Winter Vegetable Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Beets is a great recipe for a cold Winter night! It's also a festive side dish for the holiday menu, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. This recipe is healthy, vegetarian, gluten-free, and packed with fiber!
Winter Vegetable Salad
Since this is a winter vegetable salad, it is not packed with leafy greens, such as spinach, arugula, or kale, as you would normally expect in the Spring or Summer. Instead, the recipe features roasted winter root vegetables, such as butternut squash and beets, and leaf vegetables such as Brussels sprouts.
The vegetables are tossed with toasted pecans and dried cranberries and then coated with Balsamic based dressing creating the ultimate Winter salad. My other winter favorites are butternut squash and spinach salad and winter fruit salad with maple-lime dressing.
Perfect Holiday Salad
- Colorful ingredients. This winter vegetable salad is bursting with colors, flavors, and seasonal ingredients making it a perfect side dish for the holidays. The crispy and crunchy salad will add vibrancy to your holiday menu. Dried cranberries provide a sweet contrast to the savory Brussels Sprouts and roasted butternut squash. Toasted pecans add a bit of crunch.
- An interesting addition to the traditional holiday menu. This salad is also unique enough that it will make your holiday menu that much more interesting. It's a perfect addition to traditional Thanksgiving recipes, such as green beans, potatoes, and stuffing. It is also a unique side dish to serve with Christmas main courses, such as ham or prime rib.
- Add beets to your holiday menu. If you enjoy beets and have been thinking about how to incorporate them into your holiday dinner, this is the perfect recipe! If you don't like beets, try this salad and you might change your mind! In this recipe, you can use either boiled beets or roasted beets.
You only need 5 ingredients for this simple salad:
- Brussels Sprouts. Roasted Brussels sprouts taste great when combined with all the classic Autumn ingredients, such as butternut squash, pecans, and dried cranberries!
- Butternut Squash. Butternut squash provides a subtly sweet contrast to the savory flavor of roasted Brussels Sprouts and beets.
- Beets. Beets are one of my most favorite ingredients. In this recipe, I went an easy route and just boiled fresh beets until they were cooked. You can also use roasted beets.
- Pecans. Toasted pecans add a festive look and holiday vibes to this winter vegetable salad. They also provide healthy fats, protein, and are a good source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Adding pecans will make any dish a perfect recipe for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and this salad is no exception!
- Dried Cranberries. Add another colorful and festive ingredient, dried cranberries, to this winter vegetable salad. They provide a perfectly balanced sweetness to the rest of the ingredients. Tip: Soak dried cranberries in boiling water for 5 minutes to plump them up and make the juicer.
While this recipe is good as is, without any dressing, here are 3 simple options to add flavor to the winter vegetable salad.
Option 1. Balsamic Glaze.
- Make the balsamic glaze by cooking down the balsamic vinegar together with a small amount of honey or brown sugar until the mixture reduces by about half.
- For example, combine 1 cup of balsamic vinegar + ¼ cup of honey or brown sugar and cook it down.
- Consistency should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon but should not be overly thick.
Option 2. High-Quality Aged Balsamic Vinegar Made in Italy
- Aged balsamic vinegar is often sold in specialized stores or sections of foreign foods at some grocery stores.
- High-quality Italian-made aged balsamic vinegar is usually expensive but it does not need cooking down.
- Just use it as is. And, you don't need to use much.
Option 3. Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil.
- Combine ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Whisk until emulsified.
- Drizzle over the salad.
- Note: For the salad dressing, use high-quality extra virgin olive oil that is labeled as to be used in salads and not for high heat cooking.
How to Make Winter Vegetable Salad
Making this salad involves basic steps, such as roasting the veggies, toasting the pecans, and tossing everything together with a simple balsamic glaze or dressing.
Roast Brussels Sprouts
- Toss Brussels sprouts in olive oil and salt.
- Roast in the preheated oven at 375 F for about 20 minutes.
