Beautiful and festive holiday salad with apple cider dressing! This easy salad recipe is made with mixed greens, fresh pears, dried cranberries, pepitas and goat cheese, all tossed in an apple cider dressing. A fresh and colorful salad option that pairs wonderfully with chicken, fish and pork. Perfect for the holidays or any day!
This beautiful, festive salad is my go-to recipe for the holidays (and all winter long). It comes together quickly and makes a lovely side salad. Sometimes we enjoy this as our main meal and top it with shredded rotisserie chicken for an easy fall or winter meal.
For this festive salad, I use seasonal ingredients that I crave this time of year! Here’s everything you’ll need:
- Mixed baby greens – We really like mixed greens in this salad, but feel free to use any greens you prefer. Add in a bit of arugula for extra zing!
- Pear – Grab your favorite super juicy pear to add natural sweetness to this salad.
- Dried cranberries – Feel free to use dried craisins or dried cherries in this recipe. The chewy sweetness is SO delicious in every bite.
- Pepitas – For the perfect, nutty crunch. Sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts and pistachios are other great options.
- Goat cheese – A bit of goat cheese adds an irresistible creamy, tangy flavor to the salad. You can swap out the goat cheese for feta, which has a more mild flavor, or even gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbles.
- Apple cider dressing – An easy dressing made with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, garlic, honey, dijon mustard, salt & pepper.
Choosing the right pear for salad
Fresh pears are one of my favorite fruits to enjoy this time of year. They come in a variety of different colors and shapes, and have such a lovely flavor!
For this salad, you can use pretty much any type of pear. I typically choose Anjou, Bosc, Bartlett or Comice pears. Just be sure your pear is ripe, but still slightly firm. When you squeeze the pear, it should have just a bit of give. If your pear is overly soft, it may get mushy in the salad.
How to make this holiday salad
This is one of the easiest salad recipes! Here’s a rundown of the steps, but you’ll find the detailed recipe at the bottom of the post.
- Make the apple cider dressing first, so the flavors have a chance to meld and it’s ready when the salad is completely assembled.
- Toast the pepitas over medium heat, stirring often. You will know they are done when they begin to make popping noises and turn golden brown around the edges. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.
- Toss washed and prepared fresh ingredients in a large bowl. I recommend adding in the cheese and dressing just before serving.
- When you’re ready to serve, add cheese and desired amount of dressing and toss until everything is evenly coated. Alternatively, dressing can be served on the side.
- For presentation, reserve a bit of each ingredient to place on top of the salad before serving. Enjoy!
Customize this holiday salad
This is a very flexible salad. Feel free to experiment and try some of the following swaps:
- Add a boost of protein with chickpeas or chicken breast.
- Make it vegan and/or paleo by simply omitting the cheese or using a sprinkle of dairy free cheese. Be sure to also use maple syrup instead of honey for the dressing.
- Mix up your toppings with walnuts, pomegranate seeds and apple slices!
How to store salad
Store any leftovers in an airtight container for a day or two. You can either store it with the dressing mixed in or save the dressing on the side to add when you’re serving. I will say that the salad will keep longer if the dressing is stored separately.
A beautiful addition to your holiday spread, this simple pear salad is full of flavor and is sure to impress your friends and family. I hope you get a chance to make this recipe very soon because it’s truly one of my favorites!
More healthy salad recipes to try
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes
- Beet Salad with Arugula and Walnuts
- Brussels Sprouts with Apple and Bacon
- Festive Kale Salad
If you make this delicious holiday salad, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how it turned out. Your feedback is so helpful for me and our Clean & Delicious community (thank you!).
Holiday Salad with Apple Cider Dressing
- 5 ounces mixed baby greens
- 1 large pear, chopped
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup pepitas (raw green pumpkin seeds)
- 2 ounces chilled goat cheese (about 1/3 cup)
Apple Cider Dressing
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons raw honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
Apple Cider Dressing
- In a spouted cup or mason jar, combine crushed garlic, olive oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk or shake well.
- In a medium-sized skillet, toast the pepitas over medium heat, stirring often. You will know they are done when they begin to make popping noises and turn golden brown around the edges. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.
- Place your greens in a large serving bowl. Top with chopped pears, dried cranberries and toasted pepitas. Use your fingers to crumble the goat cheese over the top of the salad.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and gently toss it all together. Serve and enjoy!
- Trade out the dried cranberries from pomegranate seeds.
- Don’t have pepitas? Swap in toasted walnuts or pecans.
- Want a heartier option? Swap in kale for the mixed greens.
- Out of pears? No problem! Apples or persimmons would be delightful.
- Vegan? Trade the honey for maple syrup and skip the cheese.