My Favorite Apple Spinach Salad

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My favorite Apple Spinach Salad is made with tons of baby spinach and crisp apples, toasted nuts, soft cheese, and a zippy vinaigrette. Perfect for autumn, and so easy to make! |

Last Monday night, I decided it was time to buy Barclay a “sharp” little present.

I had taken off work a few hours early that day to head over to his place and cook up a big “family dinner” for all seven of his bandmates (and their significant others) to share together after rehearsal.  And I was totally looking forward to the dinner!  But I was a little apprehensive about the idea of cooking for a dozen+ people in his kitchen.  Because the process of actually cooking in there can sometimes be…well, how might we say…its own kind of improvisation.

Basically, it’s a total bachelor’s kitchen.  He and his roommate shop exclusively (I’m not kidding) at their neighborhood Costco.  So the fridge is stocked with a half dozen cartons of almond milk, dozens of eggs, huge blocks of cheese, tubs of mixed greens, beer (of course)…and that’s about it.  Their pantry has a collection of random spices, Barc’s beloved oatmeal squares in bulk, some Costco-sized jars of coconut oil and olive oil and balsamic…and that’s about it.  Then they have a set of cookware, two small mixing bowls, and a handful of kitchen tools…but that’s about it.  Oh, and the microwave is in the basement, and the oven doesn’t work.  (<– A little ironic for dating the Gimme Some Oven girl.)  ;)

Don’t get me wrong, ha, I totally love it.  It’s a cute little kitchen, and extra-cute when he’s there.  ;)  And for two bachelors who rarely cook — well, beyond making a bowl of “squares” for breakfast, or a big salad for lunch, or packing a big picnic (Barc’s specialty, which I love) for dinner — it totally works for them.  But cooking anything beyond that generally requires grocery bags full of ingredients be hauled over to his place, and a fair share of “improvising” happen with the random ingredients or cookware that I inevitably always forget.

On Monday night, for example, I realized he didn’t have any large serving dishes, so I improvised and served salad for a dozen people in an enormous stockpot.  I also forgot he didn’t own a ladle, so we served up the butternut squash soup with a measuring cup.  Then in lieu of a full oven, I put his little toaster oven to work, roasting trays upon trays upon trays of veggies.  But the one thing I’ve learned that I can’t “improvise” my way around in his kitchen is working with knives that are — shall we say — less than sharp.  There just don’t seem to be many ways to get around that.  And sure enough, as I was standing there in the kitchen on Monday night, listening to the band practice in the other room, working on making a triple batch of this salad, and trying to thinly-slice a half dozen apples with a dull knife, and then watching said knife instead slip right off that apple and slice right through my finger — yet again — I decided it was time for a little gift-giving.  ;)

I realize that it may now be the only thing in his kitchen now that’s not from Costco.  (Amazon Prime for the win!)  But I’m happy to say that Barclay’s kitchen is now the proud new owner of his first very sharp knife!

And I, for one, couldn’t be happier.  ;)

My favorite Apple Spinach Salad is made with tons of baby spinach and crisp apples, toasted nuts, soft cheese, and a zippy vinaigrette. Perfect for autumn, and so easy to make! |

So now the next time that we decide to make this apple spinach salad — one of my all-time favorite recipes that I make again and again this time of year — we can thinly slice those apples and onions (as Barc likes to say) “with peace in our hearts”.  And a sharp knife in my band-aid-free hand.  ;)

Which is great, because I’m already looking forward to this salad happening again.

My favorite Apple Spinach Salad is made with tons of baby spinach and crisp apples, toasted nuts, soft cheese, and a zippy vinaigrette. Perfect for autumn, and so easy to make! |

It’s nothing particularly original.  But it’s a salad I’ve been making since I first learned to cook, and as such, it has become total comfort food for me each year when the summer veggies start to fade away and crisp apples come back in season.

