There’s nothing more delicious than putting all the flavors of Fall into a scrumptious and fresh salad with a Fall-themed homemade salad dressing! Unless, of course, you serve this amazing Apple Harvest Salad with Pumpkin Cranberry Dressing alongside all those hearty and comforting casserole and soup recipes that are such a delightful part of the Fall season!
I adore the Fall. Every single thing about it! But my most favorite part has got to be all the Fall food! And when all those heavy and hearty dishes come back out after a long summer, I’m always so excited to eat them! But I always seem to crave a little something fresh to go along with them, and it’s almost always a salad. I’ve been making this Apple Harvest Salad with Pumpkin Cranberry Dressing for a while now and I love it! It’s definitely my favorite salad and it’s perfect to go alongside all those hearty Fall recipes! And the homemade Pumpkin Cranberry Dressing? OUT OF THIS WORLD GOOD. And so super easy! That’s all I can say. You’ll have to try it for yourself. It’s just so, so good!
Apple Harvest Salad Ingredients:
- Spring Mix Lettuce – Straight out of the bag or box from the grocery store!
- Broccoli Slaw mix – It’s got tons of delicious stuff in it, and it’s already chopped up! It gives texture to the salad and it’s delicious!
- Romaine Lettuce – My favorite lettuce! I use it for the base of just about every salad!
- Spicy Pecans – I use THIS RECIPE. These are amazing! And just the right spice to accompany the salad!
- Apples – Use whatever kind you like here. I’m really fond of a good Honeycrisp apple in the Fall season and that’s what I’ve used here.
- Endive – If you haven’t tried endive, give it a go! It’s like lettuce meets cabbage meets fennel. It gives you some crunch and texture and a little bite of taste. I love it!
- Roasted Corn – It’s SO sweet and delicious and good. And the perfect complement to those spicy pecans.
- Feta Cheese – Have a little or a lot, it’s delicious. I’m not even a huge feta fan, but it totally makes this salad. Don’t skip it!
- Red Onion – Sliced thinly and sprinkled about, the red onion brings magic to the salad bowl.
- Croutons – You can use any kind you like. Storebought or homemade. It’s totally up to you. I used a store-bought butter garlic crouton and it’s a delight.
To make roasted corn, I preheat the oven to 400*. I put a 16-ounce bag of frozen corn directly on a baking sheet, and toss it with about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and a teaspoon of salt and pepper. Stir well and spread out flat on the baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, remove pan and stir corn around. Put the sheet pan back in the oven in 10-minute increments, stirring and evaluating to see how done your corn is. Usually, mine takes about 35 minutes total. I like mine to be nice and brown and toasty.
Pumpkin Cranberry Dressing Ingredients:
- Greek Yogurt – I used 5% fat
- Cream Cheese – Full-fat whipped cream cheese works really well here!
- Apple Cider Vinegar – The apple flavor of the vinegar just makes this dressing magical!
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Any oil with not much flavor to it will work here.
- Maple Syrup – There is no substitute – get the good stuff!
- Cranberry Juice – I used Cranberry Pomegranate juice.
- Pumpkin Puree – Not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling. You don’t want that because it’s sweetened and would change the dressing a lot.
- Ground Thyme – A little spice will go a long way!
- Salt – Balances out all the flavors.
- Parsley – Again, you need some herbs!
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- Large Salad Bowl with Lid and Utensils – I adore this salad bowl! It keeps the utensils in the lid so you never have to go looking for them! It’s perfect for entertaining. OR, do what I do and mix up a big salad for the week and store it in this bowl with its lid, and munch on it all week!
- Ninja Nutri Blender – I adore this blender. I have it and it’s my go-to for items like salad dressing and smoothies. It’s got a much smaller footprint than a regular blender, and the blending cup turns into your serving cup with a change of the lid!
- Santoku Knife – You don’t have to go out and buy a nice knife. BUT, if you were in the market for a knife, this is the one I couldn’t do without, and the one I go for time and time again. It’s wonderfully and beautifully made. I’ve had this knife for over 10 years and it’s my favorite thing in my entire kitchen. You truly do get what you pay for in knives. These are made in Germany, but are widely sold in the United States now. You can go way higher in quality as well, this is just a starting point.
