Spinach Strawberry Mandarin Orange Salad With Poppy Seed Dressing


In this article I am going to tell you about the best spinach strawberry mandarin orange salad with poppy seed dressing recipe. You will be amazed at how tasty this Spinach Strawberry Salad Recipe is. Fresh spinach, sweet strawberries, juicy mandarin oranges and creamy avocado; what a delightful way to get your greens!

This Strawberry Spinach Salad is not only packed with flavor but it’s also bursting with color from the vibrant reds of the strawberries and oranges. Here we will discuss some of the common factors related to salad nutrition facts.

Spinach Strawberry Mandarin Orange Salad With Poppy Seed Dressing

A simple, satisfying salad, with baby spinach, strawberries, mandarin oranges, almonds and goat cheese and with a homemade poppy seed dressing.

Truth be told, I’m not a huge salad person. Mostly I eat them because I know I should, rather than because I really enjoy them. Except this salad. I love this Strawberry Spinach Salad! And while there’s nothing earth shaking here, I wanted to share it for anyone else who might be struggling to find a salad to really enjoy.

I don’t know why I love this salad exactly. I suspect it has something to do with the fruit instead of vegetables. And then there’s goat cheese, that makes everything better in my books. And finally, I’m pretty sure it’s about the baby spinach. When it comes to greens, I’ll always take greens like spinach instead of lettuce.

And I certainly don’t want to forget the poppy seed dressing. The homemade poppy seed dressing is made without any mayo or other creamy additions. It’s simply oil, vinegar, some seasoning and a bit of sugar, that’s emulsified into a creamy-like concoction. Completely satisfying without the need for cream.

Since it’s field strawberry season, there’s no better time than now to try this simple and satisfying salad

Ingredient Notes

  • Baby Spinach: I love baby spinach, but any “baby” green would work here, such as baby kale.
  • Strawberries: Any fresh strawberries work well, even grocery-store ones.
  • Mandarin Oranges: Look for juice-packed mandarin orange segments, for the healthiest option. Mandarins packed in light syrup are also fine, as are, of course, fresh orange segments.
  • Goat Cheese: I love Goat cheese, but you could also substitute crumbled feta cheese, if you prefer.
  • Sliced Almonds: Sliced almonds work perfectly in this salad, but slivered almonds would also be fine. You can, of course, substitute any nut, such as pecans or walnuts, if you like.
  • Red Onion: As noted, I don’t always use red onion in this salad, so treat it as optional. You can also use a bit of yellow onion, if you like.
  • Vegetable Oil: Any neutral-tasting oil is fine here, such as canola or sunflower. I don’t love olive oil on this salad, as I find it overpowers the delicate taste of the dressing.
  • White Vinegar: This is just regular, distilled white vinegar, though you could use white wine vinegar, if you like.
  • Cider Vinegar: The little bit of cider vinegar adds nice flavour, but if you don’t have any on hand, simply add 1 more tablespoon of white vinegar.
  • Sugar: You’ll want to tweak the amount of sugar to your taste. Poppy seed dressing is usually a little sweet, but if you find it too sweet, simply reduce to taste. You could also substitute cane sugar, in the same amount, or honey, using less.
  • Poppy Seeds: Yes, poppy seeds can go rancid, so check your poppy seeds before using and buy some fresh, if needed. I find 1 Tbsp is enough, but add more if you like.

Cook’s Notes

I never really measure any of the actual salad ingredients. I just throw some spinach in a bowl and top with what seems a decent amount of fruit etc. Consider the salad ingredient quantities approximate and adjust as seems reasonable or to your taste 🙂

I don’t always put red onion in this salad. I find it works best in the salad when I’m having it as a side salad for dinner. When I have this salad for lunch, straight up, I often skip the red onion.

The poppy seed dressing recipe will make much more than you need for one salad. I like to have extra and it’s just easier to make in a larger batch. That said, you can halve the recipe if you don’t think you need extra.

