Authentic Southern Salad Recipe – The Perfect Side Dish

My dear reader, it is with the utmost pleasure that I bring you today’s recipe article. As a chef specializing in southern-style cuisine, I take pride in sharing my expertise in the art of culinary creation with others. The recipe I will be sharing with you today is none other than the classic southern salad.

Salads are often overlooked as mere side dishes or basic meals, but I implore you to give this southern-style salad recipe a chance. It incorporates flavors and ingredients unique to the south, bringing an old fashioned and soulful touch to your table.

The crisp crunch of fresh veggies like red onions and bell peppers mixed with southwestern staples like black beans and corn are truly a match made in heaven. And let us not forget about the dried cranberries and feta cheese, adding both tangy and sweet notes to the mix.

This recipe is versatile enough to be served as its own meal or as a side dish paired with any main course. Whether you’re looking for an easy vegan option or chicken salad for Thanksgiving dinner, this southern-style salad recipe can easily be tailored to your preferences.

So come along on this culinary journey with me, my dear reader. Let’s dive into the ingredients and techniques needed to make this delicious classic southern salad recipe.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Southern Salad
Southern Salad

My dearest readers, if you’re looking for a salad recipe that will take your taste buds on a Southern journey, then you’ve come to the right place. Let me introduce to you my irresistible southern-style salad recipe that will satisfy your soul and tantalize your senses.

So why should you try this recipe? Well, let me tell you why. First and foremost, it’s easy to make, with simple ingredients that can be found in any grocery store. Secondly, it’s versatile enough to eat on its own as a main dish or as a side dish to your favorite meal. Thirdly, the combination of ingredients like pecans, feta cheese, and dried cranberries creates a perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors that will make you want to reach for seconds.

If you’re still not convinced, this recipe is also perfect for a range of dietary preferences. For all the meat lovers out there, I recommend adding some chicken to make it more flavorful. For those who prefer vegan options, just remove the feta cheese from the ingredient list.

Additionally, with the holiday season fast approaching, this salad could be the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table. It has all the flavors of traditional Southern dressing with hints of sage and cornbread mixed in.

In conclusion my dearest readers, whether you’re looking for old-fashioned soul food or trying something new, this southern-style salad recipe ticks all the boxes. So don’t wait any longer and give it a try!

Ingredient List

 A colorful and crunchy salad never looked so good.
A colorful and crunchy salad never looked so good.

Ingredients for Southern Salad Recipe

Here is the list of all ingredients you would need to prepare this classic southern salad recipe.


  • 4 cups of mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese


  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of raspberry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

This salad recipe calls for simple ingredients that are easy to find. The mixed greens can be a combination of kale, romaine, and spinach or any green salads available in your local supermarket. For the best flavor, you can roast the pecans until they release their aroma or use store-bought roasted pecans. The sweetness in this Southern salad recipe comes from the combination of dried cranberries and raspberry vinegar dressing. The feta cheese adds a tangy flavor that balances well with the sweetness in the salad.

The Recipe How-To

 A southern-style salad that hits all the right notes.
A southern-style salad that hits all the right notes.

Now, it’s time to get down to business and whip up this delicious southern salad. Here are the steps to follow:


  • 2 cups Southern corn
  • 1 Vidalia onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Step 1: Cook the Corn

Add olive oil to a skillet on medium heat, then add in two cups of southern corn and chopped onion. Season with black pepper and salt to taste, and cook for about five minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Step 2: Toast the Pecans

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the pecan halves on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about five minutes or until golden brown. Be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Step 3: Assemble the Salad

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked corn mixture with the toasted pecans, dried cranberries, and crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and season with fresh ground pepper.

Salad Dressing Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Step 4: Prepare the Dressing

To make the dressing, whisk together raspberry vinegar, salt, sugar, and Dijon mustard in a small bowl. While whisking constantly, slowly stream in a quarter cup of extra-virgin olive oil until the dressing is emulsified.

Step 5: Dress the Salad and Serve

Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss well to coat everything evenly. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Voila! Your southern salad is now ready to be served and enjoyed.

Substitutions and Variations

 Fresh ingredients come together to create a flavorful masterpiece.
Fresh ingredients come together to create a flavorful masterpiece.

