Christmas Salad with Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette

~ A vibrantly beautiful salad that’s truly fit for a celebration! You can even shape it like a gorgeous Christmas wreath for a showstopping, edible centerpiece! Pretty greens are studded with crunchy pistachios, sweet and tangy pomegranate arils, and juicy oranges. Topped off with a sprinkling of creamy goat cheese and a refreshingly light champagne vinaigrette. A perfect party salad! ~

This Recipe Is:     Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Includes Make-Ahead Steps    Vegetarian    Gluten Free  

Christmas Salad with Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette Recipe {}This salad screams “Celebration!” (If you listen closely, I think it might sing “Deck the Halls” and “Jingle Bells,” too.)

I mean … just look at it. Red pomegranates and green pistachios. You’ve got Christmas right there.

Plus a snow-like dusting of goat cheese.

Christmas Salad with Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette Recipe {}Oh! And if it’s a celebration, we’ll be needing a bit of champagne, too – like maybe in a festive, light champagne vinaigrette! Falalalala …

Now, I’m not going to tell you that you can’t make this salad for Thanksgiving, and allllll winter long, when you’re craving juicy, sweet oranges and a crisp salad to break up all that heavier winter comfort food. One taste of this, and serving it just at Christmas won’t be nearly enough. I get that.

And honestly, I’m not gonna stop you from serving it at Easter. Or, heck – maybe St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo, too. Who am I to judge?

Christmas Salad with Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette Recipe {}But in its heart of hearts, this salad is a holiday salad, a Christmas salad. A special new tradition you’ll look forward to serving each year.

And with a few little tips, it’s a breeze to throw together. You can have it all prepped ahead of time, ready at a moment’s notice when your guests arrive!

Quick Shopping Tips

Greens – To make this holiday salad seriously quick and easy, we generally start with bagged greens, like a pretty spring mix or sweet baby lettuce mix.

Christmas Salad with Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette Recipe {}Pistachios – Although they cost a bit more, shelled pistachios will save you loads of time, and if you know you’ll be making this salad each Christmas, you can keep your eyes open a month or two ahead to snag them when they’re on sale. Storing nuts in the fridge helps extend their shelf life significantly, so you won’t have to worry about the pistachios going bad before the final, exciting moment when they get to adorn the Christmas Salad (the moment they’ve been waiting for)!

Pomegranates – Another huge timesaver – the little containers of pomegranate arils that you can find in most any grocery store. Whole pomegranates are definitely a hallmark of the holiday season, so grab a couple for your centerpiece if you’d like, but save yourself the messy effort of extracting those pesky arils, and just buy them all ready to go. So easy! If you do choose to buy the containers, though, just be sure to drain off (and drink – yum!) the juice at the bottom, rather than pouring it onto the salad along with the arils.

Christmas Salad with Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette Recipe {}

Cheese – Lastly … crumbled goat cheese! Until we started making Gretchen’s to-die-for Cranberry and Goat Cheese Crostini (another holiday gem you’ll want to check out 😉 ), I didn’t even know crumbled goat cheese was a thing. I would actually waste time trying to crumble those little goat cheese logs, ending up with smeary goat cheese all over my fingers and amorphous, gloppy chunks of goat cheese looking all messy on top of my salad. *SIGH* Crumbled goat cheese to the rescue! Grab it … and move on to the next item on your grocery list. Done!

How to Supreme an Orange (aka Cutting Oranges Like a Restaurant Chef!)

You know how restaurants always serve beautiful, perfect wedges of citrus without one bit of the white pith or membranes? Looks so impressive, right? Well, it’s super easy and will make you look like a chef extraordinaire!

The technique is called supreming. Here’s how it’s done:

Christmas Salad with Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette Recipe {}Start by cutting both ends off the orange, so you have a safe and stable base. Turn the orange onto one end, and carefully cut away the peel, following the contour of the orange so you don’t cut away too much of the fruit itself – just the peel and white pith. Once you’ve cut away all the peel, go back and carefully remove any little bits of pith that you missed.

At this point, you may choose to use a paring knife, although I prefer to finish the entire job with my 8-inch chef’s knife – whatever you’re comfortable with and feel safe using is just fine. Next, you simply cut out each individual section of the orange, carefully slicing right along the membranes that separate the orange sections from each other. Cut just to the middle of the orange so you can remove each section while leaving the membranes behind, still attached together at the middle.

You’ll end up with an empty orange “core” and the attached pithy membranes, and also with a pile of beautifully supremed orange wedges, completely free of peel or pith! High five – you did it!

One more little tip on those oranges while we’re at it. Before juicing the orange you’ll use to make the vinaigrette, let it come to room temperature, and you’ll actually get notably more juice. Brilliant!

