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Holiday Honeycrisp Salad

This gorgeous Holiday Salad is full of flavor and texture, with fresh Honeycrisp apple slices, crunchy candied pecans, chewy dried cranberries, salty blue cheese, and a tangy-sweet apple cider vinaigrette!

Holiday Honeycrisp Salad ~ full of flavor and texture, this gorgeous salad is loaded with fresh apple slices, crunchy candied pecans, chewy dried cranberries, and salty blue cheese, all dressed with a tangy-sweet apple cider vinaigrette atop a bed of your favorite salad greens...so vibrant and tasty you'll want to make it an annual addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu! | FiveHeartHome.com

Well, friends…with Halloween behind us and November well under way, the holiday countdown is officially on! Since I’m one of those oddballs who prefers to give each holiday its due before rushing on to the next one, my thoughts are currently on Thanksgiving, thankyouverymuch. 😉 And this salad, y’all? It has to go on your Turkey Day menu this year!

Let’s face it…holiday meals are usually a bit over-the-top when it comes to rich, decadent foods. And don’t get me wrong…I’m all for that. However, sometimes it’s hard to actually eat all of that decadence in one sitting…at least not without the repercussions of a major stomach ache. So perhaps it might be nice to have a lighter menu option somewhere between the buttery mashed potatoes and the 17 varieties of pie.

Holiday Honeycrisp Salad ~ full of flavor and texture, this gorgeous salad is loaded with fresh apple slices, crunchy candied pecans, chewy dried cranberries, and salty blue cheese, all dressed with a tangy-sweet apple cider vinaigrette atop a bed of your favorite salad greens...so vibrant and tasty you'll want to make it an annual addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu! | FiveHeartHome.com

That’s where this Holiday Honeycrisp Salad comes in. Seriously, let’s all observe a moment of silence to appreciate how gorgeous and vibrant and perfect this salad is. The colors…the contrasting textures…the sweet/salty/tangy flavors…this recipe has it all. And while I’ve already professed that I’m living in the present with a focus on Thanksgiving, I would be remiss not to mention that this salad would also be splendiferous as part of your Christmas dinner menu. I mean, helloo-oo? Ready-made red, green, and white color scheme!

I have always had a thing for green salads that are simultaneously fruity, nutty, and cheesy, but in the past, said salads have typically revolved around berries. That being said, if I’m ever at a restaurant with an apple or pear salad on the menu, I almost always order it, because YUM. So if I’m willing to shell out big bucks for a plate of greens and apples at a restaurant, why not recreate that same deliciousness at home for a fraction of the cost?

Holiday Honeycrisp Salad ~ full of flavor and texture, this gorgeous salad is loaded with fresh apple slices, crunchy candied pecans, chewy dried cranberries, and salty blue cheese, all dressed with a tangy-sweet apple cider vinaigrette atop a bed of your favorite salad greens...so vibrant and tasty you'll want to make it an annual addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu! | FiveHeartHome.com

I chose Honeycrisp apples for this salad because they are, in my humble opinion, the most glorious and delectable apple to ever grace the face of the earth. Yep, I kinda like them, from their sweet flavor to their appealing color to their perfectly crisp texture. I also appreciate that, once cut, they don’t brown as quickly as certain other varieties.

However, I realize that not only can Honeycrisps be expensive, but they also have a limited growing season. So if these best apples ever aren’t available, feel free to use your favorite back-ups. Pink Lady or Gala would be lovely, or Granny Smith if you’re going for a little pucker in your salad…or you could even mix and match different types of apples within the salad.

Holiday Honeycrisp Salad ~ full of flavor and texture, this gorgeous salad is loaded with fresh apple slices, crunchy candied pecans, chewy dried cranberries, and salty blue cheese, all dressed with a tangy-sweet apple cider vinaigrette atop a bed of your favorite salad greens...so vibrant and tasty you'll want to make it an annual addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu! | FiveHeartHome.com

The other ingredients in this Holiday Salad are customizable as well. So let’s take a moment to break it on down, shall we?

SALAD GREENS: I used a spring mix in this here salad, but baby red and green romaine, baby spinach, arugula, or a combo of any of the above would be just dandy.

APPLES: I suggest Honeycrisps or Honeycrisps. Or something else if those are out of season. 😉

NUTS: Pecans, walnuts, or even almonds would be yummy. I highly recommend toasting your nuts for maximum flavor. Orrrr you can get really fancy and whip up some candied nuts for even more salad pizzazz, which is what I did to the pecans in this salad. I have two favorite ways to candy nuts, and you can find those methods here and here. Just keep in mind that candied nuts will make your salad sweeter than simply toasting them would.

DRIED FRUIT: I typically keep dried cranberries in the pantry, but dried cherries would also be a tasty addition.