Store the salad dressing in a jar with a nice tight lid (mason jar, works best). The oil will separate from the dressing as it sits in the fridge. Keeping it in a jar, it’s super easy to shake it up and bring it all back together before using.

You don’t need a food processor or blender to make the dressing, but it does help. If you don’t have either, simply add the oil to the rest of the ingredients slowly while whisking vigorously! You may wish to grate the onion if not using a processor, as well, so it is not chunky in the dressing.

Top Tip! Save the juice from the mandarin oranges and use it for making flavoured water or to sweeten your iced tea. You can also mix it with other fruit juices, for some extra flavour.

Spinach Strawberry Salad Recipe

Say hello to COLOR, Spinach Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Poppy Seed Dressing style! Whether you need a healthy lunch or are looking for a salad to bring to a party that—this is critical—people actually want to eat, this strawberry spinach salad with poppy seed dressing and feta is the recipe for you!

The best ever spinach strawberry salad with balsamic poppy seed dressing, pecans, and feta or goat cheese.

Strawberry spinach salad is my unofficial start to spring because—and I think it’s important that we are honest about this—a March or early-April spring is not a real thing when you live in the upper Midwest.

Slowly, however, my little yard turns greener, and I notice my salad cravings shifting away from warm toppings like the lentils and roasted vegetables in this Lentil Salad with Roasted Cauliflower or the sautéed potatoes in this Pea Salad to ones that are distinctly lighter and  brighter: strawberries, poppy seeds, feta.

Another catalyst for my subjective start to “spring” (and I am not even going to pretend that I am ashamed about this): the strawberry poppy seed salad at Panera returns. Oh happy day!

Today’s healthy spinach strawberry salad is gateway food. It’s a starter to spring (or a continuation of it if you are lucky enough to live in a place where spring arrives on time).

It’s a starter to salad skeptics. Sweet berries, toasted pecans, creamy feta, and a lovely honey balsamic poppy seed dressing make for an easy transition to leafy greens, even if salad isn’t usually something you typically pile willingly onto your plate.

And it’s a starter or side for any spring or summer party menu! Did someone ask you to bring a side for Easter? A potluck? A dinner party where you’re not sure what everyone likes? This spinach strawberry salad is an ideal choice. It’s easy, crowd-pleasing, and flexible too.

How to Make the Best Ever Strawberry Spinach Salad

Consider this recipe more of an adjustable, go-with-the-flow starter than a strict script.

I’ve included the ingredients and amounts to make a stellar spinach strawberry salad for a crowd, but you can switch them up to suit your preference or keep things fresh and new when you come back to make it again.

Key Salad Ingredients

  • Spinach. Spinach and strawberries are classic together and an excellent choice. For a peppery twist, try using a blend of half arugula, half spinach.
  • Strawberries. Buy the juiciest, ripest fruit you can find. To change it up, try mixing in any combination of blueberries, raspberries, dried cranberries, or mandarin oranges.
  • Toasted Pecans. The necessary crunchy element that no good salad should be without. Not into pecans? Try swapping slivered almonds or chopped walnuts. Whatever nuts you choose, be absolutely sure to toast them first—it makes them crisp and 1,000x more flavorful.

Working around a nut allergy? Try toasted sunflower seeds.

  • Feta. The key to a truly satisfying, not-salad salad is to add a touch of creaminess, and cheese was born for it. In addition to mild feta, I adore spinach strawberry salad with goat cheese or a mild blue cheese like gorgonzola. It’s extra decadent and tangy. 

Whether you choose feta, goat cheese, or blue cheese, buy a block of it (or in the case of goat cheese, one of those cute little logs), and crumble it yourself.

I know the tubs of cheese crumbles are tempting, but they fail miserably in the creamy department because they are coated in a starchy powder to keep them from caking together. TRUST ME HERE. If you are going to add cheese to your salad, why not make sure that cheese is lusciously creamy?

