Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad

5 stars based on 25 votes


Made with shredded kale, radicchio, crisp pancetta, tart apples, pecans and a zingy maple vinaigrette, this beautiful fall salad touches all your taste sensations. It’s wildly addictive — even my husband, who is not much of a salad guy, cannot get enough of it.

To begin, cook the pancetta, which is simply Italian bacon. Instead of being smoked like American bacon, pancetta is cured with salt and spices and then dried. You can find it in the deli at most supermarkets and sometimes precut and packaged in the refrigerated gourmet foods aisle. Combine it with the olive oil in a small pan and fry over medium heat until crisp.

Strain the oil and pancetta drippings into a bowl. This will be the base for your vinaigrette. Set the pancetta aside — it will be a delicious topping for your salad.

Next, remove the kale leaves from the tough stems.

Shred them with a sharp knife, along with the radicchio. Cut the apples into wide matchsticks, leaving the skin on.

Complete the vinaigrette by whisking in Champagne vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper.

Toss the vinaigrette with the vegetables and pecans.

This recipe was originally published on my column at Serious Eats. The inspiration came from a similar but more complicated recipe from Food & Wine. 

My Recipe Videos

Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad

Servings: 4


  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 small head radicchio, shredded
  • 1 (8-ounce) bunch kale, stems discarded, leaves shredded
  • 2 tart-yet-sweet apples, such as Fuji or Honeycrisp, sliced into thin matchsticks
  • 3/4 cup pecans, toasted if desired


  1. Combine the olive oil and pancetta in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until pancetta is golden and crispy. Strain the pan drippings into a small bowl and leave the crispy pancetta off to the side to cool. Add the Champagne vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper to the pan drippings and whisk well.
  2. Combine the radicchio, kale, apples and pecans in a large bowl. Toss while adding the dressing, little by little, until the salad is well dressed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with crispy pancetta.
Once Upon a Chef - The Cookbook - Get your copy now!

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Calories: 541
  • Fat: 43 g
  • Saturated fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 35 g
  • Sugar: 24 g
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Sodium: 363 mg
  • Cholesterol: 19 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    This was amazing! I omitted the radicchio since I don’t like that vegetable.

    I couldn’t find champagne vinegar, so I used Pear Raspberry vinegar. The dressing turned out to be amazing. The maple syrup balanced out the tart vinegar taste, and there was the subtle bacon taste too!

    I didn’t see the nutrition info at the end of the recipe. I am wondering about the calories and sugar content since we used 1/4 cup pure maple syrup.

    - Melvina on July 29, 2018 Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed this! I just added the nutritional info to the recipe. 🙂

      - Jenn on July 29, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is absolutely my favorite salad ever. I could eat it every night. I was surprised how long it will hold up in the fridge. I always double the recipe so I have leftovers. I add the apples as I serve it so they don’t darken in the leftovers. TRY this you will love it!!!!!!

    - Donna Brady on March 2, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Oh! I also use white wine vinegar because it’s cheaper than the champagne vinegar and it works well as a substitute.

    - Kaylie on December 31, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this quite a few times and it’s always a hit. I don’t use kale though, I serve it with arugula for my husband and with baby spinach for myself. I also use glazed pecans (sold in the salad toppings section at the grocery store) and I don’t use all of the oil for the dressing – all just preferences. This has become a favorite in our home, we love the combination of flavors. My husband requests this regularly. It’s great served with Jenn’s Pasta e Fagioli for a more complete meal (and the Chocolate Biscotti for dessert!) 🙂

    - Kaylie on December 31, 2017 Reply
    • Recently, we started adding manchego cheese to this salad and it works well with the other flavors too!

      - Kaylie on March 8, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This recipe is so good. And healthy. The warm dressing helps tame the kale, while the maple syrup gives a soft sweet without shouting maple syrup. I’ve shared the recipe twice already, once for a potluck and most recently for Thanksgiving eve with gathering family when we wanted a simple menu before the next day’s feasting.

    To cut $$ corners I used the bacon on hand rather than pancetta. To reduce some of the holiday meal chopping, I started with bagged pre-cut kale and further chopped to desired texture.

    The salad was served simply with baked potatoes and steak from the BBQ. A perfect division of labor: the men did the steaks and the women did the salad and potatoes.

    The recipe is now a part of our family favorites notebook. Thank you, Jennifer!

    - LINDA HANCOCK on November 30, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this salad last night. I did sub four slices of diced bacon for pancetta, used white wine vinegar instead of champagne vinegar and roasted sunflower seeds for pecans. I used about 1/4 cup of bacon drippings in dressing. It was fabulous, my husband had two helpings. Will definitely make this again, maybe with pancetta this time!

