Apple and Blue Cheese Salad with Candied Pecans is as delicious as it is beautiful! It is the perfect salad for lunch or dinner with friends!
This sweet salad boasts sweet crispy pecans, a variety of baby greens, crunchy apples, chewy dried cranberries and/or blueberries, and blue cheese. It's topped with a one-of-a-kind Apple Cider Vinaigrette that will have guests wanting to lick their plate clean.
This salad tastes great all year long, but our favorite time of the year to bring it out is during fall and winter. The crunchy apples are well suited for a fall salad. The addition of cranberries makes this a great side dish for your next Holiday dinner!
It's a salad recipe you'll definitely want to tuck away in your back pocket to show off at Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas dinners, and dinner parties for years to come.
You can buy or make your candied pecans. If you have an air fryer try making Air Fryer Candied Pecans. They are so much faster than making them in the oven!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It presents itself beautifully, making it the perfect addition to a Holiday or Thanksgiving dinner.
- It's unique. The dressing on this salad is not your average apple cider vinegairette.
- It's a healthy side dish that tastes great too!
You'll need the following ingredients to make Apple Blue Cheese Salad with Candied Pecans.
Blue Cheese is a soft white cheese with a unique blue and blue-green veining; the result of being injected with mold cultures. It's salty and sharp in flavor and has a pungent aroma; a stinky cheese, in the best possible way.
Candied Pecans are a tasty snack and salad topping. The pecans are coated with a cinnamon-sugar mixture and then air fried, giving the buttery pecans a sweet, crispy shell.
Craisins are chewy and sweet. They're especially great as a topping for fall and winter salads!
Spring Mix Lettuce is a colorful mix, usually containing well over a dozen different types of leaves including baby lettuce, spinach, red and/or green romaine, arugula, and baby red oak.
Honeycrisp Apples are known for their crunch and sweet-tart flavor. In our experience, there's no gamble with a Honeycrisp. They're always crisp and delicious!
Our Apple Cider Vinaigrette is sweet and tangy with a spicy kick, thanks to the ground yellow mustard. This dressing is one you have to try, and we've linked the full recipe for it below.
How to Make It
This salad presents itself well, so we like to assemble it with the presentation in mind.
You'll want to prepare the dressing first. Prepare the dressing up to one week in advance or right on the spot! The full tutorial for Zesty Apple Cider Vinaigrette dressing is linked below, along with brief instructions. All you'll need is a blender or wire whisk. Voila! a delicious one-of-a-kind homemade dressing.
The Easy Air Fryer Candied Pecans can also be made in advance. We like to keep a gallon size bag in the freezer at all times for snacking and topping salads.
The only other prep involved is slicing apples. You'll want to make these as thin as possible so that you're able to fan them out on top.
Place the spring mix in a large bowl and sprinkle with dried cranberries. In this case, we used a mix of dried cranberries and blueberries.
There's no wrong way to do this, but if the presentation is a priority, at this point we like to drizzle the lettuce with dressing and lightly toss it. This allows the leaves to get nicely coated before the toppings are arranged for presentation.
Sprinkle on blue cheese and candied pecans, generously. Give it a light toss.
Arrange fans of thinly sliced apples around the top of the salad.
Recipe Tips & Tricks
- Preparing the candied pecans and dressing in advance will make this salad a breeze. The candied pecans last us about a month in the freezer before we've devoured them, and the dressing will get you through two large salads.
- Coating the leaves with dressing before adding toppings is a great trick for presentation purposes, but if the salad may sit a while before eating, or if presentation is simply not important, wait to dress the salad right before eating.
- Storage: Salad that is coated with dressing will wilt and begin to break down quickly, so it's best to use all at once, but can be stored for a short time in the fridge.
- Fruit: Try using sliced pears instead of apples.
- Pecans: Don't have time to candy pecans? Try toasting pecans on a cookie sheet in the oven or right on your stove top!
- Craisins: Try dried blueberries - we loved them, but prefer to use dried cranberries for the Holidays.
- Fruit - Try this recipe with pears!
- Kid friendly - The ground yellow mustard in the dressing definitely gives it a bit of a kick. It hits early and disipates quickly, but you can cut back on ground yellow mustard (try ⅛-1/4 tsp) in the dressing for kids or grown-ups who just don't do spicy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Fresh ingredients are essential to a great salad. Use lettuce that is fresh and crisp, beautiful fruit at its prime, and fresh cheeses.
Second, make sure the ingredients need to work well together and balance each other.
The third key is visual appeal. Give some thought to how fruit is sliced and how toppings are arranged.
Pick an apple that is guaranteed to be crunchy and not yellow quickly. Our favorite red apples for salads include Honeycrisp and Pink Lady.
More From Thyme for the Table
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Apple Blue Cheese Salad with Candied Pecans
- 1 box Spring lettuce mix
- 2 tablespoons Craisins
- ¼ cup Blue Cheese
- 1 cup candied pecans
- ½ honey crisp apple
- 1 Zesty Apple Cider Vinaigrette
For the Dressing:
- ⅓ cup plain greek yogurt (or Mayonnaise)
- ⅓ cup creamed honey
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ tablespoon ground yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch pepper to taste
For the Dressing:
- Combine all ingredients in a blender or medium-size bowl. Blend or whisk until consistency is smooth and creamy.
For the Salad:
- Thinly slice ½ Honeycrisp apple
- Place Spring Mix lettuce in a large bowl
- Sprinkle with craisins and toss the salad
- Drizzle with dressing and toss the leaves lightly
- Sprinkle generously with candied pecans and blue cheese
- Arrange fans of apple slices around the top of the salad.
Recipe Tips & Tricks
- Preparing the candied pecans and dressing in advance makes this salad an extra quick one. The candied pecans can be stored for weeks in the freezer, and the dressing will get you through two large salads!
- Dressing the leaves before adding toppings is a great trick for presentation purposes. If you won't be eating it right away, or if the presentation is simply not important, wait to dress the salad right before eating.
- Fruit: Try this recipe with pears!
- Kid friendly: The ground yellow mustard in the dressing definitely gives it a bit of a kick. It hits early and disipates quickly, but you can cut back on ground yellow mustard (try ⅛-1/4 tsp) in the dressing for kids or grown-ups who just don't do spicy.
- Pecans: Don't have time to candy them? Try lightly toasting pecans in a hot pan at your stovetop or in your oven.
More Salads to Try
- Warm Mushroom Salad is cooked with fresh garlic to give the mushrooms so much flavor.