This fall apple salad is so many of my favorite seasonal flavors in one bowl. Mixed greens, crunchy honeycrisp apple slices, sharp white cheddar cheese, dried cranberries, candied pecans and a quick maple balsamic vinaigrette. It’s not only delicious, but stunningly beautiful too!

closeup of fall apple salad in bowl

It’s the season for non-stop comfort food, but that doesn’t mean everything we enjoy has to be heavy and indulgent. Serving a big fall salad like this is one of my favorite ways to add freshness to meals during colder months— whether I’m hosting a casual dinner party or a big holiday gathering. 

This fall apple salad with maple balsamic vinaigrette is packed full of freshness, tons of texture, and delicious flavors. The combination of mixed greens, honeycrisp apples, dried cranberries, and candied pecans with the sweet and savory vinaigrette is phenomenal! 

Seriously, it’s so, so good. (And looks so pretty too!) I promise you won’t find another salad or side dish more perfect for autumn. Serve is alongside almost any meal— a soup, casserole, or protein centerpiece— or keep reading to see how you can bulk it up to make it the main event.

fall apple salad on a plate with roasted chicken

Table of Contents

Ingredients you’ll need

fall apple salad ingredients

Best apple types for this salad

Crisp apple slices are my favorite way to bring a little fall to any salad, including this one. And while you can use almost any apples, my favorites to use are honeycrisp, pink lady, gala, cosmic crisp and envy. These all are both sweet and a bit tart, with a satisfying crunch.

How to make this fall apple salad

  1. Make the balsamic vinaigrette. Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, dijon mustard, minced shallots, fresh herbs, and salt and black pepper to a small jar. Screw the lid on tight and give it a really good shake for about 10 seconds. Note: the vinaigrette will separate again as it sits, so shake or whisk before adding to the salad. maple balsamic vinaigrette in a jar with whisk
  2. Wash and prep the greens. Even though the greens I buy say they’re washed and ready-to-eat, I always give them another wash and spin in my salad spinner. This perks them up a bit so they’re super crisp and fresh (and guaranteed to be clean).
  3. Slice apples, pecans and cheese. Leave apples in slices or chop into 1-inch pieces. Pecans can be kept whole or chopped into smaller pieces. Chop cheddar cheese into thin slices or small cubes. fall apple salad ingredients chopped and ready to be combined
  4. Combine and serve. Toss greens and mix-ins together in a large bowl. Tip: Reserve half of the mix-ins for adding on top of the salad to give it a pretty presentation. Toss or drizzle with the vinaigrette, or serve it on the side. 
  5. Enjoy! As with most salads, it should be served immediately. See my tips below if you want to prep this salad in advance to serve later.
mixed fall apple salad with jar of dressing on side

Variations and serving suggestions

One great thing about salads, is how adaptable and versatile they are! There’s no one right way to make this apple salad recipe, and I encourage you to play around with ingredients and flavors to find the combination you like best.

  • Use your favorite greens. Mixed greens, baby spinach, kale, arugula, or any combination of these all work great for this salad. Use what you like! 
  • Switch up the fruit. Use fresh pears or other apple varieties. Swap dried cherries for the dried cranberries.
  • Use a different cheese. Goat cheese, feta, parmesan, or a blue cheese would all be equally tasty, but change the flavor profile slightly. 
  • Use other nuts. Other candied or roasted nuts such as walnuts, pistachios or hazelnuts are delicious options. Or leave the nuts out completely if you want this salad to be nut-free.
  • Add a grain. Room temperature cooked farro, quinoa or barley would all be great ways to bulk this salad up.
  • Add a protein. Grilled or roasted chicken and pork tenderloin both pair really well with this salad. Prosciutto or crumbled bacon are less obvious but equally delicious.
  • Add croutons. Homemade croutons from a baguette or artisan loaf is another great way to add more to this salad.
  • Use a store-bought balsamic vinaigrette. If you have a favorite recipe or bottled dressing, feel free to use it!

How to prep this salad in advance

Salads are notorious for being short-lived, but there are several things you can do hours, days and even a week ahead of time to make assembling this salad. Use these tips for keeping entertaining and serving a big meal as easy as possible:

  • The maple balsamic vinaigrette can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. (Be sure to give it a good shake or whisk to mix it back up before using.)
  • Greens can be washed and dried up to several days in advance. Use a salad-specific storage container instead of the plastic bag or box it came in and greens will stay crisp and fresh for up to 1 week.
  • Apples should be chopped fresh before serving. However, if you have this salad on display for longer than 10 minutes (such a holiday buffet), toss them with a bit of lemon juice to keep them from browning.
  • Leave the dressing on the side for guests to add themselves and the salad will keep much longer.
  • You can prepare the salad minus the apples and vinaigrette, cover it with plastic wrap, and keep it in the fridge for a few hours.
closeup of fall apple salad with serving spoon

More salad recipes

Get the recipe

This recipe was originally published October 2015.

closeup of fall apple salad with serving spoon
5 from 2 reviews

Fall Apple Salad with Cheddar, Candied Pecans and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
This fall apple salad is so many of my favorite seasonal flavors in one bowl. Mixed greens, crunchy honeycrisp apple slices, sharp white cheddar cheese, dried cranberries, candied pecans and a quick maple balsamic vinaigrette. It’s not only delicious, but stunningly beautiful too!


Balsamic vinaigrette:

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons minced shallot (about ½-1 of small shallot)
  • 2 teaspoons real maple syrup (or brown sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary or sage (or a combination)
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

Salad assembly:

  • 4 cups mixed greens (5 oz/142g container)
  • 1-2 tart apples , sliced (see Note)
  • ½ cup thin sliced sharp white cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup candied or toasted pecans
  • ½ cup dried cranberries


To make the balsamic vinaigrette:

  • Add the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, minced shallot, maple syrup/brown sugar, herbs, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper to a small mason jar. Screw the lid on tightly, then shake vigorously until combined.
  • Vinaigrette can be used right away or stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. It will separate as it sits, so shake or whisk again before using.

To assemble the salad:

  • Toss the mixed greens with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Add the apple slices, shredded cheese, candied pecans and dried cranberries. Serve immediately.


  • I recommend honeycrisp, pink lady, gala, cosmic crisp and envy apple varieties. To keep apples from browning if the salad needs to sit for longer than a few minutes, toss slices with a bit of lemon juice.
  • Fresh rosemary and sage really make a huge difference in the fall flavor of this salad. However, dried herbs can be used if you don’t have any.
Calories: 174kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 7mg, Sodium: 230mg, Potassium: 83mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 311IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 65mg, Iron: 0.4mg
Cuisine: American
Course: Salad
Author: Annalise Sandberg
Have you tried this recipe?I’d love to hear about it! Leave a rating and review below, or take a photo and tag it on Instagram @completelydelicious with #completelydelicious.