This Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Creamy Peppercorn Dressing is packed with cruciferous vegetables and colorful toppings. The tangy dressing is tossed throughout, and it’s an easy recipe to convert from a side dish to main entree. Serve as a fresh addition to your holiday dinner or enjoy the wonderful flavors any night of the week!
I’m back with another great salad recipe! I kind of slacked off on featuring salad recipes this year, but going into this holiday season I have some renewed excitement for them.
I’ve tested some similar salads in the past, and finally nailed down what I think is the perfect ratio of flavors, colors, and textures. But I’ll let you be the judge of that. Let’s get into this recipe!
Why You’ll Love This Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad
- This is a no-cook recipe! That’s right – when you slice raw Brussels sprouts this thinly, there’s no need to cook or drag out pots and pans.
- The Creamy Peppercorn Dressing is an easy homemade salad dressing option. Double the batch to pair with other recipes, or skip the DIY option and go with your favorite store-bought dressing instead. I recommend something similar like a peppercorn ranch dressing.
- This delicious salad is full of hearty vegetables, a big plus in the winter months when leafy green salads might not seem as appealing.
Plus, I think it’s just a delightful combo of colors and textures. It’s dense, but not in the way that makes your jaw sore while chomping away. The cranberries add some subtle sweetness, and there’s plenty of ways to customize it. More on that below!
Ingredients You’ll Need
You might already have some of the ingredients needed for this Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad recipe in your pantry or fridge. If not, add the items listed below. You can also use this ready-to-shop link through Instacart for a convenient grocery delivery option and save a trip to the grocery store.
- Fresh Brussels sprouts
- Green, curly kale. You can also try purple curly kale, but I would avoid lacinato kalefor this recipe. It has a different flavor and texture, and the curly kale is great for grabbing onto all the dressing and mixing well with the other ingredients.
- Olive oil
- Coarse sea salt
- Chopped walnuts or pecans (I use both but feel free to use either one if you prefer it over the other)
- Dried cranberries
- Shredded or matchstick carrots
- Grated Parmesan cheese
For the Creamy Peppercorn Dressing, you will need:
- Sour cream
- Mayonnaise. I recommend kewpie mayo for its thick texture and savory flavor. It’s a Japanese-style mayonnaise made with egg yolks and MSG, but any regular, full-fat mayo will do.
- Apple cider vinegar.
- Worcestershire sauce
- Coarse sea salt
- Cracked black pepper
Street Smart Nutrition Tip: To save time, you can buy pre-sliced or shredded Brussels sprouts. However, I noticed that these bags often include thick pieces that still have the woody stalks and stems. I prefer to slice through fresh Brussels sprouts to avoid this but I know that can be a hassle. A mandolin or food processor with a slicing disk attachment can also help you speed through the prep work.
For equipment, make sure you have a few different sizes of prep bowls, plus measuring cups and measuring spoons. As usual, I recommend a big cutting board and sharp knife, and a box grater is helpful if you’re shredding a carrot. For utensils, grab a fork or small whisk and a pair of tongs.
How to Make A Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad
First thing: make the dressing. Simply add all ingredients to a small bowl. Use a fork or whisk to mix it together until smooth. Then cover it and store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
Next up: massaging the kale. If this is your first time using this technique, don’t be intimidated! It’s a quick and easy method you can use for any kale salad recipe, like my Kale Caesar Salad and Massaged Kale Salad with Sesame-Lime Dressing.
- Wash the raw kale and pat dry. Strip the leafy portion away from the stems and tear into small pieces.
- Place them in a large bowl and drizzle with some olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
- Using clean hands, massage the kale in a grinding motion. Work it between your hands for 30-60 seconds until the texture softens and it turns a vibrant, deep green color.
Once this is done, slice through the raw Brussels sprouts and use a box grater to shred the carrot.
Now just add everything to the large bowl with the kale, including the walnuts and pecans, dried cranberries, and parmesan cheese.
Drizzle the creamy peppercorn dressing over the top. Use tongs to toss everything together, getting everything well-mixed and coated with the dressing. You’re ready to dig in!
As written, this recipe yields about four entree salads or eight smaller side salads. This is an estimate, though, so base your portions on your appetite.
Since the dressing is already mixed in, it can be served as it. Just set out any remaining dressing to add more as needed.
And this is a vegetarian salad recipe, so heads up if you’re planning on it for a meal vs. side dish. You probably need to add some protein, some fat, or both to make it satisfying enough for a full meal. Here are a few options:
- Beans, legumes, or cooked lentils (all plant-based options)
- Cooked chicken breasts, sliced or chopped, or leftovers from a rotisserie chicken
- Open a can or pouch of tuna or salmon for a quick, no-cook protein
- Slice up a hard boiled egg to add on top. Or, try sliced or diced avocado.