Roast Butternut Squash
- Use cubed butternut squash. For more details, see how to peel, seed, cube, and roast Butternut Squash.
- Toss cubed butternut squash (peeled and seeded) in olive oil and salt.
- Roast in the preheated oven at 375 F for about 20 minutes.
- Boil fresh beets (with the peel on) in the water until they are soft. That usually means boiling the beets for about 20-30 minutes in boiling water.
- Let them cool completely. Peel and dice into small cubes.
- Toast pecans on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet for about 5 or 10 minutes in the preheated oven at 350 F until they get darker in color.
- Note: pecans burn really fast, so make sure to check the nuts after 5 minutes and frequently afterward.
- In a large bowl, combine roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash, boiled and diced beets, dried cranberries, and lightly toasted pecans.
- Add salad dressing. You have 3 options. Option 1. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Option 2. Drizzle with high quality aged balsamic vinegar made in Italy. Option 3. Or, toss with balsamic vinegar + olive oil.
Do You Serve It Warm or Cold?
This dish is best to be served warm, hot, or at room temperature. It tastes the best when served immediately after making it.
Can You Make it Ahead?
- Combine all the salad ingredients (except pecans) in a large airtight container: roasted butternut squash, roasted Brussels sprouts, cooked diced beets, and dried cranberries. Keep refrigerated for up to 2 days, until ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, reheat the salad in the oven on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Add toasted pecans last, right before serving. Drizzle with the salad dressing of your choice.
- Note: if you plan to make this a day or two ahead, don’t add nuts. Add nuts only when ready to serve (to make sure they are crunchy).
How to Store and Reheat Winter Vegetable Salad
- Store refrigerated. Store this salad refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Don't add nuts. Add pecans only right before serving to ensure they are not soggy.
- Reheat the salad in the oven. Reheat this dish in a shallow pan, such as a sheet pan or a sheet cake pan lined with parchment paper. Spread the ingredients on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan. Reheat for about 15 minutes in the preheated oven at 350 F. Add toasted pecans last, only when ready to serve.
- Reheat in a microwave oven. Microwave briefly for about 30 seconds until the salad is warm or is brought to room temperature.
- Nuts. Use walnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, or pine nuts instead of pecans. If you can find candied pecans or candied walnuts - those would work great, too!
- Dried Fruit. Don't have or don't want to use dried cranberries? The best substitutions would be dried cherries, chopped up dried figs, dried blueberries.
- Butternut Squash. You can easily use roasted sweet potatoes instead of roasted butternut squash.
- To save time, roast both Brussels sprouts and butternut squash on 2 separate baking sheets at the same time, on the same rack in the oven.
- Boil beets in advance as they will take time to cool off before you can peel and dice them. Or, at the very least, boil them at the same time as you roast the veggies.
- Soak dried cranberries briefly in hot water to plump them up. It will make them juicier and softer.
- Toasting pecans really takes them to the next level, so don't skip that step. However, be careful not to burn these expensive nuts. Toast pecans on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet for about 5 or 10 minutes in the preheated oven at 350 F until they get darker in color. Note: pecans burn really fast, so make sure to check the nuts after 5 minutes and frequently afterward.
- Use high-quality aged Balsamic vinegar made in Italy as a salad dressing.
- Add protein. While this winter vegetable salad is good as is, you can make it a complete meal by adding protein, such as grilled chicken, roasted pork, or cooked bacon. You can also add grilled or baked fish, such as salmon, trout, or halibut. For vegetarian options, add chickpeas or other beans.
- Add salad greens. If you prefer to make it look more like a regular salad, mix in regular salad greens, such as spinach, arugula, or kale.
Other Holiday Side Dishes
If you enjoy holiday ingredients, such as butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, green beans, and peas, take a look at these recipes. All side dishes below make a perfect addition to the Thanksgiving or Christmas menu. They are easy to make, look festive, and taste delicious!