Holiday Honeycrisp Salad ~ full of flavor and texture, this gorgeous salad is loaded with fresh apple slices, crunchy candied pecans, chewy dried cranberries, and salty blue cheese, all dressed with a tangy-sweet apple cider vinaigrette atop a bed of your favorite salad greens...so vibrant and tasty you'll want to make it an annual addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu! | FiveHeartHome.com

CHEESE: I enjoy blue cheese in not-too-large doses, but I really feel like it’s perfect in this salad. Its pungent saltiness is the perfect balance to the other ingredients. However, if you’re not a fan of blue, feel free to substitute feta or even goat cheese. I just think that crumbled cheese is an important component of this salad, as it adds saltiness and creaminess to the sweet and crunchy.

VINAIGRETTE: And finally, the dressing! I adapted the proportions of this entire salad from my beloved Strawberry Spinach Salad (which was, incidentally, the first recipe I EVER posted here at Five Heart Home!). So while I was at it, I took the Blush Wine Vinaigrette from that recipe and turned it into an Apple Cider Vinaigrette. I simply switched the type of vinegar, swapped out the water with apple cider/apple juice, and used honey instead of sugar. You can use extra-virgin olive oil or a light vegetable oil, keeping in mind that olive oil has a stronger flavor and will noticeably thicken when you refrigerate your dressing. That’s okay, though…just let it come to room temperature, shake well before serving, and it will be good as new. Finally, feel free to tweak the honey in the dressing to your taste, and consider slightly reducing it if your apple cider or juice is sweetened.

Holiday Honeycrisp Salad ~ full of flavor and texture, this gorgeous salad is loaded with fresh apple slices, crunchy candied pecans, chewy dried cranberries, and salty blue cheese, all dressed with a tangy-sweet apple cider vinaigrette atop a bed of your favorite salad greens...so vibrant and tasty you'll want to make it an annual addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu! | FiveHeartHome.com

Alrighty, I suppose almost 800 words about a Holiday Honeycrisp Salad are enough. Make it for Thanksgiving. Make it for Christmas. Make it for a regular ol’ Tuesday night. But if you make it, be prepared to add it to your annual holiday menu and/or your regular salad rotation…because it’s just that good.

Holiday Honeycrisp Salad ~ full of flavor and texture, this gorgeous salad is loaded with fresh apple slices, crunchy candied pecans, chewy dried cranberries, and salty blue cheese, all dressed with a tangy-sweet apple cider vinaigrette atop a bed of your favorite salad greens...so vibrant and tasty you'll want to make it an annual addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu! | FiveHeartHome.com

Holiday Honeycrisp Salad

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Holiday Honeycrisp Salad

This gorgeous Holiday Salad is full of flavor and texture, with fresh Honeycrisp apple slices, crunchy candied pecans, chewy dried cranberries, and salty blue cheese, all dressed with a tangy-sweet apple cider vinaigrette atop a bed of your favorite salad greens!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil or light vegetable oil (such as canola)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice or apple cider
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 medium Honeycrisp apples (about 1 pound), thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 12 ounces salad greens (spring mix, baby spinach, arugula, baby romaine, or a combo of your favorites)
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted or candied
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese

Instructions

  1. To prepare Apple Cider Vinaigrette, measure oil, apple cider vinegar, apple juice/cider, honey, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into a mason jar. Tightly screw on lid and shake vigorously until everything is thoroughly combined. Alternatively, you may briskly whisk the ingredients together in a medium bowl, or blend them in a blender or mini food processor.
  2. Place apple slices in a large plastic baggie and squeeze the fresh lemon juice (from the lemon half) over them. Close bag and shake to coat. In a large salad bowl, layer salad greens, apple slices, pecans, dried cranberries, and blue cheese. Just before serving, dress with desired amount of Apple Cider Vinaigrette and toss until salad ingredients are evenly coated.
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http://www.fivehearthome.com/2015/11/05/holiday-honeycrisp-salad/

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Maple-Glazed Turkey with Bacon and Sage Butter ~ tender, juicy, and shingled with bacon, this is the BEST Thanksgiving turkey recipe you'll ever try! | FiveHeartHome.com

Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Ham
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Slow Cooker Creamy Cheesy Corn
Slow Cooker Creamy Cheesy Corn ~ a rich, comforting side dish that's the perfect addition to any holiday menu...because not only is this recipe delicious, but it also frees up the stove and oven! | FiveHeartHome.com

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan ~ roasting with simple seasonings boosts the flavor and brings out the sweetness of Brussels sprouts in this healthy side dish | FiveHeartHome.com

Garlic & Herb Stuffing
Garlic and Herb Stuffing ~ made with French bread and cornbread, this savory, simple, Thanksgiving dressing is easily customizable | FiveHeartHome.com

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Comments

  1. This looks perfect for the season. Pinned!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thanks so much, Malia…I appreciate the pin and I hope you love this salad if you try it! 🙂

  2. Melissa Gerhart says:

    Oh my lord…this looks amazing…I’m definitely making this for Thanksgiving!!! Thank you for sharing this recipe…I’m not sure my in-laws like blue cheese (I love it) do you have a suggestion for an alternative? Would feta work? Thanks for the recipe and the help.

  3. I made this for tonight’s supper here in UK , it was fabulous. This is my second recipe from you collection this week. I just found your blog and both were instants hits!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      So happy to hear that this salad was a hit, Irene! And I’m also happy that you found my blog! 🙂

  4. I made this salad for a Christmas potluck and everyone that tried it loved it. Fabulous flavors, colors and textures. I will definitely be making this again! Thank you so much for a winning recipe!

