Cranberry and Avocado Salad with Candied Spiced Almonds and Sweet White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Once you try this delicious salad you’ll find yourself craving it again and again. It’s bright, fresh and beyond versatile.
By Chris Scheuer

Cranberry Avocado Salad

This salad is perfect for a quick lunch, a fancy brunch, a lovely side salad or a complete meal with chicken, shrimp or pork tenderloin piled on top. You can add goat cheese, blue cheese or any other fun cheese that strikes your fancy. It’s wonderful with spinach, Romaine, field greens, Bibb lettuce, arugula… did I miss your favorite? Well, it’s great with that too! Feel free to change out the nuts also – don’t have any almonds? Candied Spiced Pecans would be a fabulous switcheroo!

Cranberry Avocado Salad

For Valentine’s Day, you could add a sprinkle of crimson pomegranate seeds or how about a scatter of blood orange or ruby red grapefruit wedges? Slivers of mango are beautiful as well as grape halves or sliced crisp apples or pears. Are you starting to get the picture? It’s what I call a Little Black Dress Recipe! Totally adaptable, simple or elegant, dress it up or down depending on the occasion.

The vinaigrette that dresses this delicious salad can be prepared in minutes. I keep a jar in the fridge so we can have a fabulous salad on the spur of the moment with whatever’s in season and/or whatever’s  stashed in my fruit/veggie bins!

The recipe below is for my Cranberry-Avocado Salad with Candied Spiced Almonds and Sweet White Balsamic Vinaigrette, but feel free to have fun and adapt according to your tastes, whims, cravings, pantry and budget!

4.9 from 8 reviews
Cranberry-Avocado Salad with Candied Spiced Almonds and Sweet White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Prep Time
Cook Time
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A delicious salad featuring cranberries, avocado and candied spiced almonds.
Recipe Type: Salad
Serves: 6 as main
Ingredients for the dressing:
  • ½ cup (60g) sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup (120 ml) white balsamic vinegar
  • ⅓ cup (70 ml) vegetable oii
  • ⅓ cup (70 ml) extra virgin olive oil
Ingredients for the salad:
  • 12 ounces (340g) baby spinach, arugula, field greens
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, washed and dried, leaves removed whole from stems (discard the stems or use for another recipe)
  • 2 medium avocados, peeled and halved
  • 1½ cup (115g) dried cranberries
  • 1½ cup (115g) Candied Spiced Almonds (see recipe)
Ingredients for the almonds:
  • 5 cups (600g) sliced almonds, or a 1 pound package
  • cup (100g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin*
  • 1-1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika* - some smoked paprikas are quite hot, if you don't like "hot", just use 1 teaspoon and they will be mildly spiced.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • sea salt
  • The cumin and the smoked paprika give just a hint of mysterious, delicious flavor - even though these are savory spices, these almonds are still wonderful served with sweets like ice cream or yogurt.
For the dressing; combine all ingredients in a pint sized glass jar and shake well to dissolve sugar.
For the salad; place greens and cilantro leaves in a large bowl.
  1. Add avocado and dried cranberries and about ¼ cup of the dressing and toss gently.
  2. Scatter candied almonds over salad and sprinkle lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pass extra dressing at the table.
For the almonds:
  1. place a large sheet of foil on a work surface. Spray with cooking spray or rub a teaspoon of oil over foil with a paper towel.
  2. Place sugar in a large non-stick sauté pan and heat over medium heat, occasionally tipping and swirling the sugar until it's all melted into a pale golden syrup.
  3. Lower heat immediately and add butter, cinnamon, smoked paprika and vanilla. Stir until well combined and all butter is incorporated into the sugar syrup.
  4. Add the nuts and stir gently to coat. Don't worry if you have some clumps of caramelized sugar - they will melt as you continute to sauté the almonds. Cover and continue to cook on low, stirring every minute or so until almonds are a delicious golden brown. Watch very carefully as they can go from beautiful to burned very quickly! Turn out onto prepared foil and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Spread out on foil to cool.

Chris Scheuer

Chris Scheuer

Crescentia "Chris" Scheuer is the creator of The Café Sucré Farine food blog, which has been hugely successful since its inception in March 2011. Her recipes are seen on Foodgawker, TasteSpotting, Gourmet Live, Bon Appétit Bloggers, Foodista and other international food sites. Her inspiration for creating new, innovative cuisine comes from an insatiable curiosity, a love of travel and family connections in the UK. She has taught cooking classes in Raleigh, NC, USA.