  • Red Onion. To give this healthy strawberry spinach salad a friendly bite and keep it from being too sweet.

RED ONION TIP: When you are using red onions raw like in this spinach strawberry salad recipe, soak them in water first. This preserves the onions’ flavor but removes the harsh (and stubbornly lingering) aftertaste.

Let’s Talk Poppy Seed Dressing

When I crave spinach strawberry salad, I crave spinach strawberry salad with poppy seed dressing. Maybe it’s the Panera factor (it’s definitely the Panera factor), but I consider the two together a package deal to be embraced.

The poppy seeds feel cheery and add micro pops of texture too!

Rather than a creamy dressing, this spinach strawberry salad calls for a poppy seed vinaigrette made with balsamic vinegar and honey for a few reasons:

  • Balsamic and strawberry are divine together.
  • The acidity of the dressing adds a nice balance.
  • I always have balsamic vinegar in my pantry.
  • It is FAST.

The two greatest barriers to making your own vinaigrette from scratch are time and ingredients. This one takes seconds, and you have everything you need to make it in your pantry right now.

The Directions

  1. Toast the pecans, then chop them. My preferred toasting method is in the oven.
  2. Place the sliced onions in a bowl of water. While they hang out, whisk the dressing ingredients together.
  3. Add the spinach, strawberries, and onions to a serving bowl.
  4. Drizzle some dressing over the top and toss. Start conservatively—you can always add more later, but you can’t take back any excess.
  5. Add the cheese and nuts. Toss and add more dressing if you so desire. ENJOY!

What to Serve with Strawberry Salad

As the recipe is written, this salad is perfect for a bright side or starter, but here are a few ideas to make it a main dish:

  • Chicken. If you’d like to make this a strawberry spinach salad with chicken, try adding grilled chicken or shredded chicken
  • Grains. Stir in some cooked quinoa, pasta, or farro for added protein.
  • Bread. Of course, you can’t go wrong by serving a side of delicious, crusty bread with this salad.

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

  • To Make Ahead. Dress the salad as shortly before serving as you can. If you don’t plan to eat it all right away, dress only what you plan to eat right away.
  • To Store. Store leftover, undressed salad in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Refrigerate any leftover dressing in an airtight container (a jar is perfect) for up to 5 days, then shake before serving.

Strawberry Spinach Salad Recipe

Strawberry Spinach Salad Recipe is a simple and delicious salad with strawberries, mandarin oranges, red onion, spinach, mozzarella and toasted almonds covered with a tasty, sweet poppy seed dressing.

  • Prep Time10 mins
  • Total Time10 mins
  • Course: Dinner, Salad, Side Dish
  • Cuisine: 30 Minute Meal, Salad
  • Keyword: Strawberry Spinach Salad Recipe
  • Servings: 8
  • Calories: 307kcal


  • 10 oz spinach
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1 10.5 oz mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Poppy seed salad dressing

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds


  • Combine the spinach, strawberries, mandarin oranges, mozzarella and red onions in a large salad bowl.
  • Toast the almonds in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the brown sugar to the pan with the almonds and stir and cook until the brown sugar melts and coats the almonds. Remove from the pan and allow to cool before adding to the salad.

Poppy Seed Salad Dressing

  • Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid. Shake for 2-3 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and ingredients combined.
  • Pour half of the dressing over the salad ingredients just before serving. Toss to coat, add more dressing as needed.


Note: nutrition facts are an approximation. This calculation was made with the full dressing being used. 

To make this a meal add shredded or grilled chicken. 


Calories: 307kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 365mg | Potassium: 368mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 3379IU | Vitamin C: 45mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 2mg

Strawberry Salad

This Strawberry Salad is easy to throw together but packed with tons of amazing flavor! It’s easy enough for a weeknight dinner but delicious enough to serve company!

