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. Wow thanks for the quick response, you guys are great. Now which one to choose? They both look yum.

  2. Could you add a little bacon to this or would it ruin the flavor? (Just wondering) I am making this tonight for a baby shower, so I trusting it is great like everything else you guys make. any suggestions on what apples to use? Thanks

  3. Best salad ever!!! Thanks so much for this post. I made it for Thanksgiving and already again last week because everyone loved it sooo much!

  4. Julie, one batch won't be nearly enough. With things like this you sort of have to eyeball since all heads of lettuce are different sizes. You'll probably need a few batches.

  5. I'm looking forward to making this for a wedding shower I'm hosting tomorrow! I am curious, will one batch be enough for a light luncheon for around 30 women?

  6. I took a chance and made this for a huge Easter party even though I had never tried it myself. I must trust you guys! And, of course, it was a HIT!
    Yum-o.

  7. Yum, yum! I first had a salad like this at a friend’s wedding luncheon where we were served at our tables rather than buffet-style and let me tell you, I was very hesitant to see fruit and nuts in my salad. I had been been a pretty strict veggies-only-in-my-salad girl and this really caught me off guard. I was so glad I was hungry and a little more open-minded because I loved it! I think their’s may have had pears, too. Also, Costco has a fairly decent bagged version of this (minus the apples), but nothing compares to the real thing. I’m glad to finally have a recipe! 🙂

  8. I am making this for dinner tonight. Just so ya know. And I will think of you with every single bite.

  9. I made this for Christmas dinner and loved it!! This is my new favorite salad. And Kate’s right about the walnuts – you can’t even tell that they’re walnuts. My mother in law asked me if it was popcorn (caramel corn).

  10. i made this salad for an enrichment dinner and for a family christmas dinner we had…both times it was a hit! everyone loved it – including myself! :o) yum!

  11. Shara, you nailed it! 🙂 That’s exactly what it was. I seem perpetually destined for Enrichmenthood–I was on the E. committee for 2 years and now I’m the leader. In a completely different ward. Sigh.

  12. The conversation in your post sounds just like an enrichment committee conversation…

    the salad sounds great! I will be trying it for Christmas Eve dinner – Thanks!

  13. Your salad looks wonderful and perfect for the season. I love blue cheese, and really should use it more often.
    If I have leftover salad that is wilted from the dressing, I put in in a cheese sandwich.

  14. Great salad recipes are so hard to find. I’ll be taking this one to our street’s Christmas party this weekend! Thanks!

  15. This really sounds good, I’m bookmarking this and if i can swing it , I’m making this for Christmas Dinner, thanks!

  16. I make a salad just like this and it is my fave, Super-yummy! I appreciate the candied walnut how-to, sooo easy. Thanks!

  17. Mary, just don’t tell him about the blue cheese–he’ll never know. Seriously, my DH doesn’t know there’s blue cheese in it, but he wouldn’t eat it if he did!

    Kaylene–you could definitely use pecans. I will say, though, that once these are candied this way, you can’t tell they’re walnuts–they taste like crunchy little sugar bites. I really don’t like walnuts, either, but a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down! 🙂

  18. I think this looks fantastic. Well not right now because I’m sick with the stomach flu, but in *theory* it looks fantastic! I love sweet and savory together and I’m totally going to make this when I’m feeling better!

  19. I’m looking forward to having my hubby home for the rest of the year to help me entertain the kids while they are out of school!
    Question, would pecans be just as tasty? They seem som similar but I enjoy (so does my hubby) pecans much more than walnuts.

  20. Looks delicious.

    As to what I’m looking forward to the most: my parents coming from Indiana on Monday, and seeing my kids’ faces on Christmas morning.

  21. I’m not a huge fan of bleu or gorganzolla, they taste moldy to me, but I’ll try it. I don’t mind bleu cheese dressing, just not my fave. It does look super tasty though. I may have to try it when my mom’s around, I know my husband will refuse to eat it! But I might make him try it anyways.

  22. My mom used to make that salad as I was growing up… I LOVE it!!! The falvors go SO good together! I read your post and was expecting something wierd, then I scroll down and see a salad that I find to be super tasty. LOL, I guess I’m wierd too!