    - Mary from NJ on November 11, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Hi Jenn, I’m not a kale person, but a lot of my friends are, and I made this amazing salad last night for a dinner party. It was so delicious I might become a “kale person.” Thank you for another great recipe. I did not add pancetta (because my kale friends are mostly vegetarians–shocking, I know!), but it was still out of this world.

    - Lisa on October 27, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I couldn’t find the radicchio so I used purple cabbage. We had homemade chicken pot pie and your kale salad. Oh my, one of my all time favorite meals ever. I could have eaten all the salad myself and skipped the meat but my husband wanted some salad too. Great job on another salad recipe.

    - Donna Brady on October 21, 2017 Reply
  • You show a shallot in the ingredients pic but I don’t see it used in the written recipe. Do you add to the dressing? Thank you!

    - Carole on October 19, 2017 Reply
    • That was a mistake, Carole – no shallot. Sorry!

      - Jenn on October 19, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is hands down the best kale salad I’ve ever had in my life! I used bacon instead of panccetta. Will definitely make again. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

    - Ashley Sigman on February 25, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I served this at Christmas to relatives who don’t normally eat kale and everyone absolutely loved it and cleaned their salad plates. I made the salad ahead and added the dressing just before serving. The salad is festive, creative and totally delicious!

    - Linda on February 14, 2017 Reply
  • how far in advance can the dressing be added? I just tossed it and am not serving for 5 hours. Was that a mistake?? I left out the apples and pancetta till I serve but am worried it will be too soggy. Help!

    - Janet on December 18, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Janet, It should be fine– both kale and radicchio are pretty sturdy.

      - Jenn on December 18, 2016 Reply
  • This looks yummy! I’m going to make it for Thanksgiving — along with 2 of your other recipes! : -)
    I always like to prepare as much as possible ahead of time. Can I make the dressing a day or two before and then re-crisp the pancetta in the oven (or on the stovetop?) before tossing all the ingredients together and serving?

    - toni on November 16, 2016 Reply
    • Sure, Toni. That will work. Happy Thanksgiving!

      - Jenn on November 16, 2016 Reply
  • The photo of ingredients shows a shallot (I think!), but that isn’t mentioned in the list of ingredients–just wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing something?

    - Julie on October 20, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Julie, You didn’t miss anything. I ended up changing the recipe after I photographed the ingredients. 🙂

      - Jenn on October 20, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was on my menu this week with baked chicken. We loved it, and had the leftovers for lunch the next day. Wish I had made a double batch. My husband has diabetes, and his numbers were the best they’ve ever been. This will be a constant rotation on my weekly menu plan.

    - Nicki on October 13, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I substituted some honey for maple syrup and it worked fine. A definite crowd pleaser. Since we dressed only what we used, remaining salad held up great as a leftover the next day. Will make this again and again! Thanks!

    - Jane on October 7, 2016 Reply
  • This sounds delicious. I can’t eat the maple syrup (no sugar diet). Should I add more oil? I realize the dressing will lack a sweetness.

    - Jane on September 29, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Jane, While I’ve never tried it, another reader that needs to limit sugar intake had suggested sugar-free syrup, so you may want to give that a try. I’ve never tried sugar-free syrup, so if you make the dressing with it, I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      - Jenn on September 29, 2016 Reply
  • My grocery store sells several types of Kale ie black kale, red kale. Which do you suggest for this salad?

    - Linda on February 16, 2016 Reply
    • You can certainly get creative if you want, but I would just recommend the common, curly kale. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on February 17, 2016 Reply
  • 4 stars

    I’m not a big kale fan, but this was very tasty! Will definitely make again!

    - Mary brandt on February 15, 2016 Reply
  • What would be a suitable substitution for the pancetta? We don’t eat pork.

    - Danielle Werchowsky on December 17, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Danielle, You could just eliminate the pancetta from the recipe or replace it with turkey bacon, or even a little beef salami.

      - Jenn on December 17, 2015 Reply
  • Is there any substitute for the radicchio? Maybe purple cabbage?

    - Merry on November 24, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Merry, Yes, that should work.

      - Jenn on November 24, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this salad to serve with dinner last night and it was wonderful! I have tried quite a few recipes from your collection and have never been disappointed. All of the recipes I have tried have gone into my rotation. Consequently, I use your website all the time and happily share the link with friends and family!

    - Tammy Hedrick on October 29, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was excellent, easy and very tasty, all the guys really like it which says a lot!

    - Mary on October 18, 2015 Reply
  • Best salad ever!!!!

