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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.



  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • ¼ cup Champagne vinegar
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ 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
  • ¾ 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.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • 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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  • 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.

    • 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.

    • — Colleen weaver
    • Reply
  • 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.

  • 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 Smith
    • Reply
  • 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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