My friend, Gini, whips up this gorgeous salad every Christmas! Her Holiday Lettuce Salad is full of candied almonds, apple, mandarin oranges, and dried cranberries.

This Christmas and Thanksgiving Salad was served at a bridal shower I recently co-hosted and I got numerous requests for the recipe. It’s perfect for any holiday meal or family gathering!!!

Holiday Lettuce Salad in a white serving bowl.

Why You Must Make

  • This salad is simple enough to whip up for a Sunday night family dinner, but also notable enough to serve for a special occasion like a bridal shower or holiday meal.
  • The sugar-coated nuts are part of what makes this an irresistible salad.
  • If you’ve never made a homemade salad dressing, this is an easy, delicious starter recipe!

Ingredient Notes

  • Slivered Almonds – Add crunch
  • Sugar – Used to balance the acid in the salad dressing, plus used to candy the almonds
  • Apple cider vinegar – Used to make the salad dressing.
  • Salt – Important as a flavor enhancer. Recipes without salt taste flat.
  • Black pepper – To taste. Freshly ground black pepper tastes best. Buy black peppercorns and grind them in a Krups spice/coffee grinder (affiliate link). I own one to grind spices and the other to grind coffee beans.
  • Canola oil – A neutral oil works best, but you can certainly use olive oil if that’s your preference.
  • Lettuce – I used spring greens, but any favorite lettuce or lettuce mix will be fine.
  • Granny Smith Apple, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • Can of Mandarin Oranges – Drained well. You can always use fresh oranges. See how to segment/supreme them below.
  • Dried Cranberries – Also known as Craisins, they’re found near the raisins in your supermarket. Dried cherries are a great alternative. They add a lovely sweet, chewy texture along with a festive pop of red.
  • Green Onions – Sliced, use both white and light green ends. Adds a more delicate pungency than other onions.

Toss the cut apples in a bit of the dressing and the vinegar will prevent them from oxidizing and turning brown. Besides the outstanding flavors, the bright colors of green, orange, and red make this holiday lettuce salad a picture-perfect addition to any table! This may become your go-to Christmas or Thanksgiving Salad, but it’s a perfect side for any meal!

How to Make

  1. Make your candied almonds. These can easily be made a day or two ahead of time unless you live in a very humid climate.
  2. Make the salad dressing.
  3. Combine all the salad ingredients in a serving bowl.
  4. Toss with the salad dressing right before serving.
Holiday Lettuce Salad in a serving bowl on a red napkin

Recipe Tips

  • The candied almonds take a few minutes to cook, but they’re really simple after you get the hang of it. Add the sugar to a saute pan and turn on the heat. Then toss in the almonds and stir. It will take a minute or two before the sugar starts to melt, but you don’t want to hurry things along or you might end up with a burnt mess. You continue to cook and stir, until the sugar is totally melted and the almonds darken to a golden brown.
  • If you’d prefer pecans or another favorite nut, use them instead.
  • Fresh oranges can be used, too, just supreme them first (see how to do this below).
  • PRO-Tip: Toss the cut apples in a bit of the dressing and the vinegar will prevent them from oxidizing and turning brown.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Supreme an Orange?

Here is the procedure:
1. First, slice off a round at the top and bottom of the orange. Then, from top to bottom, slice off a strip of the peel and the pith, trying not to remove any excess orange flesh in the process.
2. Rotate the orange and repeat until the whole orange is peeled.
3. Locate one of the segments. With your sharp knife, slice on each side of the segment, just inside the membranes, to release a perfect orange segment. Repeat for each segment.
Note: If you’d like to save the juices for the salad dressing, squeeze the leftover membranes into a bowl. Plus make sure to supreme your segment over a bowl to collect the juices as well.
This procedure can be done with any citrus fruit including grapefruit, lemons, and limes.

How Do You Prevent a Salad Dressing from Separating?

The key to preventing salad dressing from separating is to emulsify the mixture. The process is to whisk together all the ingredients except the oil. Then very slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking constantly. This forms an emulsification, which is a mixture of two ingredients that normally cannot be combined.

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Holiday Lettuce Salad | Easy enough for any time of the year!

Holiday Lettuce Salad

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield 6 servings

A lettuce salad delicious enough for special occasions, but easy enough for every day!


  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 bag of lettuce
  • 1 small granny smith apple, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 11-ounce can of mandarin oranges, drained
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 3 green onions, sliced (white and light green ends)


  1. Combine almonds with 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a saute pan. Cook, stirring, until the sugar melts and almonds are light brown.
  2. Cool on wax paper.
  3. In a small liquid measuring cup, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar with the vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  4. Drizzle in the oil while whisking continuously. Set aside.
  5. In a large salad bowl, combine the lettuce, apples, oranges, cranberries, and green onions. Toss with dressing before serving.


Easily adaptable. Use dried cherries instead of cranberries, fresh oranges instead of canned, baby spinach instead of lettuce.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 328Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 180mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 4gSugar: 26gProtein: 3g


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