This post has been sponsored by Autumn Glory apples, but as always all opinions are my own.
This June will mark the 7th anniversary of Foolproof Living. Can you imagine? I have been creating, testing, and sharing recipes for seven years.
If you were to ask me what is the number one thing I learned about creating recipes, my answer would be that in order for your recipes to taste amazing, you need to balance four things: Salt, acid, fat, and sugar. This apple salad recipe is the epitome of this concept.
Think about it for a second. Almost every dish starts with (sweet) onions, sautéed in (fatty) oil, and then later enhanced with some sort of an acidic ingredient like tomatoes, vinegar, citrus, or cultured dairy like yogurt or sour cream. Then finally, seasoned with salt and pepper.
Now, obviously the proportions and ingredients change from dish to dish, but if you are familiar with how to categorize your ingredients, you are pretty much bound for a great end product.
And the best part is that if your recipe tastes bland, you can always add a little bit of what is missing to make it taste great.
That is why I would say that the second most important thing I learned is that the only way to create something delicious is to taste it as you go.
If you follow these two steps and work on getting to know your ingredients, then you can start creating your own recipes in a snap that actually tastes good.
Today’s recipe, Apple Salad, is a great example of how to built flavors on top of each other to end up with an out-of-this-world delicious yet stupid easy apple salad in less than 15 minutes.
So let’s break it down.
Apple Salad Ingredients
Apples & Raisins (Sweet)
As the name suggests, the main sweet component of the recipe is sliced apples. But they are not just any apples. They are Autumn Glory apples.
You might remember from last year, they invited me to their orchards in Yakima, WA and we watched the sunrise. Ahhh that sunrise.. I wrote all about it in this How To Make Apple Roses recipe post with some gorgeous photos.
If you have never tried Autumn Glory apples, they taste like apples flavored with cinnamon with undertones of caramel. I know it might be hard to imagine, but believe me they are that good.
Sliced thinly (with the skin on), you get the distinct taste of the sweet cinnamon-y flavors of Autumn Glory apples with every bite.
I promise you guys if you want to make apple salad with fresh apples Autumn Glory apples are the way to go.
Second sweet component of the recipe is raisins. It is no secret that apples and raisins are a match made in heaven. But together in this recipe, they helped me round up the earthy flavors of the baby spinach and walnuts.
In the end, I also added a handful of pomegranate arils, but that is mostly because the photos needed a little bit of color and I wanted to add in another layer of fresh fruity flavor. If they are not in season, you’d be totally fine with just using raisins.
Apple Salad Dressing & Cheddar (Acid & Fat)
Now, I know that most people are accustomed to making apple salad with mayo. While I know how delicious that version tastes, I wanted to make it somewhat healthier so I swapped some of the mayo with yogurt.
The fat content that came from 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise mixed in with ½ cup of Greek yogurt eliminated the need to add in any oil into the recipe. And a generous squeeze of lemon seasoned with salt and pepper gave me the easiest yet the most delicious apple salad dressing.
Prefer an apple salad without mayo?
No problem. Simply follow the exact apple salad dressing recipe below, but swap mayo with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Give it a taste. If it is not as flavorful as you want, you can add in a clove of minced garlic as well.
Whatever you do, do yourself a favor and ditch the store-bought salad dressings because as you can see below you could easily create a delicious yogurt-based vinaigrette recipe in no time.
Initially, I had no intention of adding any type of cheese into this apple salad recipe. However, even with the addition of yogurt (fat + acid), mayonnaise (fat), lemon juice (acid), and a generous amount of salt and pepper, once the sliced apples were mixed in with the rest of the ingredients (spinach, celery, red onion, apples, raisins, and walnuts), it was just not complete.
It needed more fat to round everything up. So I did what I always do and referred to my secret weapon for creating recipes, The Flavor Bible (Affiliate link). If you are not familiar with this book, it is a guide to help you find pairings for each ingredient organized from every angle: seasons, flavors, ethnic traditions, and ingredient affinities.
Come to find out, the combination of apples with greens (salad, spinach, etc.), nuts (pecans, walnuts, etc.) and cheese (blue, cheddar, feta, etc.) deliver good results. So I followed in the footsteps of the Flavor Bible and add in some shredded cheddar. Aaaand just like that. This otherwise bland apple raisin salad turned into something extraordinary.
Want to up your salad game? If so, check out our extensive library of over 75 easy salad recipes.
How To Make Apple Salad
Like I mentioned earlier, even with the chopping of ingredients you can create this easy apple salad with yogurt dressing in less than 15 minutes. The process of making it has three parts:
First, you make the apple dressing: Simply whisk yogurt, mayo, lemon juice, and salt and pepper in a bowl and set it aside.
Second, combine baby spinach, chopped celery, thinly sliced red onions raisins, and walnuts in a large bowl. Top it off with thinly sliced apples and shredded cheddar.
Finally, drizzle the salad with the yogurt-mayo dressing and give it a gentle toss. That is it. It is that simple.
Watch How To Make
A Few Tips For The Best Apple Salad Recipe
A Few Variations & Ideas To Switch It Up:
- Greens and/or Kale Instead of Baby Spinach: I love a good Spinach Apple Salad, but you can always swap spinach with salad greens or even (thinly) chopped kale.
- Add in Broccoli for Some Additional Crunch: Chop up some fresh broccoli to add in a super nutritious green vegetable and turn it into a truly healthy apple salad.
- Try it with different nuts and dried fruits: If you are serving this apple salad during the holidays, you can swap raisins with cranberries and turn it into an Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad. Don’t have walnuts on hand? Use pecans and make it an Apple Pecan Salad. Seriously, friends, the sky’s the limit.
