Pear Salad

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This show-stopping Pear Salad starts with mixed greens lettuce and is loaded with juicy, ripe pears, sweet dried cranberries, candied walnuts, tart red onion, and gorgonzola cheese. A robustly-flavored apple cider vinaigrette tops this salad.

 

Overhead image of the pear salad

Pear Salad

This salad makes a great accompaniment to your holiday table. It’s a lovely addition to a big holiday turkey or ham!

It also pairs so well with those typical cold-weather comforting meals that tend to be on the heavier side (like Shepherd’s Pie, a big Crockpot Roast, or a cheesy Baked Ziti.) This salad helps lighten up those dishes and add some color and nutrition to your dinner plate.

While there are a few components to this salad, it does come together quickly and easily especially if the candied walnuts and dressing are prepared in advance. More on this below!

Process shots-- images of the dressing being made in a mason jar

Apple cider vinaigrette

The dressing that coats this Pear Salad couldn’t be much easier to prepare – just add everything into a Mason jar and shake to combine. It’s hard to believe how something so simple can be this delicious!

A few ingredient tips (none of the below-mentioned brands are sponsoring this post):

  • Apple cider vinegar. We’re obsessed with Bragg’s® Organic Apple cider vinegar in this dressing.
  • Extra virgin olive oil. The better your olive oil, the better the flavor of the dressing, so be sure to use good quality, extra-virgin olive oil.  
  • Pure maple syrup. Not to be confused with pancake syrup! Pure maple syrup adds a very subtle flavor and a burst of sweetness that balances out the vinegar.
  • Dijon mustard. Make sure to use Dijon, not yellow mustard. There’s a big flavor difference! We love Grey Poupon® Dijon best.
  • Salt and pepper. And, of course, don’t forget to season the dressing. If it’s not bursting with flavor, an extra pinch of seasoning will make all the difference.

Up close image of the dressing being poured over the pear salad

Candied Walnuts

I recommend making the candied walnuts a day or two in advance. By preparing them in advance they’ll have plenty of time to cool, harden up a bit, and the salad will come together easier and quicker the day you plan to serve it. This is especially helpful if you’re preparing a holiday meal.

The recipe I share for candied walnuts makes a mid-sized batch and yields more than you need for Pear Salad. Sugaring the walnuts works best with this volume, but don’t worry– leftovers store very nicely! Freeze leftover candied walnuts for up to 2 months or in the pantry for 2-3 weeks. Use leftover walnuts as a snack, or as a topping for Yogurt BowlsAcai Bowls, or throw in another salad recipe.

Pear Pomegranate Salad Shortcuts

  • Candied walnuts. As mentioned above, the candied walnuts can be prepared ahead of time, which definitely seems like a shortcut when it’s time to assemble everything. That said, you can buy already candied walnuts at the grocery store.
  • Pears. If you don’t have access to fresh, ripe pears, use some canned (in 100% juice) pears and thinly slice those for the salad.
  • Dressing. Prepare the dressing 1-2 days in advance to save time at assembly. Store it in the mason jar, tightly sealed in the fridge. Make sure to give it a good shake before drizzling over the Pear Salad. 

QUICK TIP

If the dressing separates or clumps, this is totally normal — it’s just the olive oil solidifying at cold temperatures. Let the dressing stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes and then shake it up and it’s ready to go!

Process shots-- images of all the components of the salad

How to tell when pears are ripe

To check the ripeness of a pear, gently press the area around the stem of the pear with a gentle squeeze. If it gives a little, it’s ready to go!

QUICK TIP

Pears are one of the few fruits that don’t ripen on the tree; once they’re picked, they ripen and sweeten as their sugars develop. Some pears change color when they’re ripe (a Bartlett pear is like a banana — it goes from green to yellow when it’s ready to eat!).

Up close overhead image of the pear salad ready to be served

Pear Salad Variation Ideas

  • Swap candied walnuts for candied pecans.
  • Use dried tart cherries in place of the dried cranberries.
  • Swap gorgonzola cheese for goat or feta cheese, or simply leave out the cheese altogether.
  • Use Fuji or Honeycrisp apples in place of the pears.
  • Swap the apple cider vinaigrette for a lemonpoppy seed dressing (recipe in this Quinoa Apple Salad)

Pear Salad Storage

This salad doesn’t sit or store well once it’s made. Once assembled, the salad needs to be eaten soon after; otherwise, the apple cider vinaigrette wilts the greens, the pears will brown, and the walnuts will soften.