Christmas Salad with Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette Recipe {}Make-Ahead Tips

This salad can certainly be made an hour or so ahead of time, but all those (deliciously festive!) toppings can really weigh down the greens if you add them too far ahead, and the arils will start to turn the goat cheese pink after a couple of hours. Also, as with most any other salad, I don’t recommend dressing this salad ahead of time, to prevent it from getting soggy. In fact, you may just want to offer a cruet of dressing alongside and allow guests to dress their own.

But wait … relaxed hostesses need to prep everything they can ahead of time, right? No worries – this salad comes together in mere moments!

If you want to have everything prepped several hours in advance or even the night before, you can place your greens in their serving bowl, prepare the dressing, and supreme the oranges – and store them each in separate containers in the fridge. Just before serving, put it all together – and greet your guests at the door with a relaxed I’ve-got-it-ALL-under-control smile!

Christmas Wreath Edible Centerpiece!

And hey now … want to really knock their (festive Christmas) socks off?

Make this already-stunning Christmas salad even more Christmas-y by shaping it into a wreath, like we did here:

Christmas Salad with Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette Recipe {}Now it’s not just singing falalalala and screaming “celebration.” It’s become it’s very own Christmas decoration … a showstopping centerpiece!

Happy holidays, friends! Gretchen and I both wish you a season filled with love and laughter, great food and good health. Cheers to you and yours!

THK By Shelley

More Delicious Ideas for Holiday Salad Recipes …

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Christmas Salad with Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette

Preparation 20 min. 2017-08-17T00:20:00+00:00 Cook Time 0 min. 2017-08-17T00:00:00+00:00
Serves About 11 cups     adjust servings



  • 5 ounces of salad greens (such as spring mix or sweet baby lettuce mix)
  • 2 navel oranges (about 11-12 ounces each, or 4 smaller navel oranges, about 6 ounces each), peeled and cut into sections (see directions for how to supreme an orange in the post above)
  • 4 ounces shelled, roasted and salted pistachios (about a scant cup)
  • 4 ounces pomegranate arils (a 4.3-ounce container is fine, drained)
  • 2 ounces crumbled goat cheese (about a scant 1/2 cup)


  • 5 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice (from about half a large navel orange)
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon smooth dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/16 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Place greens in a large serving bowl (or divide evenly among individual salad plates).
  2. Arrange oranges, pistachios, and pomegranate arils over top of greens. Sprinkle with goat cheese.
  3. For dressing, whisk together orange juice, honey, champagne vinegar, canola oil, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper until the salt has dissolved and the dressing is emulsified.
  4. Dress salad just before serving, or pass the dressing at the table.


Recipe Notes

Make-ahead tips: The best way to prep this salad ahead is simply to have the dressing made, the oranges cut, and all of the components measured and ready. You can do this up to a day ahead, storing the greens, vinaigrette, oranges and goat cheese in separate, covered containers in the refrigerator. You can compose the salad up to about an hour before serving, but wait to dress it until the last minute (or allow guests to dress their own).

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Christmas Salad with Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette Recipe {}
Christmas Salad with Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette Recipe {}
Christmas Salad with Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette Recipe {}
Christmas Salad with Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette Recipe {}


Christmas Salad with Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette — 29 Comments

  1. This salad looks beautiful! What do you think about the miniature little oranges? Any huge difference in the overall salad? I’m making a large batch, in a large salad bowl as opposed to platter, so I’m seeking a simple alternative, otherwise i’ll cut the orange pieces in half to make them shorter lol

    • Hi, Shar! Do you mean using little mandarin or clementine-type oranges? The only real difference I can see in that case is that they’re usually a bit sweeter than the larger navel oranges, so the overall flavor profile of your salad will be a bit sweeter, too. Also, if you are planning to supreme the oranges as we suggest (just to remove the white pith and make the salad look a bit “fancier”), I always feel like the tinier citrus fruits are harder to work with, just because they’re smaller. Just go carefully with that knife! 😀 Good luck! ~Shelley

  2. Thank you SO much for sharing this recipe! It was absolutely delicious and everyone loved it, to include second and third helpings. It was also such a pretty presentation. Due to lack of time, I couldn’t run around to different stores to find champagne vinegar, but as luck would have it, I came upon a bottled champagne citrus vinaigrette dressing, and it paired perfectly. I always take some type of green salad to my m-in-law’s Christmas Eve due to their traditional ukraine/slovak, meatless, carb – filled and butter – laden meals, and I’m so glad I came across your awesome salad. I will most definitely make it an annual, traditional, signature dish. ☺?

