Spinach Salad

This easy spinach salad recipe is a fresh, delicious side dish! It's filled with apples, dried cranberries, and pecans. A tangy dressing ties it all together.

Spinach salad

This spinach salad recipe is simple, fresh, and delicious. A version of my mom’s favorite salad, it’s filled with crisp apples, dried cranberries, red onion, creamy goat cheese, and toasty candied pecans. A bright apple cider vinaigrette ties it all together. *Chef’s kiss*

This fall, I’ve been making it on repeat. To be totally honest, that’s a bit out of character for me, because I’m not always a fan of spinach salad recipes (something about the texture of the greens, I think).

So you should trust me when I say that THIS spinach salad really works. It’s sweet, tangy, and savory, and it features a mouthwatering blend of tender, crisp, and chewy components. In my book, it’s the perfect easy side dish or light lunch. I think you’re going to love it!

Spinach salad recipe ingredients

Spinach Salad Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy spinach salad recipe:

  • Fresh spinach, of course! I love tender baby spinach here, but mature spinach will work too. Tear the leaves if they are large.
  • Apple – It adds refreshing crunch. Use a sweet, crisp variety like Gala or Honeycrisp.
  • Red onion – For savory flavor. Thinly slice it so that it doesn’t overpower the other ingredients.
  • Candied pecans – These sweet, spiced nuts are easy to make on the stove, but if you’d like to streamline the recipe, you can use regular toasted pecans instead.
  • Goat cheese – For creamy texture and tangy flavor. Shaved pecorino is great here too.
  • Dried cranberries – They add chewy texture and sweet-tart flavor.
  • And salt and pepper – To make all the flavors pop!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Spinach Salad Dressing

This spinach salad recipe has one last component: the dressing!

I make an apple cider vinaigrette with

  • apple cider vinegar,
  • honey or maple syrup,
  • garlic,
  • Dijon mustard,
  • extra-virgin olive oil,
  • and salt and pepper.

Its tangy flavor is a lovely complement to the sweet apples and candied pecans.

To make it, just add the dressing ingredients to a jar, secure the lid, and shake to combine. So easy!

  • Tip: This dressing keeps well for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Make it ahead so that the salad is extra-quick to assemble!

Pouring dressing over apple, red onion, and greens in bowl

Possible Recipe Variations

This spinach salad recipe is flexible! Though I love it as written, there are all sorts of ways to change it up. Feel free to make it your own. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Swap the dressing. Try my balsamic dressing or lemon vinaigrette.
  • Change up the nuts. Replace the pecans with toasted almonds or walnuts.
  • Try another cheese. Feta cheese or shaved Parmesan would be delicious!
  • Use different fruits. Toss in sliced pears or orange segments instead of the apples, or use pomegranate arils instead of the cranberries.
  • Make it a main dish. Add a whole grain like farro or wild rice or a protein like roasted chickpeas.
  • Make a strawberry spinach salad by replacing the apples with sliced strawberries. Omit the dried cranberries, and dress the salad with balsamic dressing or lemon vinaigrette.

Let me know what variations you try!

Tossing salad in bowl with tongs

What to Serve with Spinach Salad

This spinach salad is a versatile side dish. It’s special enough to serve at Thanksgiving or any holiday meal, but it’s simple enough to prepare on regular weeknights too. Pair it with a simply cooked protein or any of these recipes:

I also love to make this salad for lunch. It’s on the lighter side, so I often toss in some cooked farro or roasted chickpeas to make it heartier.

I hope you enjoy!

Spinach salad recipe

More Favorite Salad Recipes

If you love this spinach salad, try one of these fresh salad recipes next:

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Spinach Salad

rate this recipe:
5 from 14 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
This easy spinach salad recipe is a fresh, delicious side dish or lunch! To get ahead, prepare the candied pecans and apple cider vinaigrette in advance. Store the pecans at room temperature for up to a week and the dressing in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, place the spinach, apple, and onion. Add some of the dressing and toss to combine.
  • Add the pecans, goat cheese, and cranberries and gently toss. Add more dressing, as desired. Season to taste and serve.

9 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. molly
    12.13.2023

    5 stars
    a wonderful fall salad! i found that i already had many of the ingredients, which made this such an easy, delicious fix.

  2. Sana Javed
    12.12.2023

    It came together super quickly and easily. I’ll definitely be adding this side dish on rotation. Thanks so much for this great recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.13.2023

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  3. vivian
    12.02.2023

    5 stars
    A lovely salad that complements almost anything and bypasses the problem of out-of-season tomatoes. I lightly salted the candied pecans after they were done, but otherwise followed the recipe. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.05.2023

      Hi Vivian, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Lainey
    11.24.2023

    5 stars
    This colourful post caught my eye, and since I had all of the ingredients on hand decided to go for it.
    SO SO GOOD.
    I think I may try a shallot vs red onion next time but the flavour combo for the WIN.
    Never feel much like salads in colder weather months but this may change that!
    Lainey.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      11.28.2023

      Hi Lainey, I’m so glad you loved the salad! Shallot would be delicious here.

  5. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com
    11.20.2023

    like the apples! and the apple vinegar, a nice change from my spinach bacon salad, thank you

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.23.2023

      I’m so glad you loved it!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.