If making this Pear Salad in advance, store all the components of the salad separately and slice the pear and assemble right before eating.

Pair this Salad with these Other Holiday Sides

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Pear Salad

5 from 1 vote
This show-stopping Pear Salad starts with mixed greens lettuce and is loaded with juicy, ripe pears, sweet dried cranberries, candied walnuts, tart red onion, and gorgonzola cheese. A robustly-flavored apple cider vinaigrette tops this salad.
Print Recipe

Pear Salad

5 from 1 vote
This show-stopping Pear Salad starts with mixed greens lettuce and is loaded with juicy, ripe pears, sweet dried cranberries, candied walnuts, tart red onion, and gorgonzola cheese. A robustly-flavored apple cider vinaigrette tops this salad.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword pear salad
Prep Time 25 minutes
Candied Walnut Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings 6 -8 as a side
Calories 174kcal
Cost $7.31

Ingredients

Salad

  • 8 cups (5.5 oz.; 163g) mixed greens (baby lettuce and baby greens)
  • 2 large pears See Note 1
  • 1/3 cup (50g) thinly sliced red onion See Note 2
  • 3/4 cup candied walnuts
  • 2/3 cup (87g) dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1/3 cup (40g) crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons (30g) apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (46g) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fine sea salt and 1/8 teaspoon cracked pepper

Candied Walnuts (or buy store-bought) See Note 3

  • 1 pound walnut halves & pieces
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg whites (discard egg yolk or reserve for another recipe)
  • 1/2 tablespoon EACH vanilla extract and water

Instructions

  • CANDIED WALNUTS: Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line an extra large sheet pan (or 2 sheet pans) with parchment paper (or a silpat liner) and set aside. In a very large bowl, whisk the egg whites, vanilla, and water together until frothy. Toss walnuts in the egg white mixture until well coated. Right on top of everything add the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir gently to coat all the walnuts until well coated. Spread coated walnuts onto a baking sheet. Walnuts shouldn't be overlapping. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, flipping and stirring the walnuts every 15 minutes. Allow walnuts to stand for 30 minutes to an hour to fully cool and solidify. Coarsely chop about 1 cup to add to this salad.
  • DRESSING: Add all ingredients to a Mason jar, cover with the lid, and vigorously shake to combine. Taste and adjust for personal preference on seasonings (salt and pepper). Refrigerate until ready to eat and shake once more before dressing the salad.
  • SALAD ASSEMBLY: Add mixed greens, thinly sliced pears, thinly sliced red onion, candied walnuts, and dried cranberries to a large salad bowl.
  • DRESS THE SALAD: Drizzle the dressing only on what will be enjoyed the same day. (Once dressed, this salad doesn't sit well.) Toss salad to coat in dressing. Add the gorgonzola cheese (add more to personal preference). Toss once more and serve salad immediately.
  • MAKE AHEAD/STORAGE: If you want to prepare this salad in advance or store leftovers, I recommend measuring out and then storing ingredients separately in plastic bags or small containers and tossing them together right before serving. The one ingredient I don't recommend preparing more than an hour ahead of time is the pears (they will brown). The dressing can be made (and stored) in a Mason jar 2-3 days in advance. Shake up to re-combine before topping the salad. (If the dressing hardens or clumps, this is totally normal -- it's just the olive oil solidifying at cold temperatures. Let the dressing stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes and then shake it up and it's ready to go!)

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: To check the ripeness of a pear, gently press the area around the stem of the pear with a gentle squeeze. If it gives a little, it’s ready to go!
Note 2: You can dice the onion or thinly slice. To take away the "bite" of the red onion (make it milder): submerge the sliced or chopped onions in a bowl of cold or ice water. Let them sit for at least ten minutes, stirring 2-3 times, and then drain and use in this salad.
Note 3: This recipe for candied walnuts will yield more than you need. Sugaring the walnuts works best with this volume; leftovers store nicely! Store leftover candied walnuts in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months or in the pantry for 2-3 weeks. 

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 174kcal | Carbohydrates: 22.9g | Protein: 3.5g | Fat: 8.8g | Cholesterol: 4.1mg | Sodium: 68.6mg | Fiber: 3.8g | Sugar: 16g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Loved this salad! My kids always pass on my regular salad and tell me not to even bother making one. This was the first time the salad bowl was empty at the end of the meal. My daughter just texted me for the recipe. The only difference I made was using feta instead of gorgonzola. Definitely a keeper!

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