This colorful, balanced, autumn-inspired arugula walnut cranberry salad is packed with sharp cranberries, candied walnuts, creamy gorgonzola cheese, and bitter arugula. The salad is topped with a sweet zesty raspberry vinaigrette, it’s the perfect blend of aromatic flavors and textures, your new go-to fall salad recipe!
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Walnut Cranberry Salad With Arugula
The perfect salad is a mixture of contrasting but complimentary textures and flavors. This delightfully balanced salad has the perfect harmony of ingredients. Arugula is a fresh and crisp leafy green that has a distinctly peppery, spicy, and slightly tart flavor. Cranberries are such a wonderful tart fall ingredient, and they add such a brightness to the salad. I use dry cranberries so you can make this all year round. I use candied walnuts in this salad to add a crunch, nuttiness, as well as a sweetness. You can use roasted walnuts instead of candied if you prefer. This salad is complete with creamy sharp piquant gorgonzola and sweet and sharp raspberry vinaigrette. Perfect for your fall table!
I like to make this salad for a satisfying lunch or as a side in the fall for our everyday dinner. Over the years this nutty cranberry arugula salad has become a feature of my family’s Christmas and Thanksgiving table. Its one of those dishes the whole family looks forward to, even my kids enjoy it!
How to Make Arugula Cranberry Walnut Salad
To make this recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Balsamic vinegar (2 ½ tbsp) – rich, sweet, and tangy balsamic vinegar is the perfect base for this dressing. The better quality the better!
- Raspberry jam (2 tsp) – use high quality jam since this will be the main flavor for the dressing.
- Sea salt (¼ tsp) – some sea salt in the dressing will help season all the ingredients and draw out their flavor.
- Black pepper – fresh ground pepper adds some spice to the dressing.
- Olive oil (½ cup) – olive oil has a slight bitter flavor and adds some fat to the dressing, it is the perfect oil to distribute the dressing over the salad ingredients.
- Arugula (8 cups) – arugula has a slightly tart, spicy, and peppery flavor. It is available most of the year and can be grown in the fall and spring. If you cant find arugula you can substitute spinach.
- Candied walnuts (1/2 cup) – crushed candied walnuts add a wonderful sweetness and nuttiness that will balance out the intensity of the blue cheese. You can use plain roasted walnuts if you prefer.
- Cranberries (¼ cup) – dried cranberries add a super tart flavor that will contrast the sweetness of the nuts and creaminess of the cheese.
- Gorgonzola cheese (5 oz ) – crumbled gorgonzola has a sharp, salty, creamy, and piquant flavor. You can substitute another blue cheese variant if you prefer.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use this process:
- Make the dressing. In a small bowl combine the dressing ingredients. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking quickly, set aside.
- Combine. Add the arugula, candied walnuts, cranberries, and gorgonzola cheese to a large bowl. Toss then add the dressing according to your taste, enjoy immediately. If you are planning to enjoy the salad later wait to add the dressing till just before serving.
Tips and Tricks for Perfect Arugula Walnut Cranberry Salad
Use Fresh Ingredients: Start with fresh and high-quality ingredients. Fresh arugula, crisp apples, and plump cranberries will make a noticeable difference in flavor and texture.
Wash and Dry the Arugula: Ensure that the arugula is thoroughly washed and dried. Excess moisture can dilute the dressing and make the salad soggy. Use a salad spinner or pat it dry with a clean kitchen towel.
Balance the Flavors: Achieve a balance of sweet, tart, and savory flavors. The sweetness of the cranberries and apples should contrast with the slightly peppery and bitter notes of the arugula. Adjust the sweetness by adding more or fewer cranberries.
Add Creamy Elements: Creamy elements like crumbled goat cheese, blue cheese, or feta can complement the sharpness of arugula and add richness to the salad. Adjust the amount to your preference.
Toasted Walnuts: Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet or in the oven for a few minutes until they become fragrant and slightly golden. Toasted walnuts add a richer, nuttier flavor and a delightful crunch.
Dress Just Before Serving: To keep the salad crisp, add the dressing just before serving. This prevents the arugula from wilting and maintains its freshness.
Taste and Adjust: Always taste the salad after adding the dressing. Adjust the seasoning, acidity, or sweetness as needed. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice can brighten up the flavors.
Add Protein: If you want to turn the salad into a main course, add protein sources like grilled chicken, shrimp, or tofu to make it more satisfying and filling.
Embrace Texture: Include ingredients that offer various textures. In addition to the crunch of walnuts, you can add crispy bacon bits, croutons, or sliced celery for extra texture.
Presentation: Arrange the salad on a platter or individual plates for an appealing presentation. Scatter the cranberries, walnuts, and cheese evenly over the top for an even distribution of flavors and textures.
Experiment with Variations: Don’t be afraid to experiment with variations. Consider adding sliced pears, mandarin orange segments, or roasted beets for a different flavor profile.
Chill the Ingredients: For a refreshing twist, chill the salad ingredients before assembling. This can be especially nice on a warm day.
Consider Fresh Herbs: Adding fresh herbs like basil, mint, or parsley can bring a burst of freshness and an additional layer of flavor to your salad.
For cheese you can substitute cambozola or another blue cheese variety
The best way to keep it fresh is to wait to add the salad dressing until right before serving.
If you don’t want to use the raspberry vinaigrette, you can try a honey mustard or another balsamic based vinaigrette.
Yes, just leave the dressing off till you are ready to enjoy it!
Other option add-ins are sliced pear, apple, red onion, or even some grilled chicken.
Yes! I like to do this by adding some grilled chicken or your protein of choice.
What to Serve with Arugula Cranberry Walnut Salad
This salad is super versatile and goes well with soup or a meat main. It is also a wonderful lunch or snack! Try these favorite dishes with this sharp and tangy salad:
Arugula Cranberry Walnut Salad Recipe
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This salad features bitter argula perfectly blended with creamy gorgonzola, tart cranberries, and sweet candied walnuts - yum!
- 2 ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp raspberry jam
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ⅛ tsp black pepper, fresh ground
- ½ cup olive oil
- 8 cups arugula
- ½ cup candied walnuts
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- 5 oz gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, jam, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil then set aside.
- Combine the arugula candied walnuts, cranberries, and gorgonzola cheese in a large bowl. Add dressing according to your taste, enjoy immediately.
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Amount Per Serving Calories 238Total Fat 21gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 13mgSodium 300mgCarbohydrates 9gFiber 1gSugar 7gProtein 5g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.