This salad is bright, light, and oh so cheerful, similar to early days of spring. The brilliant citrus hues are a vibrant addition to any picnic spread. Sunshine on a plate when you need it! I find fennel to be a bit underappreciated but here, it’s a delicious match to the zing of the citrus fruits.—Alanna O’Neil

Citrus Fennel Salad FAQs

What should I serve with this salad?

Our testers found that this citrus fennel salad paired beautifully with grilled chicken or fish, and was a refreshing side when served with a hearty baked pasta. It also travels well, making it excellent for picnics, alongside fried chicken.

Why do you core a fennel bulb?

While the core of a fennel bulb is edible, it is firmer than the rest of the bulb and can be tough to chew.

A citrus fennel salad assembled on a white and blue serving platter, topped with fresh herbs.

Citrus Fennel Salad

5 / 4 votes
This salad is bright, light, and oh so cheerful, similar to early days of spring. The brilliant citrus hues are a vibrant addition to any picnic spread. Sunshine on a plate when you need it! I find fennel to be a bit underappreciated but here, it’s a delicious match to the zing of the citrus fruits.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories175 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


For the salad

  • 2 Valencia or navel oranges, reserve 1 tablespoon of juice for dressing
  • 1 grapefruit or pomelo, zested and zest reserved for dressing, preferably organic
  • 1 blood orange or 3 tangerines
  • 2 medium (18 oz) fennel bulbs, cored, stalks removed, and very thinly sliced, reserve a few fronds
  • 4 cups (3 1/2 oz) baby arugula
  • 1 small (4 oz) sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or good-quality white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grapefruit zest, preferably organic
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper


Make the salad

  • Using a sharp paring knife, peel the citrus fruits and remove the white pith and skin. Cut the fruit into 1/4-inch thick (6-mm) rounds and set aside.

Make the dressing

  • In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the vinegar, orange juice, grapefruit zest, and honey. Pour in the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking the dressing together until it becomes emulsified. Season with salt and cracked black pepper.

Assemble the salad

  • In a large serving bowl, layer the fennel, arugula, and onions. Pour half of the dressing on top and gently toss together. Add the citrus rounds, layering them together in a pinwheel type fashion. Sprinkle on the fennel fronds, dill, and mint as you go along. Reserve a few sprigs to garnish.
  • Drizzle on the remaining dressing and garnish with the reserved herbs just before serving.
The Art of Picnics Cookbook

Adapted From

The Art of Picnics

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 175 kcalCarbohydrates: 27 gProtein: 3 gFat: 8 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 5 gSodium: 247 mgFiber: 6 gSugar: 15 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Alanna O’Neil. Photo © 2021 Alanna O’Neil. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is such a lovely salad – especially for winter. The tart and sweet citrus fruits combined with the earthy bite of arugula and sweet crunch of fennel make this salad a fresh and pleasing marriage of flavors. My husband does not like arugula, claims to hate fennel, and is not very fond of grapefruit and even he loved the salad! Fennel is often described as having an anise-like flavor which can discourage anyone who doesn’t like licorice to give it a try. I dislike licorice, however, I absolutely love the unique, mild taste of fennel and I hope that you will give it a chance as well!

This citrus fennel salad is bright, delicious, and adaptable. I used navel oranges, a blood orange, and mandarins because that was what was available at my market. I also substituted rice vinegar for the champagne vinegar. The fennel and sweet onion mingled and mellowed in the citrus juice, honey, and olive oil, while the dill and mint brought bright and herbaceous notes. Together the textures made for a very nice salad. 

One of our tasters dislikes arugula so I prepared this two ways – half with arugula and half without – both were delicious but we thought the version without arugula was lighter and brighter. The membranes on my citrus were a bit tough so I ended up segmenting the fruit.  It worked out fine – the citrus looked like pretty jewels against the green and white veggies. The dressing made more than necessary so we saved the extra and drizzled it over grilled chicken the next day at lunch. 

This is a nice “change-up” for a salad. The fennel and sweet onion aren’t over-powering. If I changed anything I might add a bit more mint but that’s just me being picky. This is a delicious and unusual (in a good way) salad that I’ll be making again!

The flavor of this citrus fennel salad is really nice and I like the fact that I can taste everything. It’s a very fresh flavor and the flavors are strong in a good way. I especially like the citrus and how the mint brings everything together.

I did not add dill as I really don’t like it. It would have definitely changed the flavor profile, and not for the best (my opinion). I also love the crunch of the fennel and I wished the bulb I chose had a stronger licorice flavor. The bulb I chose was mild. If I make this again, I would eliminate the raw onion and leave the dill out. The citrus dressing is superb and I would make it for other salads. Simple and really tasty. I’d add a mixture of the citrus fruits.

A classic flavor combination, which I’d make again and again, in all of its various guises, with or without olives, varied types of citrus and herbs. This citrus fennel salad is so tangy and refreshing, and just what is needed to brighten a winter evening when there is abundant citrus to choose from, and to lighten a meal when so many dishes are braised and weighty. We served the salad alongside a cheesy baked pasta.

This is a beautiful, bright citrusy salad with a mix of great textures that has a lovely lightness to it. I would use less dill but loved the mint and fennel with the citrus. It benefits from sitting so the fennel can soften in the vinaigrette. I served this alongside mahi-mahi, which was a great combo.

This is a very simple salad to put together but it does take a lot of time to prep. It’s very pretty and flavorful though, so it’s worth it. I was just a bit surprised that this took me almost an hour to assemble.

This citrus fennel salad is so easy on the eyes! I used a blood orange for a little dark pop. The whole thing is lovely and so tasty as a winter side.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Served this salad as a first course for guests with a strict anti-inflammatory diet. One person said “this is the best thing I’ve ever eaten!” It’s a perfect winter salad when citrus fruits are plentiful and a refreshing start to any meal. Continued the citrus theme with Ina Garten’s Lemon Chicken *without* Croutons. Served it with sauteed broccoli rabe. Perfect! And they ate every bite!

    1. Wow, Suzanne! That is a gorgeous salad, and your whole meal sounds divine. I’d eat every bite, too!

  2. I had something very much like this in Florence, Italy, but the citrus and fennel salad was on top of a swordfish carpaccio. It was amazingly delicious! I may not be able to find the swordfish carpaccio near me… but will definitely try this delicious salad!

  3. 5 stars
    Loved this salad! We enjoyed ours with a batch of air fryer chicken thighs. It made the meal seem so fresh & healthy. Matched so well with the spicy chicken and was so easy to make. The flavour and textures were superb! There was lots of snow outside but sunshine coming in and flickering on our salad during dinner. It really felt like Spring was gracing our table.

    1. Thank you, Gorm3sa & SousChef for sharing your photo! It is a little sunshine on a plate.