Arugula, sharp cheddar cheese, and finely chopped walnuts are an apple salad’s best friends. There’s no bad time for it either! Apple salad is a crowd-pleasing appetizer, side dish, lunch or dinner!
You can’t ask for a better combo than cheddar cheese, walnuts and apples. The sweet juiciness of fresh apples, the buttery crunch of walnuts, and the sharp, creaminess of cheddar cheese can’t be beaten! You’ll want to make this crisp apple salad in the fall, and in every other season; it’s that good.
Apple Salad Ingredients & Variations
- Baby arugula – baby arugula is tender and peppery, the perfect base for an apple salad! If you don’t want to use arugula, you can use your favorite lettuce, like mixed greens, romaine, green leaf, or spinach.
- Apples – my favorite apple in apple salad is Honeycrisp, but you can use whatever apple you like best!
- Shredded sharp cheddar cheese – shredded cheddar cheese can be found pre-shredded, right in the grocery. I like sharp cheddar that cuts the sweetness of the apples and adds a delicious, complementary kick! If you don’t like “sharp”, you can use regular cheddar, feta, blue cheese, pepper jack, or parmesan cheese!
- Finely chopped walnuts – finely chopped walnuts come pre-chopped, in the grocery store, usually in the baking section. If you don’t like walnuts, you can use marcona almonds or pecans. Walnuts, however, add a delicious buttery crunch.
- Pomegranate seeds – pomegranate seeds can usually be found in the grocery store, already removed from the pomegranate! Pomegranate seeds, also known as arils, are small, jewel-like, and reddish-pink in color. The seeds are juicy and have a sweet-tart flavor.
- Extra virgin olive oil – olive oil is the base of our dressing.
- Garlic – garlic…because garlic! It’s especially good in apple salad.
- White wine vinegar – white wine vinegar is tart, with a subtle fruitiness that works so well with apples.
- Whole grain mustard – mustard adds a subtle tang and texture from the whole grain. It also adds creaminess. If you can’t find it, use regular Dijon mustard.
- Real maple syrup – a dash of maple syrup complements the apples. Feel free to use honey instead of real maple syrup if you don’t have it.
How to Make Apple Salad
Full instructions in the recipe card; this is just an outline!
Mix arugula, cheddar, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds in a large bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Pour over the salad.
Chop apples into bite-sized pieces, keeping skins on.
Toss everything together.
What Apples Are Good In Salads?
Crisp, sweet yet slightly tart apples work best in salads. Some apple varieties that are particularly delicious in salads are:
- Honeycrisp (my favorite!): Honeycrisp apples are known for their exceptional crispness and moderately sweet juiciness.
- Gala: Gala apples are sweet and moderately crisp.
- Fuji: Fuji apples are very sweet and crisp.
- Granny Smith: If you prefer a tart apple in your salad, Granny Smith apples are an excellent choice.
- Pink Lady: Pink Lady apples are sweet and slightly tart with a crisp texture.
Ultimately, the choice of apple variety depends on your personal taste!
Apple Salad Recipe Notes and Tips
- Pick an apple that you enjoy snacking on! I like Honeycrisp apples the best.
- Leave the skin on apples for a bit more crunch in your salad.
- Cut and toss apples right before serving, to ensure they don’t get brown.
- Add more protein like bacon, Hard Boiled Eggs, Baked Chicken Thighs, or Grilled Chicken Thighs to make it a complete meal. Honestly the nuts and the cheese are usually enough to make a whole meal without adding anything else!
Make Ahead and Storage
- Make ahead: make apple salad up to 2 days ahead. Whisk together the dressing, refrigerate it, and take the dressing out of the fridge 30 minutes before tossing. All ingredients (except for the apples) can be stored in a big salad bowl covered with plastic wrap. Apples should be cut and added in right before serving.
- Store: store leftover apple salad in a covered container for up to 2 days. Keep in mind the salad will get soggy as time passes and the apples will start to discolor.
More Salad Recipes You’ll Love!
- Best Antipasto Salad
- Classic Italian Salad
- Easy Asian Cucumber Salad
- Greek Salad (With Lettuce)
- Salmon Salad (With Lemon & Dill)
- 10 ounces baby arugula
- 2 medium apples like Honeycrisp apples
- 1 ¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
- ½ tablespoon real maple syrup
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, add arugula, cheddar, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds.
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, and salt and pepper until well-combined. Pour dressing over the salad.
- Dice apples into small, bite-sized pieces (keep skins on). Add them into the salad.
- Toss until combined. Serve!
- Finely chopped walnuts can be found in the grocery store, pre-chopped! They’re often in the baking section.
- You can use regular cheddar or a different type of shredded or crumbled cheese if preferred.
- Pomegranate seeds can typically be found in the grocery store, in the refrigerator. If you want to remove the seeds from a pomegranate yourself, slice the top and bottom off the pomegranate, then cut it into quarters. Hold each quarter over a bowl and tap the back with a spoon to release the seeds.
- Don’t have real maple syrup? Use honey instead!
- I like a lot of garlic in the apple salad vinaigrette. If you prefer just a clove, go for it!
- Cook and dice a pound of bacon for a smoky, heavenly touch!
- This recipe serves 2 for dinner, 4 for an appetizer, or 6 for a side dish.