    - Colleen on September 23, 2015 Reply
  • Jen..I can’t find Champagne Vinegar anywhere where I live. Could another vinegar be used instead? I’m dying to try this recipe because so far all of your other ones I’ve tried are 10+.

    - Carolyn Stranges on September 3, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Carolyn, Yes no worries — white wine vinegar or cider vinegar will both work. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on September 3, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    So delicious! Made this as is with the short ribs, but it would be great solo as a meal. This salad even won over my less-than-adventurous-with-food father! This site is fantastic, every recipe I’ve tried has been a winner. Thank you so much for the delicious recipes!

    - Janna on August 29, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I used this recipe for Thanksgiving and it was a hit and almost none was left! The only change I made was to use baby kale. Since that does not stand up as well as regular kale, I dressed the salad right before serving. Toasting the pecans makes a big difference in flavor.

    - Diane Miness on August 27, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    There are so many recipes from this website I love but this is one of my favourites. Easy and delish. The tart apples and pecans with the sweet dressing are amazing.

    - Colleen weaver on May 15, 2015 Reply
  • 4 stars

    My husband and I loved this salad so much, I made it the next night for guests. I substituted leaf lettuce for the radicchio and left the pan drippings in the pan.

    - Renée Finlayson on March 23, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This salad recipe is the best I’ve made by far. The sweetness of the apples and the saltiness of the pancetta make for a perfect duo of flavors. I didn’t change a thing; the recipe is perfect.

    - Mary on March 21, 2015 Reply
  • 4 stars

    This salad is a favorite in my house! It goes great with chicken and pork! I have even served along BbQue!

    - Julie spencer on March 21, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was so good, made it again within the same week.

    - Marq on March 12, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I’m a huge fan of Jenn and this site and at times I look at the recipes and think, that’s it, shouldn’t there be more ingredients? Ummm, nope! And this salad is one of those examples! Followed it exactly and it’s delicious as is, don’t change or add anything! Well, I guess you might have to if you are a vegetarian!
    Not that there will be any left, but I did have a little and it got soggy overnight, which was disappointing because I was looking forward to having it for lunch. But like any salad, it happens, so serve it fresh!

    - Lana on January 5, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Fabulous! Using specialty smoked bacon also works, and using a nonstick pan meant I could eliminate the olive oil and just use the pancetta fat. Then I added the rest of the dressing ingredients directly into the pan so I wouldn’t miss any of the fine pancetta ‘grits’. Everyone except the vegetarians loved this salad.
    For a vegetarian version I would use a smoked fish and the olive oil in lieu of the meat.

    - HBolan on December 3, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I have made this salad several times already. My whole family loves it! I don’t always have pancetta, so I’ve substituted regular bacon on occasion. It’s a fair substitute. Excellent combo of ingredients that I usually have on hand. Thanks!

    - Cheryl on December 3, 2014 Reply
  • Do you do anything to the apples to prevent them from turning brown before adding to the salad?

    - Karen on October 24, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Karen, The vinaigrette keeps the apples fresh, so long as you don’t make the salad too far in advance.

      - Jenn on October 24, 2014 Reply
  • Looks delicious. Any recommendations on a chicken dish that would pair with this?

    - Jen on October 8, 2014 Reply
  • This was delicious. I’ll exclude the pancetta next time- the salad was delicious without it!

    - Mo on June 26, 2014 Reply
  • Thank you so much for the recipe. I picked up my aunt Jeanie and stopped by Colandras bakery in Newark. Got a nice loaf of Pamella and some Ciabatta. We made the salad. It is so 5 star! Bless you.

    - Charlie on April 19, 2014 Reply
  • Delicious! I will be making this salad again and again. In the past two weeks I have tried three of your recipes and loved all of them! Keep them coming!

    - Marsha on February 26, 2014 Reply
  • I made this salad for my family and it was a big hit. I will definitely be making this again. Oh and since we aren’t big on pecans I substituted dry roasted sunflower seeds.

    - Wendy on January 23, 2014 Reply
  • Just wanted to add to the chorus….yummy beyond.belief! I don’t usually care for kale but this has made a believer out of me. Made me a star at a recent dinner party!

    - Cheryl on December 22, 2013 Reply
  • This has become one of my favorite recipes and a great choice for company. I decided to make this after picking apples at a local orchard and needing to use up some kale. Be sure to use real maple syrup and champagne vinegar – go buy some at a specialty market if you must. The dressing really stands out in this recipe so substitutions WILL change the final flavor.

    I didn’t think I liked radicchio but the combination of flavors here was just perfect. Definitely keeping this one in my recipe box.

