Try this copycat Cracker Barrel Kale and Brussel sprouts salad recipe. Shredded veggies, crunchy pecans, and sweet Craisins are drizzled with a creamy maple vinaigrette. Gimme seconds please.
Make a better than Cracker Barrel Kale and Brussel sprouts salad recipe. Mix shaved Brussels sprouts with kale ribbons. Throw in some Craisins and toasted pecans. Drizzle with a sweet maple vinaigrette. Yum.
To make the salad sizzle, garnish with feta cheese and crumbled bacon.
Cracker Barrel restaurants no longer serve their famous sprouts n’ kale salad. You know – the only dish that transforms hate-em Brussels sprouts critics into Brussels sprouts fans.
But don't worry. You can learn how to duplicate the Brussels sprouts slaw. Then the pickiest eater will keep chowing down on these fresh cruciferous vegetables.
Perfect for a weeknight meal, this delicious healthy salad is a great way to use up those few leftover Brussels sprouts and kale leaves. Not every salad has to be enormous.
But the salad is versatile enough to go huge. It is a fantastic side dish option for a potluck, barbecue, or holiday meal. A fresh Brussels sprout salad with Craisins and crunchy pecans is unique enough to stand out on a crowded salad table.
3 Reason You Will Love This Salad
- Contrasting flavors, textures, and colors. Crisp and crunchy. Sweet and sour. Green and red. The salad is bursting with taste and interest.
- Did someone say healthy? Few foods are healthier than kale and Brussels sprouts. But instead of being rough and hard to chew, they are shreds. You barely realize you are eating something so nutritious.
- Easy to make. Easy to store. With only 4 ingredients in the salad, it is a breeze to throw together. And the vinaigrette? Ready in 5 minutes. The best news is that you can use leftover vinaigrette on any salad or even as a marinade.
Basic Ingredients in Cracker Barrel Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad Recipe
- Kale: Always use fresh kale for the sweetest taste and softest texture. Lacinato kale is the tastiest variety for this salad. It is easier to chew and has a great flavor when raw in a salad.
Prepackaged leafy green kale with tender leaves is convenient. And curly kale will work in a pinch too.
- Brussels sprouts: Brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous vegetable family. That means they are really healthy to eat but can also be bitter.
These sprouts look like mini cabbages, which means they shred effortlessly, just like cabbage. Always choose fresh Brussels sprouts, free of black spots or greyish dust.
- Craisins. Dried cranberries bring in some sweetness to the healthy and intimidating greens. They also add a bright color. Add enough to get a taste in every bite.
- Toasted pecans. Toasting pecans brings out a depth of flavor to the nut. Dry toast them or toast them in sugar.
The original Cracker Barrel kale and Brussels sprouts recipe does not use sugared pecans. But don’t let that stop you.
Cool the crunchy pecans before you chop them.
Variations to the Original Cracker Barrel Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad Recipe
To make a better kale slaw recipe, add a few extra ingredients. Yes, it will change the taste of the original Brussels sprout kale salad. However, I think the few add-ins transform it into something spectacular.
- Apple. You have enough healthy green vegetables. You need something sweet. How about a sweet apple.
This is the first variation from the Cracker Barrel kale and Brussels sprouts salad recipe. But it is a variation you don’t want to skip.
Peel the apple if you like. However, the red peel is a colorful contrast to the green from the kale and sprouts. A sweet apple variety is best, like Gala or Honeycrisp.
- Chopped red onion. Red onions always make a better salad. Chop them in small pieces so they don’t overwhelm the salad.
- Cheese. Garnish with cheese. Feta, goat cheese, or blue cheese are all fine choices. Cheese is another deviation from Cracker Barrel's Brussels sprouts salad.
- Bacon. Everything tastes better with bacon. This salad is no exception. You can skip it if you like.
However, it is easy to cook the bacon in the oven while preparing the rest of the salad. And bacon is known to pair well with both kale and Brussels sprouts.
- Sunflower seeds. You already have pecans. However, sunflower seeds add a little extra crunch you might like.
- Pine nuts. Softer than pecans or seeds, pine nuts add a fresh taste to the salad.
