Winter fruit salad is filled with fresh apples, pears, mandarin orange slices, and chopped walnuts. Drizzled with a spiced maple orange dressing, the perfect flavors for the holidays.
My reader favorite fall fruit salad inspired this winter themed fruit salad, and I think you'll enjoy it! It's made with a handful of fresh, simple ingredients, and comes together in minutes.
Made with cubed apples and pears, mandarin orange slices, and chopped walnuts, this fruit salad couldn't be easier to assemble. The best part is the simple dressing that's made with orange juice, orange zest, maple syrup, and your favorite holiday spices.
Serve winter fruit salad at your next holiday party for Christmas, New Year's Eve, and Thanksgiving. Or serve at Christmas morning brunch - it pairs perfectly with a stack of buttermilk pancakes! This fruit salad also happens to be gluten-free and vegan, making it a great choice to suit a variety of needs.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Mandarin oranges - This is a broad category that includes several small, sweet citrus fruits. Mandarins, tangerines, clementines, or satsumas can be used interchangeably in this recipe. You may see them labeled as 'Cuties' or 'Sweeties' at US grocery stores.
- Apples - You'll need about two large, sweet apples for this recipe (or three to four small apples). Use your favorite - fuji, honeycrisp, gala, and red delicious are all great choices.
- Pears - Bartlett, d'anjou, or red pears work in this recipe. I recommend using green pears for a variety of color and visual appeal in your fruit salad. Or if using green apples, use red pears.
- Walnuts - Walnuts add a nice crunch to your fruit salad. Can be omitted if needed, or substituted with chopped pecans or sliced almonds.
- Orange - You'll need one orange to make your dressing. You'll use the zest and juice of the orange, so this ingredient can't be omitted. Or, buy 2 extra mandarin oranges to substitute for one orange.
- Maple syrup - Lightly sweetens your dressing. Can be substituted with honey (keep in mind your fruit salad will no longer be vegan if using honey).
- Spices - Adds a lightly spiced, holiday flavor to your fruit salad. You'll need cinnamon, a pinch of ginger, and a pinch of cloves. Or, ginger and cloves can be substituted with additional cinnamon (like my fall fruit salad recipe).
What kinds of fruits can I use?
The most common fruits for a winter fruit salad include: apples, mandarins, clementines, tangerines, kiwi, pears, and pomegranate arils.
Feel free to use any of these fruits in your winter fruit salad. Make it according to your tastes and preferences, and make something you'll enjoy.
How to prevent fruit salad from turning brown
Concerned about your fruit salad turning brown? Here are a few tips.
- Slice the apples and pears last - these are the fruits you'll be concerned with turning brown. Prepare your dressing first, peel and separate your mandarins, then slice the apples and pears.
- Quickly toss your fruits in the dressing after slicing. Dressing seals the fruits, preventing further oxidation. So don't skip the dressing, or eat an undressed salad immediately.
- Store leftover fruit salad in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator, pressing out any excess air (if possible).
- Serve fruit salad the same day as preparing. This ensures your fruit salad looks nice and fresh for guests.
Can fruit salad be made ahead?
Prepared fruit salad keeps well in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, but is best served within a day.
Want to make your salad a day ahead of time? Prepare according to the directions below, cover, and store in the refrigerator overnight. Before serving, give your salad a quick toss to incorporate any dressing that may have settled at the bottom of the bowl.
Winter Fruit Salad
- 1.5 pounds mandarin oranges
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 pound pears
- 1 pound sweet apples
- 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- In a bowl, add the zest and juice of one orange. Add maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, whisking to combine. Set aside.
- Peel and separate mandarin oranges into slices and place in a large bowl along with the chopped walnuts. Cube apples and pears into bite size pieces and add to the bowl. Immediately pour dressing over fruits and toss until evenly coated.
- Serve immediately or store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Salad can be prepared up to one day ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Give your salad a toss just before serving to incorporate any dressing that may have settled in the bottom of the bowl.
- Any apples can be used in this recipe - I recommend sweet apples like honeycrisp, fuji, or gala apples.
- Prepared fruit salad will keep for 3 to 4 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
- Juice of one orange = about ¼ cup