If you’re looking for a bright and fresh Thanksgiving Salad, this is the one with the best seasonal ingredients that you can prep in advance!

A large round platter filled with Thanksgiving Salad made with pears, pomegranate seeds, roasted acorn squash, candied pecans, Parmesan cheese and mixed greens. The toppings are arranged over the greens in rows.

Get ready for the Best Thanksgiving Salad

For me, Thanksgiving dinner usually isn’t complete without a salad, and I’ve made this same really good Thanksgiving green salad recipe year after year. 

This salad for Thanksgiving is a combination of sweet and savory flavors using seasonal ingredients, and it’s easy to prep a lot of it in advance. Simply toss it together right before dinner!

Why you will love this Thanksgiving Salad Recipe

  • Make the dressing and roast the squash in advance, so all you have to do before dinner is toss everything together!
  • Since there are usually lots of rich, heavier dishes on the holiday table (hello corn casserole with cheese and Cajun turkey), I find that a light and fresh salad with an acidic dressing like this one really helps to balance everything out.
  • It’s a good place in your menu to incorporate seasonal ingredients that you may not want to dedicate an entire side dish to. Fall squash can be highlighted in this salad, or even roasted sweet potatoes instead if you’re not serving them as their own dish.
Ingredients on a wooden table including a large bowl of mixed greens, shaved Parmesan cheese, a halved acorn squash, candied pecans, a split Pomegranate, a pear, Dijon mustard and spices.

Salad for Thanksgiving ingredients

  • mixed greens – forms the base of the salad.
  • acorn squash – adds a hearty, sweet flavor and a seasonal touch to this salad. You can also use roasted delicata squash, butternut squash or sweet potato.
  • pear – adds a seasonal sweetness and juicy, crisp texture. You can also use a chopped or sliced apple!
  • pomegranate arils (seeds) – add a pop of sweetness and make the salad visually stunning. You can also use dried cranberries here.
  • Parmesan cheese – brings a savory, nutty and salty flavor to the salad. Pecorino Romano is also great here.
  • candied pecans – add a crunchy, sweet and indulgent note to this green salad for Thanksgiving. You can also use plain pecans, or candied or plain walnuts or almonds.
  • olive oil – used for roasting the squash as well as the base of the salad dressing.
  • apple cider vinegar – the tangy, slightly sweet and fruity pairing for the olive oil that makes the dressing.
  • maple syrup – provides a natural sweetness and balances the tartness of the vinegar in the dressing.
  • Dijon mustard – gives the dressing a bit of a kick and helps emulsify the oil and vinegar together for a smooth, creamy texture.
  • salt and pepper – seasons the squash and the salad dressing (thus, the entire salad) to perfection.

What lettuce is best for salads?

I keep this best Thanksgiving salad recipe simple by starting with a big bowl of mixed greens. They provide a medley of flavors and textures, and they’re pretty.

You could also use baby spinach, arugula, thinly sliced kale or even butter lettuce.

A rimmed baking pan filled with acorn squash half moon pieces sprinkled with salt and pepper.

How to make a Thanksgiving Salad

  1. Preheat the oven, cut the squash and season it, and roast the squash.
  2. Make the dressing using the oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard and salt and pepper.
  3. Place the salad greens in a large bowl and add half the dressing. Toss the greens until they are lightly dressed, then taste and determine if you need to add a bit more dressing or not.
  4. Pile the dressed greens onto a serving platter and top with pear, pomegranate arils, cheese, pecans and squash.

Home Chef Tips for Thanksgiving Green Salad

  • To cut half moons of acorn squash, simply cut a raw acorn squash in half lengthwise (stem to base), scoop out the pulp and seeds, and then slice the squash crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces.
  • If you’re not feeling the maple dressing, homemade citrus vinaigrette is another salad dressing option.
A large round platter filled with the best Thanksgiving Salad made with pears, pomegranate seeds, roasted acorn squash, candied pecans, Parmesan cheese and mixed greens. The toppings are arranged over the greens in rows.

How to serve this Green Salad for Thanksgiving

This salad is an ideal first course if you serve your Thanksgiving dinner in courses, or it can be served alongside all the traditional Thanksgiving sides.

Serve it in a large bowl or platter, or if it works better for your setup, serve it in individual bowls or on small salad plates.

A large round platter filled with salad for Thanksgiving made with pears, pomegranate seeds, roasted acorn squash, candied pecans, Parmesan cheese and mixed greens.

Thanksgiving Salad storage (prep ahead)

I’m a BIG fan of prepping for Thanksgiving in advance, so there’s less to do the day of, and this best Thanksgiving salad recipe is no exception.

The dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance, and kept in the fridge.

In addition, you can roast the squash in advance. I would under-roast the squash (roast it just 20 to 25 minutes instead of 30). Allow it to cool and then keep it in a covered container in the fridge. 

When you’re ready to serve the salad, you can microwave the squash or pop it into the oven for a minute or two to finish cooking it. 

If you’re using a fresh pomegranate for this Thanksgiving green salad, you can de-seed the pomegranate in advance, and refrigerate the seeds (but personally, I usually just buy the little cups of pomegranate seeds, because it’s so much easier).

On the day of the big feast, slice the pears and toss everything together and you’re ready to go!

A large round platter filled with Thanksgiving Salad made with pears, pomegranate seeds, roasted acorn squash, candied pecans, Parmesan cheese and mixed greens. The toppings are arranged over the greens in rows.

Best Thanksgiving Salad FAQs

Should salad be served at Thanksgiving?

Yes, a thoughtful salad can be a refreshing and welcome addition to heavier Thanksgiving dishes. Thanksgiving fruit salad is another great lighter side dish.

How many dishes should you have at Thanksgiving?

Aim for a variety of dishes for different preferences and seasonal ingredients, but don’t overwhelm yourself or your guests. A balanced menu of 6 to 8 dishes is typically enough.

What is traditionally served for Thanksgiving?

Traditional Thanksgiving fare includes roasted turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy from scratch, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, grandma’s old fashioned dressing, pumpkin pie and apple pie, and a Thanksgiving salad if you’re lucky!

A large round platter filled with Thanksgiving Salad made with pears, pomegranate seeds, roasted acorn squash, candied pecans, Parmesan cheese and mixed greens. The toppings are arranged over the greens in rows.

Green Salad for Thanksgiving

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

If you're looking for a bright and fresh Thanksgiving Salad, this is the one with the best seasonal ingredients that you can prep in advance!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium acorn squash, halved from stem to end, seeded, and cut into 1-inch slices
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus a pinch for dressing
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 package (5 ounces) mixed greens
  • 1 pear, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup candied pecans

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place squash slices on large parchment paper-lined rimmed baking pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss until well combined and oil is coating all sides of squash. 
  2. Arrange squash slices in evenly spaced single layer. Transfer to oven and cook 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and tender, turning once halfway through. Remove from oven and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in small bowl, whisk together vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pinch of pepper. While whisking, slowly drizzle in remaining 2 tablespoons oil until all oil is incorporated.
  4. To serve, place greens in large bowl and add half of dressing. Toss until well combined and greens are lightly dressed. Taste and add additional dressing if needed.
  5. Transfer greens to serving platter and top with pear, pomegranate arils, cheese, pecans and squash. Serve immediately.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 152Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 346mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 3g

This website provides estimated nutrition information as a courtesy only. Nutrition information does not include any optional ingredients or toppings. You should calculate the nutrition information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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