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

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.

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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!

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

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4.9 from 8 reviews

  • Author: Chris Scheuer
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 as main 1x


A delicious salad featuring cranberries, avocado and candied spiced almonds.



Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 1/2 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
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup (70 ml) vegetable oii
  • 1/3 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
  • 1 1/2 cup (115g) dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 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*
  • 11 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 1/4 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.
  • Prep Time: 45 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
View Comments (56)
  • Looks like a lovely salad, but the cup amounts aren’t showing up on the website, just are little circles.

  • 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?!

    • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!!

  • 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.

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

    • 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?

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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:))

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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..

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Wonderful salad! I’ve made this 3x. This last time, my sugar for the nuts clumped up solid and the butter wouldn’t fold in. So…I made a second batch. I had all the ingredients ready that go into the melted sugar. As soon as the sugar all melted, I put in the butter and the spices, stirring constantly til well mixed. Then I added the vanilla. Perfect. I started the nut cooking/toasting on low, per the recipe. Then I turned it up a bit. And that seemed to help soften the sugar/spice mix so it would stick to the nuts better. Watch carefully so the nuts don’t burn. Takes a bit of time, but well worth it. The candied nuts are awesome! The recipe makes a lot which can be used on ice cream, yogurt, or just plain snacking. Beware: they are addicting! :-)

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