Thanksgiving Salad

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This simple Thanksgiving Salad comes loaded with roasted butternut squash, fresh baby spinach, candied almonds, feta cheese, and dried cranberries. The salad is dressed with an easy three-ingredient balsamic dressing.

Looking for more holiday side dishes? Make sure to try these famous mashed potatoes, this classic Thanksgiving dressing, and our favorite roasted brussels sprouts.

Overhead image of Thanksgiving Salad ready to be served.

Do you serve salad on Thanksgiving?

In my opinion, Thanksgiving Salad should always make its way to your table! It’s a great way to add color, freshness, and variety to a plate often filled with delicious – but heavy – side dishes. A good salad is always one of my favorite side dish options, especially if it’s loaded with roasted butternut squash – yum!

While making a salad with homemade dressing might seem daunting as you’re preparing the rest of the Thanksgiving dinner, this salad is meant to be as easy as possible. The dressing only requires three ingredients and the salad needs only five main ingredients. And most of those ingredients are store-bought and pre-prepared. Below is a quick ingredient break down.

Thanksgiving Salad ingredients

  • Roasted butternut squash, tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Baby spinach
  • Dried cranberries (or dried tart cherries)
  • Honey roasted sliced almonds
  • Feta cheese (or goat cheese)
  • Dressing: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey (of course, seasoned with salt and pepper)

Process shots of making Thanksgiving Salad: roasting the butternut squash; adding spinach; adding extra toppings; creating the dressing.

How to make Thanksgiving Salad

The photos above correlate with the descriptions below to make this Thanksgiving salad.

  1. Drizzle olive oil over cubed butternut squash. Sprinkle salt and pepper.
  2. Toss the squash in the seasonings and oil; then bake.
  3. Flip the squash to bake evenly. Tip: use a LARGE sheet pan: the more space the squash has, the better it’ll roast in the oven. When squash is overlapping on a sheet pan, it ends up steaming instead of roasting. This will make the squash taste soggy, instead of deliciously caramelized.
  4. Add spinach to a large bowl. Tip: remove any large stems and rip large pieces in half.
  5. Add squash on top. Tip: allow squash to cool to room temperature before adding to the spinach so it will wilt and start to “cook” the spinach.
  6. Add candied almonds and…
  7. Finally toss on the dried cranberries and crumbled feta cheese.
  8. This is a picture of the dressing; simply add the ingredients to a mason jar and shake to combine. Tip: to get the ingredients to emulsify, you do want to shake them vigorously in a mason jar instead of just whisking in a bowl. With the ingredients in a mason jar you can always shake to re-combine if needed.

Overhead image of the dressing being poured over Thanksgiving Salad.

Quick prep tips

  • Buy pre-cut butternut squash. Not having to peel and cut a squash can be a real timesaver. Many grocery stores sell squash that’s peeled, cut, and ready to roast. 
  • Buy candied almonds. While you can make your own (and I share how to in this mandarin orange salad), it will save time to just buy salad-ready candied almonds. These are my favorite (not sponsored).
  • Make ahead of time: The dressing can be made ahead of time and stored in the mason jar in the fridge (just shake to recombine). All the other components of the salad can also be made ahead of time and stored separately in the fridge. Toss together before enjoying this Thanksgiving Salad!

How to make butternut squash in advance

  • The squash can be peeled and cubed 2-3 days in advance. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to roast. 
  • You can also roast the squash a day in advance and reheat it before serving. Cook the squash slightly al dente the first day (about 15-20 minutes). Let cool completely and then refrigerate in an airtight container. When ready to serve this festive salad, transfer the par-baked squash to a sheet pan and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through, tender, and golden.

    A good Thanksgiving menu:

    Pair roasted butternut squash Thanksgiving Salad with the following dishes for a great Thanksgiving menu!

Overhead, up-close image of Thanksgiving Salad.

More delicious holiday salads

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Thanksgiving Salad

5 from 2 votes
This simple Thanksgiving Salad comes loaded with roasted butternut squash, fresh baby spinach, candied almonds, feta cheese, and dried cranberries. The salad is dressed with an easy three-ingredient balsamic dressing.
Print Recipe

Thanksgiving Salad

5 from 2 votes
This simple Thanksgiving Salad comes loaded with roasted butternut squash, fresh baby spinach, candied almonds, feta cheese, and dried cranberries. The salad is dressed with an easy three-ingredient balsamic dressing.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword thanksgiving salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings as a side dish
Calories 140kcal
Cost $6.12

Ingredients

  • 1 bag (16 ounces) pre-cubed butternut squash Note 1
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 bag (6 ounces) baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup honey roasted (salad-ready) sliced almonds Note 2
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 2-3 ounce crumbled feta cheese

Dressing

  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • Pinch of fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Instructions

  • BUTTERNUT SQUASH: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the butternut squash and chop into small bite-sized pieces. Place on a large sheet pan and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper (to taste; I add about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper). Arrange the squash in an even layer on the tray. Bake for 15 minutes then remove from oven and stir. Return to oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes longer or until tender, but not mushy. Set aside and allow to cool for a bit before adding to salad. 
  • DRESSING: Combine all the dressing ingredients in a mason jar and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Shake to combine. Taste and adjust to personal preference (add more honey if you like sweeter, season with additional salt as desired).
  • ASSEMBLE: Add spinach to a large bowl, removing any large stems and ripping large pieces if needed. Drizzle half of the dressing over the spinach and gently toss. Add roasted (and cooled to room temperature) squash, almonds, cranberries, and feta cheese. Very gently toss the salad ingredients.
  • SERVE: Serve salad onto plates and drizzle the last bit of dressing onto individual servings. Enjoy soon after being prepared, since this salad doesn't sit well with the dressing and ingredients. If you want to save leftovers, only dress and combine the ingredients that will be eaten the same day.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: If you prefer to peel and chop your own butternut squash, you'll need 1 small-to-medium-sized butternut squash, which will yield about 4 heaping cups of cut squash. 
Note 2: I buy the "salad-ready" honey-roasted almonds for this salad. To candy your own almonds, combine 1 cup sliced almonds with 1/3 cup white sugar a large skillet. Set the heat to medium-high and stir constantly. The sugar will begin to melt and become a sticky liquid and then cling to the almonds. This takes about 3-4 minutes -- watch carefully and stir constantly to avoid burning the nuts. Spread the candied almonds on a sheet of parchment paper and let harden. Break apart and use in this salad.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 8servings | Calories: 140kcal | Carbohydrates: 12.5g | Protein: 2.2g | Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 3.2mg | Sodium: 38.3mg | Fiber: 1.8g | Sugar: 7.4g

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6 Comments

  1. This salad looks delicious! I just got all of the ingredients and will bring this to my brothers Thanksgiving tomorrow. I’m sure it will be a huge hit and they will be surprised that I made it. Lol

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