Chinese 5 Spice Apple and Sesame Brittle Kale Salad

If you’re wanting to spice up your kale salad routine, give our Chinese 5 Spice Apple and Sesame Brittle Kale Salad a try! Yes, it’s a mouthful to say, but we couldn’t leave any of it out! Delicious fall apples get pan seared in butter and Chinese 5 spice powder, then served alongside a homemade sesame brittle, quick pickled shallots and kale tossed in an Asian style dressing. It’s delicious and definitely not like any kale salad you’ve had before.

A note on sesame brittle: It’s quite easy to make! Really it is, but perhaps what you’re really asking is if it’s okay to eat candy on a salad? Hmm, I think we don’t care! Sesame brittle has always been a favourite in our house and this just gives us another reason to eat it. And an easier way to eat our greens. Typically we have always bought sesame brittle, since making candy at home seems scary, but we gave it a go and it was super easy!

We don’t want you to stress, so we kept things simple and did not use a candy thermometer to make this brittle. Simply boil the sugar and water together until amber in colour, add in the toasted sesame seeds, a knob of butter, stir well, then pour on a greased baking sheet. Easy. And even if the sugar doesn’t get quite as amber as you might like, it will still taste delicious.

A second note on this salad: you will need time. Given the number of individual components, it will take around hour to make. AN HOUR?! FOR A KALE SALAD?! I know, I know. But from washing the kale, making the pickled shallots, frying the apples, making the homemade brittle and doing the dishes…it takes a little while; we just want to be upfront. But remember that the brittle lasts a few days at room temperature and this makes more than needed for one salad. Make it a day or two beforehand and maybe sneak a snack in as well! Or to save time, buy store bought brittle and crush it up.

It might seem like this salad is a little bit out there, but trust us when we say it’s delicious. For a successful salad, avoid overcooking the apples, you want them to retain some crunch; soggy apples = bad. Second, this kale salad is best made and eaten the same night. Some components can be made ahead and kept separate, for instance the salad dressing and the sesame brittle; however, the pickles will get more vinegary overnight and the apples definitely taste best warm from the pan. If you give the recipe a try, please let us know!! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram or comment here on the blog!


Chinese 5 Spice Apple and Sesame Brittle Kale Salad

A delightfully sweet and savoury salad with fantastic Asian flavours.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Lunch, Salad
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 8 side servings


  • 1 large bunch of kale cleaned, stems removed and torn in pieces
  • 2 large apple cored and sliced (we love pink lady apples)
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp salted butter divided
  • 4 tbsp avocado oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce we used low sodium
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup + 2.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large shallot sliced thinly
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • To make the quick pickled shallots, place the thinly sliced shallot in a small mason jar or similar glass container. In a small pot (or in a bowl in the microwave), bring 1/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp of sugar and a pinch of salt to boil, then pour over the shallots. Cover and place in the fridge to cool.
  • To make the sesame brittle, first grease a baking sheet with butter and set aside. Rinse out the pot that vinegar was in, then place back on the stove. Add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar to the pot and bring to a boil. While the sugar boils, place a large pan on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Add the sesame seeds to the dry pan, and toast, stirring frequently with a flexible rubber spatula to prevent burning. Remove from pan when toasted, around 5 minutes, and add to a bowl. Once the sugar has turned an amber colour (around 10 minutes), quickly stir in 1 tbsp of butter and the sesame seeds (it will bubble up – this is normal). Quickly pour on your greased baking sheet and use the spatula to spread it out thinly, then allow to cool before breaking into small pieces.
  • For the apples, add 2 tbsp of butter into the same pan that the sesame seeds were toasted and place over medium heat. Add the sliced apple and fry for a couple of minutes before sprinkling over 1 tsp of Chinese 5 spice powder. Fry for a couple of minutes more, than remove from heat.
  • To make dressing, whisk together avocado oil, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, 2.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp brown sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • To serve, place a suitable amount of kale for the amount of people eating into a large bowl. Avoid mixing all the kale if it won't be all eaten, as it doesn't hold well overnight. Next, drizzle a small portion of the dressing over the kale, and begin to massage the dressing into the leaves to help them break down and become softer. Adjust the amount of dressing to your liking, then top with the fried apple, some pickled shallots, some crunchy sesame brittle and serve.
Keyword apples, chinese 5 spice, Kale, pickled shallots, potato salad, sesame brittle

The recipe is credited to Nicole and Katherine – The former owner of