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Cranberries
- Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Cranberries
- Butternut Squash and Spinach Salad with Pecans, Cranberries, Pomegranate Seeds
- Garlic and Bacon Green Beans
- Creamy and Crunchy Salad with Peas, Bacon, and Pecans
- Asiago Cheese Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Other Winter Salads
- Butternut Squash and Spinach Salad with Pecans, Cranberries, Pomegranate Seeds and Poppy Seed Honey-Lime Dressing
- Winter Fruit Salad with Maple-Lime Dressing.
Main Courses that pair well with Winter Vegetable Salad
I recommend that you try one of these main courses recipes for your holiday dinner, especially the duck:
- Roast Duck
- Duck Breast with Cranberry Sauce
- Lamb Chops with Cranberry Balsamic Reduction
- Roasted Cornish Hen
Winter Vegetable Salad with Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Beets
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- 3 cups Brussels sprouts (raw, ends trimmed, yellow leaves removed)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt to taste
Roasted Butternut Squash
- 4 cups butternut squash (uncooked, peeled, seeded, and cubed into 1-inch cubes)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt to taste
Other Salad Ingredients
- 2 beets
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup honey or brown sugar
How to Roast Brussels Sprouts
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Trim ends of Brussels sprouts and remove yellow leaves. Slice all Brussels sprouts in half.
- In a medium bowl, combine halved Brussels sprouts, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt (to taste), and toss to combine.
- Place Brussels sprouts onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, cut side down, and roast in the oven at 375 F for about 20-25 minutes. Roast them longer if you'd like a softer texture. During the last 5-10 minutes of roasting, turn them over for even browning, the cut sides should be nicely and partially charred but not blackened.
How to Roast Butternut Squash
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine cubed butternut squash (peeled and seeded), 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt, and toss to combine. Note: For more tips and details on how to peel, cut, and roast whole butternut squash, check out this article: How to Roast Butternut Squash.
- Spread butternut squash in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once half-way through baking until softened.
- Note: You can roast both Brussels sprouts and butternut squash on 2 separate baking sheets at the same time, on the same rack in the oven.
How to Cook Beets
- Add 2 beets to a medium-sized saucepan filled with water. Bring to a boil. Boil the beets on medium heat, half-covered (allowing some heat to escape), for about 30 or 40 minutes until soft (depending on the size of the beets). Remove from heat.
- Using a large spoon or a ladle, carefully remove beets from hot water. Let them cool. When completely cooled, peel the beets and then dice them into small cubes.
How to Toast Pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread pecans in a single layer.
- Toast the pecans for about 5 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven at 350 F until they get darker in color.
- Note: Pecans burn really fast, so make sure to check the nuts after 5 minutes and frequently afterward.
- Combine 1 cup of balsamic vinegar + ¼ cup of honey or brown sugar in a medium pan and cook it down, regularly stirring. The mixture should reduce by about half. Consistency should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon but should not be overly thick.
- In a large bowl, toss together roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash, diced cooked beets, toasted pecans, and dried cranberries.
- Drizzle with the balsamic glaze without mixing it with the salad.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: If making this salad ahead, drizzle the balsamic glaze only right before serving, for presentation purposes. Otherwise, the salad might look dark and not as colorful.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Do you think I could add polish sausage to this dish?
Ruthann, yes, sausage would be great with all these ingredients!! I've made something similar like this with sausage, you might like this: https://juliasalbum.com/sausage-veggies-pasta/
This is a showstopper side dish. I get so many compliments when I make it. Absolutely delicious!
Robyn, your comment makes me so happy! Thank you for this glowing review! 🙂
Made this tonight as a side for the honey glazed pork steak. The few tweaks I did was 1) to use a garlic infused EVOO to roast the brussel sprouts and squash, + adding a *dash of Italian seasoning to them before roasting.
