Apple Salad – made with an abundance of crisp sweet apples, fresh spring lettuce greens or spinach, crunchy toasted pecans, tangy feta, flavorful salty bacon and it’s finished with a vibrant maple cider vinaigrette dressing. It’s the perfect autumn salad!
Our Favorite Apple Salad Recipe!
Who doesn’t love a salad that includes fresh seasonal ingredients? Many of us are baking with those delicious seasonal fall apples (making apple crisp, apple pie or apple cobbler) but those juicy apples are also such great addition to savory recipes (like this autumn sheet pan chicken dinner) and side salads like this.
Apples are the crowing star of the show in this salad and they are highlighted beautifully by the other ingredients like the tangy feta and rich smoky bacon. Bacon makes everything better though right?
This salad is simple enough to be an addition to weeknight meal but it’s also delicious enough to be served at a holiday gathering or a weekend party.
If you want to make it a main dish just add some chopped rotisserie chicken to it for more protein or consider tossing in a grain like farro, barley or even seedy tri color quinoa.
So much to love about this colorful, vibrant, sweet and savory salad!
Apple Salad Recipe Ingredients and Substitutes
Ingredients for the salad:
- Spring lettuce mix: Baby spinach works great here too. I’ve used both but lately prefer the additional textures and flavors of the spring mix. It holds up a little better as well.
- Gala apples: Another crisp sweet apple will work fine here. Or if you prefer tart apples you can include those as well.
- Pecans: Walnuts are another great option or shelled pumpkin seeds.
- Feta cheese: Goat cheese would be tasty.
- Dried cranberries: Chopped sweetened dried cherries can be used.
- Bacon: Chopped proscuitto, leftover cooked ham, or even Canadian bacon could be tasty here.
- Red onion: A few green onions will work in it’s place.
Ingredients for the dressing:
- Olive oil: You can use regular or light olive oil here but I don’t recommend extra virgin. The flavor is too bold for the apples.
- Apple cider vinegar: Red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar is a good alternative.
- Maple syrup: Honey works too.
- Dijon mustard: In a pinch regular yellow mustard will work.
- Salt and black pepper
How to Make Apple Salad
- Make the dressing: Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Or add to a mason jar cover with lid and shake to blend well.
- Add salad ingredients to bowl: In a large salad bowl layer together lettuce blend, apples, pecans, feta, cranberries, bacon and red onion.
- Toss with dressing: Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to evenly coat.
- Serve immediately after adding dressing.
Helpful Tips for Apple Salad
- Dressing: Wait to chop the apples until shortly before dressing the salad so they don’t brown.
- Also wait to dress the salad until just before serving because the lettuces will begin to wilt from the oily acidic dressing.
- Chill the dressing if time always about 1 hour before. Sometimes I’ll even flash chill in the freezer for 15 minutes, stirring every 5. A cold dressing is thicker and clings better plus it’s more refreshing.
- Toppings: If you are interested in the presentation of the salad I recommend setting aside some of the toppings to sprinkle over the top. They have a tendency to sink to the bottom of the salad bowl.
- Slicing: Slice the red onions very thin. I’ve found them to be much more enjoyable this way in a salad (here I didn’t slice them quite as thin just to you could see them in the salad).
- Originally I just cut the apples into halves and slices but now when I make this recipe I prefer smaller bite size pieces (still sliced though just not chopped chunks). It keeps things more uniform.
- Prepared ingredients: You can pre-chopped pecan pieces at the store to save time, some stores even sale some that are toasted as well. And pre-crumbled feta is fine in this recipe. I do however recommend sticking with freshly cooked bacon vs. the store-bought cooked kind for better quality.
- This salad should be served shortly after preparing.
- But you can make the dressing up to 4 days in advance and store in the fridge.
- You can also cook and chop bacon up to 4 days ahead, toast and chop the nuts, and slice the onions. Store bacon and onions in the fridge as well.
- Other good apples to use here include fuji, honeycrisp, red delicious, ambrosia, juici, pacific rose, sweetango, jonagold, kiku, or envy.
- Add a protein such as cooked rotisserie chicken or leftover cooked ham.
- Try tossing in a grain such as farro, barley, or quinoa.
- For more fruitiness add pomegranate arils or try swapping out one of the apples with a pear (just serve it over the top as they are delicate though).
More Tasty Apple Recipes to Try
16 Quick & Easy 30 Minute Recipes! (plus weekly recipe updates)
Made with an abundance of crisp sweet apples, fresh spring lettuce greens or spinach, crunchy toasted pecans, tangy feta, flavorful salty bacon and it’s finished with a vibrant maple cider vinaigrette dressing. It’s the perfect autumn salad but delicious any day of the year!
Make the dressing: Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Or add to a mason jar cover with lid and shake to blend well.
In a large salad bowl layer together lettuce blend, apples, pecans, feta, cranberries, bacon, and red onion.
Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to evenly coat.
Serve immediately after adding dressing.
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 441
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Vitamin A 3934IU79%
Vitamin C 16mg19%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Recipe previously named Apple Pecan Feta Spinach Salad, modified to shorten to Apple Salad Oct. 2023. Also includes option of using spring salad or spinach for the recipe.