This Apple Pecan and Bacon Salad with Maple Vinaigrette Dressing features crunchy candied pecans, sweet, crisp apples, savory bacon pieces, and tart, dried cranberries. Serve with your favorite lettuce and top it off with a simple and delicious 2-minute vinaigrette for the perfect salad to go with any meal!
Looking for more delicious salad recipes? Head on over to these posts for my yummy veggie creations like: Strawberry Spinach Salad, Broccoli Apple Salad with Poppyseed Dressing, and Chopped Autumn Salad with Apple Cider Dressing.
It’s been a minute since I’ve posted a salad recipe, hasn’t it? I am always on the hunt for a salad that doesn’t really taste (or look) like you’re eating some kind of boring, bland salad because you have to. I want people to make my salads because they want to. This one is one of those types of salads. So chock full of healthy goodies (apples, cranberries, lettuce) and some other tasty ingredients (bacon, nuts, maple vinaigrette) that this salad is perfectly balanced, nutrition- and flavor-wise!
Here’s How You Make It
Prepare the salad
Two steps, that’s all it takes to make this delightful autumn salad.
- First, make the candied pecans by toasting them in a skillet for 1 minute over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves.
- Sprinkle cinnamon over the pecans and stir until they are sugar-coated. Then, immediately transfer them to a sheet of parchment paper or a heat-resistant plate to cool slightly.
- Prepare the salad by arranging any lettuce you like on a platter. Top it with sliced apples, cranberries, pecans, and bacon.
Why This Recipe Works
Delicious – I’ll call very few salads delicious. I call them mostly utilitarian. As in, someone told me I have to eat vegetables, so fine I’ll have a salad. This one though? So. Good.
Easy – Cook some bacon, slice some apples, add some candied pecans and cranberries, shake some dressing, and combine it all together. It really is super easy!
So customizable – The great thing about salads is they are so very customizable. See more on that below, but you can add and subtract just about any ingredient you want and make it your own!
Pantry ingredients – Nothing fancy here. Toss a little of this, a little of that together and your next yummy salad is easily in reach!
- First off, use whatever lettuce you like for this salad. Chop up some iceberg; dump a bag of pre-cut baby romaine or mixed greens; use some de-stemmed and chiffonaded kale; combine every lettuce you have in your veggie drawer – anything goes in this salad.
- Cheese! I like to add cheese to salads. Ones that would go great in this one includes goat, blue, shaved parmesan, or small dices of sharp cheddar.
- If you’re not into the flavor of maple, consider substituting honey or agave syrup.
- Diced and crisped pancetta would be a great substitute for bacon in this apple salad too.
- Add more (or different) fruit. In addition to (or instead of) apples, berries and thinly sliced pears would work well too.
If you aren’t into candied pecans, consider adding slivered almonds, sugared almonds, or another nut you love (sweetened or plain).
- I love bacon in my salads, but I don’t like to take the time to cook and chop bacon just for a salad. To save time I like to use bacon bits. But, to warm them up, first add your bacon bits to a small microwave-safe dish and microwave them for 15-20 seconds. Take the time to do this and you’ll be thankful you did. The bacon bits will be warm and crisp up, which is perfect for this salad. (When choosing bacon bits at the store, I look for ones that look a bit “raw” (for lack of a better term) and skip any that are too tiny and look dried out.)
- This salad will keep in the fridge (undressed) for about a day or two before the lettuce is too wilty to eat.
- If you want to eat the salad for a few days as a meal prep option, my suggestion is to make the pecans, make the dressing, and cut up the apples and store everything in the fridge. Then, make the salads individually when you’re ready to eat them.
- Another idea is to make the salads in a canning jar, but upside down. So first, in the bottom, you’d add the dressing (not too much, just a couple tablespoons) and then add the apples, bacon, pecans, and cranberries, followed by the lettuce before adding a lid. When you’re ready to eat it, just give it a shake!
- What apples should you use? For flavor and texture, I prefer bright red apples in this salad. Gala, fuji, honey crisp are all good options!
- If you’re using maple syrup, use REAL maple syrup, NOT maple flavored breakfast syrup.
More Side Dishes You’ve Gotta Try
- Spinach and Bacon Stuffed Turkey Breast
- Perfect, Easy Thanksgiving Turkey
- Roasted Garlic Butter Beef Tenderloin
- Slow Cooker Beef Pot Roast
Did you make this apple pecan salad recipe? FANTASTIC! Please rate the recipe below!
Apple Pecan and Bacon Salad with Maple Vinaigrette Dressing
For the Salad
- 6 cups lettuce - I used green leaf lettuce and arugula
- 1 cup pecan halves
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅓ cup chopped bacon pieces - see note for my time-saving tip!
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- 1 apple thinly sliced and halves cut crosswise - or chopped
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup - see note
- 5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons orange juice - or 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper - or 1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- First, prepare the candied pecans. In a small skillet, toast pecans for 1 minute over medium-high eat. Add sugar and stir constantly until sugar dissolves. Sprinkle cinnamon over pecans and stir until pecans are sugar-coated. Immediately transfer to a sheet of parchment or a heat-resistant plate to cool slightly.
- Prepare salad by arranging lettuce on a platter. Top with apples, cranberries, pecans, and bacon.
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar, shake vigorously to combine. Pour over salad immediately if serving right away, or wait until just before serving (shake well just before pouring over salad).
Loved it. I added orange slices and the zest, plus cut the skies over the dressing to catch the juice. Used cranberries and blueberries, forgot the bacon. Served it with roasted buttersnut squash, onions and apples which I roasted with a small pork tenderloin. I served my veggies over the salad, husband ate from a separate bowl. I liked my way better, salad dressing went well with the veggies. Thx!
I made this salad with pan seared cod for dinner. It was outstanding! The combination of textures and flavors was not only beautiful but so delicious. Easy to make and came together quickly, it’s a keeper!
I almost never leave reviews, but I had to for this salad. The whole salad is delicious, but the vinaigrette is phenomenal! We have made several repeat batches of it, and it is now our go-to dressing for salads. So simple and easy to make, and leftovers store great in the fridge!
Ashley, I am thrilled to hear you love this salad as much as I do! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!!
Superb!! and beautiful. The dressing is a keeper all by itself.
I made this last night for a side to our steak dinner and it was fabulous!!! I used fresh OJ and switched to a dried tart cherries (instead of cranberries) and I love Granny Smith apples, so I used them. I was worried that it would be too sweet, but the combination of the vinegar with the OJ and maple syrup worked perfectly! I loved the pecans, so good!! I will definitely be making this often, thanks for sharing the recipe.