Crisp Apple Salad

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This easy apple salad recipe is a delight, starring crisp fruit, greens, cheese crumbles, and a zingy maple vinaigrette.

Got an apple? Here’s a simple way to turn it into a beautiful side dish: this stunning Apple Salad recipe! If we could eat one salad for the rest of time, this one is it. Crisp tart apple slices pair with pops of pomegranate seeds, creamy goat cheese, and crunchy, cinnamon spiced pecans. Toss them all over fresh greens with a zingy maple and apple cider vinegar dressing, and it’s truly salad perfection. Here’s our best ever apple salad recipe, ideal for weeknights, dinner parties, Thanksgiving, and more.

Ingredients in this apple salad recipe

This apple salad recipe is all about minimal ingredients with maximum impact. It’s fancy enough for entertaining, yet simple enough to pair with an easy weeknight meal. The flavors make it a great fall salad or winter salad (ideal for Thanksgiving or Christmas), but it works in any season. Here’s what you’ll need for this tasty green salad:

Crisp tart appleMixed greens like butter or Bibb lettuce, frisee, etc Candied pecans or toasted pecansGoat cheese or feta cheese crumblesPomegranate seeds or dried cranberriesMaple Vinaigrette dressing (or other dressing variations; see below!)

Best types of apples for a salad

What are the best types of apples for an apple salad? A crisp tart apple variety is best here. You’ll want an apple that has a lovely crunch when you bite into it, and a bit of tartness in the flavor profile makes for the best pop. Here are our top apple varieties for a salad:

Pink Lady: our favorite apple, hands down! The flavor is intensely sweet tart and it has a lovely, bright red colorGranny Smith: it has a great tart flavor! We suggest mixing this with another red apple, like a Pink Lady or HoneycrispHoneycrisp: a bit sweeter and juicier than Pink Lady, but still a great optionJonathon or Jonagold: these are apples you can pick at an orchard; they’ve got a nice sweet tart flavor as well

There are lots of other great apple varieties: let us know your favorites in the comments below.

Candied pecans add big flavor

What makes this apple salad stand out? All the elements contribute, but the candied pecans really add a kick of sweet, cinnamon-spiced goodness. Here are a few notes on candied pecans and a few substitutions:

Candied pecans take just 35 minutes and make a large batch that’s easy to store. It’s absolutely worth the time to make a batch that works for salads for weeks or months. Store at room temp 2 weeks or frozen 3 months. These nuts stay perfectly crisp and delicious for the entire storage time. Alternatively, try purchased candied pecans or make toasted pecans. Don’t want to make your own? You can find them at the store, or simply make toasted pecans! Toasting nuts on the stovetop brings out their unique flavor.Or, try candied walnuts or any other nut you like. Candied walnuts are another great choice! Or try the salad with pistachios, almonds, or hazelnuts: it’s just as tasty!

Apple salad variations: dressing, mix-ins and more

There are many ways to vary this apple salad recipe: as noted above with the nuts. But you can try it with different dressing options and other mix-ins. Here are a few ideas for alterative dressings and mix-ins:

Maple vinaigrette or honey vinaigrette pair well with the flavorsBalsamic vinaigrette is another classic pairApple cider vinegar dressing or Dijon mustard dressing are other great optionsHoney mustard vinaigrette brings a kickPoppy seed dressing has a sweet, elegant flavor Dried cranberries or cherries can stand in for pomegranate seedsUse Parmesan, gorgonzola, gouda, Manchego, or omit the cheeseVary the nuts to almonds, walnuts, pistachios, or hazelnutsAdd pepitas or other crunchy mix-ins

More salad recipes

This apple salad is a favorite green salad recipe of ours that works for holidays just as well as a laid-back weeknight. But there are so many more riffs on this concept! Here are a few more of our favorite tasty salads:

Go with Perfect Spinach Salad, Kale Salad, or Favorite Chopped SaladOpt for Pear Salad with Pecans or Beet Salad with Goat CheeseTry cozy Sweet Potato Salad or Butternut Squash SaladGo citrusy with Grapefruit Salad with Almonds or Endive Salad with Parmesan & Orange

Looking for more with apples? Go to our top Apple Recipes.


Pear Salad with Pecans


Favorite Chopped Salad


Perfect Spinach Salad


Butternut Squash Salad

This crisp apple salad recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For vegan and dairy free, omit the cheese (and for vegan, use toasted nuts).


Crisp Apple Salad

Sonja Overhiser

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This easy apple salad recipe is a delight, starring crisp fruit, greens, cheese crumbles, and a zingy maple vinaigrette.


For the salad

1 crisp tart apple (like Pink Lady)
8 cups mixed greens or tender lettuces (like butter or Bibb lettuce, frisee, etc)
¼ cup candied pecans or toasted pecans
¼ cup goat cheese or feta cheese crumbles
¼ cup pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries
Optional: chopped fresh thyme, for garnish

For the maple vinaigrette dressing (use 6 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons apple cider or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper (optional)


If using, prepare the candied pecans in advance (or use purchased).
Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk the maple syrup, vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, and black pepper. Whisk in the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time until a creamy dressing forms. (If desired, make in advance and refrigerate up to 2 weeks; bring to room temperature prior to serving).
Thinly slice the apple.
Place the greens on a large platter or individual plates. Top with apple slices, candied pecans, goat cheese or feta crumbles, and pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries. Top with about 6 tablespoons of the dressing (or more as desired) and serve immediately. (To make ahead, keep all components separate with fresh ingredients and dressing refrigerated. Toss the apples with lemon juice to prevent browning. Bring dressing to room temperature and add all ingredients together directly before serving.)

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

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