More Posts - Website

Originally Published: January 6, 2012

55 Responses to Cranberry and Avocado Salad with Candied Spiced Almonds and Sweet White Balsamic Vinaigrette

  1. Pingback: This Weeks Delish!

  2. sharon Reply

    May 21, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Looks like a lovely salad, but the cup amounts aren’t showing up on the website, just are little circles.

    • Chris W Reply

      June 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      there is a circle then the amount and then it has the measurement. I can see it.

  3. Christie Reply

    May 23, 2012 at 12:01 am

    This looks like the best salad to ever grace this world, a world CORRUPT by mankind and the laziness that comes along with it.. Being one of those lazy individuals, I wish that I had been in your circle of friends to try this recipe with oh so many delicious ingredients… How long did it take you to make this?!

    • ana Reply

      June 8, 2012 at 7:59 pm

      I agree, Christie. Lovely as it appears, it runs contrary to my preference to using 5 ingredients or less per meal. Wondering how I can cut this waaay down and still have it turn out delicious and interesting…

      ……ana xo

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  6. Gail Reply

    July 10, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    I guess it may seem complicated, but try to divide the recipe into sections. I would make the dressing and the sugared almonds the night before. The recipe for the almonds makes about 5 cups and has a lot of spices, but the actual salad only uses 1 1/2 cups of almonds. I sometimes purchase the packaged sugared almond salad mix when a recipe calls for sugared and spiced nuts. Other than those two things, it’s just a matter of putting the salad together before serving.

  7. Yvearl Reply

    August 11, 2012 at 2:53 am

    It does seem like a lot of ingredients, as the other comments suggested, but what I would say is use pre-packaged spiced nuts {of your choice: spicy/no-sugar/etc..}, and plan on making the dressing the main ingredient. Then, clean out your refrigerator! That’s my plan, at least.

  8. Sheila Reply

    October 3, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    I LOVE this salad! I have made it three or four times this summer. Yes, there are a lot of ingredients, but GO FOR IT! It takes a little extra prep time, but trust me, the results are worth it. The dressing is amazing, and I love the complex flavor of the candied almonds. I make the dressing and the almonds, and then make single entree sized salads, one at a time. This salad tastes like something from a fancy restaurant!

  9. Joana Reply

    October 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Any recipe with avocados is always delicious. I think I will try this when I have a little more time…perhaps the weekend!

  10. terry @ diet Reply

    October 13, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    look delicious!

  11. Rachael Reply

    October 14, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Made this yesterday. Very good, but I would suggest only putting the dressing on your own portion. Otherwise, the salad will not keep as leftovers. It was very soggy one day later.

  12. Kaaren Reply

    November 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    I follow your blog and ALL your recipes are wonderful. This recipe, as you said, is a wonderful fix by choice of ingred. Even bagged salad if really in a hurry. Why do people make things so hard. The dressing couldn’t be any easier, just shake in a jar. Thanks for all the great recipes you post.

  13. Carla Reply

    December 6, 2012 at 7:31 am

    This looks delicious, and I can’t wait to try it. The cup amount for the sugar is not showing up. How much?

  14. Nicola Rooney Reply

    December 10, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    What a refreshingly new way of serving up Avocado.
    Fresh Xmas colours and lots of healthy value.

  15. Lindsey Reply

    December 10, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    The recipe has stars by paprika and cumin, did you mean to say use one or the other? Because the directions don’t mention using the cumin and there is no key explaining the star.

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  18. Emily Reply

    January 9, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Soooo yummy! Got rave reviews at my monthly cooking group I brought it to. I just used spinach (no cilantro… not a fan of it) So mine was spinach, craisins, avocado, the yummy nuts, and the delicious dressing. I also didn’t have white balsamic so I just used regular. I was just serving it on the side so it was no big deal but I’m guessing if I would have mixed it in it wouldn’t have been as pretty… being that the dressing was brown. I’m guessing that’s why it calls for white. Anyways huge hit. The list of ingredients looks long but really its lots of spices that if you have a fairly stocked pantry you probably have lots of it and so easy to shake together. Big fan over here if you can’t tell :) Thanks for the new fav!

  19. dispack Reply

    January 11, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    How much sugar? Do you use both the paprika and the cumin? I don’t see answers to the questions. I’d like to make this soon. Thanks!

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  21. Anonymous Reply

    January 20, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    The almonds taste great with both the cumin and paprika! Getting ready to serve this up now. I’ll let you know how it goes later!

  22. Barbara Reply

    January 22, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    I made this salad and the dressing was so salty we couldn’t eat the salad. I was very sad to have to waste all the lovely greens! If you make this dressing leave out the salt!!

  23. Shannan Reply

    February 9, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Looks delicious!

    But where is the recipe for the candied spiced almonds? I’m sure I’m overlooking it. I looked under the search engine on the site but it didn’t come up.

