Sunflower Crunch Salad
Published May 25, 2022, Updated Nov 18, 2022
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This sunflower crunch salad combines crunchy cabbage with kale, broccoli and chickpeas all tossed with a creamy SunButter dressing. This post is sponsored by SunButter.
Salad season is here and I’ve been on a mission to find tasty salads that I can meal prep for the week and this sunflower crunch salad totally fits the bill!
It’s inspired by the bagged sunflower crunch salads you can purchase at the store, but this version is even better, in my opinion.
It’s jam-packed with fresh veggies, healthy fats, plant-based protein and offers up its own kick with a Thai-inspired SunButter dressing, which is definitely the star of this recipe. Trust me, you’ll want to lick it straight off the spoon – it’s addictive!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s packed with a variety of colorful vegetables and loaded with a combination of flavors and textures.
- It’s crunchy and hearty so it holds up well to the dressing and can meal prepped ahead of time for the week.
- It’s filling enough to be served on its own for lunch or dinner, but it also makes a great side salad.
- Simple to assemble. All you have to do is chop the veggies (or buy them pre-chopped), prep the dressing and toss all the ingredients together to combine!
- kale – kale is such a superfood! It’s packed with nutrients like vitamins A, C and K and low in calories. I use curly kale for this salad because the dressing sticks to all the crevices, but you could also use lacinato (dinosaur) kale.
- cabbage – a mix of red and green cabbage give this salad the perfect amount of crunch and the red cabbage adds a nice pop of color. Plus cabbage is rich in antioxidants and full of vitamins and fiber.
- carrots – carrots are full of vitamin A, add a sweet crunch and another pop of color.
- broccoli – for more crunch, color and nutrition.
- cilantro – this herb gives the salad a refreshing little kick of flavor.
- green onions – sliced for a little more flavor and added texture.
- chickpeas – this adds some additional plant-based protein. For ease, I use canned chickpeas (drained and rinsed) in this recipe.
- sunflower seeds – raw or roasted and salted sunflower seeds work. They add a nice crunch and some more healthy fats and plant-based protein to the salad.
- dried cranberries – the chewy, sweet-tartness of dried cranberries adds another layer of flavor and texture to the salad. Pro tip: look for dried cranberries that are just sweetened with fruit juice.
- dressing – the dressing for this salad is a sweet, salty, slightly spicy combo of SunButter, lemon juice, tamari (or soy sauce), maple syrup (or honey), sesame oil, sambal oelek or sriracha, ginger and garlic.
How to Make Sunflower Crunch Salad
Once your dressing is made and veggies are chopped this salad comes together in a matter of minutes!
Make dressing: Place all ingredients for the dressing into a blender and blend until creamy and smooth. If the texture is too thick for you add a little water (starting with 1-2 teaspoons) up to 3 tablespoons to thin it out.
Prepare salad: Place kale, cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, cilantro, green onions and chickpeas into a large bowl. Toss or stir to combine. Add sunflower seeds and pour over the top with dressing.
The star of this salad is the creamy SunButter dressing. The nuttiness from SunButter, tartness from lemon juice, saltiness from tamari, sweetness from maple syrup and added spice from sambal oelek, ginger and garlic combine to make a spectacular, Thai-inspired topping.
The main ingredient in the dressing is SunButter, which is made from roasted and ground sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are packed with vitamins and minerals including Vitamin E, copper, manganese and selenium. Sunflower seed butter contains 7 grams of plant-based protein per serving and more vitamins and minerals than most nut butters!
SunButter is a great substitute for peanut butter (or any nut butter) in recipes. It’s totally free from the top 8 food allergies in the US: peanuts, tree nuts, soy, milk, eggs, wheat, fish and crustacean shellfish.
Customize Your Salad
- Use different veggies – have different veggies on hand? Chop them up and toss them in!
- Add grains – I love adding grains to my salad for some extra volume and nutrients. Toss in cooked quinoa, rice or farro to make this a heartier salad.
- Swap the beans – don’t have chickpeas on hand? Swap them with another white bean, black beans or lentils.
- Add bacon – oftentimes sunflower crunch salad will have bacon included. I left it out to keep this salad vegetarian and plant-based but you could totally added cooked traditional pork or turkey bacon, coconut bacon or tempeh bacon for more umami flavor.
- On its own for a light lunch. This salad is definitely a meal on its own thanks to the chickpeas and sunflower seeds.
- Topped with protein for a heartier salad. Top this salad with extra protein using chicken, tofu, or tempeh for a heartier meal-sized salad. Here are some ideas: crispy baked tofu, tempeh, apple cider vinegar chicken or air fryer chicken breast.
- As a side salad. Serve this salad as a side for dinner. It would be especially delicious served alongside an Asian-inspired dish. Here are some ideas: asian chicken lettuce wraps, spaghetti squash pad thai, egg roll in a bowl, asian chicken sheet pan meal and sesame chicken.
How to Store Sunflower Crunch Salad
This salad stores super well!
To make it in advance: If you’re making this as a meal prep salad I recommend adding all the veggies, chickpeas and cranberries to an airtight container. Store the Sunbutter dressing in a separate container. When you’re ready to serve, add the sunflower seeds, drizzle the dressing over and mix to combine.
To store leftovers: Store any leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
More SunButter Recipes
Popular Salad Recipes
- Asian Chopped Salad
- Garlicky Kale Salad
- Kale Caesar Salad
- Jennifer Aniston Salad
- Mediterranean Salmon Salad
- Bella Hadid Salad
Be sure to check out all of my salad recipes here on EBF!
Sunflower Crunch Salad
- 1 bunch of curly green kale, chopped (about 3-4 cups)
- 2 cups red cabbage, chopped
- 2 cups green cabbage, chopped
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup chopped broccoli
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2-3 green onions, sliced
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup roasted sunflower seeds
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup SunButter
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek or sriracha
- 1 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 3 Tablespoons water, as needed to thin
- Blend all ingredients together in a high-speed blender.
- Add kale, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, cilantro, green onions, chickpeas and dried cranberries into a large bowl. Toss to combine. Add sunflower seeds and top with dressing. Mix until all ingredients are well coated.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
The dressing of this salad is just divine ! I truly have cravings for these kind of flavors. I also appreciatated the crunch in this recipe. Next time, I think I will just skip the raw garlic, because I am not a big fan of it, but that is really according to my personal taste
Yay! So glad you loved this salad dressing, Emilie. I appreciate you making the recipe and coming back to leave a review!
You mentioned bell pepper in the instructions but I didn’t see it in the ingredient list. Does this recipe have bell peppers in it?
Oops! That’s a typo! Sorry for the confusion. Just updated the recipe.
I made the salad today! Just yum!!
Would Peanut butter work in place of sunbutter?
Hi Ashley, yes, you can use peanut butter! Let me know how it goes when you try it!
This is super delicious, filling, and satisfying to eat! If you’re in a time crunch or just insanely lazy like me, might I suggest buying Trader Joe’s slaw mix and shredded kale :). I used about half a bag of each product and still added the carrots and it was great and super quick! There was definitely more green cabbage than purple but it was worth ease for me personally.
Hi Sara – that’s a fun hack! Thank you for leaving me a comment and review, I so appreciate it!
OMG!! This is amazing! I chopped everything by hand or in the food processor, so it took awhile to make. But it was so worth it! It is the best salad I have had in a long time, and I eat a lot of salads. 😉
Ahh yay!! This makes me so happy to hear. I’m so glad you loved this salad, Connie! Thanks for coming back to leave a star rating + review. I so appreciate it!