- Wooden cutting board (LARGE!) – I adore this cutting board. It’s really big and I use it any time I need to roll out dough or do large amounts of work! I keep it for only bread and sweets and generally don’t chop veggies or meats on it!
- Can Opener – It took me a long time to find a hand-held can opener that I really liked. This is it! Again, it’s the OXO Good Grips brand, and I love it. I find a big can opener too bulky and it takes up too much countertop space.
- Mixing Bowls – These nesting mixing bowls are fabulous. They store easily and the lids come in so, so handy! I adore them and I love the colors!
- Plastic Wrap Dispenser with Cutter – I used to hate using plastic wrap. It was always a pain to cut and got stuck to itself! Now with this dispenser, it’s so easy and much less stressful!
- Kitchen Towels (Floursack Towels) – These are PERFECT for when you need to cover bread to rise. They are also great for being actual dishtowels too. I’m obsessed with these floursack towels. I have several sets. They are oversized and I just love them.
- Oversized Dish Towels – Sometimes you just need a bigger size dish towel! I love these for covering dough to rise, or for laying out on the counter to dry dishes or fruit and veggies.
- Measuring Cups – These are my favorite Amazon find as of late. It comes with measuring spoons, measuring cups, and a large glass measuring cup! I LOVE them! Plus they are colorful and fun!
For the Salad:
Chop and mix the greens to go onto the salad bed. I usually just have to chop the romaine lettuce, the broccoli slaw and spring mix are already bite-sized. Mix all the greens together in a large bowl (preferably one that has a lid you can use to cover leftovers later!)
Chop the apples, endive, and onions to go on top of the salad.
Add the roasted corn, feta, spicy pecans, and croutons to the salad.
Toss the salad well.
For the Pumpkin Cranberry Salad Dressing:
In the blender, mix all salad dressing ingredients. Blend on high until completely smooth. If it’s not as thick as you would like the dressing to be, you can add more yogurt, pumpkin and/or cream cheese to thicken the dressing. If the dressing is too thick, add more cranberry juice (or olive oil) to thin it out and blend again until desired consistency is achieved.
I use my Ninja Blender for this dressing and I adore it. It comes with a lid I can just switch out and I can store the dressing in the blender container.
Notes on Salad Dressing:
Homemade Salad Dressings
I’ve got a few quick notes on making your own salad dressing. There are a couple more variables at play than just getting your usual bottle of dressing at the grocery store!
Shelf Life of Salad Dressing
A store-bought bottle of salad dressing will last about 1-2 months after opening the bottle, which is a long time! Homemade Dressings are a little different and definitely have a shorter shelf life. If your homemade dressing is based with vinegar, it will last 1-2 weeks. If your homemade dressing is dairy-based, it’s an even shorter time, more like 3-4 days to be safe.
Unopened bottles of store-bought salad dressings can be stored in the pantry (unless they were refrigerated at the store!) up until their expiration date, sell-by date, use-by date, or best-by date. That’s the same for unopened jars of mayonnaise, too! Just look for the printed date on the jar or bottle.
****One word of caution****
If you are making your own caesar dressing and it contains raw egg yolks, I would only use that dressing that day. With the raw egg yolk, it’s just too risky to let them sit over multiple days. You don’t want to get yourself sick with food poisoning.
Dairy-Based Dressings versus Oil-Based Dressings
What’s the difference between dairy-based dressings and oil-based dressings? Well, it’s the base of the dressing and it’s not as much difference as you’d think! A dairy-based dressing is going to be more creamy, like your traditional ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing. An oil-based dressing is based on an olive oil and vinegar base and isn’t creamy at all, such as an Italian salad dressing.
How do you store homemade salad dressing and leftover dressing? Well, proper storage conditions are key to keeping the dressing good as long as possible! I prefer a glass jar or a glass bottle. I think that is the best way possible to keep your dressing fresh and contained for several days. For sure it needs to be in an airtight container. You keep your homemade dressing in the refrigerator and of course, away from all heat sources when it’s out on the counter. The proper storage methods will keep your dressing good for as long as possible!
Now that you’ve made your own salad dressing, the sky is the limit! Try making your own fresh dressing and see what kinds of combinations you come up with! Personally, I’m super picky about salad dressing and I am not a fan of mayonnaise AT ALL. So I experiment with a lot of vinegar-based dressings and oil-based salad dressings.
