Spinach Salad with Pears, Cranberries, and Candied Pecans is a refreshing autumnal salad that’s a perfect addition to your fall menu!

The typical Thanksgiving table is loaded with carb-heavy dishes. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, salads drenched in sweetened whipped cream, dinner rolls, pies, and more! Fall Salad Recipes can be the perfect healthier addition, especially one with fabulous autumn flavors!

White bowl with spinach pear salad.

Why You Must Make

  • This Spinach Salad with Pears, Cranberries, and Candied Pecans is tossed with a maple vinaigrette.
  • A green salad is a perfect way to balance out the carb loading that is typical of many fall meals (like Thanksgiving!).
  • This salad dressing with a touch of maple syrup is incredibly delicious and memorable!
Spinach Salad with pears ingredients with labels on a metal sheet pan.

Ingredient Notes

  • Kitchen Staples – Olive Oil, Kosher Salt, Freshly Ground Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter
  • Balsamic Vinegar – I like to purchase an 18-year-old balsamic. It’s sweet and syrupy and will make a world of difference in your salad dressing.
  • Whole Grain Mustard – I use Grey Poupon.
  • Maple Syrup – Use real maple syrup, not artificially flavored.
  • Pecan Halves – If they aren’t the freshest, you can gently heat them in a dry nonstick pan to bring out their essential oils (more flavor!)
  • Red Onion – See tip below.
  • Dried Cranberries (Craisins) – Mine were a little old so I briefly rehydrated them by adding them to a bowl filled with some hot water from my teapot. Dried cherries would also be delicious in this salad.
  • Baby Spinach – The leaves and stems are more tender than regular spinach. Snip off any thicker stems if desired.
  • Firm Pears – Bosc or Bartlett. Quarter, core, and cut into thin slices. Do this as close to serving time as possible to minimize browning. See tip below.

How to Make

Recipe Tips

  • This salad dressing with a touch of maple syrup is a new favorite. It’s incredibly tasty. Feel free to shake up the variety of nuts. Use walnuts or hazelnuts if you prefer.
  • PRO-Tip: When making the salad dressing, slowly whisk the oil into the other ingredients. Whisking continuously will emulsify the dressing, which means it will keep the oil from separating from the rest of the ingredients.
  • Toss in some blue cheese if you want a heartier salad. It pairs well with pears.
  • PRO-Tip: To take some of the bite out of the onions, soak them in ice water while you prep the rest of the salad. Drain and pat dry before adding to the salad.
  • PRO-Tip: The pears will oxidize (turn brown) once they’re sliced. It’s best to cut them right before serving. Drizzling with an acidic mixture like the salad dressing will help slow down oxidation if you need to prep ahead of time.
  • You can glaze the pecans early in the day so that step will be out of the way.

Overhead view of a Fall Salad in a round white bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best ingredients to use in a Fall Salad?

Besides pears, try adding in some apples, cooked squash or sweet potato cubes to your salads. Roasting cauliflower, fennel, and other vegetables will bring out their sweetness making them salad worthy. Try greens like arugula and baby kale. Grains like rice, farro, and quinoa can be used instead of lettuce as the base of an autumn salad.

What is a Good Fall Salad Dressing?

A maple vinaigrette is always a hit. The sweetness of maple syrup balances out the acidity of the vinegar. Or try reducing some apple cider until syrupy for additional sweetness.

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Spianch salad with pears, cranberries and candied pecans on a white salad plate.

Spinach Salad with Pears, Cranberries and Candied Pecans

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 8 servings

A tasty spinach salad with an autumnal flair!


Salad dressing:

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Candied pecans:

  • ⅔ cup pecans
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar


  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • ⅓ cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 8 cups baby spinach
  • 2 firm pears Bosc or Bartlett, unpeeled, quartered, cored and cut into thin slices


  1. To make salad dressing, combine the vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper.
  2. Drizzle in olive oil while whisking constantly. Set aside.
  3. To candy the nuts, melt butter in a saucepan. Toss in pecans and mix till coated. Add brown sugar and cook, stirring, till caramelized. Place on parchment to cool.
  4. To assemble the salad, toss spinach, onions, and pears with dressing (rewhisk as needed).
  5. Top salad with cranberries and pecans.


Inspired by The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan.

You may soften your cranberries in a bit of salad dressing before adding to salad, if desired.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 bowl

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 286Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 329mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 3gSugar: 15gProtein: 2g


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