Apple Wild Rice 24 Hour Salad is a beautiful overnight layered salad with lettuce, wild rice, apples, grapes, cranberries, walnuts, green onions, feta, and bacon with a creamy homemade avocado yogurt dressing. Think of it as a harvest 7 layer salad. Make it the night before, and it’s ready to go wherever you’re going the next day.
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You’re going to love this
A spin on the classic. This isn’t the old fashioned 7 layer salad you might remember — you know, the one with frozen peas, iceberg lettuce, and mayo. But it was definitely inspired by that. Except no peas. And no mayo. But don’t worry, there’s still bacon!
Lots of fruit. Apples, grapes, cranberries, and orange give this easy 24 hour salad tons of natural sweetness. So maybe your kids will eat it, too?
Lovely layers. Not to brag, but this salad is quite pretty. So no one would bat an eye if they saw it in the center of your holiday table instead of flowers.
Super easy. There’s really not much to making this salad. Fry bacon. Cut up apples and grapes. Whiz together the dressing. That’s it.
Make ahead salad. It’s called 24 hour salad for a reason. You can actually make this salad one whole day in advance, stick it in the fridge, and serve it the next day. And yes, the lettuce is still crispy. And the apples are still fresh (thanks to a little OJ).
Healthy homemade salad dressing. If you’re in the “no mayo” camp, I hear ya. This salad dressing is made from avocado and Greek yogurt —and the orange and maple syrup make it nice and sweet like the traditional 7 layer salad dressing. And if you’re not used to making your own salad dressing, it’s so, so easy. And there’s no weird stuff in it… unless you put weird stuff in it.
Holiday side dish. The combination of wild rice, apples, grapes, cranberries, and walnuts give it a fall harvest salad vibe. So it's a perfect side dish for your holiday meals.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
A traditional seven layer salad typically has iceberg lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, tomatoes, red onion, cheddar cheese, and frozen peas. This Apple Wild Rice 24 Hour Salad is… let’s just say… vastly different. These are the ingredients I used, and some ideas so you can switch it up and create your own overnight salad.
Romaine and spinach. I used two kinds of lettuce to add more texture to the salad. All spinach gets a little flat for me, while all romaine can be a bit bland. The two together are perfection. But you can use all one or the other — or iceberg if you love it.
Wild rice. Wild rice is classically Midwestern, but it’s also so nutty and delicious. And around the holidays, I find myself wanting to put it in everything. Wild rice is also a great way to bump up the protein in a salad. I use canned wild rice for the convenience. You can boil your own, if you prefer. If you're not into wild rice, you can swap it out for a can of black beans or chickpeas, a grain like quinoa or barley, or even pasta, if that’s more up your alley.
Apples. Apples add a fresh crispy crunch to this 24 hour salad. And since I toss them in orange juice, they don’t turn brown overnight. I used Braeburn, but any apple works. Pears would also be great.
Grapes. Halved grapes add more juiciness and another pretty colorful layer to this salad. And they hold up well overnight. Fresh blueberries could be nice. So would halved grape tomatoes.
Dried cranberries. Texture, sweetness, ruby red beauty— these little dried cranberries hold up their end of the bargain in this salad. Pomegranate seeds would also be pretty.
Walnuts. One thing I think the old fashioned seven layer salad is missing is texture— beyond the raw vegetable type of crunch. So I added nuts. And really any kind of nut will do: almonds, pecans, hazelnuts… and if you toast them, well, even better.
Green onions. Here I go again with what I didn’t love about the “old” 7 layer salads, but… I was never a fan of the ones that had raw red onion. It’s a little harsh. Don’t get me wrong, it has a time and a place. I just think green onions are a better fit with these flavors. But, if you love red onion, you could definitely switch that out. Shallots would also be great.
Feta cheese. Crumbly feta adds flavor and a salt component to the salad. Blue cheese or goat cheese would also be super delicious. Shredded white cheddar, gouda, or gruyere would also be great.
Bacon. Crispy bacon is the crowning glory of this 24 hour salad. You could crisp up some prosciutto or pancetta if you wanted to make it a little fancier for the holidays. And if you’re avoiding meat, you can skip the bacon altogether and sprinkle a few more cranberries and green onions on top for color.
