This Autumn Chopped Salad combines succulent pears, salty bacon, tart cranberries, sharp cheese, and crunchy pecans with a sweet balsamic dressing on a bed of romaine. If you are looking for a special salad to wow your guests this is it!
I can never make enough of this salad. Seriously. Every single time I serve it to a crowd I run out. I guess that speaks for how delicious it is.
The great thing about chopped salads is the ratio of lettuce to toppings. Lettuce is good...but bacon, cheese, fruit and nuts are greater! 😉 The salad dressing combines two store bought flavors together to create one fast, easy, and delicious dressing. Best of all it can be adjusted to fit your preferences.
I was inspired to make this salad many years ago after seeing this one on Espresso and Cream. Over the years I have changed it and added new ingredients to fit our preferences.
Romaine: Romaine hearts make the perfect base because they are tender yet crunchy. However, a regular head of romaine is delicious as well.
Red pears: Choose a pear that is not rock solid but doesn’t indent when pressed.
Cheddar cheese: Sharp or extra sharp cheddar will make all the difference here. A perfect contrast to the sweet pear.
Cranberries: Dried cranberries add a hint of sweet and a beautiful red color to the salad.
Pecans: Here is an excellent recipe for homemade Maple Pecans, but feel free to buy candied pecans from the store. Either make a delicious topping.
Bacon: Thick-cut bacon is the best choice.
Dressing: Choose your favorite brand of balsamic and poppyseed. Half of each in a jar and then shake.
When I make this salad I start by putting the bacon in the oven. Then I make the pecans. While those are cooling, I dice the cheese and pears, wash the lettuce, and combine the dressings.
Once all the ingredients are prepped, it's time to assemble. Luckily, it is pretty simple...romaine, then toppings, then dressing. Finally, give it a good toss.
👨👩👧👦 For a crowd
This salad is always a crowd pleaser. To make it as easy as possible on the day of, prep all the ingredients ahead and store separately. Refer to the question below 👇🏻 for a more detailed explanation. When it is time to serve toss together and add dressing. The salad is best if it dressed at the last second.
🙋 Questions & Answers
Yes. The following ingredients can be purchased all ready to go.
Bacon: real bacon bits that are already cooked and chopped.
Cheese: use pre-shredded or cubed cheese.
Pecans: use candied nuts. They're usually found in the produce section.
Yes. The following ingredients can be freshly made. Making them yourself really does amp up the flavor!
Bacon: try this Easy Oven Baked Bacon with 3 Candied Options. It will blow your mind.
Cheddar: use an extra sharp one. My personal favorite is Tillamock extra-sharp cheddar.
Pecans: These 3-ingredient Maple Pecans will change your life. At least while you eat them on the salad. 😋
When I am serving this as part of a meal I prefer to do the prep the day before. Wash the lettuce and cut to size. I like to store mine in this salad spinner because it keeps the lettuce from turning brown on the edges. All the toppings can be prepped except for the pears. Cut them just before serving or else they will turn brown. I store each of the components separately and then combine at the last minute. Finally, the dressings can be poured into a jar, shaken up, and stored in the refrigerator.
📖 More recipes
- Pairs well with these Chicken Breasts in Lemon Sauce
- As a side with these Red Skinned Mashed Potatoes
👨🏼🍳 Tips & Tricks
- Make sure the bacon is crispy. Soggy bacon in a salad is a no-go.
- Be sure not to cut the pear too far ahead. It will begin to brown pretty quickly.
- Buy good quality dressing. It will be a star of the show.
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Autumn Chopped Salad
- 8 cups romaine hearts chopped
- 1 pear chopped
- 8 pieces bacon cooked and chopped
- 1 recipe Maple Pecans chopped
- ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese diced
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup balsamic vinaigrette
- ½ cup poppy seed dressing
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line sheet pan with parchment or foil for easy clean up. Place bacon on sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes until crisp.
- Make Maple Pecans according to recipe.
- Place romaine in serving bowl. Top with pears, bacon, pecans, cheese, and cranberries.
- Add dressings to a jar. Shake vigorously to combine. Pour dressing over salad. Use tongs to gently toss. Serve immediately.
- Bacon: real bacon bits that are already cooked and chopped.
- Cheese: use pre-shredded or cubed cheese.
- Pecans: use candied nuts. They're usually found in the produce section.
- Bacon: try this Easy Oven Baked Bacon with 3 Candied Options. It will blow your mind.
- Cheddar: use an extra sharp one. My personal favorite is Tillamock extra-sharp cheddar.