OK, I said to myself, but what about throwing kale leaves into the processor, not in a million years would that work. Again, after 5 short pulses of 3 seconds each, I had a lovely pile of shredded Lacinato kale. I guess my better judgement was way off! I am thankful to know that I never have to “hand shred” Brussels sprouts and kale again!

    To start at the beginning, though, the sweet and spicy nuts are super easy to make. I used walnuts and pecans. You may want to amp up the cayenne. I used about 1/8th teaspoon and the heat level was barely there.

    The dressing is lovely as is. I thought it would be too much to use it all, but I went for it and it was perfect. I let the salad marinate about an hour and a half before we ate and the veggies were at once tender and crisp. Served at room temp. Plenty left for lunch the next day without any compromise on quality.

    I honestly didn’t feel that the Parmesan was a necessary element and I would not add it next time. I’m looking forward to making this again, though, maybe increasing the dates by a few more. And don’t skip the nuts!

    This kale and Brussels sprout salad took me the better part of an hour to make, even with the quick work of a processor, so maybe not a good plan for a busy weeknight.

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