This Cranberry Apple Pecan Salad is one of our fall favorites! Loaded with sweet apples, fresh cranberries, crispy bacon, crunchy pecans, goat cheese, green onions, and a light vinaigrette, it’s a delicious blend of sweet and savory flavors and perfect for the holiday season.
I don’t know exactly why, but I’m really good at letting the holidays creep up on me. I did it with Halloween, and then with Thanksgiving….and now I’m 99% sure I’m doing it with Christmas, too.
I guess it’s an avoidance tactic, right? Because the holidays are stressful….and there’s so much to do to get ready for them. So instead of facing it head on, and actually getting things ready, I choose to just not think about it. Good plan, huh?
To be fair, I have given it some thought. I do have a few Christmas decorations up. And I have done a tiny bit of shopping. And I’m clearly already thinking about food…(when am I not!?)…with this Cranberry Salad.
Now, I know you’re probably wondering who actually cares about salad at Christmastime…but if you ask me, it’s an essential part of the meal.And between the gorgeous colors and the delicious flavors of this recipe, it really is the perfect addition to any holiday table!
what you’ll need for this recipe
Mixed greens – Mixed greens are the base of this salad, and any combination will work. I used 8 ounces of 50/50 blend (half spinach, half spring mix).
Cranberry sauce – I made a simple cranberry sauce using fresh cranberries, sugar, and water. I included this in the recipe, but you can also feel free to use your favorite store bought sauce if you prefer.
Apples – I used one large honeycrisp apple, cut into bite sized pieces. Other varieties I enjoy on salad are Gala, Fuji, or Granny Smith.
Bacon – 6 ounces of chopped, cooked bacon adds a delicious savory element to this salad and balances out the other sweeter flavors. I used my oven bacon recipe and tips!
Pecans – 1/2 cup of pecans adds extra crunch and a nutty flavor to this salad. Feel free to swap out the pecans for almonds, walnuts or any of your favorite varieties.
Goat cheese – One container (3.5 ounces) crumbled goat cheese adds a delicious creamy flavor and texture to this salad. If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, other good options would be feta, gorgonzola, or shaved Parmesan.
Green onions – Finally, 3-4 green onions adds a kick of extra flavor. I prefer using green or red onions in salads for their milder flavor. Onions can also be omitted if desired.
How do you make homemade vinaigrette?
- In a small container with a lid, combine 1/2 c. olive oil, 1/4 c. white balsamic vinegar, 1 1/2 Tbsp. honey, 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and 1/8 tsp. salt.
- Shake vigorously until ingredients are well blended.
- Pour over salad as desired.
How do you use fresh cranberries in a salad?
The key to using fresh cranberries in a salad is to cook them slightly first. Not only does this soften them, but it helps to reduce their tartness. To cook fresh cranberries, simply combine 1 c. cranberries, 1/4 c. water and 1/3 c. sugar in a small saucepan. Heat on medium-high heat until cranberries begin to pop. Remove from heat and cool, then add to your salad.
what kind of apples to use
You can use any type of apple in a salad, but they key is to balance the flavors. For this salad I chose to use honeycrisp apples, which are sweet, to balance out the flavor of the cranberries.
What kind of cheese can you use instead of goat cheese?
Any other soft, crumbly cheese would be a good substitution for goat cheese. My top choices would be feta or blue cheese, but you could also use parmesan, swiss, or even cheddar in this salad.
- Substitute walnuts for the pecans
- Add chopped pears
- Add shaved brussels sprouts
- Use honey mustard dressing in place of the vinaigrette
- Substitute fresh cranberries with craisins
You might also enjoy these salad recipes:
- Brussels Sprouts Salad
- Winter Fruit Salad
- Apple Walnut Salad
- Pear, Walnut & Gorgonzola Salad
- Cherry Almond Arugula Salad
- Apple Brie Salad
- Cranberry Orange Harvest Salad
- Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
- 1 c. fresh cranberries
- 1/3 c. granulated sugar
- 1/4 c. water
- 8 oz. mixed salad greens
- 1 honeycrisp apple, chopped
- 6 oz. bacon, cooked
- 1/2 c. pecan halves
- 3.5 oz. crumbled goat cheese
- 4 green onions, sliced
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- 1/4 c. white balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- Prepare cranberries by combining fresh cranberries, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Heat on medium-high heat until cranberries begin to pop. Remove from heat and cool.
- Prepare dressing by combining ingredients in a small container and shaking well. Set aside.
- Spread salad greens in a large salad bowl.
- Top with prepared cranberries, chopped apples, crumbled bacon, pecans, goat cheese, and sliced green onions.
- Add dressing and toss to coat.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 251Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 317mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 2gSugar: 11gProtein: 7g