This classic apple spinach salad is easy to make with fresh ingredients, tossed with a quick apple cider vinaigrette, and easy to customize with your favorite add-ins!
Crisp fall days call for crisp fall salads like this one! ♡
I’ve been making some version of this apple spinach salad for over a decade now and it’s about as simple as it gets, yet somehow stands the test of time and still always tastes so comforting and delicious. It’s made with a base of tender baby spinach, crisp sliced apples, toasted crumbled walnuts, tangy goat cheese (or feta or gorgonzola), tart dried cranberries, sliced red onion, and a quick apple cider vinaigrette. Perfect served as a side salad, or it can also double easily as an entrée (especially if you toss in some grilled chicken or chewy farro to make it a bit more hearty).
Feel free, of course, to use whatever variety of tart or sweet fresh apples that you love best. And by all means, go ahead and swap in whatever kind of nuts, cheese, or dried fruit that you have on hand too. This recipe is endlessly flexible, so make it your own and enjoy, enjoy!
Apple Spinach Salad Ingredients
Before we get to the full recipe below, here are a few quick notes about the ingredients you will need to make this spinach apple salad recipe…
Spinach: I love using fresh baby spinach for this salad, but any of your favorite salad greens will work.
Apple: Feel free to use whatever variety of crisp apple that you love best! I typically use a combination of sweet Pink Lady and tart Granny Smith apples, which are some of our favorites this time of year.
Red onion: I also like to add in some very thinly sliced red onion to give the salad a bit of bite. However, feel free to briefly rinse the sliced onion in cold water before adding it to the salad, if you would like to mellow out its flavor a bit.
Walnuts: I typically make this salad with toasted walnuts or pecans. But just about any variety of nuts or seeds that you prefer will play well in this salad, preferably toasted (if they are not already) to bring out their best flavor.
Dried cranberries: A sprinkling of these always adds great color and a hint of extra sweetness.
Goat cheese: I love the flavor of tangy goat cheese in this recipe, but feel free to swap in crumbled feta, gorgonzola, or a shredded sharp cheddar if you prefer.
Apple cider vinaigrette: Quick and easy to make with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, Dijon, garlic, salt and pepper. I highly recommend making a double batch, while you’re at it, to use on another salad later in the week!
Possible Recipe Variations
As I mentioned above, this recipe is endlessly customizable. So please feel free to swap in whatever ingredients you love best and make it your own! For example, you could also…
Add farro: We sometimes cook a quick batch of chewy farro to toss into this salad to make it a bit more hearty.
Add a protein: Grilled or baked chicken, shrimp or crispy tofu would all be delicious additions to this salad.
Add sweet potato: Roasted diced sweet potato also pairs beautifully with this salad and is in season this time of year.
Use different fruit: This salad would also be wonderful made with fresh pears, mandarins, or pomegranate arils in place of (or combined with) the fresh apples.
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!
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
Looks so refreshing and delicious!!
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.)
I love your recipe! Subbed the cranberries with some blueberries and pear. Turned out fab!!
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!
Ha, yeah his fridge is at least full of pretty healthy stuff, even if there’s not much variety. ;) Enjoy!
Can you think of a substitute for the lemon in the dressing? I am allergic.
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! ;)
Aw, thanks Liz! :)
Looks absolutley divine and so perfect for fall! Making asap!
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
Yeah, the apples totally make this! :)
This looks light and refreshing. I will probably subsitute apples with strawberries cos that’s what I have on hand now :)
Thanks, Gem — we hope you love it!
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! :)
This looks awesome.. Can’t wait to try this. Thanks for the recipe :)
Thanks, Hari — we hope you enjoy it!
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. (www.nelsonknifeco.com). 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!
Aw, thanks, Denise! I’ll have to check out your knives — that’s so fun! :)
So beautiful Ali! I adore apple salads. They are perfect for this time of year.
Thank you, Kitty — we hope you enjoy this one! :)
Looks so healty and colorful! Yum!!
Thank you so much, Sibel! :)
I could seriously eat this salad every day! It’s perfect for fall!
Thank you, Lindsay! :)
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. :)
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.
Thanks, Sharon! We’re so happy you enjoyed it!
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!
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! :)
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
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!
One of my favorites too! It always gets rave reviews.
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.
Delicious and refreshing salad. My new favorite!
Really turned out well didn’t add any cheese but still whole family enjoyed it. Thanks❤️
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.
Looks really beautiful and tasty. Can’t wait to try it ☺
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
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.
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
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!
I liked it
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!
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!
How do you keep the apples from browning?
Sprinkle lemon juice on apple slices or slice just prior to serving and adding dressing.
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.
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.
Beautiful, easy, delicious.
Great salad. I was low on walnuts so threw in a handful of pepitas as well. Delicious!
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.
Love this recipe! Great crunch with the apples and tang from the vinegarette.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
It taste delicious even without the feta cheese(no cheese available) Thanks for sharing.
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.