Spinach Salad Recipe – Love and Lemons

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:

Spinach Salad

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.

Prevent your screen from going dark

  • 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.

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