Nov 18, 2023
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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Nov 8, 2023
51 Best Salad Recipes – Love and Lemons

A big, bountiful salad is the best way to celebrate delicious seasonal produce! Here are 51 stunning salad recipes I love to make again and again.

Salad Recipes

Salad recipes are my favorite way to showcase vibrant, in-season produce—fruits and veggies that taste so good on their own that it doesn’t take much to make them into a delicious meal. On cold winter nights, I like to brighten up our table with a colorful mix of root veggies and hearty greens. On beautiful, warm days when I’d rather be outside than in the kitchen, summer salads are the perfect lunch or dinner: they’re simple to toss together, but they’re super flavorful nonetheless.

Whether you want to add more plant-based meals to your diet or are simply looking to change up your salad game, you’ll find tons of inspiration in the salad recipes below. With everything from green salads to pasta salads and more, these recipes are perfect for passing at potlucks, serving as dinner side dishes, and enjoying as full meals on their own.

Green Salad Recipes

Green salads don’t have to be boring, and these recipes are here to prove it! I often make these salad recipes for a healthy lunch, but they’re great cookout and dinner side dishes too.

Green salad recipes

Simple Green Salad
Crunchy roasted almonds and creamy avocado add amazing textural contrast to this simple salad. My zippy lemon vinaigrette ties it all together!

Italian Chopped Salad

Italian Chopped Salad
This chopped salad is so flavorful that even salad skeptics will pile their plates with seconds! The key ingredients? A punchy dressing, pepperoncini, and TWO types of cheese.

Arugula salad recipe

Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Juicy roasted grapes, toasted almonds, and shaved Parm give this simple salad an elevated twist.

Caesar salad

Homemade Caesar Salad
Everything you love about the classic salad—crunchy croutons! crisp romaine! lots of Parmesan cheese!—but with an easier homemade Caesar dressing. Greek yogurt creates its creamy, tangy base.

Roasted Beet Salad recipe

Beet Salad
This beet, apple, and goat cheese salad would be at home on any holiday table. To get ahead, roast the beets and make the balsamic vinaigrette a day or two in advance.

Spring salad with avocado, radishes, and asparagus

Bright Spring Salad
This pink and green salad is practically spring on a plate! I love to serve it alongside a quiche or frittata for Easter or Mother’s Day brunch.

Healthy Taco Salad

Healthy Taco Salad
It’s complete with crispy tortilla strips, savory plant-based taco “meat,” and a zesty cilantro lime dressing. Healthy lunches don’t get tastier than this.

Kale Salad recipe

Kale Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing
Another great lunch salad! It’s piled high with a rainbow of root veggies, crispy roasted chickpeas, and creamy avocado. A vibrant carrot ginger dressing takes it over the top.

Pasta Salad Recipes

Pasta salads are the ultimate summer picnic food and a great party dish at any time of year. You can make them ahead, and they can double as a side dish for some and a main dish for others. Plus, like all salad recipes, they’re a fantastic showcase for the season’s best produce.

Best salad recipes - Summer Pasta Salad

Easy Pasta Salad
As its name suggests, this pasta salad is a breeze to make. Just whisk together the zippy lemon dressing in a big bowl, add the other ingredients, and toss! You’ll end up with a heavenly combo of fresh and tangy summer flavors.

Tortellini salad

Tortellini Salad
Our kiddo loves this salad, and I think you will too! It’s briny and bright, filled with chewy, cheesy tortellini, pepperoncini, and artichoke hearts.

Orzo salad

Orzo Salad
Love Greek salad? You’ll love this orzo salad too! A tangy Greek dressing coats al dente orzo pasta, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta, and mint.

Best summer salads - pesto pasta salad

Pesto Pasta Salad
Like pesto pasta, but designed to be eaten cold. It’s a filling, refreshing meal on a hot summer day.

Vegan pasta salad reicpe

Creamy Vegan Pasta Salad
This creamy pasta salad recipe isn’t made with mayo. Instead, tahini gives the dressing its delicious rich texture.