    • Kalle Bergman

      Kalle Bergman Reply

      February 10, 2013 at 11:00 am

      Hi Shannan, the recipe for the almonds is in the general recipe above.

  24. Shannan Reply

    February 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Oops! As soon as you say this I immediately see this!

    Thanks and sorry! Can’t wait to try it.

  25. Yin Stewart Reply

    March 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    100g of sugar is about 1/2 cup, right?
    I just made the almond, and I cannot stop eating it, it’s wickedly delicious!

    • Jo Reply

      June 20, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Hi, why does my Carmelized candy go into clumps n I can’t undo it;(( ….they burn before it melts like they say:(( what I doing wrong?

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  29. Deb Reply

    April 26, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Still there has been no definite answer to how much sugar as it does not show up in the recipe. Can’t wait to make this!

  30. Vicki Reply

    April 28, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    When I googled the sugar conversion it said 1/2 cup, so that is what I used.
    This salad dressing was so good. I love that you can get on the internet to find another ingredient if you don’t have something in your cupboard. As for the almond topping, it didn’t do so well, it hardened and there was no way it was going to soften back up, I will buy sugared almonds next time. Loved it, will definately make again.

  31. Pingback: Cranberry and avocado salad with spiced almonds and vinaigrette | karolinechefrn

  32. Angie Reply

    May 28, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Made this today for company. Fabulous!

  33. Mary Reply

    June 16, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Looks wonderful, do you have the nutritional information for this? Thank you!

  34. Anna Reply

    June 26, 2013 at 10:11 am

    It was an amazing salad! I used mixed greens and less sugar for the dressing. I also didn’t want the almonds so I used toasted pecans instead! Wonderful salad, yum! Even my husband ate seconds, and he’s usually not a huge fan of salad:))

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  36. Renee Reply

    August 14, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    I love the salad but have tried twice with the nuts and it clumps and thickens to a crumble as soon as I add the spices and then will not coat the nuts :( any suggestions? Happened both times

  37. Pam Reply

    August 31, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Looks delicious!! (I think the sugar amounts may be off. According to Google, 60g is equivalent to 1/4 cup for the dressing, and 100g is roughly equivalent to 1/2 cup for the almonds.) I can’t wait to try this recipe.

  38. Angie O Reply

    August 31, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    I had the same experience as Renee – my almonds were an abject failure. The caramel clumped up, and wouldn’t spread on the nuts. So it’s now like chunks of caramel with nuts stuck to it. Not the worst thing in the world, but a disappointment for a salad.

  39. butter girl Reply

    September 9, 2013 at 4:06 am

    This was yummy and I will definitely be making it again!

  40. auschick Reply

    September 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    This is delicious! I also found that the almonds ended up all clumpy. I ended up breaking them apart w/ my hands once it had cooled down. Still tasty though! I didn’t have white balsamic, so I used regular. Also didn’t have any poppy seeds, so omitted that. I think this would taste great w/ goat cheese (chevre) in it.

  41. Connie Reply

    September 22, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    This salad is to die for!!! Totally worth making the almonds ahead….you will be luck to have enough left for another salad! My husband and I both love the salad but can’t stop snacking on the almonds!! Thank you so much. Try it with fresh peaches or nectarines!! Killer.

  42. Loida Ondeck Reply

    October 1, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    I imagined this was a truly very good blog article. I always like reading articles or blog posts such as this one particular. I should undergo more of your respective posts.

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  44. Amanda Reply

    November 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I came across this recipe via pinterest. At first glance, I thought it would be a lot of work. I made the almonds a day in advance and am so thankful I took the time! I would make them again just to snack on! I highly suggest making the almonds and the salad! It was well worth the effort!

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  46. Christine Reply

    February 7, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    found this recipe on Pintrest and made it the other night for dinner…OMG! it is so good a little time consuming to make the almonds, but well worth the time and effort that I put into making it. I made it for two people and we had it for dinner two nights and I’ve had it for lunch twice as well..

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  48. sandra Reply

    April 6, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    YUM! The dressing absolutely makes this salad! As it is what I had in the cupboard I just used plain (non-seasoned) cashews. Simplified the recipe and YUM!! I added grilled chicken and I am currently craving this salad every day. Served it to guests on two occasions to rave reviews. Thanks for the great recipe!

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  51. Kaye Reply

    April 24, 2015 at 1:52 am

    My sister in law made this salad for a function, and it was so good I decided to make it for my side of the family. Now, everytime we have a family dinner, my dad requests it. It’s super yummy. Although, I can never get the almonds right. I’ve tried more sugar, less almonds. The best I’ve gotten it was with pecans.

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