Now, I’m the least likely person to tout a salad, since I eschew anything green and fibrous. Vegetables to me should be for garnish. What can I say? I’m Portuguese, and we eat our vegetables in soup. And I do my people proud. But I have to tell you, this apple, fennel, and orange salad is amazing. The One who adores salads, couldn’t get enough. In fact, as I was photographing it, he lingered on the edge of my studio just waiting to whisk this very plate away and dive into it.

The recipe comes from Craig Relyea, one of more than 200 LC recipe testers. Craig has developed several recipes for us, including his wildly popular Everything Bagel Chicken Cutlets.

Since last year, more and more of our testers have stepped up and developed recipes for LC. There’s Jennifer Jacobs and her Everything But the Kitchen Sink Pasta, a great way to use up leftovers. And Sasha Pravdic‘s Sesame Noodles and Olivia Bleitz‘s Roasted Summer Vegetable Pasta With Halloumi are so worth making.

I feel like a jolly proud papa to a group of wickedly, amazingly talented testers. They’re making LC tastier. Look for more of their recipes this year!—David Leite

Apple, Fennel, and Orange Salad FAQs

Can I make this salad ahead of time?

You can. Follow the directions through step 4. Cover the salad in the bowl with damp paper towels and store it in the fridge. Make the vinaigrette. When it comes time to serve, continue with step 6.

Can I use another type of orange?

Of course. During the winter months, blood oranges are in season and are a lovely option for this salad.

Two plates of apple, fennel, and orange salad
Two plates of apple, fennel, and orange salad

Apple, Fennel, and Orange Salad

5 / 10 votes
This is a nice, light salad that pairs well with a soufflé or a main with a rich sauce, as the brightness of the fennel, apple, and citrus cut through all the richness to balance the palate.
Craig Relyea
Servings4 servings
Calories246 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Total Time25 minutes


For the apple, fennel, and orange salad

  • 1 large navel orange , zest reserved for citrus vinaigrette
  • 1 small (8 oz) fennel bulb, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
  • 1 unpeeled large tart apple, such Granny Smith, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 small (3 oz) red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups (3 oz) baby arugula, washed and dried

For the citrus vinaigrette

  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest, preferably organic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Make the apple, fennel, and orange salad

  • Using a microplane, zest 1 teaspoon of the orange for the vinaigrette. Set aside.
  • With a paring knife, cut off the very top and bottom of the orange.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: Think of it as if you were removing the North and South Poles.

  • Place the orange on the work surface so that it's sitting securely on its flat South Pole. Starting at the top, follow the curve and cut away the peel and white pith in wide strips. Now, cradle the peeled orange in your hand and, working over a bowl, slice between the membranes of the orange sections to release them, let the sections and juice fall into the bowl. Set the bowl aside.
  • In a serving bowl, toss together the fennel, apple, red onion, and arugula with the orange sections.

Make the citrus vinaigrette

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, lemon juice, olive oil, reserved orange zest, and 1 tablespoon of orange juice that collected in the other bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Add about 2/3 of the dressing to the salad and toss gently. Taste and add more dressing, if desired.
  • Season with a little freshly ground black pepper and serve.


Serving: 1 portionCalories: 246 kcalCarbohydrates: 21 gProtein: 2 gFat: 18 gSaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 13 gSodium: 36 mgFiber: 5 gSugar: 13 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2022 Craig Relyea. Photos © 2021 David Leite. All rights reserved.

A plate of apple, fennel, and orange salad

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is a delightfully fresh and crunchy salad with a great contrast of flavors, and the orange vinaigrette is inspired. My fennel was more on the medium side, so I added an extra handful of arugula. I used a Snap Dragon apple, which is super crunchy, juicy, and just lightly sweet. Next time I’ll add a few more supremes of orange; they were a nice addition with the fennel and red onion. This salad is a definite keeper. And it’s on my menu for a hunt breakfast I’ll be hosting in a couple weeks.

A fennel and apple salad in a bowl

This is a delicious and “bright” salad where the freshness of the ingredients are of utmost importance. The fresher the ingredients the brighter the salad. We had it as a late-day salad-only course along with a glass of Chardonnay.

