Harvest Apple Salad with Cider Vinaigrette

Spinach salad with sliced apples, walnuts and blue cheese crumbles with a side of vinaigrette

This plant-forward recipe is gluten-free, vegetarian, low-sodium, refined sugar-free, heart healthy and easily modified for dairy-free, nut-free and vegan diets.

Seasonal apples at the peak of harvest, baby spinach leaves and pecans are the foundation of this autumn salad recipe that’s sure to become a family favorite. The addition of the homemade apple cider vinaigrette recipe brings out the flavors of fall, making this a beautiful salad to serve at Thanksgiving or fall dinners. It’s a gluten-free salad dressing recipe you’ll want to keep around all season long.

Salad bowl with sliced apples, pecans and blue cheese crumbles and a side of vinaigrette

The Ingredients

  • Baby spinach or mixed greens of your choice
  • Apples
  • Pecans
  • Blue cheese crumbles (optional)
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Unfiltered apple cider  
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Garlic
  • Cinnamon
  • Honey, agave or 100% pure maple syrup

Substitutions + Variations

Make it vegan. Eliminate the blue cheese or swap for a plant-based alternative and use agave or 100% pure maple syrup in place of the honey for an easy vegan salad recipe.

Make it dairy-free. Swap the blue cheese crumbles for extra apple slices or pecan.

Make it nut-free. Those with a peanut or tree nut allergy can enjoy this salad with pepita seeds (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds instead of with pecans. 

Spinach salad with sliced apples, pecans and blue cheese crumbles on a braided plate charger.

Serving Suggestions

This crisp salad with spinach, apple and pecan can be served in several ways. Here are a few favorites.

Make it a meal-sized salad.

This recipe will serve four as a side salad and two as a large, meal-sized salad. Bulk it up with plant-based protein sources like beans or lentils. If you eat fish, this autumn salad would pair beautifully with a 3-ounce serving of seared salmon.

Serve as a holiday side salad.

Double or triple the recipe for larger groups and serve as a side salad at a fall gathering, harvest celebration or Thanksgiving. The beautiful presentation and the flavorful cider vinaigrette are sure to impress guests!

Keep it light.

This spinach apple pecan salad is perfect for a light lunch served alongside a cozy cup of soup. Try our nourishing Carrot and Ginger Soup or this vibrant Roasted Garlic and Watercress Soup with Lemon Creme Fraiche

Serve as an appetizer or first course.

This salad recipe is easy to throw into a beautiful bowl for a self-serve setup or individually plated as a first course for your next dinner party or holiday gathering. If you choose to serve this salad in a large bowl, add the cider vinaigrette immediately before serving to prevent the salad from going soggy. Alternatively, place the dressing in a small serving bowl and allow guests to dress their own salads.

Bowl of salad greens with sliced apples, pecans and blue cheese

Make Ahead + Storage

This salad is best made on the day you intend to serve it.

To keep your apples from going brown, squeeze a small amount of lemon juice over the sliced apples prior to preparing the salad.

The apple cider vinaigrette can be made a day or two in advance.

Keep in mind that the oil will harden as it cools, so give the dressing time to thaw – about an hour or so – before serving. Leftover vinaigrette can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Bowl of baby spinach leaves with sliced apples, pecans and blue cheese crumbles with a small jar of vinaigrette next to it

Harvest Apple Salad with Cider Vinaigrette

This Harvest Apple Salad with Cider Vinaigrette is easy, flavorful and comes together in 10 minutes. This plant-forward recipe is gluten-free, vegetarian, low-sodium, refined sugar-free, heart healthy and easily modified for dairy-free, nut-free and vegan diets.

  • Total Time: 10 mins.
  • Yield: 4 1x


Units Scale


  • 5 ounces baby spinach or mixed greens
  • 2 medium apples, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • Freshly cracked pepper



  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup unfiltered apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon honey or 100% pure maple syrup


  1. Whisk the Cider Vinaigrette ingredients except the extra-virgin olive oil in a small bowl until well combined. Slowly pour and whisk the oil into the dressing until emulsified. Divide all other ingredients between four bowls and drizzle with the Cider Vinaigrette. Enjoy!


  • Bulk up your salad with plant-based protein. Cannellini beans, chickpeas or marinated black lentils would work particularly well.
  • If you use maple syrup that is not 100% pure, check to ensure it is gluten-free. Syrups that contain malt are not gluten-free.
  • Use unfiltered, no added sugar apple cider for the cider vinaigrette. Most brands of processed apple cider contain added sugar so you’ll want to watch for this if you’re on a low-sugar or refined-sugar-free diet.
  • Author: Cortney Sparkman
  • Prep Time: 10 mins.
  • Cook Time: 0 mins.
  • Category: Salads, Sides
  • Method: By Hand
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: harvest apple salad, apple cider vinaigrette, gluten free salad dressing recipe, spinach apple pecan salad, plant based salad


Several images on a Pinterest image that show a harvest apple salad with a side of cider vinaigrette

*Article originally published Nov. 10, 2022; Last updated Sept. 5, 2023.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

Latest Recipes

Recipe Categories

Hey! I’m Cortney.
Welcome to Sweet New Roots!

I hope these recipes and resources inspire you to get creative in your kitchen. Let’s get cooking!

Don’t miss a thing!

Stories and recipes, straight to your inbox. Subscribe to the Sweet New Roots newsletter today.