    • Oh, Susan! Thank you so much for this wonderful feedback! My family took a bit of a break away from the blog for a few days over the holidays (so I apologize I didn’t get back to you sooner!), and now that they’re all back to work and school, I’m catching up here at THK. This note from you was the absolute perfect way to start my morning – you’ve made my day! I’m so happy that this salad was such a hit with your family and offered a light, refreshing note to the meal. And I’m sorry that you had trouble finding champagne vinegar – I normally try to stick with relatively common ingredients in my recipes, and I generally feel that if I can find an ingredient in my fairly typical, midwestern grocery store, it probably should be rather easy to find anywhere. I’m glad you found the perfect replacement in a pinch! 🙂 Thanks again … and Happy, Happy New Year to you and your family! ~Shelley

    • Hi, Heather! I’ve made this Christmas Salad so many times, and if anything, I find that there’s actually a tiny bit more dressing than needed, even though it just doesn’t LOOK like that much dressing (always a bonus, as I can pour extra, leftover salad dressing over other salad greens a day or two later). The flavors in the vinaigrette are designed to work with all the other textures and flavors in the salad in a lovely balance – and not to overwhelm the rest of the salad components or drown them in puddles of dressing. Having said that, you can certainly feel free to double the vinaigrette portion of the recipe, if needed, of course – especially the first time you make this recipe, if you’re really worried there won’t be enough – but I think that you’ll find that it truly is enough salad dressing. And regarding the ratios you mention (1/2 cup vinegar to 1 cup oil) – my dressings are very specifically created to be different from many others you may find. They deliver big flavor with much, much less oil than the typical vinaigrette ratios – this limits unnecessary calories and fats. For other examples of how beautifully this healthier, low-fat vinaigrette technique can work, check out the vinaigrette recipe in our Salad with Goat Cheese, Pears, Candied Pecans and Maple-Balsamic Dressing and also the one in our Corn, Edamame and Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette. Hope all of that info helps, and that you’re enjoying a wonderful holiday season, and thanks for popping by with these terrific questions! 😀 ~Shelley

  3. I brought all the ingredients tonight. After going to 3 stores, I found Champagne vinegar, but there were 4 choices. All different types, not brands of Champagne vinegar. There was a dry white oaky taste, a pinot citrus taste, a pomegranate taste and a lemon one. All Champagne vinegars. I ended up with Cuvee Champagne vinegar, blend of california pinot and chardonay grapes. bubling, crisp and dry floral notes of lemon and apple. I am sure it will be delicious,but didn’t know what to get. I will try it, tomorrow.

    • Wow, Linda! The vinegar you describe sounds just amazing! I’m so sorry you had such trouble finding it (and then so many confusing options when you did!), but it sounds like it will be really wonderful! I made this Christmas Salad last weekend for a family party, but just thinking about that vinegar, I’m sort of wishing I’d gotten a salad assignment for one of our other family parties these next few days! (I got a lot of appetizer assignments – so, festively colored Baked Hummus Dip with Tabouli Topping is definitely in my future lol!) Enjoy, and merry, merry Christmas to you and your family! 😀 ~Shelley

  4. Another question 🙂 what would you think about Grapeseed oil substitute for Canola?

    P.s. Thank you so much for including the very detailed and shopping and prep tips! So helpful!!

    • Hey there, Megan – great questions today! The reason I chose canola for this Christmas Wreath Salad is simply because it’s a rather neutral-flavored oil that I feel people commonly have on hand. For the dressing in this salad, I didn’t really like the flavor of olive oil shining through. So, I think any other neutral-flavored oil would be just fine – including grapeseed, which is generally considered to be rather neutral. We have a big family Christmas Eve party tomorrow, but I will try to check back in to see if you have any other questions. Please don’t hesitate to ask if I can help you more! Have a wonderful holiday, and good look with that BIG family gathering – how fun!!! 😀 ~Shelley

  5. Beautiful! Looking forward to trying to 🙂 About how many people does this serve? I’m making it for my BIG family get together of 20 so want to make sure I have enough 🙂 thank you!

    • Hi Megan! I’m so thrilled you’re trying this! So, I would say that it depends on how much salad you will serve to each guest, or how you will serve this. What I mean is that, at 11 cups, it’s basically 11 one-cup servings. But, if it’s going to be served buffet-style, some people may take more (and honestly – with this salad, they’re likely to come back for seconds). If you’re plating it, you can better control exact amounts. For 20 people, I would say to at least double the recipe, just to be sure. I just made this again last weekend for one of our big family Christmas gatherings, for 15 people – I made a double batch and had only a little left over (I had been hoping there’d be even more left over for myself for the next day lol!). If you want to extra-safe and will enjoy the leftovers yourself, then I would say you could even triple the recipe for that many folks, although if you are going to have just a giant buffet of so, so much food, then tripling it could be too much. And, I always like to make PLENTY so the food is bountiful when I entertain, especially with foods the I love and will enjoy leftovers. Does that all make sense and help a little?? I hope so! But let me know if I can help further. Happy holidays, Megan! 😀 ~Shelley

      • Thank you so much Shelley! I really appreciate your quick replies and very helpful info!! I’ll go ahead and double it and based on the amount of other food I agree that sounds like a perfect amount. With your test on 15 people at your big gathering I feel very confident about that too :). Thanks so much for the answer you gave on the grapeseed oil too, I’m going to try it as a substitute and I’ll let you know how the Grapeseed oil turns out! Thanks again and Merry Christmas to you and yours as well!!