7 Layer Salad Dressing
The traditional seven layer salad dressing is mayo or Miracle Whip, sometimes sour cream for tang, and sugar. This salad dressing uses avocado and Greek yogurt for creaminess, maple syrup and orange for sweetness, and a little Dijon and apple cider vinegar for tang.
Avocado. Not only does avocado contain about half the calories of mayo, it also adds a great dose of healthy fats and a ton of other nutrients. Plus, let’s be honest, not everyone loves mayo.
Greek yogurt. Add a healthy protein boost to the salad with plain Greek yogurt. You can use full fat, low-fat, or non-fat. Non-fat Chobani is the one I use for everything — and I wasn’t even trying for non-fat, it’s just the one I liked the best for creaminess. And it doesn’t have a chalky texture like some Greek yogurts do.
Orange zest. You probably know that all of the flavor of citrus is in the zest. So that’s why I added just the zest to this dressing. I didn’t want the juice because I wanted the dressing to stay nice and thick, so I could “frost” the top of the salad with it. Then I tossed the chopped apples in the juice of the orange to keep them from turning brown overnight.
Maple syrup. The dressing gets its sweetness from the maple syrup. You can use honey or regular sugar, if you prefer.
Dijon. Dijon adds richness and a mild tang to the dressing. You can use any kind of mustard. I’d probably lean toward honey mustard or brown mustard, but yellow mustard would work, too.
Apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar goes well with the flavors of this salad, but you can use white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar — or even citrus juice like orange, lemon, or lime.
More Easy Side Dish Recipes to Try!
How to Make Apple Wild Rice 24 Hour Salad
Make the salad dressing.
Add the avocado, Greek yogurt, zest of one orange, maple syrup, Dijon, and apple cider vinegar to a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and creamy. Set the dressing aside while you assemble the 24 hour salad.
Cut the bacon into 1 inch pieces, fry until crispy, and set them on a paper towel lined plate. Chop the apples and toss the apple chunks in the juice of the orange. Halve the grapes and chop the green onions.
Assemble the salad by placing each layer in a clear bowl, focusing on the outer edges and filling in the center with lettuce, as needed.
Mixture of chopped romaine and baby spinach.
Cranberries and walnuts.
Spread the dressing evenly across the top of the salad. Then crumble the feta and bacon over the top.
Cover the 24 hour salad with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight.
Apple Wild Rice 24 Hour Salad
Avocado Greek Yogurt Dressing
- 1 avocado
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
24 Hour Salad
- 8 ounces bacon
- 1 head romaine lettuce
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- 2 cups cooked wild rice
- 2 apples, chopped and tossed in orange juice
- 1 ½ cups red grapes, halved
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- ¾ cup feta
- Make the salad dressing. Add the avocado, Greek yogurt, zest of one orange, maple syrup, Dijon, and apple cider vinegar to a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and creamy. Set the dressing aside while you assemble the 24 hour salad.
- Cut the bacon into 1 inch pieces, fry until crispy, and set them on a paper towel lined plate. Chop the apples and toss the apple chunks in the juice of the orange. Halve the grapes and chop the green onions.
- Assemble the salad by placing each layer in a clear bowl, focusing on the outer edges and filling in the center with lettuce, as needed. This is the order I follow:
- Mixture of chopped romaine and baby spinach.
- Wild rice.
- Chopped apples.
- Halved grapes.
- Green onions.
- Spread the dressing evenly across the top of the salad. Then crumble the feta and bacon over the top.
- Cover the 24 hour salad with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight.
This 24 hour salad has earned every bit of its namesake because you can make it a full day in advance and serve it at your holiday meal, knowing it will be crispy and fresh and delicious. The dressing serves as a magical barrier, sealing in the freshness.
No, just toss the apples in citrus juice, like orange, lemon, or lime, and they will stay fresh and crispy.
If you have leftovers, you can nibble at them for a couple of days, max. Once you serve this 24 hour salad and everything gets mixed together, then the sogginess can start to set in.