Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad

Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad

AARP. Who knew? I’ve been a proud member, according to my card, since 2015, but looking back I wish I would have signed up earlier. I mean really, who knew they were such a resource and who knew they had great, healthy recipes like this Dried Cranberry, Walnut & Avocado Salad? I’ve made several recipes from AARP that are winners. I’ll have to post more in the future!

Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad

Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad


Then there’s Denny’s discount you get with AARP. Seriously, our whole family jokes about this, but we go from time to time, even me, who isn’t a morning person! Beyond that, AARP offers a lot of discounts on various items, restaurants, and stores. And there is a lot of usable, insightful, and well-researched information on just about everything. They helped hold my hand through my time of caregiving for my folks, especially after my Stepmom’s heartbreaking multiple strokes.

About Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad:

Inspired by the salad in the Eight Eat Lean, Get Clean recipes from AARP is this gorgeous salad. The original was Cherries, Avocado, Walnuts. The problem? Fresh cherries are all but impossible to get in the winter and the dried are super pricey. Rather than going with cherries, I opted for the zingier dried cranberries, which are available anytime. And with the gorgeous blend of lettuces, walnuts, and healthy avocado, this salad just screams “fall” to me.

Dried Cranberry, Walnut & Avocado Salad is simple but the flavors don’t show it and I love that it has a certain elegance about it. I think it’s going to be a gorgeous salad for Thanksgiving, a fall dinner party or potluck and, heck, why not Christmas? Make sure to add that dressing in last minute because it can wilt the delicate lettuce or blends. I’ve had this with arugula from the garden, with a lettuce & kale bend and with a mixed blend of lettuce. It’s a lovely salad with any of them.

But let’s talk about that dressing; it stole the show. The chewy dried cranberries in this salad are fab but what blew me away was bright, tangy with a whisper of sweet dressing. The dried fruit gives an intense flavor to the dressing (why have I never thought to use dried fruit before, I don’t know!) and it’s nothing short of amazing! It’s super with this salad but I am thinking about how to use it in a fruit salad in the future; something that won’t conflict with the pink color. It doesn’t show in this dark salad, but being a child of the 60s, I couldn’t help think Pepto Bismal, lol!! Just to note, the dressing does have to be done in the blender, and the dried cranberries don’t blend in perfectly smooth, but the little bits just add to the fun. Double the dressing for another salad in the next couple of weeks; you’ll thank me later. 🙂

Actually, as I look at the original salad, it seems I’ve taken quite a few liberties and it’s almost unrecognizable! Another one of those changes was accidental! The original called for a grain (barley, wild rice, quinoa) and I chose barley. I love the chewiness of barley and think it’s underrated. But I cooked it and forgot to toss it in. And one addition that seems like it is in everything these days is bacon; I chose to not go there, but it would be great, too. Also great in this salad is a little leftover chicken or turkey. The flavors complement poultry so well.

Dried Cranberry, Walnut & Avocado Salad

Dried Cranberry, Walnut & Avocado Salad – Yes the dressing is pink but that barely shows in the salad! It’s fabulous!

Making Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad:

This is a great make-ahead salad as long as the dressing isn’t added until just before serving. It’s pretty, and layered in a bowl looks pretty high end. I like to sprinkle everything over the top of the greens but hold back on the cranberries and walnuts. A few of those go on top but the majority I sprinkle around the edges of the bowl in little piles just to maximize the visual appeal.

Now the dressing is pink, even when made with the red wine vinegar. That’s a little unfortunate – my hope was it would lean more towards a berry shade. But as I said, the taste is outstanding so I can forgive…

I never cook a small amount, like a cup, of any of the grains, even if I’m using my Instant Pot to speed things along. It’s just too much time involved to not take advantage of making more. After I’ve cooked whatever grain I’m working with, I divide it up into bags and freeze so I’ll always have some at my fingertips whenever I want them for a recipe. Maybe for a salad like this or added to a side dish.

Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad

Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad

Saving Money on Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad:

Stock up on nuts and dried fruit during the Fall to New Year’s Holiday Season when the harvest is in, sales are priced to move & there will be a lot of coupons. This is a primary season for the producers to move their products and the prices are competitive. Check for the best pricing in the baking, snack and bulk areas. Repackage if the bag is flimsy and freeze the nuts to keep them fresh. It’s worthwhile to look at alternatives than your grocery; if you have a farm supply store, they will probably have amazing prices, sometimes large drug stores do, Aldi is great and your Buyer’s Club will be, too, although both are limited in variety.

