Spinach Cranberry Salad Recipe

The Honour System
by The Honour System
4 servings
30 min

This Spinach Cranberry Salad makes a great side dish for the holidays or other special occasions. Featuring an easy-to-prepare recipe with a delicious homemade balsamic dressing.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

A spinach cranberry salad on a plate.

This is the perfect fancy Christmas salad recipe for a dinner party or a holiday table. This Arugula Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes is also a fave with this colorful Fattoush Salad. Check out all of our delicious salad recipes for more inspiration.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • This classic spinach salad features both tart and sweet flavors, which is a pleasing combination. You will love the homemade balsamic dressing that pulls it all together.
  • Does anyone remember Downton Abbey? Well, I sure do! So much so that I bought the cookbook and planned a Downton Abbey garden party a few years ago. The inspiration for this spinach salad with cranberries and walnuts came from the cookbook, so if you’re a fan, you will enjoy this.
  • This will be the perfect salad to impress during the holidays. The colors are bright, and the flavors are very seasonal.
A spinach cranberry salad on a plate.

Find the complete ingredient list, with measurements, in the recipe card below.

  • Balsamic Vinegar: This popular dressing ingredient brings a luxurious feel to your salad with its sweet and rich flavor.
  • White Vinegar: White vinegar provides a tangy kick that complements the sweetness of the balsamic
  • Olive Oil: This heart-healthy fat adds a smooth, silky texture that will help to coat the ingredients.
  • Lemon Juice: Based on my firsthand experience, freshly squeezed lemon juice is always the key to a delicious dressing.
  • Shallot: Shallot is perfect for salad dressing as it has a milder taste than regular onions and won’t dominate the flavor.
  • Mustard: We choose a grainy mustard for a punch of spiciness.
  • Maple Syrup: The maple syrup will bring a touch of natural sweetness to the dressing.
  • Salt and Pepper: A pinch of salt brings out the flavors in your ingredients.
  • Dried Cranberries: Cranberries add a chewy sweetness and some seasonal flair.
  • Spinach: We recommend using fresh baby spinach leaves as they are more delicate and tender.
  • Pears: Choose ripe but firm pears. You don’t want them to be mushy.
  • Walnuts: These will add some crunch and texture to the salad.
  • Goat Cheese: Every fancy salad needs a cheesy element! We love creamy, tangy goat cheese to offset the sweetness of the other ingredients.

Our Pick
Unsweetened Dried Cranberries
Unsweetened Dried Cranberries

Finally - 100% cranberries - one ingredient, the real deal, and tart!


  • Mixing Bowls: You will need one for soaking the cranberries and one for tossing the salad.
  • Small Mason Jar: My preferred method for preparing homemade salad dressings is to shake them up in a small jar with a lid. Easy!
  • Skillet: For toasting the walnuts.

Our Pick
KitchenAid Classic Mixing Bowls
KitchenAid Classic Mixing Bowls

Each bowl features a non-slip base that increases stability while m.ixing


Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom for the FULL recipe details.

Step 1

First, start by placing all of the dressing ingredients into the small mason jar. Shake it really well to combine.

Step 2

Next, get the cranberries soaking.

We mentioned this salad is fancy, and this is another bougie element – balsamic cranberries.

Soaking the cranberries in a couple of tablespoons of the balsamic dressing makes them really pop in this salad.

Dried fruit soaking in a glass mason jar.

Step 3

Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a skillet over medium-low heat.

Toasting the nuts adds a lovely depth of flavor.

Walnuts toasting in a pan.

Step 4

Then, place the spinach leaves in the mixing bowl.

The Downton Abbey cookbook explains how the kitchen staff in a grand house like Downton Abbey would inspect each and every leaf of the salad to ensure perfection.

Spinach leaves in a bowl.

Step 5

Next, we add some sweetness and texture to the salad with delicious pears.

You want to choose ripe pears for an extra sweet taste. You want them to be firm but ripe.

Pears added on top of green leaves in a bowl.

Step 6

Next, the rest of that yummy dressing (you already used a bit for soaking the cranberries) gets tossed with the leafy greens and pears.

Pour it right out of the mason jar that you mixed it in.

Dressing being poured on ingredients in a bowl.

Step 7

Then, once the greens are coated with the dressing, add the toasted walnuts and balsamic-soaked cranberries to the serving bowl.

Toss again.

Ingredients being tossed in a bowl.

Step 8

Finally, the finishing touch is the tangy creaminess of crumbled goat cheese. You know me. There must be a cheese element present somewhere!

In this case, it is soft goat cheese, and I just can’t get enough. Spinach salad and goat cheese really go hand in hand.