- Want A Salad That is Dinner Worthy & Protein Packed? If you are looking for more of a meal-worthy dinner salad, you can top it off with grilled or roasted chicken and turn it into an Apple Walnut Chicken Salad.
Making It Ahead and What To Do with Leftovers
As it is most salads mixed with yogurt dressing, this salad doesn’t keep well even if you store it in the fridge in an airtight container.
However, if you don’t mind keeping the ingredients separate from the dressing and serve it on the side, you can totally make it a day ahead and store them in the fridge for one additional day.
Ditch the Waldorf Salad and give this healthy and simple apple salad recipe a try. I promise with just a few minutes of prep you will end up with a super flavorful salad that you’ll want to put on the weekly rotation all throughout the year.
Other Apple Salad Recipes With Fresh Apples That You Might Like
Here are a few more apple salad ideas to inspire you:
- Brussel Sprout Salad
- Mayo-Free Apple Chicken Salad – Kitchen Confidante
- Waldorf Chicken Salad
- Roasted Beet and Apple Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette – Vanilla and Bean
- Broccoli Apple Salad with Yogurt Dressing – Give Recipe
Other Healthy Salads Recipes You Might Also Like:
- Brussel Sprout and Kale Salad
- Chicken Salad Recipe
- Creamy Cucumber Salad
- Brussel Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes
- My Go-to Yogurt Salad Dressing
Apple Salad Recipe
For The Dressing:
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For The Salad:
- 4 cups baby spinach rinsed and spin dried
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- ¼ cup red onion thinly sliced
- ¼ cup raisins
- ½ cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 apple cored and thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup cheddar shredded
To make the dressing:
- Place yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Give it a whisk. Set aside.
To make the salad:
- Place spinach, celery, red onion, raisins, walnuts, and apple slices in a large salad bowl.
- Drizzle it with the dressing and give it a gentle toss.
- When ready to serve, top it off with shredded cheddar.
How do you stop the apple going brown/does the apple go brown
I would squeeze them with a little bit of lemon juice. Hope this helps.
I love this recipe and have saved it to make as a go-to side dish. I have made it many times. My favorite way to make it is to omit the spinach and add more apple. Delish!!!
Happy to hear that you enjoy it Traci. Thanks for coming by and taking the time to share your experience.
Excellent recipe! Thank you!
Thanks Kim. I am happy to hear that you liked it.
You know the ole saying “An apple day keeps the doctor away”. Well, it’s the 21st century. An apple salad day keeps the doctor.
Thanks sugar. So happy to hear that you like this apple salad.
This recipe looks wonderful, I will definitely be adding this to my artillery of arsenal flavor. I am just curious about what the red beads are in the salad? There’s nothing written beside them in the picture. I can only imagine that they are cranberries, but I just want to have confirmation before I serve it to two thousand people.
Ha ha.. I totally understand.
They are pomegranate seeds. I added them to give it some color and sweetness. I mentioned it in the article, but I will add it in the recipe as well.
It was mainly added for decorative purposes (the salad looked so blend without the pop of red coming from the pomegranate), but you can omit them or use other sweet fresh or dried fruit if you want. Dried cranberries would also be a nice addition.
I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Best of luck.
PS: There is also a quick how-to video in there if it helps. 🙂
Perfect salad for lunch!
Thanks Lori. <3
Traci | Vanilla And Bean
Such a fabulous, balanced recipe, Ayse and gorgeous presentation! I’m all heart eyes over that creamy dressing 😀 I love the flavor bible! I have created so much pulling from it’s infinite wisdom! Now, I’ve not made an apple salad since Fall…. it’s time! Thank you for your link love xo
Ahhh Flavor Bible is a life saver, isn’t it? It is the best thing for us, recipe creators.
With all the amazing apples you have in WA, I am sure you’ll be able to create a delicious salad.
Thanks for stopping by my dear friend. Seeing your note always makes my day. <3
This salad goes great along side any meal!
Can’t agree more. Thanks for stopping by Sommer.
Great salad! I put a little more mayo in the dressing and a clove of garlic. This was the first time I used baby spinach in an apple salad and it was surprisingly delicious. I also swapped walnuts with some pecans and sliced almonds (I didn’t have any walnuts). Overall it was a good recipe. I would make it again. Thanks.
I love the idea of adding in a clove of garlic in the dressing. Pecans and sliced almonds sound really good as well. I am sure they made it nice and crunchy.
Thanks for your lovely words. I am so happy to hear that you liked the recipe.
You made a wonderful combination of flavors in this salad! Looks and sounds so tasty! All the tips you shared here are so helpful, thanks!
Awww so happy to hear that you liked it Zerrin. It ended up being a super delicious salad that we loved. Thanks for stopping by.
I loved how flavorful this is! So easy to make too!
So glad you liked it. Thanks Toni.
Tried this recipe. Didn’t use yogurt. Replaced celery with cucumbers and forgot to add cheddar cheese! Was apprehensive about how it would taste… But the taste was amazing! Loved it. Thank you.
YAY! Happy to hear that Prithvi!
I love these different flavors and textures!
We do too. It is so easy to put together as well 🙂
The perfect lunch salad!
Ha ha.. Today, I am having it for lunch as well. Cheers!
Definitely a keeper! I used craisins instead of raisins and loved it!
Ahhh that is such a genius idea. I have to try that next time. Thanks for stopping by Liz.
I just tried this Healthy Apple Salad and it was so good! Thank you for sharing your recipe!
Anytime my friend. So happy you liked it. Cheers!