- Red pepper flakes. Need a little heat with your sweet? Then lightly sprinkle some red pepper flakes on top of the salad. Don’t go crazy though. Let those sweet Craisins shine through.
- Parmesan cheese or cheddar cheese. Goat or feta cheese are my favorites for the salad. But if you prefer Parmesan or cheddar, use them.
Maple Vinaigrette Ingredients
- Olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is my go-to choice for a homemade vinaigrette. However, you can use any mild-tasting oil.
- Balsamic vinegar (or substitute apple cider vinegar). Apple cider vinegar is more common, but you will love the taste of a good quality balsamic vinegar.
- Lemon juice. The combination of vinegar and lemon juice makes the vinaigrette acid. Lime juice can be substituted, but you may not like it as much.
- Pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup).
- Dijon mustard. Dijon is better tasting than just any yellow mustard.
- Mayonnaise. The combination of mustard and mayonnaise works to keep the vinaigrette emulsion together.
- Black pepper, just a pinch.
- Salt, to taste.
This recipe makes a large serving of vinaigrette. You may not need all the dressing for this salad. Use leftover dressing on other salads. Or brush it onto chicken before cooking.
FAQ About Brussels Sprouts
Here are some of the most common questions about Brussels sprouts.
Can you eat raw Brussels sprouts in a salad?
You can eat raw Brussels sprouts in a salad. There is no need to cook them before eating them. Shred first before adding the sprouts to the salad. These manageable shavings can easily absorb the flavor of the vinaigrette and disguise any bitter taste.
Should you wash Brussels sprouts?
Always wash Brussels sprouts (or any fresh veggies) with cold water. Washing removes dirt or bacteria picked up during the journey from the garden to you.
Before washing, remove the outer leaf of the Brussels sprout. Pour the sprouts into a colander and rinse them under cold running water.
Why are my Brussels sprouts so dirty? Black spots or gray dust on Brussels sprouts isn't dirt. Unfortunately, the vegetable has spoiled. The “dirt” spots you see are mold and fungus.
How do you cut Brussels sprouts for salad?
To cut Brussels sprouts for salad, first cut off the tip of the stem. This is the point where the veggie was attached to the plant. The spot probably looks slightly brown.
Place the cut side on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the Brussels sprouts into thin slices. Brussels sprouts have leaves wrapped tightly around the core. Cutting thin slices will result in shaved shreds of sprouts.
How long do shredded Brussels sprouts last?
Shredded Brussels sprouts will last about 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.
How to know if Brussels sprouts have gone bad
Both mold and fungus indicate your Brussels sprouts have gone bad. If you see black spots on your Brussels sprouts, you see mold. If you see gray dust, it is fungus. Throw out any tainted vegetables.
FAQ About Kale
Is kale good raw in salad?
Kale is an excellent leafy green to eat raw in a salad. However, it can have tough leaves, giving it a substantial chew.
To keep the salad’s texture consistent, remove the kale stem, which is tough and fibrous. Then roll the leaves into a cylinder cigar shape and slice kale into thin ribbons.
Do you have to massage kale for salad?
Massaging kale with olive oil can soften the leaves. However, you don't need to massage if you won't be serving the salad right away. Or if the kale is shredded.
This kale and Brussels sprouts salad marinates in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Plus, the kale is shredded. No need to massage the kale for this salad.
How to Make Copycat Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad
This delicious fresh vegetable salad is an easy recipe to throw together. However, it tastes best after refrigerating it for an hour or even overnight.
The flavors mingle, and the kale leaves and sprout shreds soften somewhat. You might think the salad tastes better the next day.
Salad Prep Work
Step 1: Toast the pecans and set them aside to cool.
- Place the pecans in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Carefully stir the pecans for about 5 minutes. The skin will turn light brown, and you will smell the pecan aroma. Don’t walk away, or the nuts may burn.
Alternately, you can toast them on a baking sheet in the oven. However, roasting them in a skillet is simpler. Plus it won’t heat up your kitchen like the oven does.
Step 2: Wash the produce.
Step 3: Cut the rib out of the kale and cut the leaves into ribbons.
Step 4: Chop the ends off the Brussels sprouts and slice the sprouts into shreds.