The core ingredients are always the same — tons of fresh baby spinach, lots of thinly-sliced crisp apples, soft cheese, nuts and a good tangy vinaigrette.  But really, just about all of those ingredients can be improvised with whatever you have on hand.  No baby spinach?  Feel free to sub in any kale or other greens you have in the fridge.  Don’t like goat cheese?  Any soft cheese like feta, blue, or even brie would work.  Don’t have any champagne vinegar on hand for the champagne vinaigrette?  Feel free to sub in apple cider vinegar or even a balsamic.  And if you’d like to add some protein, baked chicken tastes delicious with this salad.  Ha, basically, you can make this one just about however you’d like.  ;)

But for kicks, here’s my favorite way of making this salad.  Simply add all of your prepped ingredients together in a large bowl.  Drizzle them with the vinaigrette…
My favorite Apple Spinach Salad is made with tons of baby spinach and crisp apples, toasted nuts, soft cheese, and a zippy vinaigrette. Perfect for autumn, and so easy to make! |

Then give it a good toss…

My favorite Apple Spinach Salad is made with tons of baby spinach and crisp apples, toasted nuts, soft cheese, and a zippy vinaigrette. Perfect for autumn, and so easy to make! |

…and within about, oh, 15 minutes or so, this bright and fresh and wonderful salad will be yours to enjoy.  Or, share with your boyfriend and a dozen or so other friends.  ;)

Again, go with whatever ingredients work for you.  And if you’re prepping things in advance, be sure to toss your apple slices in some lemon juice so that they don’t brown before your meal.  And then otherwise — dive in and ENJOY!

Hope that you love this salad as much as I do, and I hope that your autumn is off to a delicious start.  :)


My Favorite Apple Spinach Salad

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 -6 servings 1x


This Apple Spinach Salad recipe is one of my all-time favorites. It’s made with a delicious mix of sweet and savory ingredients, it’s tossed with a tangy champagne vinaigrette, and it’s always a crowd favorite! Feel free to sub in whatever greens, nuts, or soft cheese that you have on hand.



Apple Spinach Salad Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 large apples, cored and thinly-sliced (I used 1 gala apple, 1 granny smith apple, but any will do)
  • half a small red onion, peeled and thinly-sliced
  • 1 cup walnut halves, toasted (or pecans)
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (or feta cheese, or blue cheese)
  • 1 batch apple cider vinaigrette (see below)

Champagne Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • a generous pinch of salt and black pepper
  • (optional) 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup, to sweeten


To Make The Apple Spinach Salad:

  1. Add spinach, apples, red onion, walnuts, dried cranberries, and half of the goat cheese to a large bowl.  Drizzle with the vinaigrette, and toss to combine.
  2. Serve immediately, garnished with the remaining goat cheese.

To Make The Champagne Vinaigrette:

  1. Add all ingredients together in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Or, add all ingredients to a mason jar, cover, and shake to combine.

My favorite Apple Spinach Salad is made with tons of baby spinach and crisp apples, toasted nuts, soft cheese, and a zippy vinaigrette. Perfect for autumn, and so easy to make! |

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93 comments on “My Favorite Apple Spinach Salad”

  1. Lol, I love this post so much. My boyfriend also has a bachelor’s kitchen and cooking there alwaus feels like scavenger hunt. At least you can both have a good sharp knife now!!! ?

    Love the salad!

  2. Ah… the days of trying to make dinner in a bachelor’s kitchen. You did a great job. Roasting veggies in a toaster oven? You’re a hero. :D

  3. Looks so refreshing and delicious!!

  4. I would choose to leave out the onion, or sub something like chives that are way milder in flavor.  Apart from that, the salad sounds wonderful, and I’m thinking that some rotisserie chicken (from Costco, of course) would be a great addition to make it a whole meal.  Love your story about cooking in Barclay’s kitchen.  Rest assured, some of us are good at cutting our fingers off even with sharp knives.  And my husband just walked  into the room telling me lunch would be delayed because he cut his finger while trying to make carrot sticks…  (we’ve got a nice deal going where I cook for two weeks, then he cooks for one, and the other cleans up.  This is our second time through his week since we came to this arrangement in an effort to reduce my stress levels.  It’s fun because what he does is different, plus I get to teach him how to do some of the stuff I do.)

  5. Oh my gosh, my husband’s fridge when he was a bachelor used to only be filled with beer, whole milk, and sandwich meat. Ha, Barclay’s fridge sounds like a step up!!! ;) Nice job with the dinner. This salad sounds like one I make too. I love using goat cheese and pecans!

