Best EVER Holiday Salad

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Best EVER Holiday Salad Super Hungry? Jump to the Recipe

November salad ideas, perfect for Thanksgiving!

I don't often declare something is one of the best things I've ever made, but this salad is definitely up there when it comes to one of the best things I've ever whipped together.

From sweet and savory butternut squash to spicy, crunchy chickpeas this salad has a little bit of something for everyone at the table this year.

This salad has several components that need to be made ahead of time and refridgerated for the best tasting results. I prepared my squash, chickpeas and dressing the night before serving so that the flavors would have time to come together while they chill.

You can totally make this entire recipe in one day however; just give youself plenty of extra time for chilling ahead of time to get the squash as cooled as possible before adding it to the salad. Whatever you do - don't add any of the elements HOT or else they will melt the cheese and congeal the entire salad into one messy (albeit delicious) bite.

I'm Gonna Touch the Butt...ernut Squash!

Hold on to your butts. Making butternut squash from scratch can be daunting, especially when you are cutting it up from gourd. I find it's easiest to just... not.

What can I say, I'm a cheater.

If you can find pre-cut FRESH (not frozen) butternut squash for this recipe, by all means USE IT!

While frozen butternut squash can be used in a pinch, it will be much quicker to use fresh butternut squash. However if you are determined, you can certainly cut up your own gourd - I recommend peeling it first, then cutting off the top and bottom to get a flat cutting surface. After that, cut it in half down the middle lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Then just use a sharpe knife to cut the butternut squash into about one inch square cubes for roasting.

For Cinnamon Sugar Butternut Squash:

  • butternut squash (duh) - buy it PRE-CUT if you are a lazy over-achiever like me
  • cinnamon - for some *spice*
  • maple sugar - I'm using a locally bought sugar, but you can sub your own favorite maple sugar brand or use brown sugar as an alternative in a pinch
  • smoked paprika - pump up that savory note with smoky flavor
fall harvest salad

Air Fried vs Broiled Chickpeas

The spicy chickpeas are another element that will need to be made ahead so it has time to cool. For this recipe, I will walk you through how to use an air fryer to make the chickpeas nice and crispy.

If you don't have an air fryer, don't fret. First - add one to your wishlist (affiliate link). If you don't have any other kitchen appliances, an air fryer is definitely one I recommend getting.

Second, you can totally use your broiler to get crispy chickpeas, you will just need to keep a close eye on them and shake the baking sheet every few minutes to make sure they are crisping up evenly.

Spicy Crispy Chickpeas

  • chickpeas - also known as garbanzo beans, make sure you drain excess liquid and let the chickpeas dry a bit before using
  • olive oil - adds a hint of flavor and helps the seasonings stick
  • cayenne pepper - boost up the HEAT!

mustard apple dressing

BEST EVER Champagne Apple Cider Dressing

This is a dressing perfect for any holiday or celebatory salad.

  • apple cider - unspiced is best to get the most of the apple-y flavor
  • champagne vinegar - if you can't find it in store, buy it online (affiliate link)! Its flavor is unforgettable.
  • extra virgin olive oil - helps to create the perfect emulsion
  • honey - for sweetness!
  • whole grain mustard & spicy brown mustard - add little pops of mustardy heat throughout the dressing
  • garlic - best when allowed to marinate overnight, garlic adds aromatic notes that contrast with sweet ones
  • dried minced onion - dried is better than fresh in this recipe as it will rehydrate as it marinates
thanksgiving salad

All About Salad

The base of this salad can be any type of greens you prefer - I love spinach and spring mixes, so I tossed together a few bags of both for my salad.

Salads are defined by all of their toppings so I like to have a little bit of everything to create one perfect bite. Between the sweet and cinnamony sweet potatoes, spicy crunchy chickpeas and tangy salad dressing, some mellowing notes are much needed.

Other toppings like green apple slices, crushed walnuts, goat cheese and even shallot can go a long way to pull everything together.

Happy Holidays!

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Fall Harvest Salad

  • Number of Servings: 6
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 hours
Best EVER Holiday Salad


  • 8 oz fresh butternut squash, cut into cubes
  • ½ tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp maple sugar OR demerara OR brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt & pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup chickpeas, drained/rinsed & patted dry
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup champagne vinegar
  • ¼ cup apple cider
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup whole grain mustard
  • ¼ cup spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • ½ tbsp dried minced onion
  • ¼ tsp salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 packages spinach and/or spring mix salad
  • 1 green apple, sliced or chopped
  • 4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 oz walnuts, roughly crushed
  • 1 shallot, sliced

Mouth Feel


Tried it? Loved it? Share it!


  1. The night before: combine all ingredients for the champagne apple cider dressing in a sealable jar with a lid. Shake vigorously until the ingredients are well combined, then chill until ready to serve. Shake well before serving.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, toss the butternut squash cubes in olive oil along with the cinnamon, sugar, paprika, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the squash is fork tender. Cover in airtight container and chill overnight (or prepare several hours ahead and chill until ready to serve).
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, toss the chickpeas in olive oil, honey and cayenne pepper. Using an air fryer at 375 OR the broil function on the oven, fry/broil the chickpeas for 5-10 minutes until they are crispy. Set aside to cool completely, overnight if possible.
  4. In a large salad bowl, toss the salad mix with the chopped green apples, shallot, walnut and goat cheese. Add in the butternut squash and chickpeas and lightly toss. Serve the salad with the dressing and allow guests to dress their salad to taste. Enjoy!

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