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This Thanksgiving salad recipe is similar to my kale brussels sprout salad, but topped with sweet and crisp apples, juicy pears, and drizzled with a sweet maple apple cider vinaigrette from my kale salad that my daughter is obsessed with. It’s the perfect fall salad to balance out all those heavy Thanksgiving dishes. But, you could eat this salad anytime of the year!
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the ingredients for the best Thanksgiving salad what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Greens – The base of this Thanksgiving salad is curly kale and shaved brussels sprouts, but you could use spinach and arugula for a milder flavor.
- Fruit – A thinly sliced apple and pear add sweetness, while dried cranberries (or sugar-free dried cranberries) provide a burst of tartness. You can experiment with different fruits like grapes, oranges, or even pomegranate seeds.
- Nuts – I used pecans, but any crunchy nuts would work. Try almonds, walnuts, or cashews. Use pepitas or sunflower seeds for a nut-free option.
- Feta Cheese – Buy it crumbled or crumble it yourself. You can also use crumbled goat cheese, blue cheese, gorgonzola, or even shaved Parmesan cheese.
- Olive Oil – This makes up the base of the dressing. You can also use avocado oil.
- Maple Syrup – I use natural sugar-free maple syrup, but regular works as well.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – An acidic ingredient adds tang and emulsifies the dressing. You can also substitute it with lemon juice, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
How To Make Thanksgiving Salad
This section shows how to make a salad for Thanksgiving, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Shred the brussels sprouts. Attach the slicing blade to your food processor. Turn it on and use the pusher to push in all the brussels sprouts to shred and slice. (Alternatively, you can use the knife S blade of the food processor, but then you won’t have nice slices of the sprouts.
- Shred the kale. Push the kale into the food processor to shred that as well.
TIP: You can also just chop the sprouts and kale finely with a knife if you don’t have a food processor.
- Make the maple vinaigrette. Whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Adjust salt to taste if needed.
- Massage the greens. In a large bowl, combine shredded brussels sprouts and kale. Pour in the dressing, then gently massage the greens. (Pick them up and rub the dressing into them.)
- Top and toss. Top Thanksgiving salad with sliced apples, sliced pears, dried cranberries, pecans, and feta cheese. Toss together.
Variations On Thanksgiving Salad
Salads are one of the easiest foods to customize, since you can add, remove or replace anything you like. Here are some variation ideas for other ways to make Thanksgiving salad recipes:
- Change the dressing – I love the sweet dressing with this salad, but a bright and zesty lemon vinaigrette would also work nicely. You can also keep the maple vinaigrette but add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard for extra flavor.
- Add winter squash – Toss in cubes of roasted butternut squash, acorn squash, or delicata squash.
- Add avocado – Almost any Thanksgiving salad can benefit from some creamy sliced or diced avocado!
- Make it nut free or dairy free – You can omit the nuts (or use seeds) and/or the cheese based on your needs.
- Turn it into a meal – Top with some sliced baked chicken breast or shredded Instant Pot chicken breast for protein.
- Store: Since this Thanksgiving salad uses hearty greens, it stores quite well. Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. The apples and pears do brown a bit and the nuts soften, so you could add those later.
- Meal prep: Shred the kale and brussels sprouts, make the vinaigrette, and store them in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.
What To Serve With Thanksgiving Salad
Planning your Thanksgiving menu? Here are some options to round out your holiday spread alongside your Thanksgiving salad recipes:
- Turkey – The classic Thanksgiving turkey or a hands-off turkey in bag pairs perfectly with a fresh salad as a side dish. For a smaller crowd, make turkey wings or just a roasted turkey breast recipe.
- Appetizers – For a quick and easy appetizer, try a Thanksgiving charcuterie board in the shape of a cute turkey. You can’t go wrong with bacon wrapped asparagus, either.
- Thanksgiving Side Dishes – Don’t miss the classics like mashed potatoes (or cauliflower mashed potatoes for a lighter option), roasted sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. I also like making roasted green beans, which is much faster and easier than a whole casserole.
- Casseroles – For healthy-ish comfort food, make broccoli cheese casserole or a loaded cauliflower casserole.
- Thanksgiving Desserts – I usually make a sugar free crustless pumpkin pie.
More Thanksgiving Salad Recipes
Looking for more festive salad ideas? Try some of these other popular salad recipes that are perfect for Thanksgiving:
- Food Processor – Shreds vegetables for this salad in seconds!
This is the perfect Thanksgiving salad recipe, loaded with brussels sprouts, kale, apples, pears, cranberries, pecans & sweet maple dressing.
Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Attach the slicing blade to your food processor. Turn it on and use the pusher to push in all the brussels sprouts to shred and slice. (Alternatively, you can use the knife S blade of the food processor, but then you won’t have nice slices of the sprouts. You can also just chop the sprouts and kale finely with a knife if you don’t have a food processor.)
Push all the kale into the food processor to shred. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the maple vinaigrette: olive oil, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. Adjust salt to taste if needed (you may want to start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to your liking.)
In a large bowl, combine the shredded brussels sprouts and shredded kale. Pour the dressing over the salad. Massage the greens gently with your hands for 2-3 minutes, picking them up and rubbing the dressing into them.
Top the Thanksgiving salad with sliced apples, sliced pears, dried cranberries, pecans, and feta cheese. Toss together.
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Serving size: 1 cup
Nutrition info uses sugar-free dried cranberries, but regular ones also work.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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