Cranberry Kale Salad | Kitchen Confidante

Simple Sundays | Cranberry Walnut Kale Salad with Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette

Cranberry Kale Salad | Kitchen Confidante
Simple Sundays | Cranberry Walnut Kale Salad with Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette

Cranberry Kale Salad | Kitchen Confidante

24 hours ago, my plane was making its approach to the coast of Northern California, and a peek outside its windows revealed a freshly washed San Francisco. Heavy rains had rinsed it clean and its slick roads sparkled as we descended. After nearly a week of warm winds, mild tropical mists and ocean views, it was time to return to reality.

I went to the market to restock our bare cupboards. And to prepare for the big Thanksgiving week ahead. My family will be arriving, starting with my brother on Monday night, and it’s time to set those menu plans in action. One of the first I can cross of my list: Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette.

Cranberry Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette | Kitchen Confidante
Cranberry Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette | Kitchen Confidante | Fresh Cranberries

I want to serve a salad dressed with dried cranberries, hearty walnuts and sweet red onions. Drizzled on top, the vibrant cranberry dressing, tangy and sweet, with enough bite to complement heart-healthy kale.

Yes, kale. I know, sometimes it can be bitter, eaten raw. But while I was away, I had the most lovely kale, tender and young, and so pleasant raw. If you can find excellent kale, you will love this Cranberry Walnut Kale Salad at your holiday table. And perhaps the best part — you can make it in advance, leaving you more time for other dishes, and of course, your guests.

Cranberry Walnut Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette | Kitchen Confidante

Cranberry Walnut Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

Serves 4-6. | Prep: 5-10 minutes

Many people, myself included, sometimes shy away from kale if you have experienced a bitter bite of its leaves. But if you find young, tender kale, it can be mild and pleasant and not too tough on the bite. However, if you really are anti kale, do try this salad with the greens of your choice. Just dress it right before serving.


4 oz fresh cranberries
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
8 oz fresh kale (preferably Tuscan, and young leaves)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
additional salt & pepper to taste


In a small sauce pan, place fresh cranberries, water and sugar over medium heat. Let it come to a boil and once the first cranberry pops, simmer for about 5 minutes until all the cranberries pop open. Place in a blender and puree till smooth. Add the vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper and blend. Add the olive oil and blend again. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Trim kale by removing stems/stalks and tearing the leaves into bit sized pieces. Toss in a bowl with dried cranberries, walnuts, red onion and just enough dressing to lightly coat the kale. Reserve remaining dressing until ready to serve. Cover and refrigerate the salad for at least half an hour, or overnight.

Serve with a light drizzle of additional dressing if desired.


    • liren

      Thanks, Laura! It is so good to be back home and in my kitchen :) The vinaigrette is my favorite part!

  1. Deb

    Your salad is a marvelous antidote for the rich heavy foods of the traditional Thanksgiving feast. I imagine by next weekend we will be craving your Walnut Kale Salad with the splendid Cranberry Vinaigrette!

    • liren

      Definitely! With all the heavy foods we’ll be eating this week, I know I’ll be detoxing with lots of salads, too :)

  2. Jamie

    There are many things I love – kale is one! As is adding fruit and nuts to almost any savory dish. This salad looks beautiful and the flavors perfect! I could even see this turned into a warm side dish! Beautiful!

  3. Betty Ann @Mango_Queen

    You know I was drooling at this post & these photos the other day, but totally forgot to leave a comment, LOL! That’s how mesmerized I was,. This cranberry walnut kale salad with fresh cranberry vinaigrette is perfect for Thanksgiving! Must make this. Thanks for the recipe inspiration, Liren! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family. I am grateful for your kind support & friendship always :-)

  4. kita

    I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving with your family. This vinaigrette sounds wonderful.

  5. Willow

    I love kale salads, and *adore* cranberry vinaigrettes like this! Will definitely be giving this a try sometime soon. :)

  6. jackie @ marin mama cooks

    I love kale and have 4 favorite go-to kale salads. I find that if you buy lacinato/dinasour kale it’s not bitter like the curly kale. I also massage my dressing into the kale (massage the kale like you would giving an actual massage) which helps to break it down. My kids and their friends (ages 12 and 8) love kale salads. They honestly taste like a normal salad. I think people are scared of kale, but once they try it, they end up loving it and end up using it over any other green. You also want to make sure that you buy tender kale as you stated, and not kale that has a paper-like texture, as that kale won’t absorb the dressing and will taste like paper.

    I love this salad and will add it to my list. I might throw some aged cheddar or parmesan in there as I love a bit of cheese with my kale salads.

  7. Jeanne

    This salad was delicious and since we always make the cranberries, a small portion can be set aside to make this vinaigrette. I will probably have this year round because we freeze extra cranberries. Kale is a delicious Thanksgiving addition – I also used to think it was bitter until I re-tried it.

  8. Rachel

    I can’t find fresh cranberries this time of year. Are you using 4oz by weight or volume?

  9. Michelle

    I made this salad tonight. It is excellent! We love the dressing, and the kale! Thanks for posting. :)

    • Liren

      Hi Rhonda, I usually use Dino kale as I prefer the flavor, but it can be made with curly kale. I may just let it sit a little longer to tenderize a bit more. I hope that helps!

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  11. Shawn Rose

    Fantastic salad. My husband harvested his last bunch of Kale in early November and I tried this recipe. We both loved it. I did not have fresh cranberries so I used dried ones and instead of blending the dressing , I served it hot over the Kale. Very good!

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