Candied Walnut Salad

Before I tell you what’s in this candied walnut salad, let me tell you a tale of a Christmas party a couple of years ago. I was assigned to make salad for more than 100 people and this salad immediately came to mind.

“Ooh, I know, I know!” I said. And I told the people in charge what was in the salad.
“Hmmmm…I don’t know…a lot of people don’t like those things…”
“Just trust me,” I told them.
They were hesitant. There was discussion of leaving things off the salad and letting people put the toppings on themselves. Finally, the night of the party came and, as things tend to do at large gatherings like that, it became very hectic and we put everything in the salad, thus eliminating the option for people to top their own salads. And guess what? Every single bite of salad got eaten. There was not enough. This recipe has been requested of me more times than any other recipe I have. So trust me, little chickens–I promise not to lead you astray!

Before you get started–even a few days before–go ahead and make the Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette dressing.
Wash and chop lettuce. Set aside to drain.
Now…Sara’s method for caramelizing nuts is awesome, and it’s especially good for oily nuts like macadamias and cashews. However, walnuts are lower in oil and I like doing them this way because I don’t have to worry about putting them in the oven. Because, you know, one less dish to wash is never a bad thing in my house.
 Anyway, to candy the nuts, combine walnuts and sugar in a medium skillet over medium heat.
Stir constantly. After a few minutes, the sugar will look very fine and then a few minutes after that, it will start to liquefy.
This is when you have to be absolutely vigilant about scraping the bottom of the skillet and making sure everything gets stirred around. The syrup will begin to darken and will coat the nuts. When they reach a golden brown color, remove from heat. Stir occasionally as the nuts begin to cool. After a few minutes, spread candied nuts onto a greased piece of parchment or wax paper or a greased cookie sheet and allow to cool completely. Set aside.

Chop blue cheese or Gorgonzola very finely. You want crumbles, not chunks. If blue cheese absolutely gives you the ookies and you CANNOT handle the thought of it (the flavor in the salad will be very mild, I promise!), you can use another strong cheese like feta. But I really, really think you should use the real thing… 🙂

Chop apples and toss in orange juice.

When ready to serve, toss lettuce, cranberries, walnuts, apples, and blue cheese in a large bowl.
Add dressing if desired;
best thanksgiving salad recipe
it really is better all mixed together rather than on top, but the dressing will wilt any leftovers.


So there we have it!

You guys have your work cut out for you, but Sara and I–we’ll be kicking back in our pajama pants with some hot cocoa because we are DONE cooking for December! That’s not entirely true–we’ll be around for the rest of the month, but all the recipes that we post will be easy, low-mess, low-fuss recipes to help you enjoy the craziest part of the holiday season.

Serving Candied Walnut Apple Salad

Candied Walnut Salad

5 from 2 votes
Servings10 -12

Ingredients

  • 2 heads leafy greens like Romaine lettuce chopped
  • 3/4 cup Craisins
  • 2 sweet crisp apples (like Honeycrisp), cored and diced
  • About 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue or Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 recipe Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette linked below

Instructions

  • Prepare dressing (this can be done a few days in advance).
  • Place chopped lettuce in a large salad bowl. Set aside.
  • To candy the nuts, combine walnuts and sugar in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly. After a few minutes, the sugar will look very fine and then a few minutes after that, it will start to liquefy. This is when you have to be absolutely vigilant about scraping the bottom of the skillet and making sure everything gets stirred around. The syrup will begin to darken and will coat the nuts. When they reach a golden brown color, remove from heat. Stir occasionally as the nuts begin to cool. After a few minutes, spread candied nuts onto a greased piece of parchment or wax paper or a greased cookie sheet and allow to cool completely. Set aside.
  •  
  • Chop blue cheese or Gorgonzola very finely. Set aside.
  •  
  • Chop apples and toss in orange juice.
  •  
  • When ready to serve, toss lettuce, cranberries, walnuts, apples, and blue cheese in a large bowl. Add dressing if desired; it really is better all mixed together rather than on top, but the dressing will wilt any leftovers.

