Arugula, Apple & Bacon Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

I’m actually one of those annoying people who brings a salad to Thanksgiving. Or Christmas. Or really anywhere that there is any semblance of a festive, collective gathering. Not just any salad, at least: this Arugula, Apple & Bacon Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette is hugely popular for a reason!

Yes, I am that person. I admit it. Which reminded me of this Thanksgiving meme I found recently.

Arugula, Apple & Bacon Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette from #paleo #whole30 #noaddedsugar #21dsd

A lot of people, however, feel VERY STRONGLY that any attempt at “healthy food” at a holiday table or potluck is JUST WRONG. Because, tradition. Well, they’d hate it at my house. Because I honestly believe that healthy doesn’t have to mean un-tasty. I also believe that a little bit of balance on the T-day table is a good thing. No, not “healthy” vs “unhealthy” but just… for the sake of my tastebuds. The star of this salad isn’t the, er, salad. It’s the dressing. A fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette, to be precise. Just listen, you’ll thank me later.

I love me a good plate of sweet potatoes, gravy and all the (gluten free) fixin’s during this season, but pretty much everything is so much more rich than I am used to eating on a daily basis. You know what cuts all of that richness and makes it satisfyingly delicious instead of cloying? SALAD. With my aforementioned super fantastic-it’s-almost-famous Cranberry Vinaigrette.

Arugula, Apple & Bacon Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette from #paleo #whole30 #noaddedsugar #21dsd

Now, the clue is in the name, but this Cranberry Vinaigrette is TART. It is sour, it is zingy, it will near shoot you off your chair if you’re not expecting it. There’s a reason for that. Well, aside from the fact that it’s made with fresh (tart, sour) cranberries. The other real reason is that this side salad is ALL ABOUT the palate cleansing action. It’s bright, vibrant and refreshing BECAUSE of the sour element.

Ok, I lied a little. There’s another reason. It’s because this Cranberry Vinaigrette doesn’t have any added sugar the way that I usually make it and the way that I have written down the recipe for you guys here. That’s because I wanted it to be suitable for people who are avoiding added sugar of any kind – you know, like people following the Whole30 or 21 Day Sugar Detox programs. Or – just anyone who doesn’t love sugar. So, please feel free to doctor this to your tastes… but mine are sold on sour. I mean, it’s a vinaigrette – it’s gotta have some kiiiiick!

Arugula, Apple & Bacon Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette from #paleo #whole30 #noaddedsugar #21dsd

And one other thing. Usually I make this salad with dried unsweetened cranberries. Because what is more seasonal at this time of year than cranberries? (Nothing!) But for some insane reason, I didn’t have any. So I substituted fresh pomegranate arils. And they were both pretty and delicious. Use whichever or the two options is either more exciting… or that your pantry is stocked for. Now go make Cranberry Vinaigrette! It is INSANELY good.


Arugula, Apple & Bacon Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

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This salad is exactly what you need to break up the monotonous Thanksgiving table. This fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette transforms even the most mundane salad.

  • Author: Rachael Bryant / Meatified
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x



For the salad:

  • 6 cups arugula leaves
  • 1 apple, cored and sliced finely
  • 1/2 cup EITHER fresh pomegranate arils OR sugar free dried cranberries
  • 4 slices of bacon

For the Cranberry Vinaigrette:

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste (omit pepper for AIP)
  • 24 tbl water, depending on desired thickness


  1. Cook the bacon and set aside to cool while you make the dressing.
  2. Add all of the cranberry dressing ingredients to a blender except the water.
  3. Puree until all cranberry dressing ingredients are combined. Slowly add the water until the dressing is your preferred consistency.
  4. Divide the arugula leaves, apple slices and EITHER pomegranate or sugar free dried cranberries between plates equally.
  5. Drizzle the salad plates with cranberry vinaigrette.
  6. Chop the cooked and cooled bacon into pieces and top the salad with them before serving.


This recipe is very tart / sour. I personally LOVE that when this dish is on a holiday table as it cuts through the richness of other foods, PLUS it is free of added sugar which makes it suitable for people following Whole 30 or 21 Day Sugar Detox programs. Feel free to add a liquid sweetener to this if needed, though!


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  1. This salad is on point. I used Pink Lady apples and paleo blessed uncured nitrate free bacon and it was delicious. I love the tart vinaigrette too. Definitely seasonable recipe though, cranberries were tough to find in January of all months!

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