Church Lady Salad (Winter Fruit Salad)

This leafy green salad is the perfect side dish for nearly any meal. The dressing is sweet, and the apples and pecans add lots of crunch!

cream bowl filled with winter fruit salad on a table with rice and steak.

If you go to church or grew up in the church, you’d undoubtedly seen what I call a Church Lady Cookbook.

It’s a self-published collection of recipes from the ladies of the church, spiral bound into a book covered with hearts, roosters, or cartoon ladies holding steaming apple pies.

Every once in awhile, you find a recipe inside that is pure gold, like this Strawberry Spinach Salad.

Or maybe it’s a recipe that reminds you of holidays from way back. Pistachio Salad, anyone? Or maybe it’s an amazing recipe for corn casserole.

In the case of Church Lady Salad, it’s just a really tasty salad recipe—one that you’ll make again and again.

The actual name for this recipe is Winter Fruit Salad. It’s a bit misleading because it’s not actually a fruit salad, but rather a leafy green salad that contains fruit.

Well named or not, it’s a delightful combination of tender greens, pecans, apples, cheese, and dried cranberries in a homemade poppyseed vinaigrette.

leafy green winter fruit salad in a cream bowl.

How to make winter fruit salad

The recipe starts with a homemade poppyseed vinaigrette. It’s a sweet vinaigrette, with a ½ cup of granulated sugar. It truly transforms the salad into something wonderful.

You’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon poppyseeds

I like to combine these in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and shake to combine. I find it easier than using a whisk.

winter fruit salad in a cream bowl next to a bowl of rice and a platter of steak.

The salad itself is a base of spring mix. You could also use green leaf lettuce or red leaf lettuce.

I find that it tastes a little watery when using romaine, so I don’t recommend it.

Then comes the toppings!

  • ¾ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 large apple, cubed (I used Pink Lady)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese, such as swiss, gouda, or manchego
  • ½ cup dried cranberries

The type of apple and the type of cheese is up to you. I like using a red or pink apple for a pop of color.

You can typically find swiss cheese pre-shredded to make it even easier.

The only thing left to do is toss it all together, and dig in!

dinner plate with steak, rice, winter fruit salad, and plantains on a dinner table.

Serving the salad

Winter Fruit Salad goes with just about everything!

I served it most recently with Cuban Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Arroz Moro (Cuban Black Beans and Rice).

The salad is not remotely Cuban, but it complemented the meal really well.

It would also go well with lasagna, pizza, sandwiches, beef roasts, pork roasts, etc. It’s also great for a potluck or picnic—just toss it right before serving.

Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!

📖 Recipe

green salad in a cream bowl

Church Lady Salad (Winter Fruit Salad)

Published by Kate
This flavorful green salad is quick to make, and impressive enough to take to a gathering!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 227 kcal


For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • cup lemon juice
  • cup vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon poppyseeds

For the salad:

  • 1 large head lettuce, torn (or 10 oz of bagged/boxed lettuce)
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 large apple, cubed (I used Pink Lady)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese, such as swiss, gouda, or manchego
  • ½ cup dried cranberries


For the vinaigrette:

  • Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a 16 oz jar with a tight fitting lid. Screw on the lid and shake until combined.

For the salad:

  • Add all of the salad ingredients to a large bowl, reserving a few tablespoons of all topping ingredients (pecans, apple, cheese, and cranberries) for the top.
  • Toss half of the vinaigrette with the salad mixture. Add more if desired. Top with the reserved topping ingredients and serve immediately.


You can substitute one ripe pear (chopped) in place of the apple. You can also substitute walnuts in place of the pecans.
Don’t have a shallot? Replace it with 1 tablespoon of chopped yellow onion.


Calories: 227kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 5gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 243mgPotassium: 212mgFiber: 3gSugar: 23gVitamin A: 2051IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 112mgIron: 1mg
Keyword green salad, poppyseed dressing
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a star rating and comment below!

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