Our butternut squash salad combines tender bites of roasted butternut squash with crisp apple slices, crunchy pecans, and creamy feta cheese, all tied together by a tangy and sweet mustard dressing.
Serve it as a starter, side dish, or wholesome meal. The combination of autumn flavors and textures is sure to please!
Table of Contents
You’ll love this butternut squash salad because it’s a simple recipe with bold flavors that meld together into a cozy and harmonious dish.
The salad is excellent for fall and winter holiday meals or a special family dinner.
You can serve it as a side dish, appetizer, or for a wholesome and tasty meal – we love having it for lunch!
You’ll find all 5 tastes in this simple dish: sweet (butternut, green apple, and maple syrup), sour (dried cranberries, green apple, and apple cider vinegar), bitter (mustard), salty (salt), and umami (feta).
Adding nutty pecans, chickpeas, and mixed green leaves makes this a healthy, wholesome, and satisfying meal.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.
Try to get a mix of lettuces, also known as salad greens, with different colors and textures.
For example, we like combining arugula (dark green, peppery, spicy, tasty, and crisp texture) with butterhead or coral lettuce (bright green and sometimes red, with a delicate taste).
You can also use iceberg lettuce, radicchio, endive, watercress, little gem, looseleaf, escarole, frisée, mesclun, and romaine lettuce.
You can get butternut squash cubes at the store or get a whole one, peel it, and dice it yourself.
Substitute sweet potatoes or any other variety of winter squash, like kabocha squash, pumpkin, or acorn squash, for butternut squash.
We like to pair sweet butternut squash with tangy and crisp green apples like Granny Smith.
Substitute any other apples for green apples, but ensure they are crisp.
You can also substitute pears for apples. They are a little sweater but taste fantastic in this roasted butternut squash salad recipe.
Pecans add a wonderful crunch and nutty taste to this salad.
Substitute walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or pistachios for pecans.
Alternatively, you can add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or other mixed seeds instead of nuts.
Tip: if you want to enhance the nuts’ flavor, toast them for a few minutes in a dry, small saucepan or nonstick pan or toast them in the oven at 350°F or 180°C for 5 to 7 minutes.
Sour and slightly sweet, dried cranberries fit perfectly with the other ingredients in this butternut squash salad.
Substitute pomegranate seeds, raisins, or other dried fruit like dates, apricots, figs, and plums for dried cranberries.
Chickpeas are optional. You don’t need to add chickpeas if you serve the salad as a side dish.
We recommend adding drained and rinsed canned chickpeas if you serve the salad for lunch or as a main.
Substitute farro, wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat, or black beans for chickpeas.
Feta cheese or dairy-free feta
Crumbled feta cheese or its dairy-free alternatives add a delicious salty, milky, and creamy flavor and texture, making the butternut squash salad extra delicious.
Substitute ricotta or dairy-free ricotta, shaved parmesan cheese (not grated parmesan), pecorino, or your favorite goat cheese for feta.
Note: we like this salad without onions; however, if you want to add some oniony flavor, we recommend thinly sliced shallots, green onions, or mild red onions.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Apple cider vinegar: substitute lemon juice.
- Maple syrup: substitute honey or agave syrup.
- Mustard: you can use yellow, American, or Dijon mustard.
- Ground cumin
- Sea salt or kosher salt
- Black pepper
The dressing is creamier than your regular vinaigrette and hugs the salad perfectly.
How to make butternut squash salad
Roast the butternut squash
Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C.
Peel the butternut squash (we use a vegetable peeler or a chef’s knife), then cut it into bite-size pieces (about 1 Inch or 2.5 cm).
Transfer the diced butternut squash to the baking sheet pan, toss with olive oil, salt, and black pepper, and bake at 400°F or 200°C for 30 minutes, until the squash is fork tender.
Tip: roast the butternut squash in the air-fryer at 400°F or 200°C for about 15 minutes or until tender.
Make the dressing
Whisk extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, cumin, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl.
Alternatively, put everything in a small mason jar, close the lid, and shake well.
Build the salad
To a large bowl or large serving platter, add mixed salad leaves.