    - Adrian on November 14, 2013 Reply
  • I look forward to trying this recipe because it sounds delicious plus it’s healthy for the most part. I really enjoy receiving your recipes in my in-box. The recipes are amazing and definitely a change of pace.

    - Melissa on November 14, 2013 Reply
  • This was very delicious. I ended up only using one apple, maybe my apples were larger than the ones used here. I also used a SweeTango apple, which despite the silly name is one of my favorite apples. It’s a bit tarter than Honeycrisp. The only thing I would say is the dressing was a little too sweet for me, but I probably used too much anyway. This is definitely a recipe I will make again.

    - Chris on October 22, 2013 Reply
  • I loved this salad. I used my current favorite variety of Kale – Lacinato….and it worked perfectly!

    - Nicole on October 22, 2013 Reply
  • Hi Jenn, the salad looks beautiful and definitely bite-worthy. Trouble is I am vegetarian. Is there any substitute for the pancetta?

    - Ashita on July 21, 2013 Reply
  • Ohhh gorgeous! This looks divine!

    - Jamie @lifelovelemons on July 19, 2013 Reply
  • HI Jenn: I made this salad in the summer and it was delicious and healthy! So now wondering should I use granny smith apples or should I use honey crisp now that they are available.. xo

    - sandy on January 27, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Sandy! This salad needs a tart apple to offset the sweetness in the dressing — grannies are my favorite but honey crisp would also work. Just avoid using mild sweet apples like golden/red delicious or gala.

      - Jenn on January 27, 2013 Reply
  • Was so good, I couldn’t get enough!

    - Nicole on September 28, 2012 Reply
  • This looks delicious! I love anything made with kale and will be trying this recipe for sure!!

    - Tami on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • One of our favorite kale recipes. Super greens and super tasty!!

    - Amanda on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! I’m definitely making this next time we have friends over! Thanks for the wonderful recipes 🙂

    - Kelly on March 4, 2012 Reply
  • I loved this recipe! Instead of the radicchio, I used Boston lettuce by accident, but it was fine with this. So pretty and so delicious. My dinner guests wanted the recipe, too.

    Even the leftovers were good several days out.


    - Jennifer Smith on March 2, 2012 Reply
  • Looks beautiful and certainly will be a crowd pleaser. What protein would you serve as a main course?

    - Krista on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Yummy! I’m always attracted to different textures and this one was delish! A colorful presentation always grabs me and when the flavor is as wonderful as the presentation, I’m sold! Love it!

    - debbie on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Delicious salad full of texture. We love this crunchy salad with it’s sweet, tart and slightly bitter flavors mixed with the salty pancetta. Loaded with vitamins!

    - Amanda on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Did you not use the shallot that’s pictured in the second photograph? Thanks.

    - Lee on February 12, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Lee, Good eye! The recipe started out with a shallot but I decided it had enough flavor without it, so I took it out. Sorry about that…I missed that one 🙂

      - Jenn on February 12, 2012 Reply
  • so delicious looking, so many vibrant colors. the pictures are gorgeous!

    - Lannie on February 10, 2012 Reply
  • Hi! I love your blog! Is there a substitute for the maple syrup? I am diabetic and can’t have any sugar. Do you think sugar free syrup would be a good substitute? Or is there something else that would work? Thanks!

    - Jaclyn on February 9, 2012 Reply
    • Thank you, Jaclyn! To be honest, I’ve never tried sugar free syrup but my guess is that it would work fine as a substitute.

      - Jenn on February 9, 2012 Reply
  • This was delicious! I used walnuts–forgot to get pecans–and fuji apples. Looking forward to having more of it tonight.

    - Swimmy on February 8, 2012 Reply
  • Yum!! That looks fantastic. I am not much of a red meat eater, but I love pancetta, go figure. Thanks for the recipe.

    - Laura Black on February 7, 2012 Reply
  • Looks exactly like a salad I recently fell in love with at Beauty & Essex in Manhattan. I am so excited to try this! The salad at B&E was made with apple cider vinagrette and had shaved goat cheese. Also the pecans were spicy/sweet.

    - Lori on February 7, 2012 Reply
  • Again, perfect timing as I’m learning new delicious vegetable dishes. Thank you again Jenn!

    - Niya Sisk on February 7, 2012 Reply
  • Looks SO GOOD! Must try for my next dinner party!

    - Meg at Peaches and Cake on February 7, 2012 Reply
Add a Review or Question

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Hungry for More?

Subscribe to my free weekly newsletter — where I share new recipes and seasonal menus for every occasion.

Your email address will never be used for any other purpose.
Curious? See a sample newsletter.