Pear Salad with Balsamic and Walnuts

Sweet, juicy pears balance a tangy balsamic vinaigrette in this pear salad recipe. Simple, elegant, and delicious, it's a perfect autumn side dish.

pear salad recipe

This pear salad recipe celebrates some of the fall produce that we don’t talk about often enough. For just a moment, we’re all going to forget about apples and squash. This is the season of crisp fennel, tender greens, and sweet, juicy pears that just beg you to eat them. Together, these three fall ingredients create a salad that’s simple, flavorful, and gorgeous. It’s elegant enough for a special occasion meal, but it’s so easy to make that you’ll toss it together for everyday dinners and lunches too.

Chopped pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts add rich, nutty flavor and crunch to this salad, and the tangy balsamic vinaigrette perfectly balances the sweet pears. Along with the fresh produce, the nuts and dressing make this pear salad recipe a show-stopping autumn side dish. I think you’re going to love it!

pear salad recipe ingredients

Pear Salad Recipe Ingredients

This pear salad recipe is packed with varied textures and flavors, but it only calls for a handful of basic ingredients:

  • Fresh pears! Make sure they’re ripe before you make this salad; sweet, juicy pears are what make it exceptional.
  • Mixed greens – Use whatever tender greens you like best! I often make this pear salad recipe with a mix of baby kale, spinach, and chard, but baby lettuces or arugula would also be delicious.
  • Fennel – One of my favorite fall veggies! It adds a crisp bite and mild licorice flavor to this autumn pear salad.
  • Dried cranberries – They add chewy texture and sweet/tart pops of flavor.
  • Shaved pecorino cheese – It offers a rich, salty contrast to the sweet pears and cranberries.
  • Chopped hazelnuts, walnuts, and pecans – Sure, you could make this salad with just one type of nut, but I couldn’t choose between walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts! Each one has a unique rich, nutty flavor, so I love using all three in this recipe.
  • Balsamic vinaigrette – A tangy finishing touch!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Shaved fennel with a mandoline

Pear Salad Recipe Tips

  • Buy the pears ahead of time. Like peaches, pears often need a few days on the counter to ripen fully. If you can, plan ahead when you make this salad. Buy the pears up to a week in advance and store them at room temperature. When they’re soft, pop them in the fridge until you’re ready to make the recipe.
  • After you slice the pears, squeeze them with lemon juice. It gives the salad an extra boost of bright flavor, and it prevents the pears from oxidizing, or turning brown. But even with the lemon juice, the pears won’t stay fresh and vibrant forever. Do your best to slice them at the last minute, right before you eat.
  • Slice the fennel with a mandoline. Anytime I make a fennel salad, I slice the fennel as thinly as I can. That way, it still has a nice crisp bite, but it’s tender enough to mix and mingle with the other ingredients. To get my slices paper-thin, I cut the fennel with a mandoline. It’s quick and easy, and the slices come out perfectly crisp and tender. I highly recommend investing in one – you’ll find yourself using it left and right! Otherwise, carefully slice the fennel with a sharp knife.

Pear Salad in a bowl


I love this pear salad recipe as written, but like all my salad recipes, it’s flexible! Feel free to change it up to suit your tastes or feature the ingredients you have on hand. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Swap the fruit. Can’t find pears? Used thinly sliced Gala or Honeycrisp apples instead! And if dried cranberries aren’t your thing, try sprinkling your salad with pomegranate arils or dried cherries.
  • Roast the fennel. The raw fennel adds a nice crisp bite to this simple autumn salad, but roasted fennel’s rich, caramelized flavor would also be delectable here. Try roasting all the fennel or make this salad with fennel 2 ways!
  • Change the cheese. Replace the pecorino with shaved Parmesan, or top your salad with crumbled goat cheese, gorgonzola cheese, or another type of blue cheese.
  • Switch the greens. Skip the baby greens, and make this salad with a base of massaged kale instead.

Let me know what variations you try!

Pear salad with walnuts and pecans

Pear Salad Serving Suggestions

This pear salad recipe is a stunning autumn side dish. It would be a fantastic addition to a Thanksgiving or holiday menu, served alongside classic dishes like sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes.

But there doesn’t have to be a special occasion for you to make this pear salad recipe! It’s super easy to make, so it’s a great quick addition to any fall or winter meal. I love to eat it for lunch with a bowl of butternut squash soup, and it’s a wonderful side dish for everyday vegetarian main dishes like these:

For more fall dinner ideas, check out this post!

Pear salad recipe with balsamic dressing

More Favorite Fall Salads

If you love this pear salad recipe, try one of these delicious fall salad recipes next:

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Pear Salad with Balsamic and Walnuts

rate this recipe:
5 from 33 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves 4
This pear salad recipe is a stunning fall side dish! Simple, elegant, and delicious, it'd be a great addition to a Thanksgiving or holiday dinner.


  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • 2 ripe pears, sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced paper thin*
  • Lemon wedge
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped hazelnuts, or more pecans or walnuts
  • cup shaved pecorino
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette, for drizzling
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Assemble the salad with the mixed greens and top with the pears and fennel. Squeeze a little lemon over the pears and fennel and toss.
  • Top with the cranberries, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecorino. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


*I like to use a mandolin slicer for this.



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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Becky Offutt

    How many will it serve?

  2. Amy Wilkins

    You had me at fennel!

  3. Elaine Scanlon

    This is one of my favorite salads! It is my “go to” side salad for an easy week night meal. Love the addition of the fennel.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Elaine, I’m so glad you love the salad!

  4. Lauren


    I can’t wait to try this! What pear is the best for this recipe? I have Bijou.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Lauren, I think soft pears like Anjou or Bartlett are best here.

  5. Rosalinda

    5 stars
    thank you for this delicious recipe. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be preparing again!

    Happy cooking,

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Rosalinda, I’m so glad you loved the salad!

  6. Kathi

    5 stars
    Fantastic salad. I used spinach and baby lettuces, and threw in dried cherries and pomegranate seeds. Topped with toasted pecans but candied nuts would be tasty. I can always count on love & lemons for great recipes.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Aw, I’m so glad you enjoyed the salad!

  7. Roberta Downey

    Dear L&L,
    Our son is finally crossing the Canadian border. Meaning we will see the much loved vegan in the family. Your recipes are things all of us will enjoy. Thanks for making this cook’s life easier!

  8. Marco

    5 stars
    Just tried this, with a few variations:
    – Added some Crispy Bacon
    – Added the Bacon fat and some Shallots to the Vinaigrette
    – Warmed the Almonds I used in the Bacon fat
    – Used Parmesan instead of Pecorino
    – Omited the Cranberries
    – Grated the fennel with the large holes of a box grater

    Amazing! Fresh, crisp, juicy, will definitely make this again, and soon!

  9. Sabrina from

    5 stars
    I used to make pear salads all the time, love them but kinda forgot about them, so thank you for this recipe, and mine didn’t include all these other ingredients like fennel and cranberries

  10. Susan

    5 stars
    This salad was fantastic! We had it for a light lunch today. Loved the combination of the salty cheese, sweet cranberries and pears and the crunchy nuts and fennel. We will definitely make this again while pears are in season.

  11. Lucie

    I can’t wait to try this, but I really don’t like fennel. Anything you suggest substituting it with? Otherwise I will simply omit it! Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Lucie, you can just leave it out or add a stalk or two of thinly sliced celery for crunch.

  12. Isabelle Teran

    Love this salad! I make a vinaigrette with maple syrup and mustard. Also, not a vegan option, I add blue cheese or gorgonzola and it is my fav salad. In summer I change the cranberries and pear for mango 🙂

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.