  6. Can you think of a substitute for the lemon in the dressing? I am allergic.

  7. This salad looks so perfect for Fall! Thanks for sharing, and hope that you and Barclay enjoy the new knife. I always love hearing about you two! ;)

  8. Looks absolutley divine and so perfect for fall! Making asap!

  9. apples, why didn’t I think of that, apple a day, etc., I make a salad very close to this but never add apples, great thought

  10. This looks light and refreshing. I will probably subsitute apples with strawberries cos that’s what I have on hand now :)

  11. Delicious salad! I love the dressing. I added sliced strawberries and subbed pine nuts and raisins!

    • Thanks, Mary — we’re so happy you enjoyed it and we think the strawberries and raisins sound like delicious swaps! :)

  12. This looks awesome.. Can’t wait to try this. Thanks for the recipe :)

  13. Hi Ali – what a great story! I’ve been a longtime fan of Gimme Some Oven, love and adore the stories you post along with the versatile and yummy recipes! This story struck a specific cord with me as my husband and I own and operate a cutlery company – Nelson Knife Co. ( We have a varying range of our “stock” knives but we also do custom orders (usually customized with a name / nickname, anniversary date or even a logo). I mention this in case your man gets into cooking a customized knife could be a great gift idea – even though now, thanks to you, he’s all set! Just a nugget of info I thought I’d pass along. Cheers to you and Barclay! 

  14. So beautiful Ali! I adore apple salads. They are perfect for this time of year.

  15. Looks so healty and colorful! Yum!!

  16. I could seriously eat this salad every day! It’s perfect for fall!

  17. Love every recipe of yours I have ever made! I always know they will be great. Thanks a bunch?

    • Thanks for your sweet words, we’re very glad to hear that! We hope you enjoy the salad. :)

  18. This was SUCH a wonderful salad.  Only had candied nuts available and used them.  And the goat cheese I had was honey infused.  Everything else was the same.  It was amazing.  Definitely keeping this in my recipe file.  It’s a keeper.  

  19. 3 stars
    Dressing tasted awful. Made the dressing exactly as written with Bragg’s ACV and extra optional honey and it was very off-tasting. Need a different recipe for the dressing or something needs to be tweaked.

    • We appreciate your feedback, Joy — we’re sorry you didn’t care for this one!

  20. 5 stars
    I made this salad tonight and my boyfriend and I both loved it! I used what I had on hand so we had blue cheese crumbles and sunflower seeds as substitutes and I didn’t have the cranberries. I think any variation would work, as well as adding chickpeas, chicken or steak for a full meal. I was very impressed with the vinaigrette! It paired perfectly! Great job and thanks for my new favorite go-to salad! :)

  21. 4 stars
    I made the salad for a neighbourhood New Year day gathering & everyone really liked it. (& requested the recipe so you know they mean it).
    My notes: After reading comments I used just 1 T lemon juice, 1 T maple syrup. I used both dried cranberries & pomegranate for more freshness & colour pop. I was short on walnuts so made up w some toasted sliced almonds which I sprinkled with some cheese on serving.

    I will definitely make again

  22. 5 stars
    This is my absolute FAVORITE go-to salad! I follow the recipe exactly when I make it and it comes out perfect every time. I love the dressing – so tangy and delicious. I always throw some grilled chicken in there too, and it’s perfect for a week of lunches. Thanks for this great recipe!

  23. 5 stars
    One of my favorites too! It always gets rave reviews.

  24. Made the spinach, cranberry, Apple, bacon, pecan and red onion salad today for 8 people at our bridge club. It was a success. I used honeycrisp apples and people commented onhow good they were, we also had ham. Beef, capresse and potato salad for Valentine’s say. I will certainly make the spinach salad agaain. Thank you.

  25. 5 stars
    Delicious and refreshing salad. My new favorite!

  26. 4 stars
    Really turned out well didn’t add any cheese but still whole family enjoyed it. Thanks❤️

  27. 5 stars
    Absolutely spectacular balance of sweet and tangy ingredients. Rich, savoury flavours exploding with sweet and sour notes made this the best salad I’ve ever had. I even went back for a second helping.

    We used golden delicious apples and a cheese made with fig and mango for this recipe and it formed the perfect counterpoint to the tangy cranberries and the bite of the lemon in the vinaigrette.

    Hands down my favourite salad. Will make again.

