Apple Pecan Arugula Salad

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Big plate of our recipe for Apple Arugula Salad with Pecans and Lemon Vinaigrette

Can I talk to you about salad, and also, life?

First, salad. No one should be forced to have a conversation on an empty stomach.

Cutting board with apples for making a healthy fall salad recipe

This salad is an adaptation of one I’ve been making recently for friends when hosting. It’s so simple in nature you likely already have most of the ingredients on hand right now (the best kind of recipe, in my opinion).

Peppery arugula is combined with crisp apples, toasted pecans, red onion, and dried cranberries, and it’s all dressed with a bright, vibrant lemon vinaigrette.

Plus, just 15 minutes (!!) and 8 basic ingredients to prepare – my idea of salad perfection.

This would make the perfect light and healthy dish to help you fill up on plants and erase some of that pie hangover likely lingering from yesterday’s feast. We’ve all been there. Salad to the rescue.

Pouring delicious homemade lemon vinaigrette onto our Easy Apple Arugula Salad with Pecans

Now, life.

This time of year, everyone tells you to be thankful for what you have. I agree. Slow down, be grateful – it’s good for the soul.

But what about when life is hard, or things don’t go the way you planned, or something happens and your sense of reality shifts? What then?

2015 was perhaps my most personally challenging year yet, one wherein things didn’t go ‘as planned’ for me. I was left feeling a little sad and angry and frustrated and just generally not like myself (what a bizarre sensation). It all made me realize I’m not as strong or spontaneous or resilient as I thought I was. In short, this year kind of kicked my ass.

The gritty details aren’t the important part. The important part is I think it’s OK to be sad, or angry, or disappointed, or tired, or whatever it is you’re feeling right now that’s not radiant joy. It doesn’t mean you’re not thankful. It just means you’re giving yourself permission to feel your feelings (which is perfectly healthy, by the way). And it’s OK if what comes out isn’t all roses and sunshine.

My encouragement is, cry it out if you need to. No one’s looking anyway. And while you’re at it, eat some pie and hug your mom. I’ve found these to be equally sufficient remedies.

Big bowl of our Easy Apple Arugula Salad with Pecans and Lemon Vinaigrette

OK, back to this salad because, delicious.

I hope you love this recipe. It’s:

& Perfect for fall + winter

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and don’t forget to take a picture and tag it #minimalistbaker on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers (and hugs), friends!

Plate of our Apple Arugula Salad with Pecans and Lemon Vinaigrette for a hearty fall side dish
Hearty fall salad recipe made with apples, arugula, pecans, radish, and lemon vinaigrette

Apple Pecan Arugula Salad

A healthy, hearty fall salad with peppery arugula, crisp apples, and toasted pecans. Dressed in a simple, vibrant lemon vinaigrette, it makes the perfect light-yet-satisfying plant-based meal or side.
Author Minimalist Baker
Big plate of Apple Pecan Arugula Salad for a healthy vegan side dish
4.92 from 94 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 (side servings // or half as much as an entrée)
Course Entrée, Salad, Side
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 2-3 Days



  • 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 7 ounces arugula (organic when possible)
  • 2 small apples (1 tart, 1 sweet // peeled, quartered, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise)
  • 1/4 red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries (optional)


  • 1 large lemon, juiced (1 lemon yields ~3 Tbsp or 45 ml)
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 pinch each sea salt + black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and arrange pecans on a bare baking sheet.
  • Bake pecans for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant and deep golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
  • While pecans are toasting, prep remaining salad ingredients and add to a large mixing bowl.
  • Prepare dressing in a mixing bowl or mason jar by adding all ingredients and whisking or shaking vigorously to combine. Taste and adjust flavor as needed.
  • Add pecans to salad and top with dressing. Toss to combine and serve immediately. Serves two as an entrée and 4 as a side (as original recipe is written // adjust if altering default number of servings).
  • Store leftovers (dressing separate from salad) covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days (though best when fresh). Dressing should keep at room temperature for 2-3 days when well sealed.



*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with dressing and cranberries.

Nutrition (1 of 4 servings)

Serving: 1 side serving Calories: 258 Carbohydrates: 20.9 g Protein: 3 g Fat: 20 g Saturated Fat: 2.5 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 17 mg Fiber: 4.7 g Sugar: 14.6 g

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My Rating:

  1. Kimmy S says

    I made the recipe as directed and it’s the perfect amount of sweetness on the peppery arugula. Love it! I This recipe will go into my salad rotation. Thank you!!

