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This shredded Kale Bacon Salad with Maple Candied Walnuts has become one of our go-to holiday salads. It’s quick, festive, and so delicious. Shredded kale, arugula, nutty manchego cheese, and sweet dried cranberries, all tossed with a simple cider vinaigrette that’s sweet and tangy. The spicy candied walnuts and pepitas add a nice crunch making every bite of this salad delicious. It really does burst with flavor! Great served alongside your favorite dinner or at your next holiday gathering!

Kale Bacon Salad with Maple Candied Walnuts |

Every holiday season (how is it the holiday season? just how?!), I love to create a simple green salad that’s perfect for serving alongside our family dinners. Whether it’s a normal night at home, Thanksgiving, or a fun Christmas dinner. I think they all need a really great green salad.

With so many rich and decadent dishes being served, it’s nice to have something light on the plate as well.

Most of the time my salads include pomegranates or apples, but I thought I’d switch things up slightly this year. I wanted to highlight one of November’s most popular foods, cranberries.

Turns out, I love this salad. And just how simple it is to put together! No popping out pomegranate arils! Plus, you can even make it hours in advance, so you’ve gotta love that.

Kale Bacon Salad with Maple Candied Walnuts |

Here are the details

In my mind, the candied walnuts are the key ingredient of this salad. I love them. They really add a nice crunch along with a sweet and spicy flavor.

I like to make my candied nuts in the oven to keep the process easy. You’ll want to toss the walnuts together with raw pepitas, maple syrup, and cayenne. These are my healthier take on candied walnuts. They’re every bit as addicting as they sound. Perfectly sweet and just a touch spicy too. Finish these off with flaky sea salt to seal the deal.

I also like to crisp up my bacon while the nuts toast. This way you’ll save some time, plus use just one pan!

While the walnuts are baking in the oven, toss together the salad base. I like to use a blend of finely shredded kale and baby arugula. I find this to be the perfect mix. You could also use spinach in place of the arugula. Next, add in nutty manchego cheese. Parmesan or feta works too, but we love manchego.

Next, toss in the dried cranberries.

Kale Bacon Salad with Maple Candied Walnuts |

The last step is the vinaigrette.

This is just another variation of my go-to dressing, but I sure do love it. Olive oil mixed with apple cider vinegar, fig preserves, fresh thyme, orange zest (the secret), salt, pepper, and chili flakes.

Don’t skip the orange zest, it certainly adds something special to the entire salad that makes everyone think “oh yummm”.

It’s really such a wonderfully simple side salad that’s perfect for all of your holiday entertaining. Whether it’s Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, or Christmas!

Hoping you all give this delicious wintery salad a try!

Kale Bacon Salad with Maple Candied Walnuts |

Looking for other winter salad recipes? Here are a few ideas: 

Autumn Harvest Honeycrisp Apple and Feta Salad

Shredded Brussels Sprout Bacon Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

Winter Pomegranate Salad

Super Green Sun-Dried Tomato Herb Salad

Kale Caesar Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Crispy Chickpeas

Lastly, if you make this Kale Bacon Salad with Maple Candied Walnuts, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Kale Bacon Salad with Maple Candied Walnuts

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 432 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.



Cider Vinaigrette


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the walnuts and pepitas with maple syrup, and a pinch of cayenne. To the other side of the baking sheet, add the bacon in an even layer. Bake 8-10 minutes, until the bacon is crisping, watch close. Sprinkle with salt.
    2. Meanwhile, toss the salad. In a large salad bowl, combine the kale, arugula, cheese, and cranberries.
    3. To make the vinaigrette. Combine all ingredients in a glass jar. Whisk to combine.
    4. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad, tossing to combine. Top the salad with walnuts and bacon. Serve or keep in the fridge until ready to serve.


