Autumn Crisp Apple Sweet Potato Salad
The most delicious autumn apple sweet potato salad! This salad is quick and easy to throw together and is loaded with crisp apples, roasted sweet potatoes, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds. The maple apple cider vinaigrette really takes the flavors over the top!
Hubby declared this his favorite salad.
The guy that doesn’t even like salads, found one that he didn’t like but loved.
And how could you not with peppery arugula as the base, tender cinnamon-scented roasted sweet potatoes, crisp apples, salted sunflower seeds, and creamy crumbled goat cheese? Apple sweet potato salad has a bit of everything, and it all ends up being one big party in your mouth.
Needless to say, there is a lot to love about this salad. On weekdays, I like to use cooked diced chicken to make a quick lunch salad that’s both hearty and filling. If you’ve got a rotisserie chicken in the refrigerator, it’ll work beautifully here.
What do you need to make apple sweet potato salad?
- Sweet potatoes: two medium-sized sweet potatoes that are diced into a ½ inch cubes is what you’ll need.
- Seasonings + oil: I toss the sweet potatoes in a splash of olive oil that’s been seasoned with ground cinnamon, a dash of cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. These flavors work so well with the apples and maple syrup in the recipe.
- Fresh arugula: Peppery arugula adds the perfect flavor to tone down the sweet notes in this salad. You could also use baby kale here if you don’t like arugula.
- Apples: my apple of choice for this salad is a big Honeycrisp! Pink Lady’s or Fuji apples will also work here. And honestly, any kind of apple that you like to eat raw would do.
- Goat cheese: crumbled goat cheese adds a nice creamy note to this salad.
- Sunflower seeds: We’ve always got a bag of roasted sunflower seeds at home so that’s what I added, but pepitas, toasted pecans, or walnuts would also work!
- Dried cranberries: that are 50% less sweet are my choice here. Using unsweetened cranberries would also work. Raisins are another alternative, however, I do find that they make the salad quite a bit sweeter. If raisins are what you decide to use, I’d use a lot less than ½ a cup!
What goes in the apple cider vinaigrette?
- Oil: I like to use olive oil for this recipe air the flavors work really well with the salad. Oil plays a very crucial role in homemade vinaigrette’s so it’s important to use mild-flavored olive oil, one that doesn’t have too much personality as it might combat the other ingredients in the vinaigrette. You could use a filtered coconut (so it doesn’t taste like coconut) or avocado oil as well.
- Apple cider vinegar: I prefer to use this brand. I’ve tried this recipe with lemon juice in place of the apple cider as well as red wine vinegar and though it does work with both, ACV pairs really well with all the other ingredients.
- Maple syrup: A good quality maple syrup adds just the right amount of sweetness to the vinaigrette. Keep in mind that I use just 2 tablespoons in the dressing because the ingredients in the salad, like the apples and dried cranberries, add quite a bit of sweetness. You could even cut back a little if you usually don’t like sweeter salads!
- Mustard: Dijon mustard is the emulsifier in this recipe. It plays a two-part role. First, it helps flavor the vinaigrette. Secondly, it keeps it from separating. If you don’t like the taste of Dijon, you can swap it for honey mustard, I tested it and it works just fine here!
- Salt and pepper: just a pinch of each helps season the dressing and balance the other flavors.
How to make the best crisp apple sweet potato salad:
- Roast the potatoes: toss the potatoes in olive oil, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper and spread them out on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven. While the potatoes are roasting get the rest of your ingredients ready to go and make the dressing.
- Make the dressing. Add the ingredients for the dressing in a mason jar and give it a quick shake until the ingredients combine.
- Assemble the salad. Add the arugula to a large serving bowl, top with the roast sweet potatoes, diced apples, sunflower seeds, cranberries, and goat cheese. Drizzle in half of the dressing and toss to combine. Taste and adjust with additional dressing as desired.
FAQs about apple sweet potato salad:
- Can I make the sweet potatoes in the air fryer? Yes, I’ve tested the potatoes in the air fryer, and they come out perfect. You’ll want to cook them at 400ºF for 10-12 minutes. Each air fryer is different, so I suggest keeping an eye on them once they pass the 8-minute mark. Mine took exactly 10 minutes.
- I don’t have maple syrup; can I use something else? You could swap the maple syrup for honey or agave if you’d like. Keep in mind that the flavor of maple syrup works best with the other ingredients in this recipe. However, the subs I’ve mentioned will also work if that’s what you have on hand.
- I don’t like goat cheese; can I use a substitute? You can swap the goat cheese for crumbled feta.
- I don’t have apple cider vinegar; can I use a different vinegar? You can swap the apple cider vinegar for red wine vinegar in this recipe.
What can I serve with this sweet potato salad?
I usually just add cooked diced chicken directly to the salad here and it works great. You could also serve this with:
- Cheesy Wild Rice Chicken Fritters
- Garlic Butter Baked Chicken Breasts
- Roasted Herb Butter Spatchcock Chicken
- 1-Hour Whole Roasted Chicken
- Sheet Pan Za’atar Chicken and Potatoes
- Garlic Citrus Chicken with Brussels Sprouts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into ½ inch cubes
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon + ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 (5-ounce) bag fresh arugula or baby kale
- 1 ½ cups apples, peeled and diced into ½ inch cubes
- ½ cup crumbled goat cheese (or feta or blue cheese)
- ½ cup sunflower seeds or pepitas (pecans or walnuts work too)
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard (or honey mustard)
- ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper
- POTATOES: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a bowl, add the olive oil, cinnamon, cayenne, a big pinch of salt, and some freshly cracked black pepper. Stir or swirl the bowl to combine. Add the sweet potatoes to the bowl and toss until all the potatoes are lightly coated. Spread the potatoes out onto a baking sheet and roast the potatoes for 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, brown, and toasted around the edges. Make the dressing while the potatoes are cooking. Remove the potatoes and set aside.
- DRESSING: combine the ingredients for the dressing in a mason jar and shake with a lid on or whisk it together in a measuring cup.
- ASSEMBLE: Add the arugula to a large serving bowl, top with sweet potatoes, diced apples, goat cheese, sunflower seeds, and cranberries. Drizzle in just over half of the dressing and toss to combine. Taste and adjust with additional dressing as desired. Serve immediately!
You can also make the sweet potatoes in an air fryer. Mine took 10 minutes at 400ºF. Just keep an eye on them once you pass the 8-minute mark to make sure they don’t overcook!