Summer couscous salad

Cherry Tomato Couscous Salad
A mix of jammy roasted cherry tomatoes and juicy fresh ones makes this recipe one of my favorite summer salads. With spiced roasted chickpeas, tangy feta, and big pearls of couscous, it’s hearty enough to be a meal on its own.

Sesame soba noodles with avocado, radishes, and mint

Sesame Soba Noodles
Not your average pasta salad! A tangy sesame-ginger dressing coats gooey soba noodles, green veggies, and avocado.

Crowd-Pleasing Slaws

Slaws are typically made with hardy veggies like cabbage, broccoli, or kale, so they hold up well if you dress them in advance. Because of this, they’re some of the best salad recipes to make ahead. Often, their flavor and texture even improve after an hour or two in the fridge!

Creamy Coleslaw

Creamy Coleslaw
The secret to great coleslaw? A great coleslaw dressing! Mine is creamy, tangy, and easy to make with just 5 ingredients.

Vinegar coleslaw

Vinegar Coleslaw
There are two types of people in the world: those who like creamy coleslaw, and those who prefer vinegar coleslaw. If you’re in the second group, you have to try this recipe! My apple cider vinegar dressing makes it deliciously sweet and tangy.

Kohlrabi slaw

Kohlrabi Slaw
Need a simple side dish to round out a meal? You can’t go wrong with this 10-ingredient slaw! Crunchy and refreshing, it comes together in minutes.

Broccoli slaw

Broccoli Slaw
If you like coleslaw, chances are you’ll be a fan of broccoli slaw too. It’s creamy and crunchy, with dried cranberries adding delightful pops of sweet-tart flavor.

Broccoli salad

Best Broccoli Salad
You won’t miss the bacon in this lightened-up twist on classic broccoli salad. Smoky roasted nuts take its place. They’re crunchy, rich, and savory—be sure to make extra for snacking. If you don’t, you’ll devour them all before they make it onto the salad!

Brussels sprouts slaw

Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad
As soon as the temperature starts to dip in the fall, I look forward to making this salad. With just 7 ingredients, it’s a breeze to put together, but it’s still insanely flavorful and fresh.

Tomato Summer Salads

If there’s one veggie (or fruit, if you’re looking to get technical) that’s the star of summer, the tomato is definitely it. Here are some of my favorite summer salad recipes that put tomatoes front and center.

Summer Tomato Salad

Tomato Salad
Made with tomatoes, red onion, vinegar, olive oil, and a quick gremolata, this salad is supremely simple, and that’s why I love it. It really lets the tomatoes shine! Bookmark it for late summer, when tomatoes are at their best.


Got some stale bread on your counter? Don’t let it go to waste! Make this Italian bread salad instead. The bread soaks up the sweet tomato juices and tangy dressing, filling each bite with bold summer flavor.

Greek salad

Greek Salad
Big cubes of feta, juicy tomatoes, olives, herbs, bell peppers, and cucumber tumble together in this stunning summer salad with a homemade Greek salad dressing. You only need 7 ingredients and a few minutes to make it. What are you waiting for?

Tomato summer salads

Spicy Watermelon Tomato Salad
Fresh chiles add some heat to the sweet, juicy mix of tomatoes and watermelon in this recipe.

Farro summer salads

Eggplant & Roasted Tomato Farro Salad
If you’ve never tried roasted tomatoes, you’re missing out! The oven concentrates their flavor, making them intensely sweet and savory. They make this eggplant, arugula, and farro salad a restaurant-worthy summer side dish.

Caprese salad

Classic Caprese Salad
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Check out this recipe to find my best tips for making a classic Caprese summer salad.

Corn Summer Salad Recipes

If tomatoes are #1 in the summer, corn comes in as a close #2. Grilled, boiled, or fresh off the cob, it’s the perfect addition to all sorts of summer salads.

Summer sweet corn salad with avocado and lime

Summer Corn Salad
This fresh corn salad features all my summer favorites: grilled sweet corn, juicy peaches, and lots of fresh basil! To highlight the crisp, fresh ingredients, I toss them with a zesty chile lime dressing.

Mexican corn salad recipe

Mexican Street Corn Salad
Make this salad for your next summer cookout, and the whole bowl will be gone in minutes! The combination of charred sweet corn, creamy mayo, Cotija, and lime is a tough one to beat.

