Temperatures are dropping, jackets and scarves are out, and all we’re craving are casseroles, sizzling cheesy sandwiches, and hot soups—foods that are best eaten curled up on the sofa while searching for the next TV show to binge-watch. When envisioning these types of cozy comfort meals, salads may not immediately come to mind, but we’re here to prove they should.
All it takes is a few tricks to turn these sides into stars. Jazz up your salads with eye-popping colors and textures: Add cooked grains such as quinoa or farro, and throw in oven-roasted squash, beets, or Brussels sprouts. Toppings are also key: Additions like toasted pine nuts, dried cranberries, and tangy feta can transform a humble side salad into the main event.
Here are 19 cold-weather salads that will reinvigorate your dinner menus this winter.
1. Roasted Butternut & Red Quinoa Salad With Spicy Lime Vinaigrette
Red quinoa, roasted butternut squash, white beans, cilantro, and toasted pumpkin seeds happily mingle with a spicy, lemony vinaigrette in this showstopper salad. Simply add a protein to make it a main dish.
2. Crispy Kale Chaat
Inspired by the Palak Chaat served at the iconic Washington DC restaurant Rasika, this salad consists of oven-roasted crispy kale, diced red onions, and tomatoes—all drizzled with cool yogurt and a sweet-and-sour tamarind chutney.
3. Sri Lankan Kale Mallung
Mallung, a Sri Lankan salad of shredded, cooked vegetables, can be adapted to make winter greens shine. Here, finely chopped kale is cooked with mustard seeds and diced jalapeño, then seasoned with lime juice and coconut flakes.
4. Spiced Beet Salad With Citrus-Ginger Dressing
Roasted beets seasoned with ginger and fragrant spices are the highlight of this bright, citrusy salad. Fresh mint leaves and dollop of Greek yogurt help create a cooling effect, while chopped pistachios offer crunch.
5. Shaved Fennel Feta Salad
This salad comes together in minutes—all you have to do is shave the fennel and slice the zucchini. A handful of toasted pine nuts adds richness to the final dish, while feta cheese brings brightness and tang.
6. Yogurt & Beet Salad in the Persian Manner
In this simple salad, earthy, roasted beets are contrasted with a refreshing bed of Greek yogurt or labneh. Salt, fresh mint, and a drizzle of olive oil on top complete this Persian side dish.
7. Butternut Squash With Chile Yogurt & Cilantro Sauce From Yotam Ottolenghi
Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes are a riot of colors, textures, and flavors. This one is no exception, bringing together sweet butternut squash, herby cilantro sauce, Sriracha-spiked yogurt, and toasted pumpkin seeds.
8. Favorite Winter Orzo Salad
Combine roasted butternut squash with orzo pasta, any winter greens, and blue or goat cheese for a salad that’s so flavorful, you don’t even need a dressing; the oil leftover from roasting the squash is enough to do the trick.
9. Spiced Peanut Sweet Potato Salad From Deliciously Ella
In this hearty, sweet-and-savory salad, sweet potatoes get seasoned with ground cumin, cinnamon, and ginger, tossed with a spicy peanut butter dressing, and finished with dates and parsley.
10. Warm Orzo Salad with Beets & Greens
This delightfully pink-hued salad features both beets and their greens. Sauté the beet greens with thinly sliced red onions before mixing them with cooked beets, skillet-toasted pine nuts, and al dente orzo.
11. Sweet Potato, Zucchini & Chickpea Salad
Caramelized, oven-roasted sweet potatoes and zucchini meet garlicky, sautéed chickpeas in this simple salad, which gets finished with a quick tahini and lemon dressing.
12. Warm, Cheesy Brussels Sprouts Salad
In this comforting, cozy salad, grated Grana Padano cheese gets melted over a bed of shaved and pan-roasted Brussels sprouts, artichoke hearts, Castelvetrano olives, and roasted red bell peppers. Top with homemade bread crumbs for a gratin-like feel.
13. Winter Panzanella
Panzanella might just be the perfect winter salad. Hefty, crusty sourdough, velvety, oven-roasted butternut squash, and caramelized beets pair with tart Granny Smith apples, pungent red onions, and just enough bitter kale balance the whole thing out.
14. Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Red Onion, Lemon and Pecorino
This Brussels sprouts salad comes together in just 30 minutes—yet it’s bursting with flavor. A no-fuss honey mustard dressing, sliced red onions (soaked in cold water to soften their bite), and grated pecorino cheese are key to nailing this punchy side dish.
15. Green Kitchen Stories’ Winter Millet Salad
Thanks to the addition of cooked millet, this warm salad is a complete meal. Roasted butternut squash and hazelnuts offer textural interest, while the lemony dressing keeps things fresh.
16. Shredded Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad With Red Peppercorns & Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Hand-crushed red peppercorns are the secret star of this winter salad. Marinating sliced Brussels sprouts in a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice helps tenderize them, while a topping of pan-roasted pine nuts and honey mustard dressing complete the dish.
17. Roasted Butternut Squash & Toasted Farro Salad With Curried Brown Butter
Nutty brown butter spiked with curry powder ties together this salad of roasted butternut squash, toasted farro, shallots, and winter greens. Another obvious advantage, aside from the taste? No dressing needed.
18. Hearty Kale Salad With Kabocha Squash, Pomegranate Seeds & Toasted Hazelnuts
Olive oil-massaged kale meets caramelized kabocha squash in this wintry salad. Coupled with a trouble-free dressing of olive oil, mustard, lemon, and maple syrup—and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds!—this is a dish you’ll return to all season long.
19. Roasted Sweet Potato & Black Bean Salad With Chile Dressing
Roasted sweet potatoes, red onions, and black beans get a boost from a fiery dressing of olive oil and chile. Serve this salad warm, at room temperature, or refrigerate to enjoy the next day.
What winter salad will you be making? Share with us below!