Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad

$6.19 recipe / $1.55 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.93 from 14 votes
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If you think a salad can’t fill you up, think again. This awesomely crunchy and flavorful Kale and Chicken Salad is chock full of juicy chicken breast, almonds, celery, and lots of fiberlicious kale to keep your belly full. And flavor? Oh don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the flavor. A tangy, sweet, and creamy honey Dijon dressing drenches the salad in tons of flavor. Throw a few sweet golden raisins on top for a pop of sweetness and you’ve got salad magic. And the best part? All of these ingredients hold up well to refrigeration, so this salad is perfect for your weekly meal prep. 🙌 Originally posted 7-28-2014, updated 8-16-2021. Dressing being poured over a kale and chicken salad If you love regular chicken salad, I think you’ll love this kale and chicken salad as well. It has all the same flavors as traditional chicken salad, but the ingredients are piled onto a bed of greens and the dressing is made slightly thinner so that it’s pourable instead of acting like a thick binder. And just as with regular chicken salad, there is a lot of room for customization here, so keep reading for some ideas.

Can I Use Different Greens?

Sure! If you’re not into kale, you can swap it out with your favorite greens. I think a crunchy green like Romaine or finely shredded cabbage would probably be best, but you could use any green that you like to use for fresh salads.

What Kind of Chicken to Use

I used plain chicken breast that I cooked quickly in a skillet and then diced, but you can take a shortcut and use store-bought rotisserie chicken instead. You’ll need about 1.5 cups of chopped cooked chicken for this recipe. 

Raisin Substitutes

I love the mildly sweet golden raisins in this recipe, but you could swap them out with dried cranberries, chopped apples for more crunch, or even fresh grapes (sliced). 

Dressing Options

If you don’t want to make your own homemade dressing for this salad, a store-bought honey mustard or poppyseed dressing would be awesome with the flavors in this salad.

How to Meal Prep Kale and Chicken Salad

The sturdy, crunchy nature of the ingredients in this salad means that it holds up extremely well to refrigeration without much effort. I would store the dressing on the side just to maintain maximum crunch-factor, but other than that, all of the ingredients can be stored together in single-serving containers. The prepped salads will stay good in the fridge for about 3-4 days. Side view of dressing being poured onto kale and chicken salad

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Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad

4.93 from 14 votes
This Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad is full of flavor, texture, and a tangy-sweet homemade dressing. It's perfect for your weekly meal prep!
dressing being poured over kale and chicken salad
Servings 4
Prep 15 mins
Total 15 mins

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1.5 cups chopped cooked chicken ($4.33)
  • 6 cups chopped kale ($1.25)
  • 1 cup chopped celery ($0.37)
  • 1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds ($0.79)
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins ($0.47)

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise ($0.50)
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar ($0.18)
  • 1.5 Tbsp honey ($0.27)
  • 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard ($0.09)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)

Instructions 

  • Chop the cooked chicken into small, bite-sized pieces. Clean the celery and chop into similar small bite-sized pieces.
  • Remove the kale from the stems, tear it into 1-2 inch pieces, rinse well in a colander, and drain well.
  • To make the dressing, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, Dijon, salt, and pepper.
  • To build the salad, start with a base of kale, top with the chopped chicken and celery, almonds, and raisins. Drizzle the dressing over top, toss until everything is coated, then enjoy.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 446kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 23gFat: 28gSodium: 444mgFiber: 2g
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Love kale salads? Try these other awesome kale salads:

Tossed kale and chicken salad in a bowl next to the serving platter full of kale salad

How to Make Crunchy Kale and Chicken Salad – Step by Step Photos

Cooked chicken breast in the skillet You can us any pre-cooked chicken for this recipe and you’ll need about 1.5 cups once chopped. I used one chicken breast (⅔ lb. total) that I filleted into two thinner pieces so that it would cook quickly in a skillet. Once browned on the outside and cooked through, I simply let it cool for 5-10 minutes and then chopped it into small pieces. Salad dressing ingredients in a bowl While my chicken was cooling, I made the dressing. This dressing is very similar to a dressing you’d use for chicken salad, but it’s a little bit thinner so it’s pourable and will easily coat all of the kale. In a bowl, whisk together ½ cup mayonnaise, 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1.5 Tbsp honey, ½ Tbsp Dijon mustard, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper. Set the dressing aside. Washed kale in a colander Next, prep the kale. I used bagged kale that comes pre-chopped because it’s super convenient and just about the same price as bunched kale. If your kale is still on the stem, simply pull it off the stem and tear it into 1-2 inch pieces. Rinse it in a colander and then let it drain well. Watery salad is never good. I used ½ of a one-pound bag, or about 6 cups of chopped leaves. Chopped celery on a cutting board Next, dice two ribs of celery, or about 1 cup once chopped. chopped chicken on a cutting board Chop the cooked chicken to similar sized pieces (about 1.5 cups chopped). Kale salad topped with chicken and celery Then just build your salad(s)! You can either build one large salad or build it as four smaller single-serving portions. Start with your bed of chopped kale, then add the chopped chicken and celery… raisins and almonds added to the salad Then add ⅓ cup almonds (sliced or slivered) and ⅓ cup golden raisins. dressing being poured over kale and chicken salad Pour your dressing over top just before serving. tossed kale salad in a bowl next to the serving platter Toss to coat everything in dressing and enjoy! (I added a little extra cracked black pepper on top because I love pepper!)