Nutrition

Calories: 144kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 4g, Sodium: 12mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 17g
Calories: 144kcal
Author: kate jones
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!

 

woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe! It is incredible & was a huge hit with my family & I! We all agreed that we could eat it daily!

  2. 5 stars
    It is absolutely outstanding! I loved every bite and yes, i drank the remaining dressing left in my bowl. Dynamite! ???????????? Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. This looks really good and I want to make it for my family. I’ll have to use pecans instead of walnuts because my husband and and some of my children get canker sores when they eat walnuts.

  4. The link to the salad dressing no longer works. I have made it before but did not save the dressing recipe. Can you have the link fixed?

    Thanks!

  5. About how many servings does this make? I’m in charge of feeding 200 people at our Christmas party.

  6. I made this to go with our Thanksgiving dinner at it was a big hit! Now I want to make it for a church Christmas party but need some help with the quantites I need. How much did you use for serving 100?

  7. This salad looks very similar to Wendy’s apple pecan chicken salad – which is currently my favorite fast food salad. My only problem is duplicating their dressing – it’s a pomegranate vinaigrette dressing with a taste of orange and I just can’t seem to get it right.

  8. So good! So, so good! I’m not even a huge fan of blue cheese, but I really enjoyed it in this salad!

  9. This salad looks wonderful and I am going to make it today–however, I just noticed that in all the images you show, it’s pecans, not walnuts that are used–
    so, which works best– pecans or walnuts?
    Love this site-so many delicious goodies, I am very much appreciating.

    1. I often use pecans instead of walnuts because I like them better, but yes, the recipe calls for walnuts. 🙂 You can use either one and they’ll both be awesome!

  10. I have had this salad and it was fantastic, and I am not one to usually care for salads with fruit in them. I made it for my family but forgot the blue cheese. I didnt let on that it was missing something, and they still raved about it. There was none left over. Next time, definitely making sure I dont leave anything out, but none the less, it was a big hit, and was a great way to change up the standard lettuce and greens salad mixture we all tend to make!

  11. I love your website, but why is it that some recipes don’t give you the opportunity to just print the text? Some recipes are 7 pages long with pictures, and I don’t always need all that printing of pictures.

  12. This is very similar to a salad my aunt HAS to make at all our family gatherings. She’s not allowed in without the salad! And it’s gone every time. She uses maple vinegarette and adds pears, but it’s pretty much the same as yours.

  13. wow! let me tell ya, I took this to a potluck and it was gone before everyone got to eat. delicious!!!

  14. Okay, I just have to share this. I had to take a salad to a barbecue last weekend. We ended up with tons of food for our small group and everyone took home lots of leftovers. Well, everyone but me, because I made this amazingly awesome salad and it was completely gone by the end of the night. Wahoo!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for keeping me supplied with such fabulous recipes. I think I would shrivel up and die (or at least go very hungry) without you.

  15. I always love your salads! I was looking for a quick one for a side-salad and this one seemed perfect. It was! I’ve made salads similar to this one, but never this exact combination, and I love it. We ate it three times this week. I used 1/2 red leaf lettuce (my favorite salad lettuce) and baby arugula, which was the perfect flavor combination for me.

    Balsamic Vinaigrette is probably my top-favorite salad dressing. I have a pretty good recipe but was hoping you had one. I think it would be great on this salad.

  16. This salad, and especially the dressing, is AMAZING! I’ve been sick of all the foods I know how to make for months and my sister told me about your blog. I can’t wait to try out your other recipes. I had to thank you guys for doing this blog and bringing so much happiness to stranger’s tummy 😀

  17. This looks delicious. I love your website and pass it along to friends and family all the time, so thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    Um… those look like pecans in the pictures, but the recipe keeps saying walnuts. Am I going nuts?

    1. Lol- good eye Ali! I don’t really love walnuts so I used pecans when I made this and added my pics to Kate’s. Either one works!

  18. As soon as I saw reference to this salad I followed the link. The salad sounds amazing – the only thing I’d substitute are dried sour cherries for the craisins. I cannot imagine why anyone would hesitate for a second about combining these ingredients! The dressing sounds terrific, I can’t wait to make it.