Butternut Squash Salad
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
Fresh, healthy and full of flavor, Butternut Squash Salad is the fall salad we’re all craving! Enjoy this delicious salad recipe as a festive holiday side dish, a satisfying lunch, or serve it alongside a cozy bowl of soup.
While this time of year is typically filled with hearty comfort foods like Stuffing and Green Bean Casserole, I also crave lighter, nourishing dishes like this butternut squash salad. There’s nothing like a big salad loaded with fresh ingredients to balance out the comforting casseroles that we all love. So if you’re looking for something new to add to your Thanksgiving side dishes this year, this squash salad is the perfect candidate.
Take one bite of this butternut squash salad and you’ll be addicted. With roasted butternut squash, candied walnuts, pomegranate seeds and goat cheese, this is one flavor-packed salad! I made this salad with kale because it’s hearty enough to hold up to the butternut squash in the salad. If kale salads aren’t your thing, you can substitute your favorite leafy greens.
The next time you have a butternut squash sitting on your counter and have had your fill of Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, give this scrumptious salad a try!
Butternut Squash Salad Recipe Ingredients
The main components of the salad are:
- Butternut Squash: When roasted this winter squash brings the best combination of sweet and savory. You’ll cube the squash and toss it with olive oil, salt and pepper before roasting. Feel free to use pre-cut squash cubes from the grocery store to save time. You can also cook butternut squash in the Instant Pot, but you’ll miss out on the flavors that develop when squash roasts in the oven.
- Kale: I used common curly kale, which has a hearty texture but softens with massaging or when tossed with dressing. Lacinato kale (also called dinosoar kale) is a great substitute if you prefer softer salad greens. See my tutorial on how to wash kale for washing and storage tips.
- Pomegranate Seeds: Add color, crunch and a sweet-tart bite. If you don’t have access to pomegranate seeds, try dried cranberries instead.
- Goat Cheese: Creamy, tangy and delicious! While I adore goat cheese in this salad, you can substitute feta cheese if you prefer.
- Candied Walnuts: These are quick and easy to make on the stove top. For the candied walnuts you’ll need butter, honey, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt and walnuts. Candied Pecans are a great alternative.
- Maple Vinaigrette: A simple dressing made with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, pure maple syrup, salt and pepper is the perfect vinaigrette for butternut squash salad. Be sure to use pure maple syrup, which is not the same as pancake syrup. Or feel free to substitute honey.
Find the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
How to Make Butternut Squash Salad
- Roast the butternut squash. Toss the cubed squash with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 425° F for about 30 minutes, until tender.
- Make the candied walnuts. Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet over low heat. Whisk in the honey, cinnamon, cayenne and salt. Add the walnuts and increase the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the coating caramelizes on the nuts and they are lightly toasted. Set them aside to cool. The coating will harden on the nuts as they cool.
- Make the maple vinaigrette dressing. Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until well combined.
- Assemble the salad. In a large salad bowl, toss the kale with the dressing. Add the roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, candied walnuts and goat cheese. Toss gently.
Make Ahead & Storage Tips
You can serve the salad right after making it or you can prep the components up to 2 days ahead and then toss everything together right before serving. To make ahead:
- Roast the squash, prepare the candied walnuts, make the dressing and wash the kale. Store these components in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Right before serving, proceed with the “assemble the salad” step of the recipe, tossing the vinaigrette with the kale and then adding the other ingredients.
- While leftover salad isn’t quite as good as when it is first tossed together, it is still quite tasty. Kale holds up well in salad dressing and will still be fresh for 1-2 days after tossing with the dressing. It will soften over time once dressed.
What to Serve with Butternut Squash Salad
Besides being a favorite holiday salad, I like to serve this butternut squash salad with soups such as French Onion Soup or Potato Soup. It’s also wonderful with heartier main dishes like Instant Pot Meatloaf, Spaghetti Squash Casserole, Pork Tenderloin and Air Fryer Chicken Breast.
I’ve also made this salad for the sole purpose of enjoying it for lunch over the course of a few days. With a homemade roll on the side, it’s a meal you’ll look forward to.
More Favorite Butternut Squash Recipes
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
- Butternut Squash Lasagna
- Wild Rice Salad
More Delicious Salad Recipes
Butternut Squash Salad
For the butternut squash:
- 4 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch pieces, 1 small squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
For the candied walnuts:
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup walnuts
For the maple vinaigrette:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
For the salad:
- 6 cups chopped kale
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- 4 ounces goat cheese
Roast the butternut squash:
- Preheat oven to 425° F. Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Roast squash for about 30 minutes, gently stirring every 10 minutes until tender. Remove from oven and let cool.
Make the candied walnuts:
- Place butter in a small nonstick skillet and melt over low heat. Whisk in the honey, cinnamon, cayenne and salt. Add the walnuts and increase the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes until nuts are caramelized and lightly toasted. Remove from heat and let cool.
Make the maple vinaigrette:
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk together well. (Or combine in a mason jar and shake with the lid on to mix.)
Assemble the salad:
- Place the washed, chopped kale in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the kale and toss to combine. Add the roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, goat cheese and candied walnuts. Toss gently. Serve.
- Salad can be served immediately or the individual components can be made up to 2 days ahead and then put together right before serving. To make ahead, roast the squash, prepare the candied walnuts, make the dressing and wash the kale. Store these components in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- After assembling the salad, the kale will stay fresh in the dressing for 1-2 days, and it will soften over time once dressed.