Candied Pecan Salad with Apples is perfect for serving a big group of people. Baby spinach, red onion, feta cheese, Craisins, honey crisp apples, and candied pecans – topped with an apple cider vinaigrette! So good!
Choosing the right salad for your gathering can be difficult. Which is why I’m got choices for you! Next, try my Loaded Harvest Apple Salad with Balsamic Dressing or the best Spinach Salad with Honey Dijon Dressing!
I always make sure to have SOMETHING green on my holiday table. It’s a requirement, because after all the cheesy, buttery, sugary things, you need something on the healthy’ish list. You can prep most of it in advance, and just add the dressing right before serving.
Priorities here. Plan the salad, and then plan ALL the other things.
Let’s start with a Smoked Spatchcock Turkey, some Make Ahead Creamy Mashed Potatoes, the most delicious Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crumble, a colorful Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad, and some Soft Brioche Dinner Rolls.
And this salad. Make this salad!
I can’t think of a better salad to make over the holidays. It’s got all the flavors of this time of year, and I love them all. Let’s cover what we’re using here.
- Baby Spinach – I normally snap off the stems, but that’s optional.
- Apple Slices (coated in lemon juice to prevent browning)
- Feta Cheese – salty and delicious.
- Red Onion – sliced thin.
- The BEST candied pecans
- And a simple sweet and tangy Apple Cider Vinaigrette
If you aren’t spinach lovers like we are, you could go with a different mixture of greens. Any will work.
How to make this salad
Make the easy caramelized pecans. These are the BEST part of this salad, and can be made ahead of time and frozen.
Make the dressing. Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a mason jar, and shake well.
Prep apples. Slice the apples, and add some lemon juice to prevent browning.
Combine salad ingredients. In a large salad bowl, combine the baby spinach, sliced red onion, crumbled feta cheese, sliced apples, and candied pecans.
Add dressing. If you are serving a large group, drizzle the salad dressing over the salad and toss. If you’re only eating a serving or two, add dressing to individual salads.
- Snap the stems off the spinach leaves. This isn’t a requirement, but I enjoy eating spinach salads better without those long stems.
- Add lemon to the apples. If you skip this step, the apples will brown. The lemon actually adds great flavor to the apples as well!
- Make the caramelized pecans in advance, and store them in the freezer. We like them straight out of the freezer!
- Prep the dressing in advance as well. Before serving, shake the jar up vigorously. Use those muscles!
Kitchen Tools Used: (affiliate links)
Candied Pecan Salad with Apples
For the salad:
- 12-14 cups baby spinach leaves – or other greens
- 1/2 cup red onion – sliced thin
- 1/2 cup feta cheese – crumbled
- 3/4 cup Craisins
- 1 1/2 cup caramelized pecans – see homemade recipe
- 2 large honey crisp apples – sliced thin
- 1/2 large lemon – freshly squeezed
For the dressing:
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
- salt and pepper – to taste
- Mix the dressing ingredients in a salad dressing bottle or a mason jar. Shake vigorously and set aside.
- Core and slice the apple. Coat with freshly squeezed lemon to preserve color.
- In a large serving bowl, arrange spinach leaves, red onion, feta cheese, Craisins, candied pecans, and apple slices. Right before serving, pour dressing over salad and mix to combine.
- You may not need all the dressing so be conservative with the pouring.
- This salad is pretty large. You can change the serving size directly in the recipe for a smaller amount.
- You won’t need an entire recipe of candied pecans, but those freeze well, so just use what you need and freeze the rest.
- Low sugar Craisins can be substituted for regular ones.