Heirloom Apple Salad

The sort of hearty apple salad I love. It has heirloom apples, shaved celery, and toasted nuts of your choosing. The dressing is creamy and spiked with rosemary, garlic and champagne vinegar.

Heirloom Apple Salad

If you're looking for a simple apple salad, you're in the right place. There's a reasonable chance that you have the ingredients needed to make it sprinkled around your kitchen - on counter tops, or in the crisper. And if not, there are lots of ways to make substitutes. It's hearty and substantial, colorful and crunchy - made with heirloom apples, shaved celery, and toasted nuts of your choosing. The dressing is crème fraîche (or sour cream) spiked with rosemary, garlic and champagne vinegar. 
Heirloom Apple Salad

Apple Salads - All About the Crunch

This salad is big on crunch. And that alone is likely the reason it has become a fall favorite. There's crunch from crisp apples, celery, and nuts. Pair that with the creaminess in the dressing? It's a nice contrast. My main tip? Seek out crisp apples with good flavor. And pass on mealy apples.
Heirloom Apple Salad


Think of this recipe as more of a sketch than anything else. I used arugula because it's what I had on hand, but the baby gems at the market looked great and would have been a nice substitute. Same goes for the nuts. Toast whatever you have on hand - pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts. And on the dressing front, crème fraîche brings a beautiful luxe texture into the mix, but  you can certainly use sour cream or even yogurt, and whatever good-tasting white wine vinegar you like.
Slicing Apples for Apple Salad

Slicing the Apples

Another variable you can experiment is the cut of the apple. You can see my preferred slices up above. They thick enough to retain some snap, and bite-sized. I like them sliced this way so you can get a bit of everything on a fork - some arugula, apple, nuts, etc. But if you really love apples, add more and slice them thicker. I also have it in my notes to do an apple salsa of sorts - with everything chopped smaller & a few serrano chiles chopped and added to the mix. For use on winter panini, and the like.
Bowl of Apple Salad in the Kitchen

The Dressing

The dressing is great on all sorts of things. Not just apple salad. It's decadent drizzled over roasted potatoes (or sweet potatoes!), as a finishing kiss for mushrooms, or as a slather on panini. I also love it drizzled over oven-roasted broccoli, or a medley of sheet-pan baked vegetables.Heirloom Apple Salad

Your Apple Salad Ideas

Over the years you've left some great suggestions and variations in the comments. I'm going to highlight a few and also encourage you to let us know of any riffs on the recipe you enjoy in the future!

  • Amanda says, " I grated a half a celery root into the salad as well, which boosted the yummy celery flavor and added another texture. So good!"
  • Chase brilliantly swapped in pears, "I have made this salad 8 times in the last 10 days!!!! An instant favorite! Hazelnuts were the nut of choice and a pear/apple mix with some added Rosemary crostini crumbled in gives it a great crunch!!!"
  • Dana turned it into more of a main dish, "I added some cooked and cooled wheat berries to this salad and it was divine! Nutty crunch and great nutrition to bulk it up for a main course dinner."
  • Kara introduced a few ingredients, "“Hallelujah!” is what I thought when I bit into this salad today for lunch! I substituted baby broccoli for the celery, used walnuts, and some sliced Parmesan."

Have fun and poke around for more salad recipes, or more fall recipe inspiration. I love this Genius Kale Salad, this Shaved Fennel Salad from Super Natural Every Day, this pure Cilantro Salad for the cilantro fans out there, and for more of a main, this Hazelnut & Chard Ravioli Salad is always a go-to. And if you're looking for a way to use up apples? This is the apple pie!

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Heirloom Apple Salad

4.35 from 20 votes

A bit of hard, aged cheese is welcome here as well - shave of thin strips and add toward the end.

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 12 rosemary leaves, minced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup / 120 ml crème fraîche (or sour cream)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 large celery stalks, sliced thinly
  • 2 crisp heirloom apples, cut into sixths, and then thinly sliced*
  • 4 handfuls arugula, baby gems, or baby romaine
  • 1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, or pine nuts
  1. Make the dressing first. Crush the sea salt, rosemary, garlic, and sugar into a paste with a mortar and pestle (or smash it all together with a knife). Work in the creme fraiche and vinegar, taste and adjust with a bit of pepper and more salt if needed.
  2. When you're ready to serve, combine the celery, apples, salad greens, and most of the nuts with a few half of the dressing. Toss well, adding more dressing until it is to your liking. Finish with the remaining nuts, and any torn celery leaves.

Serves 4-6.

* If you're not going to use the apples immediately keep them in a bowl of water spiked with a bit of lemon juice (or the white wine vinegar you're using for the dressing). Drain and pat dry before using.

Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
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Recipe Rating


Lovely fresh, bright, sweet & tangy, crunchy & creamy salad. I used fresh dill instead of rosemary, which was delicious.5 stars


Instead of celery, I used some bulb fennel cut thinly because I think fennel compliments apple very nicely. Otherwise, a great recipe and definitely a keeper..5 stars

Jim Tarrant

    Thanks Jim – love the swap!

    Heidi Swanson

Delicious! Healthy and full flavor with just the right about of sweet! Highly recommend!


