Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberries, Caramelized Pecans and Goat Cheese all drizzled with the most incredible CRANBERRY VINAIGRETTE belongs on your table this Thanksgiving and Christmas and all season long! 

You are probably going to want to volunteer to bring salad to Thanksgiving this year because this salad is make ahead, stress free perfection.  I loved this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad recipe so much it was gone within 24 hours – and I was the only one home.   

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad


Its true.  Patrick was camping in Zion this past weekend when I made this salad Saturday and it was gone by Sunday.  Because I craved this salad.  And to be honest, I’m not a crave-salad type of person – crave-pasta, yes, crave salad – no – but this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad is different.  It is a cravilicous salad loaded with all. the. goods.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad in a white bowl.

It is a rave-about salad.

It is a need seconds, thirds, fourths salad.

It is a beg-for-the-recipe salad.

It is a repeat every Thanksgiving salad.

It is the hero of Thanksgiving salad.

AKA it is going to become one of your favorite salads!

There are so many reasons this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad is otherworldly delicious, but let’s start with the Cranberry Vinaigrette.  This might just be my favorite dressing ever.  Or at least tied for it.  It’s vibrant, sweet and tangy, zingy and zesty and made with real cranberries!  It infuses the entire salad with bright, bold flavor but at the same time compliments and enhances rather than overwhelm the other ingredients.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad dressing in a clear jar.

I first tried making this Cranberry Vinaigrette with cranberry juice instead of real cranberries and it was hugely lacking in flavor so real cranberries it was and trust me, you can taste the difference.  To make this Cranberry Vinaigrette, first pulse your cranberries, garlic and a shallot until finely chopped then add Dijon, red wine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and pulse until smooth.  So basically, it takes 5 minutes to make this Thanksgiving worthy dressing.

I like to make the Cranberry Vinaigrette at least an hour in advance so it has time to chill and the flavors to meld but you can make it at the beginning of salad prep if you are in a time crunch.  You can also make the vinaigrette days in advance so it’s already to go when its Roasted Butternut Squash Salad time!

Showing how to make Roasted Butternut Squash Salad dressing.

Now let’s talk the other star of this salad – roasted butternut squash!  I love Fall/winter for butternut squash alone.  It’s hearty and naturally sweet and I would love every bite even if it wasn’t incidentally low in calories and packed with vitamins.

For this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad, we toss our butternut squash with a splash of olive oil, pure maple syrup, salt, pepper and cayenne and roast until fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Hello gorgeous dynamically flavorful squash.  I could eat this roasted squash all in one sitting.  But please, try and exercise your self control because trust me, it becomes exponentially even more delicious when combined with the rest of the goods.

Close up of Roasted Butternut Squash.

Another essential salad element are the 5 Minute Perfect Caramelized Pecans.  We make these pecans while the butternut squash is roasting because they really only take 5 minutes.  Their sweet caramelized crunch is the contrast in flavor and texture you crave in every bite.  It’s the perfect compliment to the tangy dressing and subtly sour Granny smith apples, the earthy squash and the creamy goat cheese.

Close up of Caramelized Pecans for Roasted Butternut Squash Salad.

Did someone say creamy goat cheese?!  Oh heavens, why didn’t someone tell me about goat cheese crumbles before?  I was all set to make goat cheese croutons when I stumbled upon way-easier crumbled goat cheese.  Crumbled goat cheese typically come in 4 oz. containers located in the specialty cheeses section of your grocery store.  Crumbled goat cheese looks like feta cheese but is waaaaaaaay creamier, less tangy and feels like you’re eating the most luxurious cheese on the planet.  I am completely obsessed.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad with Cranberries, Caramelized Pecans and Goat Cheese.

Lastly, the dried cranberries/craisins add the final sweet element of perfection.  Put all the goods together – roasted butternut squash, crunchy caramelized pecans, tart apples, tangy red onions, creamy goat cheese, fresh spring mix lettuce and drizzle them all with sweet and tangy Cranberry Vinaigrette and we have a bright, rich medley of flavor and textures that is so satisfyingly delicious you might be tempted to skip the turkey all together.