My dear readers, for those of you who enjoy experimenting with your recipes, I have some exciting news for you! This Southern Salad Recipe can be easily customized to suit your personal taste and dietary preferences. Regardless of whether you prefer to add a little extra sweetness or a bit of zest, these substitutions and variations will certainly add an extra kick to your salad!

Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room – feta cheese. I understand that not all of us are fans of this particular cheese, and I respect that. For a vegan-friendly version, consider using crumbled tofu, cashew cheese, or nutritional yeast as a substitute, and if you’re looking for a sharper flavor, Parmesan cheese would make a delicious alternative.

Next up is red onion. If you find that its pungent taste isn’t quite to your liking or if it upsets your stomach, consider using Vidalia onions instead. These onions have a milder and sweeter flavor compared to other types of onions and are perfect for adding flavor without overwhelming the palate.

Moving onto pecans. For an additional crunch, try substituting pecans with walnuts or almonds. Dried cranberries can also be replaced with raisins or dried cherries for an alternative sweet flavor.

As for the salad dressing, feel free to experiment with different oils such as vegetable oil, sunflower oil or even avocado oil. Instead of raspberry vinegar, apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar can be used instead to change the taste profile.

Lastly, if you’re looking to turn this classic Southern dish into more of a full meal deal, there are several substitutions you can make. For example, add grilled chicken pieces or black beans for extra protein. You could also include roasted sweet potatoes chunks (maybe even seasoned with sage?) or good ole’ fashioned cornbread croutons (Yes!), adding some bulk and new textures.

As always my dear readers, don’t be afraid to let creativity take the reins when cooking. With these substitutions and variations, you can transform this Southern Salad Recipe into a whole new dish altogether or just make it your own!

Serving and Pairing

 Birmingham, Alabama's finest ingredients make this salad a true southern gem.
Birmingham, Alabama’s finest ingredients make this salad a true southern gem.

Now that you’ve created this divine southern-style salad, let’s talk about how to serve and pair it! This salad recipe can be served as the main course of a light lunch or accompanied by grilled chicken or cornbread for a more substantial meal.

If you’re looking for a vegan option, you can simply leave out the feta cheese or substitute it with a vegan alternative such as tofu. Otherwise, the feta cheese in this southern salad provides a tangy and salty taste that contrasts perfectly with the sweet dried cranberries and crunchy pecans.

To further enhance the flavors of this dish, pair it with an equally flavorful dressing made from olive oil, Dijon mustard, raspberry vinegar, and a hint of sugar. This dressing is both sweet and tangy which perfectly complements the savory ingredients of the southern salad.

As far as pairing goes, this southern salad is a versatile dish that can be served with many things. For example, if you want to keep it light, serve it with a side of fresh fruit or warm bread. On the other hand, if you’re craving something hearty try pairing it with traditional southern soul food dishes such as fried chicken or mashed potatoes.

In summary, the perfect way to serve this classic southern-style salad is to add grilled chicken on top or as a perfect companion to your Thanksgiving feast. It’s delicious any way you eat it!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Toss aside the boring salads and try this explosion of flavor.
Toss aside the boring salads and try this explosion of flavor.

Ah, the joys of a salad that you can prepare ahead and enjoy for days to come. This Southern Salad Recipe is no exception! In fact, it’s one of the easiest salads to make-ahead, store and reheat that I have come across.

If you are planning to make the salad ahead of time, you can prepare all the ingredients separately and mix them together at the last minute. This will ensure that each component of the salad stays fresh and crisp. For optimal freshness, I recommend keeping the dressing on the side until you’re ready to serve.

When storing leftovers, I recommend storing them in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 3 days. This Southern Salad still tastes amazing even after a couple of days in the fridge thanks to its hearty ingredients such as feta cheese, pecans and dried cranberries.

If you need to reheat or refresh the salad, let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving. You may also add a drizzle of olive oil for added moisture if needed.

As tempting as it may be, I highly advise against freezing this salad due to its fresh ingredients. The texture will be altered and it won’t taste as good as it did initially.

Whether you’re meal prepping or looking for a tasty side dish to make ahead of time, this Southern Salad is perfect for any occasion. So go ahead and make it ahead! Your taste buds and busy schedule will thank you.

Tips for Perfect Results

 This salad is a perfect summer side dish that is sure to impress.
This salad is a perfect summer side dish that is sure to impress.

