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Candied Pecan and Cranberry Pear Salad

This Candied Pecan and Cranberry Pear Salad is filled with tart cranberries, crisp pears, sugar candied pecans, and topped with a sweet honey vinaigrette. Delicious and beautiful for Christmas, Thanksgiving, holiday meals, or weeknight dinners!

candied pecan and cranberry pear salad on a plate, in a bowl, with a pear on the side

There’s nothing like a bright and beautiful showstopping salad! It can complement any holiday, get-together, or weeknight dinner and make it so much better and elevated. But there’s no reason it shouldn’t taste just as delicious as it looks. And even better when it’s easy to make. This Candied Pecan and Cranberry Pear Salad has the best flavor combination with the sweet crunchy pecans, pears, and cranberries then a zippy bite from the gorgonzola cheese and topped off with a tangy-sweet honey vinaigrette. It’s bright, festive, and so amazingly good that you’ll want to have it with every meal.

candied pecan and cranberry pear salad on a plate, in a bowl, and a pear to the side

Ingredients

Candied Pecans

  • Butter– salted works well to give a little salty/sweet combination to the pecans. If you only have unsalted butter, try adding just a pinch of salt.
  • Pecans– whole or halved are best.
  • Brown Sugar

Salad

  • Spring mix salad– this give a nice appearance with the different colors of lettuce but any type of lettuce mix would taste similar.
  • Pears
  • Dried cranberries
  • Gorgonzola or Feta cheese– gorgonzola will give a strong almost bleu cheese flavor. Go for feta cheese if you want to keep it more mild.

Honey Vinaigrette Dressing

  • Olive oil
  • Apple cider vinegar– this gives a nice extra fruit flavor but you can easily switch it up with white, balsamic, or white wine vinegar for a different taste.
  • Honey
  • Onion– fresh minced onion really makes this dressing taste so delicious. Dried could be used in a pinch.
  • Poppy seeds
  • Paprika
  • Salt & pepper

How to make it

This recipe is quite easy to make. All you have to do is:

Melt butter and sugar together in a medium skillet. A cast-iron skillet would work well for this part. Once they melt and bubble slightly, add the pecans and stir until it starts to caramelize and each piece of pecan is coated. This takes around 2-3 minutes.

Cool– the pecans on parchment paper or wax paper. Once cooled, they’ll be able to break apart and are ready for the salad.

Whiskolive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, onion, poppy seeds, paprika, salt, and pepper together in a bowl or combine them all in an empty jelly jar with a lid and shake. Be sure it is mixed well and then set aside to allow it to marinate. The longer it marinades, the stronger the onion flavor will become.

Add– spring mix to a large bowl. Then top with pears, cranberries, gorgonzola cheese, and candied pecans.

Toss– the salad with the dressing when you are ready to serve.

Can the salad be prepared ahead of time?

Yes, this Candied Pecan and Cranberry Pear Salad can be made up to 3 days in advance. Assemble the salad and the dressing as directed and refrigerate in air-tight containers but wait to put the dressing on the salad until you are ready to serve. The lettuce will tend to wilt the longer it remains on the salad. I also recommend storing the pecans in an air-tight container at room temperature and adding them to the salad just before serving as well. The refrigerator can tend to soften the pecans.

Do I have to make the candied pecans?

No, you do not! While the candied pecans give it a fantastic taste, the salad is still delicious with plain pecans, nuts, or no nuts at all! You can also use store-bought candied pecans as well.

candied pecan and cranberry pear salad on a plate, in a bowl, and 2 pears in the background

More delicious salad recipes

candied pecan and cranberry pear salad on a plate, in a bowl, with a pear on the side

Candied Pecan and Cranberry Pear Salad

This Candied Pecan and Cranberry Pear Salad is filled with tart cranberries, crisp pears, sugar candied pecans, and topped with a sweet honey vinaigrette. Delicious and beautiful for Christmas, Thanksgiving, holiday meals, or weeknight dinners!
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 364 kcal

Ingredients
  

Candied Pecans

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup pecans whole or halves
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Honey Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon onion finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Salad

  • 10 ounces spring mix
  • 2 pears chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese or Feta cheese
  • 1 cup candied pecans

Instructions
 

Candied Pecans

  • In a small skillet, melt butter and sugar together over medium heat and continue to stir until sugar melts- around 2 minutes. Add pecans and keep stirring for 1-2 more minutes until sauce begins to caramelize. Remove from pan and transfer pecans to a baking pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Allow to cool.

Honey Vinaigrette Dressing

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, onion, poppy seeds, paprika, salt, and pepper until fully combined. Set aside.

Salad

  • Add the spring mix to a large bowl. Top with pears, cranberries, cheese, and candied pecans. Toss salad with dressing when ready to serve. Enjoy!

Notes

Tips and Tricks
* Make salad and dressing ahead of time and store separately in the refrigerator. Toss salad with dressing when ready to serve. (Candied pecans will start to soften in the refrigerator so those can be stored at room temperature if needed.)
* Candied pecans are optional. Any variety of nuts could be used like almonds or walnuts.
* Use Gorgonzola cheese for a strong flavor or Feta cheese for a mild flavor.
–Nutritional values and cook times vary due to cookware and product brand selection.

Nutrition

Serving: 8gCalories: 364kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 4gFat: 24gSodium: 141mgSugar: 25g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Nutrition Facts
Candied Pecan and Cranberry Pear Salad
Serving Size
 
8 g
Amount per Serving
Calories
364
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
24
g
37
%
Sodium
 
141
mg
6
%
Carbohydrates
 
36
g
12
%
Sugar
 
25
g
28
%
Protein
 
4
g
8
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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