  2. Karen E Strauss says

    Made this salad to go with a Bolognese Pasta Christmas dinner for my extended family. There are nut allergies in the family, so I didn’t add any nuts. I soaked the red onions in water and drained well. Takes the “bite” out of them that can cause tummy aches for some. Substituted pomegranate seeds instead of the dried cranberries. Sliced honeycrisp apple on a mandolin and then put them in a small amount of the dressing so they wouldn’t turn brown and refrigerated before assembling the salad. It was a big hit and I know I will be making again as well as the others who asked for the recipe.

  3. s says

    Made this as a side dish today and everyone loved it! I’m not the biggest arugula fan so I used baby spinach instead, and used a lime instead of lemon. I also forgot the onion but it was fine without it! Really enjoyed this!

  4. Stephanie Marsh says

    A perfect lunch salad on a warmish fall day! I halved the ingredients for a lunch-sized portion and added an ounce of crumbled goat cheese. It was quick to make, so delicious and one that I will add to my salad file. Thank you!

  5. Donna says

    Very good! I used fresh scallions from our garden instead of red onion. A bit of pepper or faux feta/mozzarella might be good too. Also toasted the nuts in a pan on the stove so I didn’t heat up the house as much. Thanks, I’ll make it again!

  6. Erin says

    Perfect summery side salad. Loved it, quick to make, tasty vinaigrette that will pair with pretty much any salad! Another winner from this site. Thank you!

  7. Miki says

    Thanks for sharing this excellent recipe! Amazing! Very tasty, it`s my favourite salad, I did it so many time! My husband loves it too!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you both enjoyed it, Miki! Thank you for the lovely review! xo

  8. Susi says

    When I told my husband I was going to make a salad from Minimalist Baker, he gave me a ” oh no, vegan again” look. So I did what every good wife does, I didn´t give a damn and made it anyway. It´s now in our book of favorite recipes!! I rest my case ;-)

  9. Virginia Ray says

    Amazing that your life was horrible last year (mine too, almost everyone’s) because you made so many vegans happy with these delicious recipes which I repinned obsessively on my Pinterest page. You need to get on the NPR TV station with a cooking show. I have no idea how, but I see that in your future. Contact your local station with an outline and some guest ideas. You are star quality. Happy Spring Equinox !!!!

  10. Cindy says

    I love this salad! The dressing is so fresh and flavorful. I used a Granny Smith and a Fuji. The cranberries really add to the flavor and shouldn’t be left out. I will definitely make this many times. Thank you for another beautiful recipe.

  11. Luisa Moore says

    Very delicious, very simple. I finely diced the apple without peeling, used 2 Granny Smiths (1 small, 1 medium), very finely chopped the cranberries to distribute them better, and halved the pecans (same reason). I used half rocket and half baby spinach. It tasted a little bland initially only because I didn’t add enough salt. A great go-to recipe! A little parmesan (or vg parmesan in my case) would work well I think 🤔

  12. Linsey says

    If you’re looking for a super simple, but extremely delicious salad – look no further.

    This salad is so easy to make but the flavor is incredible. This will def be going into the regular rotation.

    I didnt have dried cranberries so I left those out, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. The pecans really made it, so definitely dont forget those! It’s perfectly sweet and savory, but also light but packs a punch with the flavor combination. I’ve found myself thinking about this salad many times since I first made it!

  13. Elinor says

    This salad was excellent. I’ll definitely make it again. I used green grapes instead of apples, followed the rest of the recipe. I was initially skeptical about using maple syrup in the dressing, but it worked.

  14. NamcySJ says

    This was absolutely delicious, and I don’t even love arugula and I had to sub in lime juice and walnuts because that’s what I had. I’m back to make it again. 😍

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Amazing! Thanks so much for the lovely review, Nancy. We are so glad you enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a star rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! xo

  15. Joanne Alexander says

    Fresh light and easy to make with ingredients on hand. I will make this again. 8-10 minutes are too long so I burnt the first batch of pecans and cut the time on half for the next round.

  16. Anna says

    This is a great recipe! I’ve made it several times. However, I feel like the dressing is missing something? I have no idea what it is. Any ideas/updates/modifications on the dressing? Still delicious but I just can’t figure out what it needs. Thanks!

    • Colleen says

      Yum! Just what I was looking for – a crisp accoutrement to a creamy chicken main dish. I was out of maple syrup so I substituted honey and I didn’t roast the pecans because I ran out of time. It was still delicious and I will definitely make this again! Thanks for the recipe!

