This refreshing, creamy apple salad has so much flavor; it’s sweet, tart, and tossed in a creamy dressing. Cubes of juicy apple with plump raisins, toasted or glazed pecans, and an added crunch from diced celery, this side dish is super quick and easy to make and absolutely delicious, making it a potluck or BBQ favorite.
What Makes Apple Salad So Good
- This recipe is incredibly easy, but it’s also incredibly delicious! There’s no cooking involved at all, so you could totally get the kids involved if you want. You don’t even need to peel the apples! Just cut them into small cubes, then stir everything together.
- If you’ve ever had a Waldorf Salad, you’ll really enjoy this apple salad. It’s very similar, but here we’re using raisins instead of grapes and pecans instead of walnuts. Waldorf salad is typically served in lettuce cups – you can serve apple salad the same way, or just on its own!
- Apple salad is a solid make-ahead option for potlucks and holiday dinners. While you can serve it immediately, it tastes best if you let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. That gives the flavors time to develop. You can actually make it up to one day in advance and refrigerate it in an airtight container until you’re ready to serve it. If you’re worried the apples might brown, you can soak them in a mixture of water and lemon juice which should help delay the browning.
Key Ingredients for Apple Salad
Apples – Use your faves! Personally, I really like to use a mixture of green apples and red apples, like pink lady apples. We usually do an even half-and-half combination. You could use all green or all red, or whatever ratio you like! Leave the peels on, both for added color and for extra crispness.
Cinnamon – Is there anything more classic than apples and cinnamon? A dash of cinnamon adds a warmth to this apple salad that’s really nice. If you’re big on cinnamon, feel free to use a little more. Just don’t overdo it! For a variation, use apple pie spice or even pumpkin pie spice.
Yogurt – A plain yogurt will work here, but I really like using a vanilla yogurt from time-to-time to add a little sweetness. Use vanilla yogurt and leave out the celery, and it’s way more like a dessert than a side! You could also use Greek yogurt or a dairy-free yogurt.
Mayonnaise – I really like the tang that mayo adds. If you don’t want to use mayonnaise, swap it out for sour cream, Greek yogurt, or just more of the yogurt you’re already using.
- For a delicious, seasonal twist on apple salad, swap the raisins out for dried cranberries. Now you’ve got a perfect Thanksgiving side dish to add to your holiday table!
- I highly recommend either toasting the pecans first or using glazed pecans. Not only does toasting them bring out their flavor, but it helps them stay crunchy despite the dressing. If you’re making this ahead of time, add the pecans right before serving so they stay crisp. Not a fan of pecans? Swap them out for walnuts or almonds, or leave the nuts out altogether.
- For a richer flavor, use brown sugar or coconut sugar instead of regular granulated sugar. I just LOVE the combo of brown sugar, cinnamon, and apples.
Like Apple Salad? You’ll Love These Salad Recipes, Too!
- Cauliflower Potato Salad
- Amazing Creamy Grape Salad with Pecans
- Keto Broccoli Salad
- Easy 7 Layer Salad with Homemade Dressing
- Chickpea Salad (Mediterranean Style)
- Guacamole Salad
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Crisp Apple Salad with Raisins and Pecans
- Large bowl
- Large spoon or silicone spatula
- Add all ingredients to large bowl.
- Gently stir or toss to combine ingredients. Serve immediately, or place in refrigerator to allow flavors to deepen, then serve chilled.
- Make it Added-Sugar Free: Use a no-added-sugar yogurt and substitute granular Swerve or monk fruit for the pinch of sugar.
- Make it Dairy Free: Use dairy-free yogurt.
- Make it Vegan: Use vegan mayonnaise and vegan yogurt. Make sure your sugar is also vegan (some are processed with bone char).
- Make it Paleo: Use a paleo yogurt, like Kite Hill Almond Yogurt, and a paleo mayonnaise. Swap the sugar out for a pinch of coconut sugar.
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Cheryl Malik is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind the healthy, flavorful, family friendly recipes at 40 Aprons. She’s been a blogger for 10+ years and is known for her delicious recipes and detailed recipe instructions. Cheryl is a mom of three who lives in Memphis, TN.