The second tweak was using salted and roasted pepitas instead of pecans or walnuts. TBH, it was what I had on hand. ♀️
The 3rd was taking that same garlic infused EVOO (it was an Aldi score) and mixing it 40% EVOO / 60% Balsamic reduction for the dressing.
The 4th and lays tweak is I topped it with (another Aldi staple) crumbled goat cheese with sun dried tomato and basil.
This was a great recipe and I have not only pinned it, but I will be making it more often as it was a huge success and absolutely delicious!
Corrie, thank you so much for taking the time to share such a detailed and thoughtful comment about all the delicious adjustments you made! 🙂 Salted and roasted pepitas sound so good! And, so good to know that this salad worked well with crumbled flavored goat cheese. It is a super helpful comment to me and other readers!
Don’t coat with balsamic glaze before serving! It will turn it all black. Now it seams like an obvious thing, but I wish I had realized it or that the author had made a note of It. It was beautiful and colorful until I added the balsamic glaze. It looked as if the salad was burnt and not at all appetizing. I was so disappointed and embarrassed to serve at thanksgiving, so I didn’t and just ate it later. As far as taste it was good, but weird to eat a black salad.
L, thank you for your constructive feedback - you made a really good point! I just updated this recipe according to your comment because it will be helpful to other readers. I love comments like yours - they make my recipes better!
I made this dish,and it was delicious. The next day, though, it looked brown. I believe this was because of the dark balsamic vinegar. I have sine purchase white balsamic vinegar and will use that next time.
Barb, yes, it's the result of the dark balsamic vinegar. Using white balsamic vinegar is a great idea! Another solution would be to drizzle individual servings of this salad with the balsamic glaze right before serving (keep the dressing on the side)>
My beets needed about 35-40 minutes to soften. At 20 minutes they were still quite hard. Same with squash.
Sheryl - I updated the recipe to reflect your feedback. The boiling times for beets would depend on their size - I must've used smaller beets. Brussels sprouts might need extra time too if they are on the larger side.
Unfortunately mine turned out not very appealing to the eye after the beets turned everything dark. It tasted great. I don’t think I’d do the red beets the next time.
Lisa, I am glad you loved the flavor! I think one of the solutions could be to boil the beets a day in advance, pat them dry, refrigerate them and use them the next day. It should dry them a lot and they won't leak as much color in that case.
Ginny McKinney, Marshmallow Ranch
What a wonderful addition to our Thanksgiving meal! Everyone raved and it’s sure to become a regular dish!
Ginny, so glad you tried this recipe and enjoyed it! Thank you for the comment and the 5 stars! 🙂
This looks delicious and I plan to make it, but I wonder whether you recommend serving it warm or cold?
Christine, serve this hot, warm, or at room temperature. But not refrigerator-cold.
the brussel sprout, squash, beet salad. As a side for Thanksgiving, approximately how many people will it serve? Thanks!
Diane, is this salad to be served as a side for Thanksgiving together with lots of other side dishes? I think it will make 6 generous servings!
This looks divine!! Will be serving this holiday!! Just one question is this served warm or cold? Thanks for all your wonderful recipes!!
Trish, thank you for your sweet comment! 🙂 Serve this warm or at room temperature but not refrigerator cold.
Thank you! Can it be made ahead and reheated?
Trish, yes you can make it ahead and reheat. Here are some tips:
➡️ 1) If you plan to make this dish a day ahead, don’t add nuts and dried cranberries. Add them only when ready to serve (to make sure they are crunchy) and add salad dressing (if using) right before serving.
➡️ 2) Reheat this dish in a shallow pan, such as a sheet pan or a sheet cake pan lined with parchment paper. Spread the ingredients on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan. Reheat for about 15 minutes in the preheated oven at 350 F. Then add toasted pecans and cranberries, when ready to serve. And drizzle with the balsamic glaze (or balsamic vinaigrette) or a salad dressing (if using).
➡️ 3) You can also reheat this in the microwave (without the pecans).