Delicious! This apple, fennel, and orange salad combines several wonderful flavors and textures. The crispy fennel, apple, and onion with the soft orange, and the thin but slightly crisp arugula is a winning combination. 

The contrast in flavors of sweet orange, peppery arugula, tart apple, and anise-like flavor of the fennel provides a wonderful panoply of flavors.  Then add the light dressing with a hint of citrus and you have a salad to make again and again. One of the things I particularly appreciate about this salad is that it stands up to eating it a second day if (and that is a big if) you don’t finish the first day. Where many salads become mushy, this one remains crisp and flavorful.

I’m always on the lookout for a memorable side salad. No matter the season, I enjoy pairing salads not only with dinner entrees but for lunchtime fare perhaps with a cup of soup or a grilled protein. With company coming over for an early fall dinner last night (and with a lot of fresh herbs on hand!) we decided to grill a green goddess-marinated chicken thigh dish and to roast a delicata squash that we got from our CSA this week. A bright, fresh salad was all we needed to round out the menu. And boy did this salad deliver!

Everything from the simple citrus vinaigrette, paired with the peppery arugula and anise-flavored fennel, to the sweet orange segments and the thin slices of tart apple were divine. I am a big onion-lover, so the thinly sliced red onion was an added bonus. Overall, this was a unique salad that generated lots of ‘mmmms’ from the table.

If you crave a light, refreshing salad to pair with a rich main course, this apple, fennel, and orange salad is for you. Its bright flavors and citrusy dressing lend a satisfying finish to a protein-packed meal or any dish that leans heavy. There’s a welcome crunch in each bite, whether from the fennel, the apple, or the red onion. And each one offers a different taste sensation: a slight hint of licorice, tart sweetness, or sharp and spicy. The citrus dressing brings it all together. This would be a perfect salad to serve with any winter holiday meal.

Bright with citrus flavors and a terrific crunch, this apple, fennel, and orange salad is extraordinary and refreshing. The sassy bite from the arugula complements the apple and citrus. And the fennel lends an exotic earthiness, not totally dissimilar to absinthe.

About Craig Relyea

Craig’s earliest cooking memories revolve around his Grandmother, who started him thinking about cooking and baking at quite a young age, but most of that cooking was simple wholesome American comfort food. Before he retired, his work required a substantial amount of travel around the world, which provided the opportunity to expand his palate and enjoy many new cuisines.

Over time, cooking became a way to relax upon returning home, and he expanded his abilities through the years by taking various cooking classes that were offered by local chefs and experimenting with new techniques, like sous vide. While primarily a cook, he does dabble in baking sourdough bread and is constantly trying out new flours and grains in his search for that one perfect loaf! Craig has also written articles about knife care and sous vide cookery and is often found in the kitchen making Apple, Fennel, Orange Salad, and Everything Bagel Chicken Cutlets.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Homerun Craig! This refreshinng and delicious salad will be included in my rotation of favorite salads ever!

  2. 5 stars
    Fellow tester here. That was a very refreshing salad. Way to go Craig! My oranges are on the small side, so next time I will use two. Can’t wait to make it again.

    1. Thanks Patricia, I tend to get the larger navel oranges myself, as no one minds bit more orange in the salad!

  3. 5 stars
    This salad is everything it promises. Just piling it on my platter made me happy. The flavour bursts were so well balanced and fresh. I used mandarin and blood orange segments. For the greens I used baby lettuce and peppery micro greens because these were what looked good in the grocery store. I also added a few strands of yellow carrot because I happened to have some, and I really like playing with food… and eating, and sharing with friends! My friends and family had nothing but praise for my salad offering!

    1. Gorgeous photo—bravo, Gorm3sa & SousChef! Sounds like you had fun making the salad your own as much as you enjoyed tasting it. What more can a home chef aske for? Thanks for writing!

    2. 5 stars
      Thanks so much Ilda, I’m glad you tried some other greens and citrus. We do as well to vary the salad and keep the concept fresh!