Packed with homemade candied pecans, juicy turkey cubes, and all the fall fixins’, this apple spinach salad is the perfect way to incorporate all your favorite fall ingredients into one loaded salad!
Let’s talk about why you should be making fall salads on repeat.
Or more specifically, why THIS candied pecan turkey cranberry apple spinach salad should be your go to.
I know, it’s quite the mouthful of a title with a lot of ingredients going on, but TRUST ME. It’s about to change your salad game.
It’s so loaded with colorful, seasonal ingredients and ALL. THE. FALL. VIBES. We’re obsessed with this salad.
Key Flavors in this Apple Spinach Salad
- Candied pecans. We’re candying them ourselves in less than TEN minutes. They’re scary good and so simple to make.
- Dried cranberries. Gives this salad the chewy textures and tart-sweetness it needs!
- Fresh apples. I recommend going for a sweeter apple in this salad such as honey crisp or ambrosia.
- Turkey. Adds to the overall holiday fall-ish feel of this salad. I occasionally swap the turkey out for leftover chicken if that’s what I have on hand.
- Feta poppyseed vinaigrette. A flavor BOMB! Gives this salad a little pop of tangy, a little sourness, and citrus flavor.
Candying the Pecans
If you’re running short on time, premade is definitely an option here. But if you’ve got an extra 10 minutes to spare, I highly recommend making these nuts from scratch.
First, we’re going to make a slight riff on caramel sauce from brown sugar, water, honey, cinnamon, and salt. I also like to add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a little punch of heat (so, so good)
Bring this to a boil and then add your whole pecans and let cook until the sauce is a deep brown and the pecans are toasty.
Immediately lay the pecans out on parchment paper and let cool completely. Once cooled, you’ll be able to easily break the pecans into bite-sized pieces. Store these in a sealed bag at room temperature up to 2 weeks.
But seriously, good luck not eating them all right then and there 😆
Building the Salad
Let’s build the rest of the salad! Fresh baby spinach, turkey cubes, dried cranberries, and chopped apple make up the rest of the salad base.
I recommend not assembling this salad base until just before you’re ready to serve, as the apples will brown the longer they sit. The candied pecans and vinaigrette, however, can be made DAYS in advance!
Feta Poppyseed Vinaigrette
Lemon juice, a little mustard, honey, and olive oil are making up the base of the vinaigrette. Fold in crumbled feta and poppyseeds then season well to taste with salt and pepper.
When ready to serve, drizzle the vinaigrette over the assembled salad and toss until coated. Don’t forget the candied pecans on top!
The flavors and textures we’re able to achieve in this fall salad is nothing short of dreamy.
The sweet crunch from the apples + pecans. The rich sourness from the feta. The chewiness from the cranberries. The juicy turkey cubes…
A literal fall dream of a salad. Perfect for a Thanksgiving side salad, a casual lunch salad you can make ahead, or a light dinner salad for guests.
Plus it wins all the salad beauty points but uhhh…you’re gonna be eating it too fast to even notice. 😇😇
Need more fall salad inspiration? Try these winners out next.
- Cranberry Apple Delicata Squash Quinoa Salad
- Warm Sweet Potato Kale Salad
- Honey Rosemary Roast Chicken Spinach Salad
Candied Pecan Turkey Cranberry Apple Spinach Salad
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole pecans
- Pinch cayenne pepper (optional - adds a nice little punch of sweet + heat though!)
Apple Spinach Salad
- 2 cups 1-in cubed cooked turkey
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 2 medium apples, cored and cut into 1-in cubes
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach
Feta Poppyseed Dressing
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta
- 1 tablespoon poppyseeds
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, honey, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then add pecans and cayenne. (if using) Let cook 2-3 minutes, stirring and tossing nuts occasionally.
- Immediately spread pecans out onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, break pecans into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
Apple Spinach Salad
- In a large salad bowl, combine all salad ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Feta Poppyseed Dressing
- In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, mustard, and honey. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until dressing is smooth. Stir in feta, poppyseeds, salt, and pepper to taste. Refrigerate dressing until ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, add candied pecans to salad. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat. Serve salad immediately and enjoy!