If you’re on the hunt for easy Thanksgiving fruit salad recipes, look no further than this bright & citrusy fruit salad filled with sweet pops of pomegranate, maple-glazed crunchy pecans, and a light citrus honey dressing!
If you have ever attended a Thanksgiving feast in the Midwest, then you probably hear “fruit salad” and think of a big bowl filled with marshmallows, Cool Whip, mandarin oranges, and cherries. It’s pretty dang good stuff.
Don’t get me wrong–I’ve got nothing against a typical Midwest fruit salad, especially for special occasions. But I found myself craving a fruit salad with more nutrients and texture. Something crisp and bright, but still the right amount of sweetness to be a favorite at the holiday table.
I had just made a large batch of wild rice for another dish and got to thinking…wild rice has the perfect nutty & crunchy texture to go with the sweetness of fruit! It would make the perfect base for a fruit salad.
I started with this Taste of Home recipe and found it generally tasty, but it wasn’t quite perfect yet. I wanted to tie in more seasonal flavors to make it perfect for the holidays, and the dressing needed a bit of tweaking. With a little bit of trial and error, I came up with one of the best Thanksgiving fruit salad recipes I’ve ever had–no Cool Whip needed!
To make this Thanksgiving fruit salad recipe, you will need:
- Wild Rice- The nutty flavor of wild rice goes perfectly with these fruits. Precook your wild rice and cool it prior to assembly. To learn more about wild rice and how to cook it, check out my post on how to cook wild rice in the Instant Pot.
- Red Grapes- green grapes could also be used if needed
- Apples- Choose your favorite variety, any variety of crisp apples will do. Red apples are great for sweetness, and granny smith apples are more tart)
- Pomegranate Seeds- These are the perfect addition to this salad. Each bite fills your mouth with a fresh pop of juice. De-seed your pomegranate prior to salad assembly, or buy pomegranate arils at the store. Tip: de-seed the pomegranate while submerged in a bowl of water to prevent a mess.
- Dried Cranberries- We use dried cranberries for sweetness with a pop of sour. Fresh cranberries would be too bitter on their own.
- Orange Juice
- Some pantry staples: maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, lemon juice, olive oil, and honey
1. Prepare Wild Rice
Your wild rice should be cooked and cooled prior to assembling the salad. To make your own wild rice at home, check out our instructions for making wild rice in the Instant Pot. You can also buy wild rice in a can at many major grocery stores (the brand is called Canoe). That can be a great time saver.
2. Glaze the Pecans
Roughly chop 1/2 cup of raw pecan halves. Turn on your stove to medium heat and add 2 tbsp maple syrup to a small saucepan or skillet. Add the chopped pecans, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp salt. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes until the syrup has caramelized the pecans and is no longer liquid in the pan. Be careful not to burn them–if your stove runs hot, use medium-low heat. Pour your pecans out onto parchment paper and separate them into an even layer. Let cool.
3. Add Rice & Fruit to Bowl
Add your wild rice to the bottom of a medium or large bowl. Halve the grapes and add them on top of the rice. Next, add the 1 cup pomegranate arils and 1/2 cup of dried cranberries. Finally, chop your apple into bite-sized pieces and add them to the bowl. Drizzle 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice over the apple pieces and use a spoon to thoroughly mix the salad.
4. Add Pecans
Add your glazed pecans, chopping a bit more before adding if needed. Toss the fruit salad with a big spoon.
5. Mix the Dressing
Add 3 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1 tbsp honey, and a pinch of cinnamon to a small bowl or jar. Shake to mix. Pour on top of the salad.
Chill for 1-2 hours before serving.
Tips & Variations
You can play around with adding your favorite fruit if you don’t care for pomegranate or apples. Other fall fruits include orange slices and chopped pears! Whatever fruits you choose, keep the proportions balanced and I’m sure the fruit salad will be a favorite at your holiday meal.
We just use cinnamon as our spice in this salad, but the warm spices in a pumpkin pie spice blend or apple pie spice blend would also be great. Use the same amount of apple pie spice as you would for the cinnamon.
While the holidays would be the perfect time to serve this fruit salad, Thanksgiving fruit salad recipes don’t have to be reserved for Thanksgiving! I’ve brought this fall fruit salad to pot lucks and it’s always a hit. It’s also a great side dish for brunch.
For 1/8 of this fruit salad, the nutritional content is as follows:
- Calories: 203
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 10 grams (1.1 gram saturated)
- Carbs: 31 grams
- Fiber: 5.3 grams
Store this fruit salad in the fridge in an airtight container. The texture of this fruit salad is best when eaten within 2 days of making it, but it could last up to 4 days if needed.
If you are bringing this holiday fruit salad to an event, it can be made several hours ahead of time. However, for the best presentation, try not to make it more than 1 day ahead of time. The apples, grapes, and pecans will lose some of their crunchiness as time goes on.
Want More Wild Rice Recipes?
For another wild rice-themed Thanksgiving side dish, try our Cranberry Wild Rice Bread recipe!
Also, make sure you try out my Cozy Autumn Wild Rice Soup recipe.
Additional Thanksgiving Recipes
Here are some additional Thanksgiving recipes you are sure to love.
Main Dish: Try our Traeger Smoked Spatchcock Turkey Recipe
The end of November has many wonderful seasonal fresh fruit options. Apples, pomegranates, pears, and oranges would be the best seasonal produce choices for this fruit salad.
In this Thanksgiving salad, we use lemon juice on the apples to keep them from turning brown, but the dressing also has orange juice which helps, too. You can also use lime juice. Citrus juice is probably one of the most common fruit salad additives to prevent browning.
This fruit salad is best eaten within 1-2 days for texture purposes, but it is good for up to 4 days if needed.
Make This Recipe Part of Your Thanksgiving Menu
This is sure to be a hit at your family Thanksgiving dinner! Let this be a healthy addition to your special occasion!
Please leave a comment and review! It means the world!
Thanksgiving Fruit Salad with Wild Rice & Pecans
- 1/2 cup Raw Pecan Halves
- 2 tbsp Maple Syrup
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- 1 cup Wild Rice pre-cooked
- 1 cup Red Grapes
- 1 cup Pomegranate Seeds
- 1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
- 1 large Apple, variety of choice or two small
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup Orange Juice
- 1 tbsp Honey
- 1 pinch Cinnamon
- On a cutting board, roughly chop your 1/2 cup of pecan halves.
- Heat a small skillet on the stove top to medium heat and add 2 tbsp maple syrup. Add your chopped pecans, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the maple syrup is no longer liquid in the pan and is coating all of the pecans in a sticky glaze. Remove from heat, pour onto parchment paper, and cool.
- Into a medium sized or larger bowl, add 1 cup cooked wild rice. Cut your grapes in half and add them to the bowl, followed by the pomegranate seeds, and dried cranberries.
- Cut your apple into bite size pieces. Add to your bowl and drizzle with 1 tbsp lemon juice. Use a big spoon to toss the fruit salad.
- To small bowl or jar, add the olive oil, orange juice, honey, and pinch of cinnamon. Whisk or shake to combine.
- Pour dressing over salad and stir to thoroughly coat.
- Chill for 1-2 hours before serving.