Healthy, attainable, feel-good recipes—those are my favorite. Take this simple green salad, which has been my go-to holiday salad for five years now.
I’ve brought it to too many Friendsgivings to count, and my family has enjoyed it at Thanksgiving as well. It’s beautiful, easy to make, and a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
This salad features fresh spring greens, tart Granny Smith apple, sweet dried cranberries and creamy goat cheese, tossed in a simple apple cider vinaigrette (recipe included).
I usually try to outdo myself when it comes to salads, but I kept this one simple. It’s the perfect side salad for all of your cool-weather meals.
Make it for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any meal in between!
Green Salad Serving Suggestions
This is my favorite green salad to serve with heavier holiday/comfort foods. Consider pairing this salad with lasagna, baked ziti and stuffed acorn squash.
Serve this salad with a creamy soup to round out a light meal. It would go especially well with my creamy pumpkin soup, best butternut soup, and creamy roasted cauliflower soup.
Green Salad Tips
Spring greens wilt quickly once they’ve been tossed with dressing. If you are preparing this salad in advance, keep the dressing separate until you’re ready to serve. For best results, chop the apple just before tossing everything together, since apples brown when they are exposed to air.
For a salad with greater longevity, swap a big bunch of chopped kale (thick ribs removed) for the spring greens. Kale is a more hardy green that can withstand a long soak in dressing—in fact, it gets better as it marinates. At this rate, you could also add the apples—the vinegar will help keep them fresh.
Watch How to Make This Green Salad
Please let me know how this salad turns out for you in the comments! I’m always so happy to hear from you.
Looking for more healthy yet holiday-worthy salads? Check these out:
- Pomegranate & Pear Green Salad with Ginger Dressing
- Honey Mustard Brussels Sprout Slaw
- Farro and Kale Salad with Goat Cheese
- Arugula and Wild Rice Salad with Zippy Lemon Dressing
- Hearty Sweet Potato, Arugula & Wild Rice Salad with Ginger Dressing
- Autumn Kale Salad with Fennel, Honeycrisp and Goat Cheese
Favorite Green Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Pepitas
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 5 mins
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 4 side salads 1x
- Category: Salad
- Method: By hand
- Cuisine: American
My favorite fresh salad featuring healthy greens, sliced apple, toasted pepitas, dried cranberries and crumbled goat cheese. Toss with my simple apple cider vinaigrette (recipe below) or use balsamic dressing in a pinch. Recipe yields 2 full-sized salads or 4 to 6 side salads.
- 5 ounces (about 5 cups) spring greens salad blend
- 1 large or 2 small Granny Smith apple(s)
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) or chopped raw pecans
- 2 ounces chilled goat cheese, crumbled (about ⅓ cup)
Apple cider vinaigrette
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Toast the pepitas: In a medium-sized skillet, toast the pepitas over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are turning golden on the edges and making little popping noises (if using pecans instead, warm them just until they are fragrant). Transfer the pepitas to a small bowl to cool.
- Make the dressing: In a cup or jar, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, mustard and salt until well blended. Season to taste with pepper.
- Just before serving, chop the apple into thin, bite-sized pieces. Place your greens in a large serving bowl. Top with sliced apple, dried cranberries and toasted pepitas. Use a fork to crumble the goat cheese over the salad.
- Drizzle the salad with just enough dressing to lightly coat the leaves once tossed (you probably won’t need all of it). Gently toss to mix all of the ingredients and serve!
Make it vegan: Substitute maple syrup for the honey and omit the cheese.
Storage suggestions: Spring greens wilt quickly once they’ve been tossed with dressing, so store dressing separately from the greens. Apples oxidize quickly once they’re cut open, so I chop them just before serving the salad. For a salad with more longevity, swap chopped kale for the spring greens (like this). Bonus? The dressing will keep the chopped apples looking fresh.
Absolutely delicious! The dressing was a perfect accompaniment to the salad. This is definitely a salad that I will make time and time again.