A bowl of Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

To serve this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad, you can prep all the ingredients ahead of time except the apple and keep everything stored separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator  – except the nuts of course, don’t need to be refrigerated.  Come salad time, all you have to do is chop your apple and toss everything together.  Now that’s Thanksgiving made easy!   And more delicious than you could imagine.  yet.

Close up of Roasted Butternut Squash Salad.

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©Carlsbad Cravings by

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad with Cranberries, Caramelized Pecans and Goat Cheese with the most incredible CRANBERRY VINAIGRETTE belongs on your table this Thanksgiving and all Autumn long! This is one of my favorite salads EVER and is the perfect STRESS FREE make ahead side!!!

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberries, Caramelized Pecans and Goat Cheese

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberries, Caramelized Pecans and Goat Cheese all drizzled with the most incredible CRANBERRY VINAIGRETTE belongs on your table this Thanksgiving and Christmas and all season long!  You are probably going to want to volunteer to bring salad to Thanksgiving this year because this salad is make ahead, stress free perfection.
Servings: 8 servings
Total Time: 45 minutes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

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Roasted Butternut Squash

  • 1 butternut squash (1 1/2-pounds) peeled and chopped into 1/2-3/4” cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • Dash of cayenne


  • Roasted Butternut Squash from above
  • 12 oz. spring salad mix
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries/craisins
  • 4 oz. soft crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 Recipe 5 Minute Perfect Caramelized Nuts

Cranberry Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 small shallot, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, more or less to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Cranberry Vinaigrette

  • Add cranberries, garlic clove and shallot to food processor and chop fine. Add sugar, Dijon, red wine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and process until smooth.
  • Refrigerate Vinaigrette while you prepare the salad ingredients then whisk/shake again before drizzling over salad. The Vinaigrette is best if allowed to chill at least one hour in advance. Vinaigrette can a be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for a couple days.

Caramelized Pecans

  • Prepare according to directions. Can be made, cooled then stored in an airtight container for up to one week before using.

Butternut Squash

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Add butternut squash to a foil lined baking sheet (for easy cleanup). Add olive oil, maple syrup, salt, pepper, cayenne and toss until evenly coated. Roast for 15-20 minutes, turning once, until tender.


  • When ready to serve, toss all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. You can either drizzle with desired amount of dressing and toss to combine or if you expect leftovers, drizzle individual salad servings with dressing.


You can prepare all of the salad ingredients days in advance (except the apple) and keep them separate in airtight containers in the refrigerator (except nuts – keep at room temperature in an airtight container) until ready to serve so your salad can come together in minutes.
All ingredients are a guideline. Add more or less of your favorite salad fixings!

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  1. Allie says

    Good morning. I have to tell you when I read your email about this recipe, I almost deleted it. I know it’s 4:00 in the morning, but squash salad? THEN, when I actually saw more and read more, I can hardly wait to make this. Cranberry Vinaigrette sounds divine, especially when made with WHOLE cranberries! Glazed pecans? Get out of town! YUM!
    I will make this! You have yourself some wonderful taste buds going on (besides your other skills!). Have a wonderful day. It’s yours to make if what you wish it to be.

    • Jen says

      hahahaha! I have to admit I used to think the same thing years ago but after falling in love with roasted squash, I knew it would make a delicious salad! I’m so happy you read on and are going to make this salad because I know you will NOT be disappointed and your taste buds will be rewarded for trying it :)!

  2. Lynn says

    Afternoon Jen,
    I was just like Allie I read this about 4:30a. Almost deleted it, and then Thought what the heck! Read on.
    Plus, my neighbor has a little Red Wagon OVER FLOWING of Butternut and Spaghetti squash setting in her back yard and she does not cook them!!!!! MUCH!
    At first I was looking to find a recipe that would give her ideas.
    WELP! this is now for me. Just peeled my first Butternut, I have always just roasted whole.
    Can not wait!
    Keep the recipes com’in
    ! I am a recipe READER not cooker, so, for you to get me cooking is HUGE!
    My late husband did all the cooking for 47 years and he always worried what I was going to do about food.
    I always told him Stouffers! and he would frond!
    He is surly smiling right now, and saying Bravo Jen, YOU got her cooking!

    • Jen says

      I just loved your comment Lynn! Big hugs to you! I am honored my recipes have got you cooking – it can be so fun once you start! I’m so glad you not only read on about this recipe decided to make this salad as well! I hope you loved the roasted squash and the salad – and your neighbor as well 🙂

  3. Ali says

    This was a wonderful salad. I made one small tweak that I thought worked nicely. Instead of using raw cranberries I boiled about 1 cup of water and boiled the cranberries just for a few minutes, drained the water then continued with the recipe.

    The ratio for the glazed nuts didn’t work for me but I was able to get it to work with some finagling. Not sure if that was due to my temperature being off or the ratio of the nuts / sugar / butter. I’ve always had troubles with glazed nuts so something must be up with my method of making them. In any event, I was able to make it work and it turned out great.

    Thank you so much for the recipe. This is a beautiful salad and would be great for a holiday meal.

    • Jen says

      I am so happy you enjoyed this salad Ali, thank you! I’m sorry you didn’t have success with the nuts – which I could help you out there and see what is going wrong!

  4. Kristin says

    I made this salad for Thanksgiving, and I loved it! I loved all the fall flavors and colors together. It has a great variety of textures in the salad, too. The candied pecans are perfect. I loved the texture of the butternut squash in the salad. I felt it needed some crumbled bacon, and that was a great addition. The only thing I would do differently is use either a bed of spinach or Romaine, since I’ve decided that I just don’t care for spring mix. Great salad! I think it might become a Thanksgiving tradition!

    • Jen says

      You can’t go wrong with bacon, mmmmm! I’m so happy you loved this salad and it will be a new tradition! Thank you so much! Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Amanda says

    Hi was wondering if i could use frozen squash

    • Jen says

      Hi Amanda, I think it comes down to personal preference – if you are a fan of frozen squash then absolutely!

  6. Judi says

    Hi there….I made this Roasted Butternut, Cranberries, Pecans and Goat cheese salad for Turkey Day 2017 and
    have been again asked to bring this wonderful salad for family Turkey Day 2018…everyone loves this salad
    and it is terrific as a left over for a quick lunch; a little secret….rather than make the caramelized pecans
    I cheated and bought them already made at Trader Joes and they worked just as well; thanks for this great
    salad recipe!

    • Jen says

      Hi Judi, I am so pleased this salad was such a hit last year-it is one of my all time favs! Thanks so much for the Trader Joes tipi-what a great shortcut! I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Heidi says

    I love your recipes – for the foodie, but not too complicated. I’m going to try this butternut squash salad for TG. I haven’t had much success cooking squash. It always seems too mushy to me. Do I want to cook to just barely tender or go to the long side of getting really browned and caramelized? I finally realized potatoes were better roasted longer to get crispy. Is squash the same? I’m worried about it holding together as I toss the salad.

    • Jen says

      Thanks for your kind words Heidi! I LOVE this salad and am so excited you are making it for TG! I would roast the squash just until fork tender and not really browned. Enjoy!

  8. Sherryl Smith says

    Was wondering if I could use frozen cranberries instead of fresh as we don”t have them here, or could I soak dried cranberries to use for the vinaigrette

    • Jen says

      Hi Sheryl, I think frozen cranberries should work, enjoy!

  9. Denise says

    Hi I had a few questions:
    1. Is one shallot a bulb or the whole “onion”?
    2. If making innadvance would it taste okay to serve the squash cold from the fridge (assuming this is a cold salad)?

    Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Denise, great questions!
      1. One shallot is the entire bulb/onion vs one clove – so you will likely use 3-4 cloves.
      2. Yes, the squash will taste great cold as well.
      Merry Christmas!

  10. Ana says

    This looks and sounds delicious, however I’ve just never been a fan of goat cheese. What would you recommend as a substitute that would be just as good in this salad? Thanks!

    • Jen says

      No problem Ana! Feta would also be tasty. Enjoy!