  17. Mia W says

    I enjoyed this recipe and am eating it as I type before I head To the gym. I had To tweak it a little because I’m one person and basically cut the recipe in half. I also Added cut chicken breast cause I had some on hand. I prefer having the dried cranberries in this for balance but didn’t have any in my pantry. The dressing is actually great ( I’m middle eastern so we always make home made dressing) but I didn’t Add enough arugula to mine. Had I done So, I believe my salad would’ve been even better. This will definitely be a salad I will Make again preferably in the summer. Thank you. I love Your recipes and will be digging more up soon.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Tina, We’re so sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy this one! This is a more simple dressing, but other readers have really enjoyed it. Did you make any modifications, especially to the salad itself? That’s where most of the flavor comes from.

    • Catherine Burnett says

      Hey Tina! The dressing didn’t quite do it for me either, tasted too much Olive Oil. I added a drop of our lemon essential oil and also a tiny splash of balsamic vinegar and some dried oregano. Made it kore flavorful for me.

  18. Sheila says

    Great Fall salad recipe!!!
    So easy and really delish flavors. I subbed walnuts for pecans, and skipped the cranberries. Threw in some micro greens with the arugula — we ate it as an entree with a side of roasted veggies and rustic bruschetta. Fantastic! I can tell this dressing is my fall salad go-to!!!
    Another great recipe from minimalist baker ❤️👏🏼

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Love the add-ins, Sheila! Thanks so much for sharing! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  19. Isa S. says

    This was a great recipe for a lunch salad! I cooked some chicken n apple sausage, sliced it and added it to the salad. It was a great combination!! Thanks for the recipe!

  20. Cathy G says

    Just made with fresh arugula from CSA share. I followed the recipe exactly, with the exception of one substitution – walnuts in place of pecans because that is what I had on hand. First of the season NY apples, real Vermont maple syrup too! It came together quickly and was super fresh and delicious! Thank you!!

  21. Steve Frazier says

    It was a huge hit at a recent dinner party I hosted for four. Allthree guests raved about it and had second helpings. The only change I made was I added goat cheese in the mix.

  22. Mary says

    I loved this salad. I am making it two nights in a row. My partner does not like vinegar so this works for both of us.

  23. Jackie Enfroy says

    This salad sounds simple and amazing. Is it okay to use light maple syrup or would it affect the taste? I look forward to making this next week! Thanks for the easy yet healthy recipe!

  24. im2blikgsus says

    Made the salad exactly to recipe-sort of. Deeeeeeelicious! So easy to make. Very little chopping. The grocer only had baby arugula so it was not as flavor-forward as the mature leaves so that is the only drawback for me. I find that fresh cracked black pepper in the dressing is a must.

  25. Mallory says

    Such a simple, delicious salad. I substituted green onion for the red onion and thought it was fantastic. The two different apples are a must!

  26. Huguette says

    Second time I made it in two weeks because I could eat it everyday! The best salad recipe ever! I didn’t have to change anything; followed the ingredients to the Ts and its perfect. So happy I found this recipe. Thank you very much.

  27. Nadine says

    This was a fabulous salad. I have fresh lettuces/arugula from my garden right now and I wanted to make it feel extra special. Using two different kinds of apples was noticed and applauded by my family. My red onion was particularly strong so I could have used a little less of that. Dressing was delicious. Very easy to put together.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Nadine! Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Maryam! Thanks so much for the lovely review! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  28. Andrea says

    This is one of my absolute favorites! It’s always a hit when we have guests over & so simple to make! I like to use a mandolin to slice my onion and apples!

  29. Veronica says

    Our new favorite salad. I’ve made it twice in four days. I used fuji apples and toasted sliced almonds because that is what I had at hand. I do think that a sweeter apple creates a great balance with the dressing. I’m so happy I found this recipe.

  30. Suzanne says

    This was a winner. My family ate every last bite and told me to keep the recipe. I used a Golden Delicious and a Gala Apple since that is what I had. Wee prefer lightly dressed salads so I only used 3/4 of the dressing.
    This will absolutely become one of our regular dishes.
    Thank you for the recipe.

  31. Liza says

    FABULOUS Recipe. I plan to serve this to guest cuz it’s so delicious. I tasted my arugula beforehand and it was very ‘spicy’ and too strong for my taste. So, following some advice, I dressed the arugula about 20-30 minutes before serving. This delicious vinaigrette actually neutralized some of the spicy taste. Then I added the remaining ingredients, tossed and served. Love this recipe. Thank you.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Liza. We are so glad you enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo