Roasted Acorn Squash Fall Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

This roasted acorn squash fall salad with pomegranate, goat cheese, and pecans has all the flavors of Fall! Drizzle with homemade apple cider vinaigrette for the perfect side dish to your holiday meal.
An overhead shot of a fall salad with goat cheese, pecans, pomegranate, red onion and acorn squash.
Overhead shot of a bowl of fall salad with pomegranate, acorn squash, goat cheese, red onions and mixed greens in a bowl

This easy roasted acorn squash fall salad with apple cider vinaigrette has all the flavors of fall and is perfect for entertaining over the holidays. Sweet and spicy maple roasted acorn squash is tossed with mixed greens, creamy goat cheese, fresh pomegranate arils, and pecans for a flavorful harvest salad.

Drizzled with a tangy apple cider vinaigrette, this easy fall harvest salad can be served as a side dish to the main meal or top it with your favorite protein, like salmon or chicken! It comes together so quick and easy!

You’ll love this recipe because:

  • It’s perfect for entertaining. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any fall-themed celebration, this salad adds a touch of elegance and seasonal charm to your menu, making it a perfect choice for special occasions and gatherings with loved ones.
  • It’s easy to make. Whether you’re serving it as a side dish or adding your favorite protein like salmon or chicken, this salad is incredibly versatile and comes together quickly, making it a great choice for busy weeknights or holiday gatherings.
  • It’s adaptable for different diets. With options to make it gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan, this salad accommodates various dietary preferences, ensuring that everyone at your table can enjoy its delicious taste and seasonal appeal.


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Pomegranate, mixed greens, acorn squash, pecans, goat cheese, red onion, and spices to make a salad.

Ingredient notes

  • Mixed greens – You can use a variety of your favorite greens in this recipe, including massaged kale or spinach. Choose fresh and crisp greens for the best flavor and texture.
  • Acorn squash – It’s not necessary to peel the skin off the squash, but make sure to slice it thinly to ensure it cooks until tender and the skin isn’t tough. You can also substitute with delicata squash or butternut squash if desired.
  • Maple syrup – Maple syrup adds a touch of sweetness to the roasted acorn squash. Ensure you use pure maple syrup for the best flavor.
  • Cumin – Cumin adds a warm, earthy flavor to the maple-roasted acorn squash. Be mindful not to use too much, as it can be overpowering.
  • Paprika – Paprika provides a mild smokiness and a touch of color to the roasted acorn squash. You can also use smoked paprika, depending on your preference.
  • Cayenne pepper – Cayenne pepper gives the dish a subtle kick of heat. Adjust the amount to your preferred level of spiciness.
  • Pomegranate – Fresh pomegranate arils add a burst of sweet-tart flavor and vibrant color to the salad. If you prefer, you can use pre-packaged pomegranate arils for easy convenience.
  • Pecans – Toasting the pecans enhances their nutty flavor. If you have a nut allergy, you can omit them or use pumpkin seeds for a similar crunchy texture.
  • Dried cranberries – Dried cranberries contribute a chewy, sweet contrast to the salad’s flavors. You can use unsweetened cranberries for a less sugary option.
  • Red onions – To prevent an overpowering onion flavor, slice the red onions very thinly. This allows them to add a hint of flavor without dominating the salad.
  • Goat cheese – Break up the goat cheese log into small clumps to evenly disperse it throughout the salad. Fun a fun twist, use my cranberry goat cheese log. To make this salad dairy-free and vegan, omit the goat cheese and consider using a vegan cheese or sliced avocado for creaminess.
  • Vinaigrette or Dressing – I use my apple cider vinaigrette recipe for this salad because it perfectly complements the pomegranate and acorn squash, but you can use your favorite salad dressing instead, either store-bought or homemade.


When selecting pomegranates for this salad, choose ones that feel heavy for their size and have a deep, vibrant color. Heaviness indicates juiciness, and a rich color suggests ripeness. To easily extract the arils (seeds) without a mess, cut the pomegranate in half, hold each half over a bowl with the cut side facing down, and tap the back with a wooden spoon—the arils will fall out effortlessly, ready to top your salad.

Step-by-Step instructions

While this salad does have a few steps, the active time is minimal and the steps are simple, making it a great salad for the holidays. The flavors are so good though, you may just want to make this fall salad for dinner and top it with your protein of choice! Salmon and chicken are favorites on top of this salad in our house!

The below photos with matching steps are not meant to be the full recipe, but instead let you see the recipe made at various stages so you can make this Fall salad perfectly every time.

For the ingredient list with measurements, full instructions, printable recipe, and additional notes, please scroll down to the recipe card.

A bowl of maple syrup and spices.
Mix together the pure maple syrup, cumin, paprika, salt, and cayenne pepper.
A layer of sliced acorn squash on a baking sheet.
Lay the sliced acorn squash in a single layer on a greased baking sheet.
Sliced acorn squash being brushed with maple syrup and spices.
Brush the sliced acorn squash with the syrup mixture.
Maple roasted acorn squash on a sheet pan.
Roast in the oven at 400F for 35-40 minutes, flipping half way through.
To assemble the salad, mix together the mixed greens, roasted acorn squash, pecans, goat cheese, pomegranate arils, sliced red onion and dried cranberries.
Apple cider vinaigrette being poured on acorn squash salad.
Drizzle with apple cider vinaigrette and toss to combine.

What makes this recipe gluten-free?

This salad is easily made naturally gluten-free. Full of fresh fruits and vegetables, there are only a few things to consider if you’re on a gluten-free diet when making this fall harvest salad.

If you are using a store-bought dressing instead of making my apple cider vinaigrette, you’ll want to be sure to check the ingredients on the label to make sure your dressing is gluten-free. Sometimes gluten gets added as a thickener in salad dressings.

Always check labels of ingredients like pecans, goat cheese, etc. to see if they are processed on the same equipment as wheat.

Vegan and dairy-free options

Goat cheese – You can omit the goat cheese to make this recipe dairy-free and vegan. If you still want something creamy in your salad, try a vegan cheese or even sliced avocado.

Vinaigrette or Dressing – If you’re making my apple cider vinaigrette, you’ll want to swap the honey in the recipe with pure maple syrup to make it vegan.

An overhead shot of a fall salad with goat cheese, pecans, pomegranate, red onion and acorn squash.

expert tips

  • For best results, slice your red onion very thin. There is nothing worse than getting a big chunk of red onion in your salad. Slicing them thinly gives you a bit of the flavor of red onion without the extreme harshness.
  • Your acorn squash may cook quicker or slower than mine depending on how thick you slice your acorn squash. You want to make sure that it is very tender after cooking, including the skin. Adjust your time as necessary.
  • You don’t have to toast your pecans, but I highly recommend it. It brings out the nutty flavor of the pecans and has the most wonderful aroma! You can toast them in the oven at 350F for 10 minutes, or toast them in a skillet over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.


Can I use other types of greens instead of mixed greens?

Yes! I’ve used spinach, massage kale, and arugula before in this recipe. Go with whatever you have or you prefer!

Can I use other squash instead of acorn squash?

You can use delicata squash or butternut squash in this recipe if you’d like. Sometimes I like to do a mix of all of them for an extra tasty salad. Roasted sweet potato is also a great substitution if you have it on hand!

I’m allergic to nuts. Can I leave out the pecans?

You sure can. Just omit the nuts from this recipe. If you want a little crunch, try some pumpkin seeds (if you can tolerate them).

What other dressings go well on this salad?

I love this apple cider vinaigrette on this salad, but balsamic vinaigrette is another favorite. I think a creamy honey mustard could be good as well. A slightly tangy dressing is great in this recipe.

Is this salad gluten-free?

Yes, this fall salad is naturally gluten-free! If you’re using a store-bought dressing, be sure to check ingredients to make sure they are gluten-free.

Can I make this salad dairy-free or vegan?

This salad can easily be made both dairy-free and vegan by omitting the goat cheese. If you’re looking for something creamy, try an avocado in its place. To make the salad vegan, you’ll also need to swap out the honey for pure maple syrup in my apple cider vinaigrette recipe. It’s still delicious, I promise!

Storage instructions

  • Storage: Store any leftover roasted acorn squash fall salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should stay fresh undressed for up to 2-3 days. However, it’s best enjoyed fresh for optimal texture and flavor. If you know you will be storing salad, store the components separately for best results.
A photo of a bowl of fall harvest salad with acorn squash and pomegranate with a jar of apple cider vinaigrette and salad servers.

Cooking for the holidays? Try these other gluten-free recipes!

More Gluten-Free Salad Recipes

An overhead shot of a fall salad with goat cheese, pecans, pomegranate, red onion and acorn squash.

Roasted Acorn Squash Fall Salad with Pomegranate

This roasted acorn squash fall salad with pomegranate, goat cheese, and pecans has all the flavors of Fall! Drizzle with homemade apple cider vinaigrette for the perfect side dish to your holiday meal.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 219kcal
Author: Megan


  • 2 medium acorn squash (halved and seeded (about 3 lbs))
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 cups mixed greens (roughly 10 oz)
  • 1/2 red onion (sliced thin)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans (toasted)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (arils from 1 pomegranate)
  • 4 oz goat cheese (crumbled)
  • Homemade Apple Cider Vinaigrette (or dressing of choice)


  • Preheat oven to 400° F. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the acorn squash around its middle horizontally. Scoop out seeds and scrape clean. Slice into ¾ inch thick rounds. Place on a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet. Do not let any pieces overlap.
  • Carefully slice the acorn squash in half. Scoop out and seeds and scrape the insides clean. Then, slice the acorn squash into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Place the acorn squash on a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy clean up) in a single layer.
  • Mix together the pure maple syrup, cumin, paprika, salt, and cayenne pepper in a bowl bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush maple syrup over both sides of squash.
  • Bake at 400F for 20 minutes until the bottom side of squash is nice and golden brown. Flip and bake for another 15-20 minutes until the squash is tender. Set aside.
  • Combine the mixed greens, roasted acorn squash, red onion, toasted pecans, pomegranate arils, dried cranberries and crumbled goat cheese together. Drizzle with apple cider vinaigrette or dressing of choice and toss. Serve immediately.


Calories: 219kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 473mg | Potassium: 525mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 1071IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 2mg
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about megan

I’m Megan

A gluten-free food blogger from Chicago and lover of all things food, showing you gluten-free can be easy and delicious, too. Let’s make gluten-free stress free together! Read more…

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Made this salad for my family this week to get into fall flavors, and WOW! This was absolutely delicious! The combination of flavors really hit the spot, and my kids enjoyed it, too. We’ll definitely make this again.