A spinach cranberry salad on a plate.

Expert tip! Our best homemade salad dressing tip is to use a small mason jar. Just add all the ingredients and shake the heck out of it. You’re doing a quick arm workout and making fresh homemade vinaigrettes simultaneously.


  • Finely minced red onion works instead of shallot.
  • You can substitute any nut you like for this recipe. If you need a how-to post on how to toast nuts on the stovetop in a skillet, I have you covered. Pecans would taste fantastic.
  • Swap the goat cheese for an ounce or two of gorgonzola or feta cheese.
  • If you don’t have a small mason jar for the dressing, use a whisk and a small bowl instead. Just whisk until the ingredients have been emulsified.

Recipe Variations

  • Add poppy seeds to the dressing and garnish with mandarin orange segments. Use slivered almonds instead of walnuts.
  • Experiment with using different fruits instead of pear, such as apples, and adding creamy sliced avocado to the plate.
  • Make it festive with pomegranate seeds and a pomegranate vinaigrette dressing.

Serving Suggestions

This salad is an excellent side dish when serving a date night dinner like this absolutely perfect sous vide beef wellington recipe.

  • Pack the salad in a lunch container for a healthy and work or school lunch. Keep the dressing separate and drizzle it on right before eating.
  • Add some grilled protein like salmon, steak, shrimp, or chicken to make this salad a satisfying meal.
  • Include the salad as a side dish for a holiday feast, especially during Thanksgiving or Christmas. The cranberries add a festive touch.
  • Serve the spinach cranberry salad on fancy plates and embrace the aristocratic vibe. Use the good china, polish the silver collection, and dust off the crystal stemware if you can access any. Maybe browse the thrift shops for some sweet finds.

Our Pick
Ceramic Blue Rose Salad Plates
Ceramic Blue Rose Salad Plates

Elegant salad plates feature a beautiful blue rose pattern that adds an elegant touch to your table setting.


Can I make spinach cranberry salad ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare most of the components beforehand. However, the pears should be sliced right before eating so they don’t turn brown. We also recommend dressing the salad just before serving to prevent it from becoming soggy. Keep the dressing separate in the mason jar at room temperature until you’re ready to eat, and shake it well before tossing it with the salad.

Can I make a larger batch for a crowd?

Absolutely. Adjust the quantities based on the number of people you’re serving. Consider presenting it in a large bowl or platter for gatherings.

Storage Tips

Store the leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Keep the dressing separate, and it should last for a day or two. If you’ve already added dressing, the salad is best enjoyed immediately.

A spinach cranberry salad on a plate.
More Salad Recipes
A forkful of arugula salad with goat cheese and sweet potato.
A bowl of crunchy detox salad in a bowl.
A pasta salad without mayo in a bowl.
a bowl of spring onion potato salad.

**This recipe was originally posted on November 12, 2020, updated on December 19, 2021, and again on November 25, 2023, with recipe notes, writing, and photos.**

If you’ve tried our Cranberry Spinach Salad, please rate the recipe and let us know how it turned out by leaving us a comment below. We’re always interested in feedback!

Be sure to follow us on social media! We love pinning to Pinterest, sharing on Facebook, and posting pics on Instagram. See you there. 🙂

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Spinach Cranberry Salad Recipe
Recipe details
  • 4  servings
  • Prep time: 30 minutes Minutes Cook time: 0 minutes Minutes Total time: 30 min
Show Nutrition Info
Hide Nutrition Info
For the Dressing
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp minced shallot
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
For the Salad
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 8 cups lightly packed spinach leaves
  • 2 small pears *firm but ripe
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup soft crumbled goat cheese

Place the dressing ingredients into a small mason jar and shake it really well until combined.
Next, add the dried cranberries to a bowl and mix with two tablespoons of the dressing. Let this soak for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the nuts. Spread them out evenly in a large skillet over medium-low heat and toast for three to five minutes, stirring every ten seconds and watching they don't burn. Remove the pan from the heat and set the walnuts aside.
Next, prepare the pears by quartering them lengthwise, coring them, then cutting them into long slices.
Then, in a large mixing bowl, add 6 cups of the spinach and the pears, and toss them with the dressing. Then, add in the remaining two cups of spinach and toss again. Next, add in the cranberries and walnuts and toss once more.
Divide the salad onto four salad plates and top each with crumbled goat cheese. Serve.
  • Store the leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Keep the dressing separate, and it should last for a day or two. If you’ve already added dressing, the salad is best enjoyed immediately.
The Honour System
Want more details about this and other recipes? Check out more here!