The ultimate fall salad! This apple pecan salad makes salad eating irresistibly good. Sweet apples, creamy goat cheese and maple pecans are tossed with fresh greens and an easy apple cider vinaigrette.
You can’t go wrong with this apple pecan salad! It’s one of those salad recipes that is good enough to play a supporting role to a holiday roast turkey, but easy enough to serve with a regular weeknight meal.
Pile your favorite salad greens into a bowl and add a handful of maple pecans, a chopped apple and some creamy goat cheese. Toss it all together with my apple cider salad dressing and…voila! The autumn salad that you’ll come back to over and over again.
What you need for this apple pecan salad:
See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.
These are the main ingredients for this recipe (affiliate links included):
- Greens: A variety of leafy greens work for this salad. I used a mix of spinach, red leaf lettuce and arugula. Green leaf lettuce and romaine lettuce also favorites. If using kale, be sure to massage it under warm water first to soften up the leaves.
- Maple pecans: Raw or roasted nuts are always great in salads, but my easy Maple Pecans really take things up a notch, adding both crunch and a bit of sweetness. Candied pecans or walnuts, or cinnamon roasted cashews are all good alternatives.
- Apple: Use your favorite crisp apple. I like to stick with sweeter apples (i.e., not Granny Smith). Gala, Jazz and Honeycrisp are favorites.
- Other vegetables: Cucumber slices work well with the apple. Add some thinly sliced greens onions for a bit of a peppery taste.
- Cheese: Chevre, which is soft goat cheese, is fantastic with apple (see this amazing appetizer that my son came up with). Feta cheese is a good alternative. Or change up the flavor with some crumbled blue cheese.
- Salad dressing: Keep a batch of my Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing on hand to dress up salads like this one. It’s a nice mix of apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, maple syrup (honey works, too), Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, all shaken up in a mason jar. A homemade balsamic vinaigrette also works with this salad.
- Variations: If you like, add dried cherries or cranberries. I'm not a huge fan of raw onion in salads because I find it overpowers the other flavors, but my husband loves to add thin slices of red onions.
💙What’s to love about this autumn salad:
▪️Casual or holiday: Serve as a side dish with your holiday meal or alongside soup or chili any night of the week.
▪️It’s so easy! Make the maple pecans and apple cider vinegar dressing ahead of time so you can throw together this salad in just a few minutes.
▪️Taste & texture: Tangy, creamy goat cheese alongside sweet, crisp apples and toasted maple pecans. The fall flavors hit all the right notes.
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How to make apple pecan salad:
Putting together this salad is as easy as can be! The instructions are as simple as 1) put everything in a bowl and 2) toss with dressing.
That being said, I have a few tips to share…
- After washing the salad greens, get them good and dry. The dressing will stick to the leaves much more readily when they’re dry. Plus, the salad will stay fresh longer. Use a salad spinner to get rid of the excess water. If you don’t have a salad spinner, gently pat dry the greens between clean kitchen towels.
- I recommend crumbling the goat cheese immediately after removing it from the fridge. Once it starts to warm up, it becomes a little messier to crumble.
- If you have an extra large serving bowl, toss the salad in that. Otherwise, toss it in a large bowl that you use for prep, then transfer it to the serving bowl.
- You can always add dressing, but you can’t take it away. And let’s face it, no one likes soggy salad! Start with a little less of the dressing, toss the salad and taste a piece of the lettuce/spinach. Add more dressing until it’s dressed to your preference.
- Cut the apple and dress the salad right before serving. This will stop the apple pieces from browning and the salad from becoming limp.
Turn it into a dinner salad:
While this fall salad works equally well on the holiday table as it does as a weeknight side dish. But what about as a meal by itself?
Turning this salad from a side dish to an entrée is as easy as adding a few ingredients, such as lean protein and whole grains.
Vegetarian dinner salad:
Add some legumes, such as chickpeas, cannellini beans or lentils, along with a couple of scoops of a cooked whole grain, such as quinoa, barley or farro. I like to cook and freeze quinoa to keep on hand for just this sort of thing!
Some roasted fall veggies, such as roast sweet potatoes, would also be a tasty addition.
Non-vegetarian dinner salad:
Add some grilled chicken or leftover roasted pork tenderloin to bulk up the salad. Do some meal prep by poaching chicken breasts or preparing some shredded chicken in the Instant pot. Perfect for adding to salads!
Add some cooked whole grains (e,g., quinoa, barley, farro) for a dose of healthy carbs.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Yes and no. Fully dressed salads don’t hold up well when made too far ahead of time. Additionally, the apples will oxidize, turning brown, when exposed to air. I suggest chopping the apple and dressing the salad at the last minute.
However, there are several things that can be done ahead of time:
▪️Wash and dry the greens. Store them in a ziplock bag with a paper towel to absorb any additional moisture. Store them in the fridge.
▪️Crumble the goat cheese. Store it in the fridge in an airtight container.
▪️Make the maple pecans. I promise that you’ll want to have extras around for snacking or regular salad-making.
▪️Make the apple cider vinaigrette and store it in the refrigerator.
While I adore chevre (soft goat cheese) with apple and pecans, feta cheese or even crumbled gorgonzola cheese would be good options.
Autumn Salad with Apple & Pecans
- In a large bowl, combine the salad greens, maple pecans, cucumber slices, chopped apple, goat cheese and green onions.
- Toss with the dressing. Taste and add more dressing, if desired.
Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.