Autumn Pear Salad with Candied Walnuts and Balsamic Vinaigrette


If there’s one new recipe you want to make this holiday season – let this be it! But really, don’t wait for the holidays to make this salad, you’re going to go nuts over it! I went to a dinner at our church had last week (a pot-luck type), there wasn’t a whole lot that caught my attention until I walked by this salad. My senses loved everything about it – it was so pretty, and I could just smell the balsamic vinegar coming from the dressing. It was basically the only thing I ate (sorry everyone there if I didn’t leave much for you). Then I basically sat around like a stalker waiting for someone to pick up that salad bowl so I could get the recipe (I had a good idea of what was in it but it’s a bit easier when you have somewhere to start). Well, I was in luck I just happened to be walking back to find out who made the salad and a woman picked up her bowl and I begged her for the recipe. I told her I’d give her $500, okay not really but that what it’s worth. She so kindly e-mailed it to me and I went from there. I made a few changes of my own, to go along with a few changes that she made (the original recipe called for asiago cheese and cashews and she swapped those out with parmesan and walnuts. She also used a bag of romaine salad mix instead of using half a head of each red and green lettuces). I swapped out the green onions it called for with shallots, added in the dried cranberries, candied the walnuts and added a tad more honey and vinegar). So the recipe has changed quite a bit from it’s original, but that’s the fun part about recipes is that you can add your own twist.

Autumn Pear Salad with Candied Walnuts and Balsamic Vinaigrette | Cooking Classy

This salad is delicious blend of greens topped with thinly sliced fresh pears and delicate sheets of salty, shaved parmesan. It’s layered with crunchy and sweet candied walnuts and those addicting chewy and tart dried cranberries, then of course it’s finished with the most amazing, richly flavored balsamic dressing. So you see, with this you get the perfect balance of flavors and textures. You can even add in a green apple for one more flavor and another added crunch. You’ll have a hard time wanting to share this one, I think I could finish the whole salad myself. It is definitely my new favorite fall salad. Enjoy!

Autumn Pear Salad with Candied Walnuts and Balsamic Vinaigrette | Cooking Classy


Autumn Pear Salad with Candied Walnuts and Balsamic Vinaigrette | Cooking Classy


Autumn Pear Salad

5 from 5 votes

Yield: 5 servings


Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp finely diced shallot
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp salted butter
  • 1 Tbsp packed light-brown sugar
  • 7 oz Spring Salad & Spinach blend
  • 2 oz parmesan cheese , shaved
  • 2 Red Anjou Pears , sliced thin (Bartlett pears work fine too)
  • 1/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries


  1. For the vinaigrette:
  2. To a blender add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, diced shallot and season with salt and pepper to taste (I used a 1/4 +1/8 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper). Blend mixture until well emulsified, about 20 seconds. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to serve.
  3. For the salad and candied walnuts:
  4. In a medium skillet melt butter along with brown sugar over medium heat. Once mixture has melted add walnuts and cook, stirring constantly until caramelized, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate in a single layer to cool.
  5. Layer lettuce and pears in a large bowl and toss with dressing, then top with parmesan, dried cranberries and candied walnuts and serve (alternately just layer all the salad ingredients then drizzle with dressing. Note: top this salad with dressing just before serving as it will wilt the lettuces after a while).
  6. Recipe Source: adapted slightly from a recipe from a friend, Audrey MacKay (thanks again Audrey!) whom adapted it from a Cookbook titled "Favorites" by Grace Ivory Rock and Jane Ivory Metcalf


  • Laura @ Lauras Baking Talent: This salad looks amazing :) October 30, 2013 at 4:58pm Reply

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar: This salad looks great! Awesome flavours! October 30, 2013 at 5:07pm Reply

  • Renee @ Two in the Kitchen: This salad is picture perfect with such lovely colors! I will definitely be making this salad soon. But, do I HAVE to share? ;) October 30, 2013 at 6:39pm Reply

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious: What a gorgeous salad! And just in time to cure my Halloween candy hangover! October 31, 2013 at 12:26am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Chung-Ah :)! October 31, 2013 at 7:27am Reply

  • Natalie @ Tastes Lovely: This salad sounds perfect to bring me down from my sugar coma that I will surely slip in to tonight : ) October 31, 2013 at 8:48am Reply

  • Kelly Senyei | Just a Taste: This salad has all of my favorite flavors in a single dish! Pinning! October 31, 2013 at 9:49am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for sharing Kelly! October 31, 2013 at 1:44pm Reply

  • the best thanksgiving yet – things i made today: […] pear, cranberry, walnut and parmesan salad was a bigger hit than expected, considering how simple it was. we skipped the candying of the nuts. there was enough sugar and butter in this dinner already. rating 5/5. […] December 2, 2013 at 7:32pm Reply

  • Eric: Great salad, superb dressing. Question is, walnuts or pecans ? Both are mentioned in the recipe, proofreader was asleep (I’ve tried both). August 17, 2015 at 6:49pm Reply

  • Rosia: What other nuts would be good to use besides walnuts? July 9, 2016 at 11:27am Reply

  • Mindy: Made this last night, so very tasty! December 6, 2016 at 8:08am Reply

    • Jaclyn: So glad you loved it Mindy! December 7, 2016 at 12:42pm Reply

  • Colleen: I made this the other night I didn’t have the dried cranberries and only had romaine lettuce but it was delicious and my husband is asking me to make again :) October 31, 2017 at 1:07pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: So glad to hear it Colleen! October 31, 2017 at 4:12pm Reply

  • Ophelia: DELICIOUS!!!!!!

    Substituted an apple for the pear and added shallots.
    My sweetie isn’t big on baby greens and he loved the combination of baby greens and arugula.

    Note I cooked my walnuts way longer than the 2 minutes stated in the recipe.

    This is a definite repeat recipe!!!!! November 23, 2017 at 8:01pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for the review Ophelia! November 27, 2017 at 12:20pm Reply

  • Belinda King: I have made this numerous times now. The first time I made it for a church function I had people begging me for the recipe. Now every time there is a church function I am asked to bring my pear salad. Love it. December 8, 2017 at 10:31pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: So glad it is being enjoyed Belinda! December 11, 2017 at 11:13am Reply

  • Dalia: Loved the dressing and carmalized walnuts January 3, 2018 at 8:46pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Dalia! Glad you loved it! January 4, 2018 at 12:57pm Reply

  • Chris Simons: Made it again this time with walnuts, last time with pecans, both good. March 20, 2018 at 5:53am Reply

    • Jaclyn: So glad you liked it both times! :) March 23, 2018 at 4:50pm Reply

  • Noreen: I recently had this salad in Perth, which had been made by my niece Alice. Enjoyed it so much, but also because she had made it on a gorgeous large round duck egg blue dish. Looked divine. Imagine my surprise when she gave me an identical dish to bring back to South Africa! It was a hit when served this morning at a Mothers Day brunch with croissants, ham and cheese. Definitely improved with blue cheese crumbled over. May 13, 2018 at 7:10am Reply

  • Renee: This is a great recipe. One of my favs!! June 17, 2018 at 10:49am Reply

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