Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad

Tested & Perfected Recipes

Shredded kale, crisp pancetta, tart apples, and pecans make a satisfying fall salad.

Made with shredded kale, radicchio, crisp pancetta, tart apples, pecans, and a zingy maple vinaigrette, this beautiful fall salad touches all your taste sensations. Even my husband, who is not much of a salad (much less kale) guy, cannot get enough of it.

How to make Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad

Begin with 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. 

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Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad

Shredded kale, crisp pancetta, tart apples, and pecans make a satisfying fall salad.

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 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 Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, sliced into thin matchsticks
  • 3/4 cup pecans, toasted if desired

Instructions

  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.

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.

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Reviews & Comments

  • This is one of my favorite salad recipes due to the incredible richness from the pancetta drippings combined with hearty kale. It almost feels like a guilty pleasure comfort food.

    • — Rachel on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was really an excellent salad. The crispy pancetta was a pleasant surprise and made it different from other kale salads. I used a bag of sturdy pre-washed greens to save me some time, but followed the rest of the recipe exactly. Very flavorful and an excellent mix of textures. My husband, who doesn’t usually care for salad, said it was the best he’s ever had. I’ll be serving this to guests in the future, since it’s so much better than a boring Caesar or green salad.

    • — Laura Wilkin on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! How would you recommend adapting this salad to serve to vegetarians? Or is there another vegetarian salad you’d recommend serving alongside your mac and cheese recipe instead (this was the recommended pairing). Thanks so much!!

    • — V. on January 11, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi V, I’d probably opt for a different salad because the pan drippings from the pancetta are part of the dressing. This arugula salad would work nicely. You can browse through all of my salads here. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on January 12, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thanks, Jenn!

        • — V on January 12, 2021
        • Reply
  • Quite tasty, had to sub bacon for pancetta and I didn’t want to use the bacon fat as the oil component for fear of a coagulated dressing (I was parially assembling this ahead of time for Canadian Thanksgiving) so instead I added the hot bacon to the dressing for about an hour before serving to infuse some of the flavour. It sort of worked but I look forward to making this recipe as directed. Regardless, this salad was still SO tasty.

    • — Corrine on November 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Just to amend my comment: I just put the EVOO in the dressing directly and mixed it.

      • — Corrine on November 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • Re: Kale, apple and pancetta salad – can I substitute baby spinach or other greens for the kale. Thank you for your wonderful recipes, you are always my go to. Ann B

    • — Ann Beasant on October 26, 2020
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes! You can substitute other greens for the kale. Just keep in mind the kale is pretty sturdy so make sure you toss the salad gently if you use different lettuce. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 26, 2020
      • Reply
  • I love this recipe. The balance with the acid and maple syrup and green apples is amazing. Thanks

    • — Johanne cardinal on March 11, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was delicious and everyone I work with loved it 🙂
    I made a couple additions; I added 1 T Dijon mustard and 1 shaved shallot to the dressing. I added crumbled feta cheese (or blue) to the top at the end, and substituted toasted almond slices in and bacon instead of the pancetta (with most of the fat trimmed off) since that’s what I had. SO good!

    • — Marybeth Fiden on February 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!
    I’m having some difficultly finding champagne vinegar and I was wondering if I could substitute it with some other type of vinegar?

    Thanks!
    Tisa

    • — Tisa on February 7, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Tisa, either white wine vinegar or cider vinegar will work. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 7, 2020
      • Reply
  • This salad is amazing! I have made it over 20 times. Why I have not left a review until now is a mystery! When I do not have pancetta, I sub bacon and it is just as good. This salad is so good that a few of my friends (that I have made this salad for) now have champagne vinegar in their pantry just for this salad. All of Jenn’s recipes are a hit at our house. Love the cookbook!

    • — Jenny on January 14, 2020
    • Reply
  • I skipped the pancetta part and it stilled tasted delicious. Also threw in cranberry and sweet roasted pecan.

    • — Love cooking on January 7, 2020
    • Reply
  • The best! I have never served a salad for which so many people went back for multiple helpings! Left the toasted pecans on the side for those who wanted it. I want to suggest that it would also be delicious with chopped and crisped pancetta rather than prosciutto, as I used the essence of this dressing recipe on extra kale several days later, but with pancetta, and it was fabulous… absolutely fantastic.

    Served it with OUAC pumpkin leek soup and it was a great combo!

    • — April on December 6, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hello…this looks delicious. How far ahead can I dress the salad?

    • — Tanyia on November 24, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Tanyia, I’d dress the salad right before serving. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 25, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen, 3 questions:
    1. May I use packaged baby kale?
    2. Your photo seems to showGranny Smith apples, (pale green peel) but you suggest Fuji or Honeycrisp.
    3. Is this recipe for a main course or side salad. I plan to serve this to eight guests with your luscious curried sweet potato carrot soup. Should I double this recipe?

    Thank you.

    • — Diana on November 4, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Diana, If you want to use baby kale, I’d dress it right before serving as baby kale is more delicate than traditional kale. And you’re absolutely right — I do use Granny Smith apples in this. It was a mistake that I didn’t suggest it in the ingredients (I’ve updated it)! And last, this is more of a side salad versus a main course. If you’d like to serve it to 8 people, I’d double it. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on November 5, 2019
      • Reply
  • Like every recipe I’ve made from this site, this salad is absolutely delicious. I didn’t think I liked kale but decided to take a chance on this recipe. So, so, so good!

    • — Jaclyn on May 26, 2019
    • Reply
  • This salad was excellent. I used it as a side salad, so I had a lot more than 4 servings. It got better with age as is often the case with kale. (It softens up the longer it is dressed.) Mine kept for almost a week. It may not have been presentation worthy then, but it was still tasty. I used a fresh bunch of kale and was reminded what a convenience pre-washed bagged salad greens can be! I will go that route next time.

  • This is truly one of the best salads I have ever eaten! Thanks for such a wonderful recipe. It is the perfect combination of flavors.

  • Hi Jenn,
    Can the dressing be made a day ahead of time, and if so, can I store it at room temperature? Do I need to reheat it prior to adding it to the salad?

    Thank you!

    • Sure, Teresa, you can make the dressing a day ahead. While I think it would be fine to store at room temp, to be safe, I’d suggest refrigerating it. Then you can microwave it very briefly just to warm it up a little before dressing the salad. Enjoy!

  • I’m prepping it now, but I think it won’t be enough for dinner. What do you recommend serving with it?

  • Hi Jen, I never used the radicchio before, bought it for a first time. I tried one piece and it tastes somewhat bitter. Is this the way it should be? Will the dressing take away this taste? Or, I should replace it with a red cabbage? My concern is that the radicchio I got is not a fresh one…. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Natalie, Yes, radicchio is bitter – in this salad all of the flavors balance out nicely but if you’re nervous, don’t add too much to start.

      • Thanks for the reply, the flavors do mix and balance out the bitterness, I let it stand in refrigerator for a couple of hours, the flavor is really rich and comfortting.
        I won’t be scared next time 🙂

  • 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.

    • Glad you enjoyed this! I just added the nutritional info to the recipe. 🙂

  • 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!!!!!!

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

  • 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!) 🙂

    • Recently, we started adding manchego cheese to this salad and it works well with the other flavors too!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • That was a mistake, Carole – no shallot. Sorry!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

    • Hi Janet, It should be fine– both kale and radicchio are pretty sturdy.

  • 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?

    • Sure, Toni. That will work. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • 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?

    • Hi Julie, You didn’t miss anything. I ended up changing the recipe after I photographed the ingredients. 🙂

  • 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.

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