- Cook some thick sliced bacon, and once cooled, give it a rough chop and sprinkle on top (to be quite honest, this is my personal favorite)
This salad base can transform in anything you want it to, so use the original recipe as a starting point. Next, I’ll offer up a few suggestions for swaps and substitutions for your kale and Brussels sprout salad.
Swaps and Substitutions
There are so many variations you can make with this salad template. After all, that’s sort of how #SaladsThatDontSuck are intended to work. If you’re feeling stuck, start with some of these ideas:
- Dice some red onion to mix in (I LOVE this option but someone else in my house isn’t such a fan of raw red onions, so I left them out this time)
- Try toasted almonds or sliced almonds for a slightly different nutty crunch (or any other type of crunchy nuts)
- Instead of sliced Brussels sprouts, try cutting them into halves or quarters and roasting in the oven or air fryer. This makes a cooked version that can feel even more cozy and satisfying.
- Trade the parmesan cheese for crumbled goat cheese, feta, or blue cheese
- Replace the dried cranberries with another type of dried fruit. Or go with fresh apples or pears, either diced or cut into thin slices
As for allergy-friendly options, here are a few ways to make it work for you:
- This Brussels sprouts salad is naturally gluten-free, since no ingredients contain gluten. However, if you need to avoid it altogether, be sure to check the labels on packaged ingredients to ensure there’s no allergen warning for wheat.
- To make it nut-free: swap the walnuts or pecans for sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. They are a little bit smaller, so they tend to sink to the bottom of the mixing bowl. Just give the salad a fresh toss before serving or sprinkle a few extra on top.
- To make it dairy-free: replace the Creamy Peppercorn Dressing and parmesan with a dairy-free alternative and non-dairy cheese. There are some great options for store-bought dressing, which is what I would recommend since I haven’t tested this recipe with a non-dairy milk.
Storage Tips for Leftovers and Meal Prep
This hearty winter salad works great as leftovers. In fact, it’s become part of my regular rotation anytime I see a good deal on fresh Brussels sprouts and stock up!
Store leftovers in an airtight container and stash it in the fridge. For best results, I recommend eating within the next day or two. Otherwise, the ingredients can start to get soggy and it doesn’t make for the best eating experience.
However, if you’re using this Brussels sprout salad recipe for meal prep, you can stretch it out to 4-5 days. Just hold off on adding the dressing until you’re ready to serve. You can drizzle it on top, or pour it in, replace the lid, and shake to coat everything.
If you try this recipe and enjoy it, please leave me a rating or comment to let me know what you think! Feedback always appreciated and I can’t wait for you to try this Brussels sprout salad.
Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Creamy Peppercorn Dressing
- cutting board and sharpened knife
- measuring cups and spoons
- prep bowls, various sizes
- salad tongs
- pepper grinder, or ziploc bag and rolling pin
- 3/4 lb fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed
- 1/2 bunch green curly kale, about 4 stems or 4-5 cups packed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
- 1 cup chopped walnuts and/or pecans
- 1 medium carrot, grated, about 3/4 cup
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
For the Creamy Peppercorn Dressing
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, or 1/2 cup half & half + 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 tbsp regular mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp cracked black pepper, coarse grind
- 1/2-1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, to taste
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- Prepare the dressing by adding all ingredients to a small bowl. Use a fork or whisk to mix it together until smooth. Then cover it and store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. See my recipe for Creamy Peppercorn Dressing for more details.
- Wash the raw kale and pat dry. Strip the leafy portion away from the stems and tear into small pieces. Place them in a large bowl and drizzle with some olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Using clean hands, massage the kale in a grinding motion. Work it between your hands for 30-60 seconds until the texture softens and it turns a vibrant, deep green color.
- Use a box grater to shred the carrot. Slice the trimmed Brussels sprouts in half, then lay the flat side side. Carefully slice through until you have thin strips and half moons, roughly even thickness.
- Add everything to the large bowl with the kale, including the walnuts and pecans, dried cranberries, and parmesan cheese.
- Drizzle the creamy peppercorn dressing over the top. Use tongs to toss everything together, getting everything well-mixed and coated with the dressing. Serve immediately and enjoy.
I hope you enjoy this version of a kale and Brussels sprouts salad! It’s a hearty salad you can enjoy any time of the year, but I think it really shines in the wintertime.
Thanks for stopping by the Street Smart Nutrition blog. And be sure to follow along on social media and YouTube for new recipes, nutrition myth busting, and more. Cheers to more fearlessly nourishing meals!