  6. Love the way this recipe looks and want to try for Christmas eve, but not a fan of pistachio’s, do you think pine nuts or slivered almonds might work just as well?

    • I do! Although the flavor will be just a little different, I think most any nut that you like best would be an acceptable substitute in this Christmas Salad, if you don’t like pistachios. One thing, though: I do think that pine nuts would be yummy, but I would maybe opt for something just a little bigger – like slivered almonds or maybe even toasted pecan pieces – just to deliver a little bit of a bigger crunch than the tiny pine nuts would. I’d love to hear what you decide to use! Merry, merry Christmas to you, Char! 🙂 ~Shelley

    • Hi Michelle! I personally think the oranges pair better with the other flavors in this holiday salad. You already have a bit of tartness in there from the vinegar in the vinaigrette, and the arils have a little of their own tartness, too. So, I like using oranges which are sweeter that grapefruit, to help keep all the flavors balanced. Having said that, though, I haven’t tried using grapefruit, and if you decide to experiment with it, I’d be really interested in your analysis of how it worked. Either way, I hope you love it as much as we do! I’m actually making a double batch tomorrow to take to a big family holiday celebration! 😀 ~Shelley

  7. Your salad looks amazing!! I am looking forward to making it this year for Christmas Eve.Wondering what do you think of substituting feta for the goat cheese? Thanks!

    • I’m so thrilled for you to make this, Diane! Normally, I’m all about trying different ingredients and putting a personal spin on recipes, but I’m a little worried that the feta might not be quite the right flavor profile here – possibly a bit too assertive and salty. The goat cheese has a nice, creamy, mellow vibe going on, with just a little bit of tanginess, so it pairs beautifully with the other slightly delicate flavors, particularly in the dressing. Still, if you do decide to give feta a try, I’d love to hear how it goes and what you think! Merry, merry Christmas! 😀 ~Shelley

      • Thanks so much for your reply, I really appreciate it. Not being a fan of goat cheese though,can you think any other cheese you might go well in the salad?

        • Hmmmmm … well, none of these will deliver quite the same little tang that goat cheese has (although I’m guessing it’s that tangy flavor that you don’t care for anyway) – but what about trying another cheese that has a similar creamy but somewhat crumbly texture? I’ve seen people say that they find queso blanco, ricotta or even mascarpone to be reasonable substitutes. I’m afraid feta might be a bit too assertive for the other flavors in this salad, although the texture/crumbliness would be perfect. Another idea – you could leave the goat cheese off the salad, but serve it, along with a second kind of cheese you’re trying out, in little bowls alongside. People could choose whichever cheese they prefer on top of their own salad plates, and you could safely try a second, different cheese without fear that it will ruin the whole salad if you end up not liking how it pairs with the other flavors. Also, even though I think the goat cheese’s creamy/tanginess adds something wonderful to this salad, if you’re not a fan of it, I think you will still enjoy the salad with the cheese left off altogether. Long answer, but I hope some of those ideas will help you! Let me know how it goes – and Merry Christmas to you and your family!! 😀 ~Shelley

  8. I tend to use olive oil, and am not a fan of canola oil…but your recipe looks fabulous and just would like your opinion on using evoo? Matter of fact, all your recipes look delish, glad i stumbled upon you…thanks again

    • Hi there, Daniilelle! I do think that evoo would work here. The Citrus-Champagne Vinaigrette is a delicately flavored dressing, and I went with canola so that you wouldn’t actually TASTE the olive oil, since canola tends to be more neutrally flavored. However, I think it would be fine with olive oil, too. And actually, if you’d like to keep to a neutral-flavored oil, you could go with light olive oil (which isn’t lighter in terms of calories or fat, but in terms of its more neutral taste). I hope you love the salad as much as we do! And thank you so, so much for your sweet comment about finding us – I’m so glad you found us, too! 😀 I hope you’ll let me know how the olive oil worked out and pop back with more questions as you try other recipes! Happy Holidays!!! ~Shelley

  9. Beeeeeautiful salad, Shelley and Gretchen! It’s positively festive and has just about every one of my favorite winter flavors. Love that you can make this ahead…great for busy cooks! Happy, healthy holidays to you both and your families! xo

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