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Chicken and Pear Smoked Gouda Salad

Chicken, Pear and Smoked Gouda Salad is the ultimate salad lover's recipe! Greens, chicken, fresh pears, smoky cheese and crunchy cashews in one salad, topped with a fresh and simple salad dressing. Perfect for wedding or baby showers, family reunions or holidays. 

Course Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken, pear, Salad, Side dish, smoked gouda
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 10 people


  • 2 red pears (or apples), washed, cored and thinly sliced or cut into chunks I like to leave on the skins for color
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 8-10 oz. package baby spinach and spring greens mix
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 cups thin sliced celery
  • 1/4-1/2 cup red onion sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened dried cranberries
  • 2 cups 6-8 oz shredded smoked Gouda cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups salted cashews or pecans

Honey-Mustard Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise regular or light
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions or scallions
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3-4 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper optional
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt


For Dressing:

  1. Whisk together all dressing ingredients, or use immersion blender, and blend until combined. Store in fridge until ready to serve. 

For Salad:

  1. Toss pear slices with lemon juice and a couple tablespoons of salad dressing, set aside in fridge in a ziplock bag or a small bowl. 

  2. Place lettuce in a bowl or on a serving platter. Layer all other salad ingredients on top of lettuce (except cheese and nuts). Refrigerate until ready to serve.  This may be refrigerated for 2-3 hours before serving, if storing longer than this amount of time, follow directions on recipe notes for make ahead. Always place cheese and nut on top layer. 

Recipe Notes

-One small Rotisserie chicken may be subbed for the 3 cups cooked chicken.

-Toss salad with a portion of the dressing just before serving and then serve extra dressing on the side. You may also layer salads on individual plates or on a large platter (my preference) and drizzle with dressing.

-This salad may be made to your liking by substituting apples for pears, or switching the cashews for almonds, pecans, or pistachios. 

-Dressing may be made with green onions (scallions) or fresh basil. 

-Light mayo may be used in place of the regular mayo. white balsamic may be used in the place of cider vinegar.