Pear Salad with Creamy Walnut Vinaigrette

A plate of pear salad with creamy walnut vinaigrette

My Pear Salad with Creamy Walnut Vinaigrette is just about the first thing I make when gorgeous pears show up in my grocery store. The star of this fall salad is a whole pear that’s been thinly sliced and stacked so you can still see the shape of the fruit; it’s beautiful enough for the holidays.

pear salad with walnut vinaigrette on a plate with fork

thinly sliced whole pears are the star of this fall salad

I love to serve pears this way in a salad because it retains their pretty shape, and makes such an elegant presentation. You can slice the pears with a very sharp knife and a steady hand, or you can do it the easy way, on a mandolin slicer. What’s fun about the mandolin is that it will slice through the pear and the stem, so you get a great look to your salad. Just stack the slices and fan them out slightly for this pretty presentation.

Pear Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette on a wooden table

an earthy walnut vinaigrette is a perfect match for creamy, mild pears.

Walnuts and blue cheese are classic pairings with pears, but I took it a step further with my creamy walnut vinaigrette. I used walnut oil, which is so aromatic, and provides a nice change from the ubiquitous olive oil dressings. This recipe becomes ‘creamy’ because the oil emulsifies with the mustard and vinegar in a small food processor. I drizzle the oil in slowly while the machine is running which fuses everything together into a creamy dressing that will not separate.

If you don’t have a processor or an immersion blender you can emulsify your dressing by hand ~ just load the ingredients in a jam jar, screw on the cap, and shake like mad!

Spooning dressing over Pear Salad with Creamy Walnut Vinaigrette

Ingredient spotlight: Walnut Oil

Walnut oil is a super healthy oil that has a wonderful sophisticated flavor for salad dressings, and it makes such a welcome change of pace from olive oil. Specialty oils can usually be found in the same section as the regular oils in your supermarket, just take a good look around, sometimes they’re on a high or low shelf. Use walnut oil as a base for dressings, as a finishing oil, or drizzled on fish or pasta, etc. (It makes a great base for pestos.)  I also love to use it as a dip for fresh crusty bread.

Walnut oil is best used raw because heating can alter its flavor. Be sure to store nut oils in the refrigerator, they will spoil faster at room temperature.

A pear salad with creamy walnut vinaigrette on a wooden table with green pear

compose your salads for best presentation

Instead of chucking everything into your big wooden salad bowl and tossing, try a composed salad! Composed salads are salads that you arrange rather than toss. This pear and arugula salad is so easy to make, but really makes an impression on the table. I served it on individual salad plates, but you could also arrange it a large platter, family style, with multiple pears. Allow a stack of 3 or 4 slices per person. I can’t imagine a more elegant way to showcase this wonderful fall fruit.

Pear salad with walnut vinaigrette on a patterned plate.

what type of pear work best for this salad?

I used Bartlett pears, one of the most common grocery store varieties. Bartletts start out a pretty shade of medium green, and turn yellow as they ripen. They become super juicy as they ripen, so it’s best to catch them when they are ripe, but still firm enough to slice. Once they get to the yellow stage they’ll be too soft and juicy to slice thinly and neatly.

If you want to make this salad and your pears are ripening too quickly, just store them in the refrigerator, this will slow down the ripening process.

Bartlett pears for Pear Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette

how to keep sliced pears from turning brown ~

Pears, like apples, will turn brown soon after you’ve sliced them, it happens because of a chemical reaction between the cut flesh and the air, called oxidation. Luckily you can slow that process way down and keep your sliced pears looking fresh by tossing them in lemon juice, or a solution of lemon juice and water. I don’t slice my pears too much in advance, though, I like to do that shortly before serving.

more fall salads with unique dressings

One of my favorite autumnal salads is this Kale and Fall Fruit Salad with Cider Poppy Seed Dressing ~ the cider poppy seed is another fabulous creamy dressing.

kale and fall fruit salad in a white bowl

This gorgeous harvest kale salad comes with one of my favorite dressings, pomegranate allspice ~ you’re going to want to file that recipe away for other salads, too, the flavor is totally unexpected and so good.

Harvest Kale Salad with Pomegranate Allspice Dressing

My roasted apple and radicchio salad comes with a unique lemon-horseradish dressing. Talk about zesty!

roasted apple and radicchio salad in a bowl with dressing
A pear salad with creamy walnut vinaigrette on a wooden table with green pear
3.74 from 97 votes

Pear Salad with Creamy Walnut Vinaigrette

My Pear Salad with Creamy Walnut Vinaigrette is a delightful fall salad made with a whole sliced pear. It’s pretty enough for your Thanksgiving table.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Calories 349kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 2-3 ripe but firm pears
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 cups arugula or other baby lettuce
  • 4 Tbsp walnuts
  • 4-8 Tbsp crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola cheese


  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp walnuts
  • 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup walnut oil
  • salt and black pepper to taste


  • To make the dressing put the mustard, walnuts, and vinegar in a small food processor. Process for about a minute, then, while the machine is running, drizzle in the oil (there should be a little hole in the top to allow the oil to drizzle slowly in.) When all the oil had been incorporated, scrape down the sides and process until everything is nice and creamy. The longer you process the smoother the consistency will be. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Slice the pear into 1/4 inch slices. I like to use a mandolin slicer for this. Sprinkle the cut slices with the lemon juice to prevent browning, making sure all surfaces are covered.
  • Arrange arugula on 4 salad plates and top each pear slices, stacked but fanned out slightly. Scatter the nuts and blue cheese over the plates. Drizzle with the dressing, and season with fresh cracked black pepper.


Calories: 349kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 17g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 180mg | Potassium: 663mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 17599IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 149mg | Iron: 3mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
My Pear Salad with Creamy Walnut Vinaigrette pin

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    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    March 5, 2022 at 12:05 pm

    Hi! I actually used the recipe for this salad for a dinner about a week and a half ago and I LOVED IT! Company loved it too. Just a quick question – any feedback on how long you can keep the dressing? It’s been sitting in the refrigerator for nine days post-dinner and I’m not sure how long I can keep it in there until it goes bad. Thanks in advance, and thanks for sharing your recipe! 🙂

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 5, 2022 at 2:03 pm

      Generally I feel comfortable keeping dressings about a week, Taylor. But if it looks and smells fine, it’s probably fine.

  • Reply
    October 19, 2021 at 10:42 pm

    5 stars
    I have made this salad twice. Both times my husband’s eyes light up and he muses about how much this fabulous salad would cost in a restaurant.

  • Reply
    September 16, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    Sue, would you be able to suggest a substitute for the mustard? I am not a fan of that, and would love to try this salad.
    By the way I love your recipes. Thank you.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      September 17, 2021 at 6:42 am

      Thanks jk! You might try an equal amount of mayonnaise to help emulsify the dressing without the mustard.

  • Reply
    Donna Oliphint
    September 16, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    This looks delicious! You can use Sprite to keep fruit from turning brown, too, and it won’t ruin the texture of the fruit like lemon juice will if it has to sit very long.

  • Reply
    February 3, 2020 at 11:18 am

    4 stars
    I loved this dressing. I changed up the salad a bit but I like the dressing on a salad with pears and another with beets

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      September 16, 2021 at 7:06 am

      I love to share dressings for that reason, they come in so handy!

  • Reply
    Young Paciello
    September 29, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    hey there. Just a note about keeping pears or apples from going brown: rather than lemon juice which adds more acidity to the dressing, dunk fruit in apple juice. I used to do this when I had a catering event and needed to peel fruit in advance.

    • Reply
      September 29, 2019 at 12:09 pm

      Thanks, I haven’t tried that.

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