To Make Ahead: the salad can be made up to 6 hours ahead, just add the bacon before serving. 
Leftovers: leftovers will keep well for 2-3 days. This salad is delicious warmed or chilled. 
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Kale Bacon Salad with Maple Candied Walnuts |

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  1. 5 stars
    I love this recipe so much that I made it three times during the holidays for Thanksgiving, Christmas and in between. It is Amazingly delicious, wonderful flavors! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hey Stacey,
      Wonderful!! Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! Thanks for your comment! xx

    1. Hey Trish,
      I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your review, I am so glad to hear it was enjoyed! Merry Christmas! 🎁🎄

  2. 5 stars
    This salad is sooo good. Didn’t have fig preserves, but used apple butter. To keep kale from becoming bitter, I chop the kale first then wash it & spin dry. The chopping releases the bitterness & the water rinses it away. I could eat the whole bowl.

    1. Hey Pat,
      Happy Holidays!! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I love to hear that it turned out well for you!🎁🎅

  3. 5 stars
    This salad is absolutely amazing! I made it for Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving-it was a hit both times. Now I’m making it again for Christmas dinner. I love your recipes! Thank you!

    1. Hey Maggie,
      Awesome!! Thanks a lot for making this recipe, I am so glad it turned out well for you! Thanks for your kind message! Have a great weekend!🎄⛄️

  4. This looks amazing! I love making your kale/brussel sprouts/ prosciutto salad but just stumbled on this one and can’t wait to try it! For the pepitas, are they the same as sunflower seeds, which is what the link leads to? I did find pepitas online, but they are salted and roasted. Are they supposed to be plain instead? I LOVE every recipe I try of yours! Thank you for all you do!

    1. Hey Audrey,
      Thanks so much!! Sorry about the link, I’m not sure why sunflower seeds are linked, but those would also work! But if you like pepitas, I would use those! Let me know if you give this recipe a try! xx

    1. Hey Sam,
      Happy Friday!!🌟 Love to hear that this recipe was tasty for you, thanks so much for trying it out! xT

  5. 5 stars
    Made this for the family Thanksgiving and loved it so much, I made it the following week and added chicken to make it a main dish for my husband and I. I’d run out of dried cranberries but had dried apricots, so I chopped those up and it was fantastic. Definitely on my replay list!

    1. Hey Deb,
      Happy Friday!!🌟 Love to hear that this recipe was tasty for you, thanks so much for trying it out! xT

  6. Can you tell me how much salt, pepper, and chili flakes to add to the vineagrette? I’m making this salad for a dinner party tomorrow night and a half baked harvest gourmet chef will be in attendance😊

    1. Hi Denise,
      Those are all to your taste:) Please let me know if you have any other questions, I hope this turns out well for you! xx

    1. Hey Kate,
      Wonderful!!❄️ Thanks a bunch for giving this recipe a try and sharing your feedback, I am so glad it was a winner:)

  7. Fabulous recipe! I only had 1/2 tsp orange zest but I could taste it! Also, I roasted the nuts and pepitas a tad longer for that nice roasted flavor. I love the meaty bites of bacon too. It was a hit! I had about a cup leftover and I heated it with mashed potatoes- very tasty!!

  8. 5 stars
    We loved this one! I swapped glazed pecans for the walnuts, because we had them on hand. It worked! The salad is beautiful and delicious.

  9. 5 stars
    A favorite this year at our Thanksgiving Table. I will definitely be making it again. The hint of orange in the dressing ties the entire salad together.

    1. Hey Carrie,
      Happy Sunday!!⛄️ I truly appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your feedback, so glad to hear it was enjoyed! xxT

  10. 5 stars
    This salad is so delicious and so easy to pull together! It was a huge hit at Thanksgiving and so many relatives asked for the recipe. This salad will be in our rotation for years to come!

    1. Hey Kerrin,
      Wonderful!! I love to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks for giving it a try! Have a great weekend:)

    1. Hi Mary,
      Wonderful!! I love to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks for giving it a try! Have a great weekend:)