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.