  5. Wendys has this same salad with the addition of grilled or fried chicken. An absolutely amazing salad!

  6. Hi Samantha! Do you put the lemon juice as part of the vinaigrette or just for the apples?

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi May! The ingredients are listed in the order that they’re used in the recipe, so the 1 tablespoon lemon juice goes into the vinaigrette. Then the juice from half a lemon gets squeezed over the apples. I tweaked the recipe directions to try to clarify things. 🙂 Hope that helps, and enjoy!

  7. Hi Samantha! I’m making your salad for our Thanksgiving dinner at work (I’m a nurse). I was planning on slicing the apples and putting the lemon juice over like you described before work in the morning, as I won’t have time during the day to slice them. Is it okay to mix the salad greens/cheese/pecans/cranberries early in the morning if we aren’t planning on eating until afternoon? Or would it be best to keep everything separate until right before we eat? Thanks!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Stephanie! Ideally, I think I’d prep the different ingredients, store them in separate baggies or containers, and then mix everything together just before serving. However, if that doesn’t work for you, you could layer the greens/blue cheese/cranberries/pecans in the salad bowl, and then just before serving, add the apples, drizzle with the vinaigrette, and mix. In the latter case, I’d put the pecans as the very top layer so that they’re less likely to lose their crunch. Also, like I mentioned in the post, Honeycrisps are less prone to browning than other varieties of apples, but don’t skimp on the lemon juice anyway since you’ll be slicing them ahead of time. 😉 Hope that helps, hope the salad is a big hit with your co-workers, and hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving!

  8. This year I wanted to make a different type of salad. I loved this recipe and made it for thanksgiving day, everybody enjoyed it. Thank you.

  9. Hi Samantha! This salad was the “spark” of our Thanksgiving meal, it went so well with all the traditonal holiday fare. The flavors blended so well to make a tasty salad sure to be made again. Luckily everyone in attendance liked bue cheese(I love blue cheese!) because I personally don’t think it would be the same without it but could definitely be made with somehting else. I used canola oil and 2T honey in the dressing and I subbed toasted slivered almonds in the salad, loved the crunch and the blend of sweet and tart. I also appreciated the advice to use “amount needed” of the dressing because I went slow then and ended up using half of the recipe and it was perfect. Everyone enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Everything was so perfectly paired throughout the salad! I made it for a large group on Thanksgiving and more then a few grabbed second helpings.. Made it again tonight as a side to dinner.. this may be my favorite.. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  11. Made this salad for Thanksgiving and everyone love it. Looking forward to making it again.

  12. Becky maddox says:

    How many people does this recipe feed? I’m making it for a dinner party of 17 this Friday night and need to know if I should double the ingredients.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Becky! I estimate 8 to 10 servings (top left corner of the recipe), so I think for 17 guests, you will need to double this salad. Hope it’s a hit at your dinner party! 🙂

  13. Excellent salad recipe. I intended to make for work potluck but was canceled & rescheduled. I add pomegranates, use candied pecans (& forgot to pickup cheese). Kinda sweet for those wondering. Next time (for rescheduled potluck), I will replace the cranberries with pomegranates & use cheese. Excellent, thanks for sharing.

  14. I’m making this for about 16 people for Christmas Even dinner. Since I have walnuts already I’m going to candy them, and I think I’m going to use goat cheese since it’s my favorite 🙂 looks good can’t wait to make (and eat) it!!

    Merry Christmas!

  15. Jerri bonner says:

    Pinned it, made it for thanksgiving. It was so pretty, everyone loved, asked for it again for Christmas!! Thanks for the recipe! Merry Christmas!

  16. This salad was lovely. Made it with goat cheese. Subtle and delicious. I chose seconds over all of the rich Christmas foods, which is SO not me. 🙂

  17. Made it for Christmas Eve and everyone loved it! Thanks so much!

  18. We had this for Christmas Eve with our traditional lasagna and it was wonderful! We did change from the dried cranberries to pomegranate, since those speak Christmas to us, but I’m sure that the cranberries would be delicious! Made the vinaigrette for a few salads (read that as a bag o’ greens) since then and it’s so flavorful and fresh…Thanks for sharing;)

  19. I absolutely adore this salad and so does everyone who tried it!! Question… Is there a way to store extra dressing? I did for a while in the fridge but eventually the top layer solidified… Any tips? I have someone who would like me to make the dressing for them but I want to tell them right 😁

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      That’s a great question, Ryan! I’m not sure what type of oil you used in your dressing, but I find that olive oil usually solidifies once chilled while canola oil doesn’t (at least, not as much). So I’d recommend starting this dressing with canola oil (if you aren’t already). And then if the oil at the top of the dressing still solidifies once refrigerated, I would just suggest removing the dressing from the fridge about an hour before serving to let it come to room temperature, and then shaking vigorously. Hope that helps, and so happy to hear that you enjoy this salad so much! 🙂

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