I love this salad! It’s so so simple yet delicious and pairs well with most any cool weather meals. It’s easy to add to and play around with as well. A great staple. Thanks Kate!
This salad is one of my new favourites! I’ve made it quite a few times over! All my kids love it! Thank you for sharing.
You’re welcome, Kimberly! I appreciate your review.
Just ate this for dinner at my aunt’s home and it was absolutely amazing!! Healthy and full flavor with just the right about of sweet! Highly recommend!!
Num..num!!!! My go to salad recipe when my sweet tooth kicks in. Toddler friendly as well.
Thank you for your review, Ruchi! I appreciate it.
I have made this countless times and it is fantastic every time! Friends ask for it when they come over!
I’m delighted to hear that! Thank you for your review.
Thank you for some of these recipes; I have made spring rolls before and have been unable to make the perfect peanut dipping sauce, therefore, can’t wait until I attempt to do this soon. Thanks.
I am looking forward for kidney-friendly recipes and the apple with cranberries, peppitas, appears to be what I have been wanting to try.
This salad is a slam dunk. It’s seriously delicious, and because it’s quick and easy to prepare, I will often do it for lunch on work days, combining it with either the “seriously good veggie soup” or creamy carrot soup (both from C&K). That’s my definition of a perfect weekday lunch!
I’m happy you loved it, Melissa! Thank you for your review.
This was so good, thank you!! What kind of protein would you add to make it more of a main dish?
Hi! You could add some chickpeas or serve with a sandwich – like my Favorite Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
So good! Made this for my dad’s 53rd birthday and was a hit overall. Though i did add chopped green onions to this. I am a huge onion fan :) Anyways, love the recipe!!
That’s great, Sabrina!
I made this salad and took it to friends place to contribute to supper for 5 of us. It was absolutely delicious! I used goat cheese rolled in dried cranberries instead of plain goat cheese plus the dried cranberries called for in the recipe. Next time I’ll use plane goat cheese but either way is yummy! I’ll definitely make it again!
Absolutely love this salad. I eat it at least once a week! It never gets old.
I’m happy you love it!
This salad was delicious. I have tried several different vinaigrette dressings recipes over the past few months but this one comes up on top! I will definitely be using this dressing regularly now. Delicious!!
I’m slowly working my way through your salad recipes and this is another winner! Sounded good as we are on the cusp of another season. I added some celery, used pecans, and maple syrup instead of honey. Flavors blend so well with the dressing!
That’s a great idea! Thank you for sharing you enjoyed this salad, Vickie.
Is it ok if I replace goat cheese with feta cheese?
Sure, that’s a great alternative.
Hi! If we don’t like goat cheese, could we swap for feta? Would that still taste good?
Feta is a great option, Samara! I hope you love it.
I was thinking using feta as well. How did it turn out with this substitution??
Amazing! Made it in October as a main course, so we subbed out candied pecans for the pepitas, and added grilled chicken. So delicious, and the dressing is incredible. My new favorite salad.
I love it! Thank you for sharing, Debroah.
I love a good salad. This one was delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipe. :)
Robert (Victoria, British Columbia)
I have lost count of how many times I have made this salad. Always a home run with dinner guests!
I love that! Thank you for sharing, Robert.
Can you store the dressing at room temp in a jar or does it need to be refrigerated?
Hi! I recommend refrigerating it.
Made it for Thanksgiving and it was delish! I will definitely be making it again. Thank you!
You’re welcome, Chase!
Thank you for saving me. I’m British and I got invited to an American thanksgiving and I had to bring a fall salad and I didn’t know what one was! I made this, followed the recipe exactly, and it was DELICIOUS. This salad is perfect in my opinion! The perfect side to a thanksgiving meal. It is also easy to make, thanks to the clear instructions.
I’m glad you all could enjoy this salad together, Martha! I appreciate your review.
I added a little bit of fresh microplaned ginger to the dressing to round out that holiday flavor profile. Love this salad!
Can I sub the mustard for anything else? I’m allergic.
Hi Tina, you could omit altogether or try subbing some may for creaminess you will miss from the mustard.