Amazing quick salad! My husband kept saying Yum!5 stars


I finally made this last night, and we had it with some sauteed scallops. It was so delicious, and my husband absolutely loved it. I struggle to get him to eat vegetables of any kind, and he ate this up. I served it with arugula and it was everything I wanted it to be — crunchy, sweet and tart. I might even add dried cranberries next time.

Sheila C Noone

    Love hearing this Sheila!

    Heidi Swanson

So delicious Heidi! Thank you – just the inspiration I needed today! Added some goat gouda, roasted almonds, and scallions … new favorite salad and excited to try some of the variations too!5 stars


    Oooh! Sounds amazing!

    Heidi Swanson

Super tasty recipe! I grated a half a celery root into the salad as well, which boosted the yummy celery flavor and added another texture. So good!


i added some cooked and cooled wheatberries to this salad and it was divine! nutty crunch and great nutrition to bulk it up for a main course dinner.


I have made this salad 8 times in the last 10 days!!!! An instant favorite! Hazelnuts were the nut of choice and a pear/apple mix with some added Rosemary crostini crumbled in gives it a great crunch!!! Thank you for posting a recipe that will be an heirloom in our family!!!

Chase Ferrer

I just made this heirloom apple salad with Black Twig apples from a local orchard — oh wow, I love it! My pantry was missing a few ingredients, so I made do with what I had available:
— Instead of arugula, I subbed baby kale and parsley from my garden
— Instead of white wine vinegar, I used tangerine balsamic from a local artisan
— Instead of sour cream (mine was growing blue hair, oops), mayo
(Just to share ideas for how to compensate)
Thank you for this delicious and healthy dish!

Fat Junie

Thank you so much for digging this out of your archives. Otherwise I likely would have never seen it and then would be deprived of this salad. I’ll be making this soon for lunch with hard cheese and crusty bread.


This salad looks tasty but your descriptive writing is what draws me in and makes me want to try it. That dressing!! What a delectable sounding fall treat! As always, your blog is a treat for the eyes and the mind.

Loran | Old World Living

Nice. Would you add a dash of lemon to keep the apples from browning? I’m doing more savoury things with apples this year. Such a bumper harvest in the UK and there’s only so much cake and crumble that one could eat.


Sorry, doh, rosemary..not thyme. (Although it did make me experiment with thyme too, which was also good!)


This is one of your recipes that I’ve been making time and time again since you posted. I never tire of it. I’ve used pumpkin seeds and greek yogurt with it too, so good. Also you’ve introduced me to the idea of using thyme in a cold dish like this, which has been fun to experiment with! Fave recipe!


I substituted greek yogurt for the creme fraiche/sour cream and it worked out very well. I’ll definitely make this again. I might add some golden raisins next time.


I just made this, and my boyfriend LOVED it! So did I. Used greek yogurt, added Marcona truffled almonds along with extra garlic and rosemary.


Very delicious ! I made the salad today with mixed greens and baby spinach, cut back on the celery a bit, used toasted hazelnuts and added a handful of dried cranberries. Sooo good !!! 😀


Delicious!! I made this tonight and added kale and radish sprouts.


Looks great can’t wait to try it.

Abbe rose

“Hallelujah!” is what I thought when I bit into this salad today for lunch! I substituted baby broccoli for the celery, used walnuts, and some sliced Parmesan. So yum, and I’m thrilled to have a new salad recipe to add to my repertoire. Thanks!


Thank you for the delicious apple salad recipe! What a refreshing change of pace for this time of the year.

CarolAnne Bopp

I love salad. I at least make one salad a day for my family because it taste fresh and it’s very healthy. Now I read your recipe, I think we are going to have something different tomorrow. Nice to try! Thank you!


Great salad! Did you get those apples at Bi-Rite market? Or the SF Ferry Building? If so, I think we grew those beautiful Arkansas Blacks!
HS: Hi Jolie! I did – at the Ferry Building! I love Devoto gardens, and try to get to your stand as early as possible to see what sort of flowers you have as well. Those huge pale pink dahlias (earlier in the year) are my absolutely favorite, but they go so fast!


Are those Arkansas Black apples? Their one of my favorite, but difficult to find.


This looks like the perfect salad! The pine nuts are a nice touch!


Made this salad today – delish! I used sour cream, walnuts, and thinly sliced fennel instead of celery. It was lovely!


I made this yesterday and was beyond pleased. The dressing is amazing. I think i had it for every meal today! i used Fiji apples & sour cream BTW. thanks Heidi.


Delicious salad! Went over extremely well at potluck in Mexico-teemed with tamales! Thanks!




Wonderful recipe! I cant wait to try this one. I came across these super interesting Arkansas Black Apples last month while ingredient hunting for Thanksgiving. I picked up a few to taste… loved them! Running to get more to try this recipe. Thanks!!!