  28. Looks really beautiful and tasty. Can’t wait to try it ☺

  29. 5 stars
    I am so impressed with this salad, it’s absolutely delicious. It tastes fresh, easy to make, it pairs well with pasta or as an appetizer or snack. And i find it pretty original

  30. i made this salad yesterday, it was delicious. thank you for sharing. I will keep making it. I never liked salads and I realized you have to add interesting ingredients to make an interesting salad and one that bursts in your mouth with flavour. Adding the apples to the salad was so good. Thank you again. I can’t thank you enough.

    Marcella from Toronto Canada.

  31. 5 stars
    this is the best thing ever thank you so much for this you should all try it because its like the best salad I’ve ever eaten in my entire life

  32. 5 stars
    This is really good! The only change I made was to add some Spirilized beets. Filling, tasty and beautiful, what more could you ask for!

  33. 5 stars
    I liked it

  34. 5 stars
    This was great! Tasty and filling! The only thing I would do differently is take out the lemon juice and just use the vinegar (or vice versa); but that’s just our taste. And the other substitutions sound great. Would definitely make this again!

  35. 5 stars
    Wow! I had never had goat cheese and am not a fan of red onion, but I followed the recipe exactly and it was delicious! We all had seconds! ♥️ Thank you!

  36. How do you keep the apples from browning?

  37. 5 stars
    This is excellent. I have made it often and always get requests for the recipe. I have also made it substituting beets in place of the fruit.
    Make this—it will become a family favourite.

  38. Love this salad. I always add a Tbsp. of maple syrup. This helps to balance the acidity. For those who don’t care for the red onion I have a suggestion to share. Soak the cut onion in water for 10 minutes and drain. This takes that raw punch out of it. Many people tell me they usually don’t like red onion in their salad but it was fine in this one. This is a great site and I always recommend it.

  39. Beautiful, easy, delicious.

  40. Great salad. I was low on walnuts so threw in a handful of pepitas as well. Delicious!

  41. This is similar to mine and one of my favorites. Since a salad is my lunch or dinner I do add grilled chicken. If I am in a hurry I buy this similar made up salad at Walmart and it has a wonderful dressing included a little sweet and creamy. Wish I could find that recipe. It is a favorite of mine. Thank you for your tasty recipes.

  42. Love this recipe! Great crunch with the apples and tang from the vinegarette.

  43. Deliciously sweet and tangy! Cut up the apples in advance and stored in some cold water with some lemon in the fridge–no browning at all! Roasted my walnuts for minutes at 350 degrees. I didn’t toss in advance, but let my guests mix their own combinations. It was a big hit with my vegan daughter, who just left off the cheese.

  44. Absolutely delicious!

  45. This is my favorite spinach salad recipe. I can easily cut it half to make a smaller batch. It also works well with fresh pears. I use rice vinegar sometimes if I don’t have apple cider vinegar, it works just as well. I also sweeten the dressing with a bit of stevia. I often serve this with farm fresh boiled eggs.

  46. This is one of my favorite salad dressings. So flavorful and I always have these ingredients on hand. It’s so delicious with this spinach salad as well. Thanks!

  47. This recipe is a winner! I first made this as a holiday salad, beautiful to look at and so delicious! I’ve made it many times since and it’s always a favorite! I use toasted pecan halves, sheep feta (mild flavor and great texture), and do opt for the pure maple syrup added to the dressing. I accidentally mixed the recipe up with another and added crumbled bacon, and it was great, so I often include it. I usually prepare all but the apples ahead of time, and then the apples last, tossed in lemon juice. It can quickly be finished up shortly before serving.

  48. Oh. my. goodness! I hate salads but absolutely loved this! It wasn’t meant to be, but it was the star of my dinner! I don’t eat nuts, so I removed those….I already want more! I also halved the recipe, as it’s just me, and there’s still so much! I’ll be having it with all my dinners this week! I was thinking I needed to add some honey or sweetness to the vinaigrette, as I didn’t as it was quite tart on the spinach, but it’s just right on the apples and everything else, so I don’t think I’ll need it. Will be sharing this recipe with everyone! Thank you!

  49. It taste delicious even without the feta cheese(no cheese available) Thanks for sharing.

  50. I made this salad and it was exceptional! It has only several simple ingredients, comes together quickly, and has great flavors. I did use an off the shelf raspberry pecan vinegarette instead of making the dressing, but that was my only substitution.