Cranberry, Goat Cheese, and Pecan Salad

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Pinterest image of goat cheese, cranberry, and pecan salad.
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This Cranberry and Goat Cheese mixed green salad features candied pecans for a sweet crunch, tangy crumbled chèvre (soft goat cheese), sweet and tart dried cranberries, and a creamy maple balsamic dressing. This is the perfect green salad to serve as a side for any occasion!

Close up photo of a green salad with goat cheese, dried cranberries, and candied pecans.

Everyone should have a “go-to” green salad recipe. This is mine. I’ve made it on countless occasions – ranging from quick weeknight meals to Christmas dinner.

The flavors all pair so well together with a perfect balance of sweet, tart, and, tangy. And the textures as well, with the crunch of the pecans and the creaminess of the goat cheese that coats every bite.

I usually make this recipe with my creamy maple balsamic dressing. But you can use store-bought dressing to make this salad recipe extra fast and easy.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Mixed Baby Greens – I used spring mix. You can use mesclun greens, baby arugula or baby spinach, or chopped up lettuce if you like.
  • Red onion – very thinly sliced so it’s not overpowering
  • Dried cranberries – you can use another dried fruit, such as raisins or currants, or even a fresh sweet and tart fruit like chopped apples if you prefer. Fresh chopped cranberries can be used however they are very tart, so expect the flavor to be different.
  • Candied pecans or walnuts – any kind you like (here’s a homemade cinnamon candied walnut recipe).
  • Soft Goat Cheese – also known as chèvre. You can use crumbled feta or queso fresco as an alternative.
  • Creamy Maple Balsamic Dressing – you’ll need balsamic vinegar, mayo, olive oil, salt, pepper, and maple syrup for this. Or, you can use a store-bought dressing (more below on this).
Overhead photo of a white bowl of green salad.

How to make Cranberry, Goat Cheese, and Pecan Salad

  1. First, MIX THE DRESSING in the bottom of a large bowl. Don’t bother with a smaller bowl – that just gets another dish dirty! Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mayo, maple syrup, salt, and pepper (skip this step if using store bought dressing).
  2. Then, TOSS THE GREENS with the dressing. Use tongs to coat the greens well in the dressing (just drizzle on store bought dressing at this point if using).
  3. ADD the sliced red onion, dried cranberries, and candied pecans to the bowl on top of the greens.
  4. CRUMBLE the goat cheese using the tines of a fork directly from the package into the bowl (no mess! woo hoo!).
  5. TOSS GENTLY to mix everything up without completely destroying the goat cheese crumbles. Serve!
Process collage showing how to mix a salad and crumble goat cheese with a fork.

Can I use store bought dressing?

Sure! Anything with a sweet and tangy flavor would be great, and using store-bought dressing is a good way to save time.

A store-bought balsamic vinaigrette, poppyseed dressing (I like Briana’s), or one of my favorites: Marie’s White Balsamic Shallot.

How to make this salad for meal prep

It’s easy to make this salad for meal prep.

Just assemble individual portions with all the ingredients EXCEPT the dressing. Pack the dressing in portions separately and add the dressing on top just before eating. You’ll need about 1.5 – 2 tablespoons dressing per serving.

If you dress the salad too early, it will become soggy quickly. So leftovers aren’t great for this reason.

A salad in a white bowl with pecans, greens, and cranberries around it on the table.

Other green salad recipes

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Cranberry, Goat Cheese, and Pecan Salad

Square photo of a green salad with goat cheese, cranberries, and pecans.

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This Cranberry, Goat Cheese, and Pecan salad with Mixed Greens and Balsamic vinaigrette is an easy, vegetarian, gluten-free side or main.

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Prep Time10 mins

Total Time10 mins

Course: Salad

Cuisine: American

Servings: 2 servings

Calories: 327kcal

Author: Elizabeth Lindemann

Ingredients

For the Salad:

  • 4 cups baby mixed greens or spring mix, arugula, spinach (about 2.5 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup candied pecans or walnuts honey toasted or any kind will do
  • 2 oz. soft goat cheese (chèvre)

For the Dressing (see notes):

Instructions

  • In the bottom of a large mixing bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together until well emulsified.

  • Add the baby greens (4 cups) and toss together well with tongs to coat in the dressing.

  • Add the sliced red onion (1/4 cup), the dried cranberries (1/4 cup), and the candied nuts (1/4 cup) to the bowl on top of the greens. Use the tines of a fork to crumble the soft goat cheese (2 oz.) directly into the bowl.

  • Toss everything gently together. Divide into two serving bowls or plates and serve.

Notes

  • The dressing is an approximate two-serving version of my Creamy Maple Balsamic Dressing. I like just making a big batch and using about 3 tablespoons of it for this salad recipe.
  • If you don’t want to make a dressing from scratch, use your favorite balsamic vinaigrette, poppyseed dressing (I like Briana’s), or my favorite bottled dressing: Marie’s White Balsamic Shallot.
  • This recipe can serve four as a small side dish. It can be doubled for larger servings or for more people.

Recommended Equipment

Nutrition

Calories: 327kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 541mg | Potassium: 203mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 1209IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 1mg