Add thinly sliced apples on the sides and roasted butternut squash in the center.
Top with chickpeas, pecan nuts, dried cranberries, crumbled feta, and a twist of black pepper. Finally, drizzle with the mustard dressing.
Tip: don’t toss the salad immediately; it won’t look as pretty. Bring it to the table, then toss it before serving it.
Want to try a different dressing?
Butternut squash salad is also delicious with our:
- Tahini sauce: (tahini, lemon, water, garlic, salt).
- Carrot ginger dressing: (carrots, oil, lemon juice, water, ginger, maple syrup, salt, sesame oil).
- Green goddess dressing: (garlic, oil, parsley, basil, dill, chives, capers, lemon juice, yogurt).
- Italian dressing: (EVO oil, vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, basil, garlic, salt, pepper).
We also think it’s delicious as a side to one of our easy homemade vegetable soups, such as:
- Potato leek soup (potato, leek, white, thyme, bay leaves, Greek, or vegan yogurt).
- Cauliflower soup: (cauliflower, garlic, onion, thyme, nutmeg, vegetable broth).
- Carrot soup: (carrot, onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, olive oil).
- Broccoli soup: (broccoli, potatoes, leek, butter, thyme, vegetable broth).
Make ahead: we don’t recommend mixing the salad ahead of time because the salad greens will wilt due to the vinegar in the dressing.
However, what you can do to get ahead is roast the butternut squash up to 24 hours in advance, then keep it in an airtight container in the fridge.
You can also mix the dressing in advance and give it a quick stir before using it.
Refrigerator: keep leftovers in a bowl covered with plastic or in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
Freezer: this recipe is not freezer-friendly.
More butternut squash recipes
If you love cooking with butternut squash, get new ideas from these dinner-friendly winter squash recipes:
- Butternut squash soup (butternut squash, carrots, garlic, thyme, sage, vegetable broth).
- Butternut squash ravioli (semolina flour, turmeric, butternut squash, dairy-free ricotta).
- Creamy butternut squash pasta (spaghetti, butternut squash, dairy-free ricotta, and parmesan).
- Roasted butternut squash (sage, olive oil, garlic, thyme).
- Butternut squash risotto (arborio rice, onion, garlic, white wine, butter, parmesan).
More lunch-friendly salads
Get more satiating and fulfilling salad ideas with these lunchbox-friendly meals:
- Chickpea salad (chickpeas, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, parsley, mustard, maple syrup).
- Easy chickpea pasta salad (pasta, chickpeas, tomatoes, avocado, corn, cucumber, lemon).
- Creamy tofu salad (leafy greens, fried tofu, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, tahini, lemon).
- Kale and quinoa salad (kale, corn, lemon juice, red bell pepper, quinoa, spring onions).
- Kale salad (kale, apple, walnuts, cranberries, red cabbage, pumpkin, feta, or vegan feta).
For many more salad ideas, check out our salads category page.
Butternut Squash Salad
For roasting the butternut squash
- 1½ pounds butternut squash peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon salt + 2 twists black pepper
For the salad
- 6 cups mixed salad greens
- ½ can (15-ounce) chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 green apple thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup pecans
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup feta cheese crumbled
For the dressing
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon mustard American or Dijon
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 twists black pepper
Roast butternut squash
- Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C.Peel about 1½ pounds butternut squash squash then cut it into bite-size pieces of about 1 Inch or 2.5 cm.
- Transfer it to the baking tray, toss with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, ¾ teaspoon salt, and 2 twists of black pepper.Bake at 400°F or 200°C for 30 minutes, until fork tender.
- Whisk 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, and 2 twists black pepper in a small bowl.
Build the salad
- To a large bowl or large serving platter, add 6 cups mixed salad greens.Add 1 green apple (thinly sliced) on the sides and the roasted butternut squash in the center.Top with ½ can (15-ounce) chickpeas, ⅓ cup pecans, ¼ cup dried cranberries, ½ cup feta cheese, and a twist of black pepper.
- Finally, drizzle with ½ the mustard dressing and let guests add more if they like.
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