I love to experiment with adding fruit juice or lemon juice to my dressings. And for creamy dressings, I’ll use a yogurt base and other dairy ingredients, and all kinds of spice mixes and combinations. Try adding some parmesan cheese to your Italian dressing. Oh, so so so good!
Types of Dressings to Try
There are so many different types of salad dressings out there in the world! The good news is you are in charge and can make any kind of dressing you want! I’m loving experimenting with all kinds of salad dressings!
Make your own Italian dressing! Try a new balsamic vinaigrette! Experiment with vinaigrette dressings with balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, etc. There are SO many good quality ingredients to try out in dressings!! Utilize your spice drawer and see what all kinds of flair and flavor you can add to your dressings! Here are a few starter recipes to get your imagination going!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Making your own salad dressing at home with fresh ingredients gives you the best quality and the most variety of different ingredients for the dressing, in my opinion. But unlike their shelf-stable counterparts, the trade-off for that fresh homemade dressing is that your dressing doesn’t last nearly as long as a store-bought bottled dressing would.
As a general rule, a homemade bottle of vinegar and oil-based salad dressing will be good for 1-2 weeks. Homemade dairy-based salad dressings (think mayonnaise base, yogurt base, etc), are only good for 3-4 days, so you’ll want to make those dressings in smaller batches for sure!
To be safe, I’d suggest tossing it. Especially if it’s been in direct sunlight and warm. Homemade dressing really needs constant refrigeration. You can get all kinds of harmful bacteria if the dressing has been out and warm for a few hours. You don’t want to watch your salad dressing go bad, but you also don’t want to unleash a health hazard either!
It depends on the type of dressing, but the best indicator and main thing you’d want to look for regarding dressing spoilage is the smell. If there is an off odor or rancid smell. And also look and make sure that it looks ok as well, and is still mixed up well and emulsified. If there is even a question on food safety, I say through it out. You don’t want to get sick or make anyone else sick for sure.
The spoilage rules for homemade dressing apply here. This isn’t like the store-bought dressings in the bottle. All those packets are usually is the herbs and seasoning for homemade dressing. You’re adding the oil and vinegar or dairy base to the dressing yourself, therefore you’ve got a homemade salad dressing on your hands!
Wrap Up – Apple Harvest Salad with Pumpkin Cranberry Dressing
And there you have it! This is a fantastic type of salad to have in the Fall, and it’s an even better salad dressing to use on any salad! Now that I’ve written about it, I really really need to go make this salad and have it for lunch today. It’s the perfect compliment to a heavy and hearty Fall meal, or it’s perfect for a light lunch. It’s totally up to you and the sky is the limit. I hope I’ve inspired you to go out and try your own homemade salad dressing and I cannot wait to see what you come up with on your own! Let me know how it goes and happy eating!
- Salad Ingredients
- 2 cups Spring Mix Lettuce
- 2 cups Broccoli Slaw mix
- 2 cups Romaine Lettuce
- 1 cup Spicy Pecans
- 1-2 large Honeycrisp apples
- 2 Endive
- 1 cup Roasted Corn
- 1/2 cup Feta Cheese
- 1/2 large Red Onion
- 1 cup Croutons
- Pumpkin Cranberry Dressing Ingredients:
- 2 cups Greek Yogurt
- 1/2 cup Cream Cheese
- 2 Tablespoons cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
- 1/4 cup Cranberry Juice
- 1/3 cup Pumpkin Puree
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Parsley
1. Chop and mix the greens to go onto the salad bed. I usually just have to chop the romaine lettuce, the broccoli slaw and spring mix are already bite-sized. Mix all the greens together in a large bowl (preferably one that has a lid you can use to cover leftovers later!)
2. Chop the apples, endive, and onions to go on top of the salad.
3. Add the roasted corn, feta, spicy pecans, and croutons to the salad.
4. Toss the salad well.
5. For the Pumpkin Cranberry Salad Dressing, in the blender, mix all salad dressing ingredients. Blend on high until completely smooth. If it's not as thick as you would like the dressing to be, you can add more yogurt, pumpkin and/or cream cheese to thicken the dressing. If the dressing is too thick, add more cranberry juice (or olive oil) to thin it out and blend again until desired consistency is achieved.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 221Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 269mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 5gSugar: 16gProtein: 7g
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