Do yourself a favor and make this strawberry spinach salad the next time you’re in the mood for a delicious, nutritious, flavorful, easy salad with fresh strawberries, spinach, red onions, feta, bacon, and candied nuts then is drizzled with a homemade poppy seed dressing.
Why This Recipe Works
Easy — That’s right, despite this salad having seemingly all the things, it’s super easy to throw together. A little of this, a dash of that, and if you are feeling super lazy grab the already made candied nuts and dressing.
Sugared nuts — You know how good nuts coated in sugar and cinnamon are? If not, you are missing out! Sure, you can pay an arm and a leg to buy them or you can easily make them yourself in a pinch. Sooooo worth the effort.
Fresh berries — The great thing about this recipe is that, while strawberries work great, you could substitute just about any berry you like and it will still be just as delicious. Some of my favorites are blueberries and raspberries.
Great for potlucks — Want to bring something other than the same old, same old pasta salad to a picnic or potluck? This one is a real crowd-pleaser, plus, it’s healthy and just looks so divine…I promise this one will not be going home with you.
- Baby spinach – fresh, not frozen!
- Red Onions
- Crumbled cooked bacon – see my note for a time saving trick!
- Crumbled feta cheese – or substitute gorgonzola, goat cheese, or blue cheese.
- Candied walnuts or pecans – buy some already candied or follow my super easy instructions to whip them up at home.
- Poppy Seed Dressing – use my 5-minute homemade version, or your favorite store-bought.
Here’s How You Make It
Make the candied nuts
- To a skillet over medium heat, add the sugar
- Stir for 3-5 minutes or until it starts to dissolve.
- When the sugar is dissolved, add the chopped nuts and stir to coat in the sugar.
- Take the sugar-coated nuts out of the pan to cool and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Put it all together
- Combine all the ingredients listed for the dressing into a jar with a lid that goes on tightly.
- Shake vigorously. Alternately, add the ingredients to a bowl and whisk till everything is combined.
- Get a large serving bowl or platter out and to it add the spinach, onions, bacon, strawberries, nuts, and feta.
- Drizzle dressing over the salad if serving immediately, otherwise serve with the dressing on the side.
Ways to Customize this Recipe
- I mentioned any kind of berries will work if you don’t have strawberries, but you could also consider mixing your berries or even adding some citrus to this salad like segments of oranges or grapefruit or even pineapple.
- Make it a meal by adding grilled chicken or salmon over the top of each serving.
- Not a feta fan? Other cheeses that work include blue cheese and goat cheese.
- Slivered almonds or pistachios will work in this salad too if you don’t like sugared walnuts or pecans.
- Instead of spinach, you could use a bag of mixed greens, arugula, kale, or another hardy green you love, or more than one green, for that matter.
- If you’re not a fan of poppy seed dressing, you could also make this balsamic vinaigrette.
Are You Supposed to Rinse Strawberries?
I do rinse my strawberries under running water before eating them. But that’s the key — waiting to rinse until you are ready to eat them. If you rinse them ahead of time and put them in the fridge, they will start to break down and go back more quickly.
Are You Supposed to Wash Spinach?
Let me tell you how I avoid washing spinach: I purchase a bag of spinach that says “already washed” or “pre-washed” or something like that. Yes, I go ahead and trust the bag when it tells me the veggies are clean. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do!
If you have unwashed spinach or purchased it loose, the best thing to do is, like with strawberries, wash the leaves just before you’re ready to eat them/cook with them. If you wash the spinach then put it away, you’re just encouraging bacteria to grow and for your leafy greens to wilt much more quickly. I just wash mine and pat it dry or run it through a salad spinner to get all the excess water off.
- Love bacon but don’t feel like messing with the…mess of bacon? I have a shortcut for that. Add the crunch and salt of bacon to your salad by using ⅓ cup of real bacon bits spread on a paper-towel-lined plate. Pop this in the microwave for 20-30 seconds until the bits are sizzling and hot. Let them cool and add them to your salad — no mess!
- For the richest, creamiest dressing, I use high-fat milk. But if you want to lower the calories in the dressing, just swap some of the mayo with Greek dressing. More protein, less caloric, still tangy and delicious…win-win!
Delicious Salad Recipes
- Greek Avocado Chicken Salad
- Chicken Salad with Grapes
- Italian Orzo Salad
- Chicken Avocado Salad
- Chicken Avocado Corn Salad
- Best Simple Tossed Green Salad
- Berry Orzo Spinach Salad with Balsamic Dressing
Did you make this Strawberry Spinach Salad recipe? AWESOME! Please rate the recipe below!
Strawberry Spinach Salad
- 6 cups baby spinach leaves
- 1 pound strawberries - sliced
- ¼ red onion - thinly sliced
- 6 bacon strips - cooked til crisp and chopped – see note!
- ⅓ cup feta cheese crumbles
- ½ cup pecans or walnuts - roughly chopped
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Poppy seed dressing
- ⅔ cup mayo
- ½ cup milk - see note
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 2 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 4 teaspoons poppy seeds
- pinch of salt
Prepare the dressing
- Combine all dressing ingredients and shake (if in a sealed jar) or whisk vigorously.
Prepare the candied nuts
- Place a skillet over medium heat. Add sugar to the pan and stir 3-5 minutes until sugar starts to dissolve. Once dissolved, stir in the chopped nuts til coated. Transfer to a plate to cool and sprinkle with cinnamon.
- In a large bowl or serving platter, combine spinach, strawberries, onions, bacon, and cheese.
- Serve salad with prepared dressing. Enjoy!