Potato Salad Recipes

It’s taken me a while to get on board with potato salad, but after a few summers spent experimenting with bold dressings and different mix-ins, I’ve become totally hooked. Here are a few of my favorite potato salad recipes.

Classic potato salad

Best Potato Salad
Try this version of classic potato salad, and you’ll never want it any other way. Hard boiled eggs make it extra-creamy, and pickle brine and fresh dill give it an addictive sour flavor. It’s impossible to resist seconds!

Best salad recipes - Vegan Potato Salad

Vegan Potato Salad
Want to take this plant-based green bean, corn, and potato salad over the top? Drizzle it with my vegan sour cream before serving. It offers an amazing rich contrast to the fresh veggies and tender potatoes!

Grilled potatoes with pickled onions, blueberries, and herbs

Grilled Potato Salad with Scallion Vinaigrette
If you’re grilling veggie burgers, make this summer salad right along with them. Topped with a grilled scallion vinaigrette and pickled onions, it’ll steal the show at a summer cookout.

Fruity Summer Salads

Of course, your summer salads should feature seasonal fresh vegetables, but it’d be remiss not to take advantage of fresh fruits too! Stone fruits, berries, and melon are all delicious sweet additions to summer salad recipes.

Watermelon salad

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint
Make this ultra-refreshing salad on hot summer days! Creamy avocado, tangy feta, and bright lime accent cool, juicy melon and cucumber. A handful of fresh herbs is the perfect finishing touch.

Mango salad

Mango Salad
Slippery strips of mango curl around crisp bell peppers, spicy jalapeños, and loads of fresh herbs. If you love dishes that contrast sweet and savory flavors, this salad is for you.

Strawberry Caprese

Strawberry Salad
We all love tomatoes and basil, but did you know that strawberries and basil are amazing too? This salad delivers the best of all worlds, with tomatoes AND strawberries AND basil, plus creamy mozzarella, avocado, and toasted pecans. Drizzle it with a syrupy balsamic reduction for an acidic finishing touch.

Summer fruit salad

Summer Fruit Salad
Everyone needs a good fruit salad recipe in their back pocket, and this one’s mine. A citrus-ginger dressing livens up a vibrant mix of summer berries and stone fruits.

Mediterranean chickpea salad recipe

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
Chopped Medjool dates add a surprising sweet twist to this hearty chickpea salad. Topped with roasted red peppers, grape tomatoes, and creamy goat cheese, it’s a great salad to pack for lunch, but it’s also a guaranteed hit at any gathering.

Grain Salad Recipes

If you’ve never added cooked grains to a salad, now’s the time! They introduce more variety in terms of texture and flavor, not to mention extra fiber and plant-based protein.

Farro salad

Farro Salad
I’ve tried a MILLION farro salad recipes over the years, so trust me when I say that this one’s a keeper. A wonderful fall and winter salad, it’s filled with chewy, nutty farro, sweet apples and dates, bitter greens, crunchy walnuts, and salty pecorino cheese. It’ll wow guests at a dinner party, and it’s also a delicious light lunch.


Ok, if we’re getting technical, tabbouleh is more of an herb salad than a grain salad, but because it has some bulgur wheat in it, I included it in this category nonetheless. Intensely bright and aromatic, it’s just as good on its own as it is stuffed into pita with falafel and hummus.

Best Salad Recipes - Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
This hearty salad goes BIG on flavor! A zingy Italian dressing coats earthy quinoa and punchy add-ins like roasted tomatoes, olives, and feta.

Bean and Lentil Salad Recipes

Beans and lentils can be bland on their own. But toss them into a salad with a zesty dressing and seasonal veggies, and they start to sing. Tip: chill these salads for at least 1 hour before serving to give the flavors a chance to mingle. No bland beans here!

Lentil salads

Lentil Salad
This healthy salad recipe is a lunchtime hero. It holds up brilliantly for several days in the fridge, so you can prep it on the weekend and look forward to fresh, filling lunches all week!

Summer black bean and corn salad

Black Bean and Corn Salad
This zesty, no-cook salad is a such a

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