Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad

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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 Fuji 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

  • 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.

    • — Andrea Laine on January 25, 2019
    • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Karen Funt on December 20, 2018
    • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Teresa on November 20, 2018
    • Reply
    • 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!

      • — Jenn on November 21, 2018
      • Reply
  • I’m prepping it now, but I think it won’t be enough for dinner. What do you recommend serving with it?

    • — Lauren on October 31, 2018
    • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Natalie on September 29, 2018
    • Reply
    • 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.

      • — Jenn on September 29, 2018
      • Reply
      • 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 🙂

        • — Natalie on October 8, 2018
        • Reply
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.

  • Jenn,
    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!

  • 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.
    Thanks

    • 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!

  • My grocery store sells several types of Kale ie black kale, red kale. Which do you suggest for this salad?

    • You can certainly get creative if you want, but I would just recommend the common, curly kale. Hope you enjoy!

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

  • What would be a suitable substitution for the pancetta? We don’t eat pork.

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

  • Is there any substitute for the radicchio? Maybe purple cabbage?

    • Hi Merry, Yes, that should work.

  • 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!

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

  • Best salad ever!!!!

  • 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
    • Reply
    • Hi Carolyn, Yes no worries — white wine vinegar or cider vinegar will both work. Enjoy!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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
    • Reply
  • 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.

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

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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Do you do anything to the apples to prevent them from turning brown before adding to the salad?

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

  • Looks delicious. Any recommendations on a chicken dish that would pair with this?

  • This was delicious. I’ll exclude the pancetta next time- the salad was delicious without it!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.
    Blessings!

  • 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.

  • I loved this salad. I used my current favorite variety of Kale – Lacinato….and it worked perfectly!

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

  • Ohhh gorgeous! This looks divine!

  • 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

    • 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.

  • Was so good, I couldn’t get enough!

  • This looks delicious! I love anything made with kale and will be trying this recipe for sure!!

  • One of our favorite kale recipes. Super greens and super tasty!!

  • Absolutely delicious! I’m definitely making this next time we have friends over! Thanks for the wonderful recipes 🙂

  • 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

  • Looks beautiful and certainly will be a crowd pleaser. What protein would you serve as a main course?

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • Did you not use the shallot that’s pictured in the second photograph? Thanks.

    • 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 🙂

  • so delicious looking, so many vibrant colors. the pictures are gorgeous!

  • 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!

    • 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.

  • This was delicious! I used walnuts–forgot to get pecans–and fuji apples. Looking forward to having more of it tonight.

  • Yum!! That looks fantastic. I am not much of a red meat eater, but I love pancetta, go figure. Thanks for the recipe.

  • 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.

  • Again, perfect timing as I’m learning new delicious vegetable dishes. Thank you again Jenn!

  • Looks SO GOOD! Must try for my next dinner party!

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