Some feedback to above comment – this is my new BEST SALAD EVER! I might add some roasted kabocha squash next time because, being honest, what recipe doesn’t benefit from winter squash!
p.s. vegan tip – I made this with a blend of soy yoghurt and soaked cashews for creme fraiche


Hi Heidi,
I just got a bunch of napa cabbage from greenhearts so I’m going to try to add some of that as well, but I’d like to sub the sour cream with plain greek yogurt. Will there be some unexpected chemical reaction if I do that? Yogurt and vinegar doesn’t sound like a good combo, but I’m hoping it’s unexpectedly good?
Leah in Nopa


This looks delicious! I have some gorgeous fresh apples from market today as well and with some brown rice I think this will be the perfect crisp/creamy combo for a winter salad! Thanks Heidi!


Thank you! Have totally enjoyed this and the orange broccoli this week. While I believe that walnuts and apples are born to be together, I used almonds as I was too lazy to take the steps for the walnuts. This dressing (made with sour cream) is intoxicating. Thinking of holiday parties and the addition of dried cranberries! Oh yes, your castle shortbread is heavenly. Thanks for creative and reliable. Hopefully you are high and dry now! Happy Everything.


Was thinking…mache (aka Lamb’s Lettuce) would be a great sub for arugula for those that find its taste to peppery! Mache is one of my ALL time favorite lettuces – soft, buttery – but it wouldn’t steal the show from the apples. Wishing you strength and grace in the midst of your basement disaster…..


This apple salad is very delicious! I’m gonna make some more this weekend. Anyway, good luck with cleaning out the mess in your basement.

Jeff @ Cheeseburger

Sounds like a fabulous base for any sort of interchangeable ingredients one might have on hand. Belgian endive is a fave with apples and lends the crunch of paper-thin celery as an option. Thanks for your continuous inspiration and creativity!!

Diane T.

I made this salad and it was amazing! That dressing was one of the best ones I have ever made (I also used it to top some baked sweet potato wedges that night) – definitely going to be using it again! Thank you!


I enjoyed this salad last night. Thank you so much! This helped get me out of a basic improvised dressing rut.


Not a big fan of rosemary. Can you suggest another herb?


Sasa, what about jicama for the celery? This sounds amazing; hoping to make it soon. 🙂


Heidi, can you clarify on the rosemary called for in the heirloom apple salad? By 12 ‘leaves’ do you mean to simply pull off 12 of the tiny spikey parts from one stem, stopping at 12? Or am I missing something completely? Rosemary is very strong and I love it, but don’t want to overdo. Thanks much! Rachel

HS: Exactly, Rachel – 12 of the little needles.


What a bright, fresh salad for a normally cold and dreary time of year.

Laura @FoodSnobSTL

This both looks and sounds delicious. I’m actually really excited by this post, although it is almost winter, I still love eating salads! I think they’re great! So thank you very much for yet another yummie salad recipe! 😀
Love, Saar

Saar Dockx

Apples go so perfectly in fresh salads. They have just the right balance of sweet to tart, and in my opinion, elevate most salads to the next level. I imagine the rosemary and celery also add a great flavor kick!

Jodye @ Chocolate and Chou Fleur

This salad sounds great! Love this idea!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

This sounds SO delcious! thanks!

jaime @ la vie...j'aime

This looks absolutely perfect! I haven’t had a Heidi-inspired salad for awhile. I think it’s time to change that.

Haley @ Cheap Recipe Blog

This looks like the excuse I’ve been waiting for to try making my own creme fraiche. Been wanting to do so since my local dairy person told me how.

Pam B

So this is basically a Heidi-fied Waldorf salad! E.g. more sophisticated, more yummy, more interesting. Thanks a lot, Heidi, I ‘m going to try the dressing with plain Greek yoghurt. Best luck with the clean- up!

Suzanne in Santa Cruz

I made a great apple salad too. I do chunks of sweet, crisp apple, chunks of aged cheddar, baby romaine and a honey mustard dressing. Sometimes some toasted pecans tossed in. Your salad looks delicious!


i really love to mix fruit with vegetables. When i dont have apples i use pears. It is delicious

Ana Cooks

perfect flavor combo! love the nutty crunch too!

fig + fauna

Perfect. As Chanukah approaches, I get ready to make what we dubbed “latke recovery salad”: tart apples, romaine, celery and nuts with apple cider vinegar honey mustard vinaigrette (no oil!). It’s perfect after having several plates full of latkes.
Now I will make your dressing for when I bring the leftover salad to work the next day 🙂


That salad looks amazing and that dressing sounds perfect! Do you have any idea what that variety of heirloom apple is?…we are always looking for “new” ones to put in at our farm.
Good luck with the basement cleanup!!

HS: HI Kay – I think those were Arkansas black apples.


Yum! Can sense this one will become a favourite- the dressing is sensational!


Funny thing, I just posted an article on heirloom foods on my blog: talking about coincidences. This salad is just perfect, I’m gonna add a link to this recipe.
Btw, do you know what’s the name of the variety of apples you used? They almost look like plums.
Anyway, so sorry to hear about your basement, hopefully you’ll get everything back in order soon enough.

HS: Hi Mike, I believe they were Arkansas Black apples.

Mike @TheIronYou

lunch = sorted!


So sorry to hear about the basement; wishing you the best of luck. Salad sounds really good – crunchy and fresh!


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