As a Southern-style cuisine chef, I’ve spent years perfecting the art of crafting delicious salads. Here are some tips to ensure your Southern Salad Recipe comes out perfectly every time.

First, when preparing the pecans, be sure to toast them beforehand. Toasting will enhance their natural nutty flavor and give them a nice crunch. To toast them, preheat your oven to 350°F, then spread the pecan halves out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until they become fragrant and golden brown.

Next, don’t skimp on the dressing. The dressing is what brings all the flavors together and makes the salad sing. For this recipe, I recommend whisking together olive oil, Dijon mustard, raspberry vinegar, salt, sugar, and fresh ground pepper. Using fresh high-quality ingredients will make all the difference in creating a tasty salad.

If you’re looking for an extra pop of flavor, try adding crumbled feta cheese to your salad. Feta’s tangy and salty taste brings a beautiful texture and flavor combination alongside other ingredients like dried cranberries and red onions.

When tossing together all of your salad ingredients, remember not to overdo it with the dressing. Pour just enough dressing onto your greens to coat them evenly. Too much dressing can cause your salad to become soggy and weighed down.

Finally, never underestimate the importance of fresh herbs. Adding freshly chopped sage or thyme can bring an added layer of depth and complexity to any Southern-style dish. A small sprinkle of herbs can make a big difference in elevating your salad from basic to sensational.

Follow these tips for perfect results every time you whip up this classic southern salad recipe!


Speaking of frequently asked questions (FAQs), I bet there are a lot of things running through your mind right now. Don’t worry; I’ve got you covered! Here are some answers to the most commonly asked queries about this southern style salad recipe.

What are the 5 basic salads?

There are different types of salads that can be served during a meal. These include tossed or composed green salads, bound salads, vegetable salads, fruit salads, and combination salads. Salads can also be served at different points in a meal, such as as a starter, accompaniment, main course, intermezzo, or dessert.

How to make salad taste like restaurant?

When it comes to making a delicious salad, seasoning is key. A great trick that many upscale eateries utilize is adding salt and pepper directly onto the greens, in addition to the dressing. For those who usually skimp on the saltiness factor, I highly recommend giving flaky sea salt a try to take your salad game up a notch. Trust me, it’ll taste all the better for it.

What are the 5 types of salads on the menu?

There are numerous types of salads, which can be categorized into groups such as green salads and fruit salads. Other types of salads include those made with vegetables, pasta, legumes, grains, or mixed with meat, poultry, or seafood.

What is a southwest salad made of?

The Southwestern Salad is a delicious dish that comprises a variety of fresh and savory ingredients, such as greens, corn, black beans, tomatoes, cheese, tortilla strips, cilantro, and a creamy southwest dressing. Additionally, McDonald’s version also contains roasted poblano peppers. I am eager to share with you a copycat recipe for this flavorful salad.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Southern Salad Recipe is an absolute must-try for anyone who loves delicious and healthy salads with a Southern twist. With the perfect blend of sweet and savory ingredients like pecans, dried cranberries, and feta cheese, this salad will transport you to the deep South with each bite.

Whether you are looking for an easy lunch option or a side dish for your upcoming barbecue, this recipe is versatile enough to pair well with any main course. Plus, with substitutions and variations provided in this article, you can customize the salad to suit your personal preferences.

Don’t settle for basic salads – try one of these classic Southern Salad Recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. You won’t regret it! So gather your ingredients and get cooking. This recipe is so easy even grandma would approve.

Southern Salad

Southern Salad Recipe

This salad is always a hit when I serve it. The sweetness of the dried cranberries goes well with the salty tang of feta cheese.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Course Appetizer/Side dish
Cuisine Fusion
Calories 242.5 kcal



  • 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil (or less)


  • 6 cups mixed baby greens
  • 1/2-1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup pecan halves or 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • crumbled feta cheese


  • For the vinaigrette, combine the raspberry vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix until the sugar and salt dissolve.
  • Whisk in the olive oil.
  • For the salad, combine the greens, cranberries, pecans, onion and cheese in a salad bowl.
  • Add the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat well.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 73gCalories: 242.5kcalCarbohydrates: 4.6gProtein: 1.6gFat: 25.4gSaturated Fat: 2.9gSodium: 199.2mgFiber: 2.1gSugar: 1.7g
Keyword < 15 Mins
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