Sounds great but my husband and I both have a strong dislike of apple cider vinegar. Do you have any recommendations of alternative dressings? Do you think poppyseed would pair well with this?
Hi! That could work. Let me know what you think!
I never have to modify your recipes. You are always spot on as far as my family is concerned. Thank you!
Thank you, Patti! I’m delighted you trust my recipes.
Very good salad recipe.
Had a BBQ today and got so many compliments on this salad! I see myself making this for many future occaisions!
Wonderful recipe! One change toasted pepitas with little maple syrup and cinnamon, all else the same, delicious!
Thank you, Shirley! I appreciate your review.
You can even cut the apples ahead of time and refrigerate them covered tightly, submerged in lemon-lime soda like 7-Up. They’re just as fresh as when just cut and not sour like when they’re treated with lemon juice. I’ve even kept them several days.
This salad recipe is incredible! Served this as a side dish to some fresh, tuna fillets but easily could have eaten this as a main. Maybe I might ;)
Another perfect recipe from YOU! Thank you so much; served it with air fried Salmon and it was the perfect dinner!!
Very good salad. Made it for 8 guests and it was popular.
I can’t stop eating this salad. Simple but genius.
This recipe was suggested as side for a large group meeting. It was a hit! Everything in Kate’s salad was perfect and eye appealing. The dressing is easy to make and better than a purchased bottle.
Can I substitute candied pecans! I don’t have pepitas. Or pine nuts? Thanks
You could try that. Let me know what you think, Carol! I appreciate your review.
3 large or 2 small Granny Smith apple(s)
I think you mean 2 large or 3 small?
Hi Marcia, you can add more if you like more apples. I hope you enjoy it!
Sorry, I was just pointing out what I thought was a typo!
The salad is perfect!
Hi Marcia, so glad you like the salad and I’m sorry for the confusion. I think I’ve figured out what was happening. The original recipe specifies 1 large or 2 small apples, which is correct/logical. However, if you use the double or triple option to multiply the quantities, the 2 small apples doesn’t get multiplied along with the large apple. This must be a glitch in the software and I honestly don’t know how to fix it—that tool is helpful but a little imperfect at times. I appreciate you bringing it to my attention and hope you’re having a great weekend!
I made this tonight for company and, like all your salads that I’ve tried, it was wonderful. I couldn’t find pepitas so I used pecans. I’d like to try pepitas if I can find the, though.
can the chopped apples be mixed with a little dressing to prevent browning and transported for easier prepping when taking to a dinner party? Thank you!
Man, is this good, and so easy to make!! I made this last night for a Christmas party pot-luck. I tossed the cut apple with a little lemon juice to keep it from browning and drained it before adding to the salad, and added some chopped romaine hearts to help support the spring greens which wilt more readily. I also substituted roasted pistachios for the pepitas. The dressing was perfect, and everyone loved it. I’m making it again for Christmas Eve.
I hope it’s a hit, Kate! Thank you for taking the time to review.
Made this for my cooking club today to go with a simple chicken recipe. It was very good! I had an unused Trader Joe’s Cranberry Goat Cheese Log left over from the holidays, so I crumbled 4 oz and substituted this for the goat cheese and cranberries. I thought the dressing was a bit bland, but the cinnamon in the log added the perfect extra touch! Will definitely keep this recipe handy!
That’s great to hear! Thank you for sharing how you made it.
Honestly the beat salad. We have had it so often ever since we discovered it, almost 2 years ago!
This is amazing! Try it will cherry goat cheese! They have it around Christmas time! Game Changer! My favorite salad by far! Thank you for a superb recipe!
Seriously my favourite salad to make. The only thing I change is I don’t add the cranberries and I only use a handful of the pepita seeds
This has been my go-to salad for literally years. I always bring it to family gatherings and potlucks and get rave reviews every time! Thank you for this simple yet delicious recipe!
You’re welcome, AW! Thank you for your review.
Delicious salad and very simple to make. he cranberries
I’m glad you love it, Jay! Thank you for your review.