Spinach bacon salad delivers BIG on flavors with simple ingredients. Crisp granny smith apples, spicy maple walnuts, salty feta cheese and a tangy apple cider vinaigrette come together to make magic!
No boring salads allowed here! When it comes to salad, I'm all about the add-ins: cheese, nuts, something sweet, and something salty. This formula never fails me: this spinach pear salad with gouda and hazelnuts and autumn apple farro salad are proof!
Spinach bacon salad takes things up to a whole new level thanks to bacon and spicy maple walnuts! Whether you serve this at a holiday feast, or for a weeknight dinner, you're going to love the layers of flavors and textures in this salad.
Reasons to ♡ spinach bacon salad with apples and walnuts
- it's simple to prepare but delivers big on flavors
- it would be great for a holiday side salad or for a weeknight dinner
- it's gluten-free and can be made lower in carbs
Wondering how this recipe comes together? Watch this 1-minute video to see how easy it is to prep! You can find more recipe videos on my YouTube channel.
Don't forget topin this post to save it for later!
- spinach- can be swapped for kale (massage first) or chopped romaine lettuce
- apple- I love granny smith apples for their crisp and slightly tart flavors, but you can swap for other apples. Look for a crisp and firm apple (avoid red delicious or macintosh). Honey crisp apples would work well!
- walnuts- add texture and a nutty flavor that works well with the apple. Pecans would be a good substitute.
- bacon- I don't recommend skipping the bacon as it really adds so much umami. If you are vegetarian, consider making some vegan bacon!
Four easy steps
This recipe has a four step process: (1) start by shaking up the vinaigrette, then (2) move on to cooking the bacon. You could bake bacon in the oven or cook it in an air fryer! Next, (3) prepare the spicy maple walnuts, and finally, (4) put it all together in for a seriously show-stopping side salad.
This spinach bacon salad is all about the textures: crunchy walnuts, crisp apples, and fresh bacon. Unfortunately, it is just not the same prepared ahead, though you can prep certain components ahead:
- shake up the vinaigrette (2 weeks)
- crumble feta cheese (1 week)
- slice onions (2-3 days)
Taking the time to toast the walnuts before adding the spices and maple syrup gives them a more robust and 'nutty' flavor. Keep a close eye on them as they can burn quickly!
Once they start toasting, you'll want to flip and move them around in the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula for several minutes. Make sure you have your spices and maple syrup handy and measured out if possible so that you do not burn your walnuts.
Make it a meal
This is a great side salad, but you could increase the portion size and add extra protein to make it a meal! Add 4 oz of the following to turn this into a meal:
Making it low carb
With a few simple swaps, you can make this bacon spinach salad fit into a keto or low carb diet.
- use sugar-free bacon
- swap the apple for a lower carb fruit such as strawberries
- skip the maple syrup or use your favorite low carb liquid sweetener for the maple walnuts and vinaigrette
Serve it with
Top the spinach bacon salad with protein and make it a meal, or serve it as a side dish with other sides and a main course protein. Here are some ideas:
- 3 Ingredient Maple Glazed Salmon
- Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs or Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
- Amazing Pork Tenderloin Marinade
- Baked Sweet Potato
- Rosemary Roasted Root Vegetables
More salad recipes
- Classic Cobb Salad
- Healthy Taco Salad
- Kale Barley Salad with Feta + Avocado
- Southwestern Wild Rice Sweet Potato Salad
- Chopped Chickpea Salad
- 6 cups spinach loosely packed
- 1 Granny Smith apple sliced thinly
- 4 pieces bacon
- 2 tablespoons red onion finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons feta cheese crumbled
Spicy Maple Walnuts
- ½ cup walnuts
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne see note 1
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon Dijon
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- Cook the bacon in a frying pan over medium heat. Using a paper towel, wipe excess bacon grease from pan, but leave a thin coating.
- Add the walnuts and cook over medium-low heat. If the bacon grease starts smoking, remove from heat immediately and reduce heat to prevent walnuts from burning. Cook for 5 or so minutes until lightly golden.
- While cooking walnuts, combine the maple syrup, cayenne, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Once walnuts are toasted, transfer them to the bowl and toss until thoroughly coated. Allow to cool before adding to salad.
- To a large bowl, add the spinach, apple, bacon, red onion, feta cheese and walnuts.
- Shake together vinaigrette in a jar, then drizzle onto the salad and toss to combine.
- Serve immediately.
- apples- swap for any firm, crisp apple
- spinach- swap for kale (massaged) or romaine lettuce
- walnuts- swap for pecans
- chicken breast
- pork tenderloin
- use sugar-free bacon
- swap apple for a low carb fruit like berries
- swap maple syrup for your favorite low card liquid sweetener
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