I’ve talked about bagged salads before which can come in at literally 4 to 10 times the price of buying loose or leaf lettuces, greens or mixed products. The problem is loose is priced by the pound and bagged by the ounce so it’s a difficult comparison. Add to that the loose lettuce, being a bulky package (it’s mostly air) “looks” like a lot more than it is. Buy on sale. Oh, and wash lettuce and greens well, even if the bag says it’s prewashed.

Stock up on all kinds of vinegar during the pre-Easter sales. It’s usually at a low, and not just plain old white vinegar; take a look down the aisle and see what’s on special and check around other holidays too. Vinegar is often not advertised as being on special. Like most pantry items, stock up when the price is right, not when you need it; you’ll never be at the “mercy” of the grocer.

Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad

Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad


Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad

An elegant, gorgeous, brain and heart healthy salad!

  • Author: mollie heavily adapted from AARP
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Salads
  • Cuisine: American



For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 12 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • good pinch of black pepper

For the Salad:

  • 1 bag of mixed salad blend, washed and dried or about 12 ounces of your favorite lettuces and greens
  • 1/2 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • Squeeze of fresh or bottled lemon juice
  • 1 cup cooled cooked whole grains (barley, wild rice, quinoa)*
  • 4 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts
  • 3/4 cup of dried cranberries
  • two to three tablespoons finely chopped parsley


For the dressing:

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust vinegar and/or sugar to your liking.

This should make enough for two salads.

For the salad:

Dice avocados, place in a small bowl and drizzle with a little lemon juice. Toss to coat. Combine all salad ingredients. Drizzle with a little dressing. Toss. Serve, passing additional dressing on the side.

To toast nuts:

Add nuts to a skillet in a single layer. Heat over medium heat tossing and/or stirring often. Watch closely; by the time you smell the nuts, they’re going to be very close to toasting. Be prepared turn out of the skillet immediately; once done it is just seconds to burning. Allow to cool before using in salad.

Keywords: AARP, Avocado, Barley, cranberries, Dried Fruit, Honey, Lemon, Lettuce, Nuts and Seeds, Salad, Salad Dressings, side salads, Vinegar, walnuts

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!



You know I’ll be bringing Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad to our Throwback Thursday #28 Link Party, hosted by Quinn of Dad What’s for Dinner, Meaghan of 4 Sons are Us, Alli of Tornadough, Carlee from Cooking with Carlee and Moi! That’s right – me! Click over to our Throwback Thursday post for links to their blogs and social media, rules and more info or just click on the blue leapfrog, below, to view all the Throwback Thursday Posts or enter your own!

I will also be bringing Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad over to Angie’s Link Party, Fiesta Friday # 109, Hosted this week by Josette @ thebrookcook and Lily @ little sweet baker.! It should be another great party!!

Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad is super healthy (brainfood) but also delicious & elegant! Easy and perfect for a fall/winter dinner or holiday! The dressing, made with dried cranberries is unique & so delish you'll want to drink it! #WinterSalad #DriedCranberryWalnutAvocadoSalad #HolidaySalad

28 thoughts on “Dried Cranberry Walnut & Avocado Salad

  1. Bright beautiful salad!! (and I think I have that same salad bowl!!–been around for a while here). Have the end of a packet of faro in the cupboard and an avocado on hand– so I’m trying this! thanks!

    • Liz, it was so good, I could have just sat at the table and just ate that alone! I am going to experiment with other dried fruits; it was such a nice way to get an intense flavor and a bit of body.

    • Thanks Carlee – I am wild about avocado. Sometimes I’ll just have half a one for lunch…I’m so glad they’re better for you than they used to think! All those good omega 3’s…

  2. I have another friend who was absolutely thrilled when he was able to become a member of AARP! Who knew about the recipes too? 😉 This one really sounds tasty. Can’t go wrong doubling the dressing either!

  3. This salad looks delicious! The homemade dressing sounds yummy too. I love to make my own dressing, so I will have to give this a try.

  4. As a vegetarian – I loooooooooove salads 🙂 And this one is definitely made for me! I could eat it all by myself.
    It’s also perfect for parties as it’s colorful 🙂

Hearing from you makes my day! Comment below.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.