Step 5: Finely mince the onions and shred the apples (if adding either).
Step 6: Chop the pecans.
Make the Maple Dressing Vinaigrette
Step 1: In a medium bowl whisk vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, mustard, mayonnaise, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper.
Use an immersion blender or a small food processor to make a smoother vinaigrette.
Step 2: Pour the maple dressing into a small bowl and set aside until the salad is complete.
Compose the Salad
Step 1: Add Brussels sprouts, kale, apples, and red onions into a large bowl.
Step 2: Stir in one-half cup of pecans and the Craisins.
Step 3: Toss in half of the vinaigrette. Stir well to mingle the dressing throughout the salad. There should be a light coating on the salad ingredients.
Add more dressing if needed. Chill the remaining vinaigrette to serve with the salad.
Step 4: Cover the salad bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour. Chilling allows the veggies to soften and absorb the flavors of the vinaigrette.
Step 5: Add the remaining pecans and stir.
Step 6: Garnish with your favorite toppings. You will probably like feta cheese and crumbled bacon the best.
Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad Nutrition Facts
This nutrition information does not include any toppings. If you want to lower the calories, fat, or carbohydrates, use less pecans and Craisins.
The serving size is ½ cup.
- 196 calories
- 13 grams fat
- 21 carbs
- 3 grams fiber
- 2 grams protein
How to Store Leftover Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad
Store any leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Hearty vegetables like kale and Brussels sprouts last several days in the fridge. The salad stays fresh for up to three days.
How Long Does the Salad Last?
Properly stored, leftover salad can last all week. However, for the freshest taste, eat it within three days.
What to Serve with Cracker Barrel Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad Recipe
This Cracker Barrel copycat recipe is the perfect side dish for soups, casseroles, and other entrees. Here are some of the best ideas.
- Serve it next to butternut squash soup. You already have a vegetarian meal. Keep the meal light and full of veggies by serving kale and sprout salad. Check out these other butternut squash soup sides.
- Pair it with salsa verde chicken chili. It is the perfect addition to other salad recipes that go with chicken chili.
- Make a burrito meal. The salad is a tasty fresh healthy side. It is one of the best ways to lighten a hearty burrito.
- Try it with a baked turkey slider. The brown sugar mustard butter glaze is almost as good as the slider itself. Plus, a slider plus a salad is a full meal.
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Cracker Barrel Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad Recipe
- 1 cup toasted pecans
- 2 cups of kale lacinato is best
- 2 cups of Brussels sprouts
- ¾ cup of dried cranberries like Craisins
- 1 apple shredded (optional)
- ¼ cup of red onions diced (optional)
Maple Dressing Vinaigrette
- ⅓ cup of olive oil
- 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
- 3 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons of mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon of salt plus more to taste
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Toast the Pecans
- HEAT a skillet over medium-high heat. Pour the pecans into the pan in a single layer.
- STIR the pecans for about 5 minutes. You will smell their aroma and the skins will start to get light brown.
- SET the nuts aside to cool.
Prep the Salad
- WASH the Brussels sprouts, kale, and apple (if using).
- CUT the tips off of the end of the Brussels sprouts and then slice the sprouts into shreds.
- FOLD the kale in half and cut off the tough rib. Then roll the kale into a cylinder and slice it into ribbons.
- CHOP the cooled pecans.
- OPTIONAL: Shred the apple and mince the red onion.
Make the Maple Dressing Vinaigrette
- WHISK the vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, mustard, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper together. Use a food processor to make a smoother vinaigrette.
- TASTE and add more salt, if needed.
- POUR the maple dressing into a small bowl. Set it aside until the salad is ready.
Compose the Salad
- TOSS the greens together in a large bowl. (And the apples and red onions if using.)
- STIR in one-half cup of pecans and the Craisins.
- POUR in half of the vinaigrette. Stir well to mingle the dressing throughout the salad. Add more dressing if needed. Save the remaining dressing for drizzling when serving.
- COVER the salad bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour. Chilling allows the veggies to soften and absorb the flavors of the vinaigrette.
- ADD the remaining pecans and stir.
- GARNISH with your favorite toppings. You will probably like feta cheese and crumbled bacon the best.
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