Check out these other great summer salads

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  1. I have to admit that I usually never make a meal without at least a small amount of carbs so that it fills me up, but you were totally right about this salad not needing that at all. It was completely satisfying just as it was, and I will definitely be making it again. Especially since the only bag of kale I could find was the biggest ever known to humanity… LoL

  2. We absolutely love this salad! The dressing is fantastic. I often make it without chicken and it’s still very filling! Are all of your recipes not on the app? I can’t find this on there. 

  3. This was delicious. I gave the kale a good massage whilst rinsing it to make sure it was as tender as it could be, towel-dried it and then left it dressed whilst I chopped and measured everything else out. No leftovers, and lots of happy tastebuds!

  4. Very tasty and easily customizable! Made this for dinner tonight and found it fun, satisfying, and filling.

  5. Dressing is awesome. Loved the combo of ingredients. I wasn’t a fan of the raw kale. Will probably use fresh spinach or romaine next time. 

    1. For salads that use kale I think it should be mandatory to massage the dressing into the kale before adding the other ingredients – super easy, just dump the kale into your serving bowl, pour the dressing on top, and squeeze/mix with your hands for 15ish seconds. The texture is better and it works as a sturdy pack-ahead option compared to using a tender lettuce.

  6. This was soooo good! I subbed Greek yogurt for Mayo and added a Granny Smith apple. I have left over kale and celery to use up. Do you think I could sub canned tuna for the chicken? I have that on hand and won’t have time to go to the store until Sunday.

    1. Hmm, I’m having a hard time imagining tuna with the raisins, but maybe if you left those out so everything was a little more savory? I’d probably end up tweaking the dressing to be less sweet, too. Maybe add some dill?

  7. Here’s another positive review! I only used a tablespoon of honey because I don’t like things overly sweet, and dried cranberries instead of the raisins because the store didn’t have any. Would definitely make it again. I love a good meal prep salad that stays sturdy in the fridge. I packed these for lunch in five containers with a mandarin orange and hard boiled egg on the side.

  8. This was so delicious! I made a few modifications to what I had in the house (subbed apples for celery, subbed green onions for raisins, and pine nuts for almonds). And also did half kale and half butter lettuce. Oh and added an avacado. Dressing was perfect! Yum!

  9. What can I use As a substitute for mayonnaise? Mayonnaise and sour cream are like kryptonite to me

    1. Unfortunately, I don’t have a sub for that ingredient at the moment. There are some other dressing suggestions in the text above the recipe and you might be able to find a mayo-free version of those.

  10. I made this tonight and it was a hit for both me and my boyfriend. We had some green apple that we needed to use so added that as well. Delicious!

  11. Another great recipe, Beth–thank you! My husband wanted the kale to be more tender, but I think I can achieve that by dressing the kale earlier and letting it sit for a bit. I was skeptical of the chemistry between the celery, raisins and almonds, but you were right, as always. The dressing is a keeper, too.

    1. You can also massage the kale to make it more tender. I do it as I also prefer a more tender kale.

  12. Just made this today, very tasty! I swapped mayo for fat-free plain yogurt and left out the dijon due to personal preferences. I mostly grabbed this as a way to use some extra celery that I had and using the celery gave this a very nice flavour! Will definitely make again sometime.

  13. This is probably going to sound incredibly lame… but
    I used to pre-make myself snacks the night before and kept them in the fridge for the next day – one of those snacks being ‘ants on a log’ (celery stick, with peanut butter & raisins) as well as the heat & eat oatmeal recipe you posted a while back. Anyway, I eventually noticed my raisins actually grew mold! I was wondering if you have ever ran into something like that??

    1. No, I haven’t, but it makes sense. Dried fruit has a lot of mold spores on them, so once it gets near moisture (the humidity in the fridge or from the celery is probably enough) they spring to life. :) You can always store the raisins separately and then sprinkle them on just before eating.