Spring has sprung and thoughts are drifting to warm days and cool picnic treats. Pull out your favorite Tupperware to share this sweet, light Grape Salad with your friends and bring copies of the recipe. They’ll want you to share!

Grape Salad

Raise your hand if you like simple recipes. Yeah, me too.

There’s definitely a sense of accomplishment when you spend hours in the kitchen successfully tackling a long and complicated recipe, especially with something like a luscious lasagna or an eight-layer chocolate cake as a reward.

Some weeks, though, are filled with extra appointments or kid’s soccer games or binge watching the latest season of your favorite Netflix series. Those weeks call for quick recipes, with limited ingredients and a tasty payoff, recipes like my Grape Salad.

This is a recipe my family has been serving for more years than I can remember. It’s super easy and always a huge hit.

As the name implies, grapes are the main ingredient, which makes the salad a great source of antioxidants, fiber, and other good-for-you stuff!

You may have seen a Red Grape Salad recipe before, but there are over 8,000 varieties of grapes worldwide so you should use at least two or three! Different types of grapes will add extra color and varying sweetness and texture, so I typically use red and green grapes (seedless, of course).

The grapes are coated with a luscious creamy dressing that’s a perfect blend of tangy cream cheese sweetened with a touch of sugar, making this salad a cool and refreshing addition to just about any meal. I add a touch of vanilla to the dressing which makes this dish reminiscent of a grape salad recipe with Cool Whip or a grape salad with marshmallow cream.

But I also incorporate sour cream which really balances out the salad and serves as a tart palette-pleasing partner for the sugary grapes. Grape Salad

To add some texture, the recipe calls for a crunchy topping of toasted pecans and brown sugar. My Grape Salad is similar to the Grape Salad Trisha Yearwood makes, but I double the topping. It’s really my favorite part.

We’ve all been to potlucks with congealed fruit salads or a simple bowl of fresh chopped fruit, but this Grape Salad is a wonderful, unique side dish to share at any big gathering of family or friends. Whenever I bring this salad, I get requests for the recipe and the serving dish is always completely emptied!

Most of my recipes are flexible, and I encourage experimenting with ingredients to find what works best for you.

You could try adding some shredded cheddar cheese like the Grape Salad Paula Deen makes, or use toasted walnuts or slivered almonds instead of pecans. Shredded coconut is always a favorite addition to make when you what to change things up a bit.

Just make my Grape Salad and thank me later. Oh, and seriously consider doubling it! 🙂

RECIPE NOTES:

 Grapes:  You can make a red grape salad, or use red and green grapes, or feel free to try this recipe with any fun varieties you find in your grocery store – tiny champagne grapes or tear-drop shaped ones (sometimes called “witch fingers” or “chili pepper” grapes). Just make sure they’re completely dry before you toss them with the dressing. If they’re wet, they’ll water down the creamy coating and keep it from clinging to the grapes like it’s supposed to.

One-Dish Dish:  I make the dressing in a bowl large enough to hold the grapes as well. That way, once the dressing is mixed you can toss the grapes directly in the same dish. We all appreciate having fewer dishes to wash, so make sure you grab a big mixing/serving bowl!

Refrigerating:  I like to let this rest in the fridge for a few hours minimum. Overnight works just fine, too, if you’d like to make it ahead. Just don’t add the topping until right before you’re ready to serve it, otherwise you’ll miss out on the lovely crunchy goodness! Lighter dressing:  If you’d like a slightly lighter version of this salad, you can adjust the dressing a bit by making a Grapes Salad with yogurt. Simply replace the sour cream with 8 oz. of vanilla flavored Greek yogurt. If you do, you can cut the sugar down to a ¼ c. (or less, depending on how sweet you like it) and ditch the vanilla extract since it’s already in the yogurt. You can also use low fat cream cheese and sub in honey or your favorite sugar substitute for the granulated sugar.

Pecans:  Toasting the pecans just until they’re fragrant brings out extra flavor, so try and plan enough time to do that (I usually toast them while the salad is hanging out in the fridge). Toasting can be done on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about five minutes or in a skillet over medium heat for one or two minutes. Just watch the nuts carefully so they don’t burn. Another tip is to go ahead and toast more nuts than you need. Since the oven’s already on and you’re going to the trouble anyway, you might as well have enough leftovers for your morning bowl of oatmeal or late-night ice cream snack later in the week.

Topping variations:  The topping in this recipe adds a crunchy, sweet element that really makes this dish, plus serves as a pretty enticing garnish. The dressing is already sweet, though, so if you’d like you can completely omit the brown sugar and just sprinkle the top of the salad with toasted, chopped pecans (or your favorite nutty substitute). If you want to experiment in the sweet direction, you could try making this Grape Salad with Butterfingers. Yes, the candy bar. Just crush four Butterfingers in a Ziploc-style bag (I like to use a rolling pan for this) or in a food processor and sprinkle on top of the salad with the pecans.