One of my post popular summer recipes is my Strawberry Salad Dressing. And this salad is the perfect companion for that amazing salad dressing. The saltiness of the bacon and the crisp spinach are the perfect pairing with that sweet and delicious poppyseed dressing.

How to Make Strawberry Salad

  1. Cook the bacon. I love dicing my bacon before cooking it and then removing it from the frying pan with a slotted spoon. Though you could absolutely cook it whole if that is easier for you.
  2. Toss the salad ingredients. In a large bowl combine the spinach, oranges, strawberry slices, bacon, and red onions.
  3. Serve with the salad dressing. My preference is to allow others to dress their own salad, but you can add just a small amount before serving as well.


If you skip dressing this salad, the salad itself will keep in the refrigerator for two to three days. As with any recipe, use your best discretion when it comes to leftovers.

Strawberry Spinach Salad Dressing

The salad dressing for this recipe comes together really simply in the food processor. You can see all the details of making that recipe and my recommendations in my Strawberry Salad Dressing post.

Substitutions and Variations

If you aren’t a big fan of one or more of these ingredients here are a few suggestions for swapping.

  • Use pineapple instead of the mandarin oranges.
  • Replace the red onions with thinly sliced green onions.
  • To make this recipe vegetarian, replace the bacon with walnuts. You could even use candied walnuts or candied pecans in this recipe.
  • Try adding some goat cheese here, it would be delicious.

What to Serve Strawberry Salad With

This recipe would be amazing as the side to so many recipes. Here are some summer classics I think you will love it with.

  • Grilled Flank Steak
  • Chicken Kabobs
  • Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

Strawberry Spinach Salad

 Strawberry Spinach Salad brings fresh ingredients and pop of color to your table! Tossed with poppy seed dressing, this easy salad recipe can be served as a side dish or topped with chicken for a light meal. 

Spinach, strawberries, mandarin oranges, and almonds make up this delicious Strawberry Spinach Salad with a poppy seed dressing.

Hold onto your hat. This is a salad you’ll actually be EXCITED to eat! 

Look, I’m not usually the first person in the room to rave about salad. This Strawberry Spinach Salad, though? It’s worthy of all the praise I’m about to heap upon its leafy greens. 

The combination of fresh spinach with sweet strawberries and juicy mandarin oranges absolutely explodes with flavor! Add the sweet and sour dressing and a handful of crunchy almond slices and this salad is not only healthy–it’s downright crave-able!

Salad with strawberries and spinach make me think of breezy summer days and gardens overflowing with abundance. It’s totally perfect for the warmer weather, but I also love to make this salad in the depths of winter to give me a little morale boost (not to mention a nutritional boost!).
Sitting down to a brightly colored bowl of greens and berries is a great reminder that spring is coming. 

Whether you’re a total salad enthusiast or looking for new ways to enjoy your greens this year, you’re going to love this easy spinach salad with poppy seed dressing. 

What do I need?

One of my favorite things about this salad is that there are so many ways to customize it based on your taste preferences, or what’s in season. Here’s what I put in my basic strawberry spinach salad to start with:

  • Fresh spinach – Baby spinach leaves are my preference! 
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Mandarin oranges – The canned variety with juices drained.
  • Sliced almonds – Slivered almond pieces are perfect. 

The poppy seed dressing has these ingredients:

  • sugar
  • apple cider vinegar
  • poppy seeds
  • minced onion
  • paprika
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • canola oil 

I’ve also made this salad plenty of times with variations like fresh blueberries, walnuts or pecans. It’s so easy to mix it up so you never get bored. 

Can I add chicken or another protein?

Absolutely! Grilled chicken turns this spinach salad into a satisfying and healthy meal. You can even go the super easy route and pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store to serve on top of this salad. 

I love goat cheese and if you do, too, you’ll find that it’s a delicious addition to spinach and strawberry salads. Feta cheese is another great option! 

Salad Recipes

Gone are the days of squeezing bottled dressing over wilted iceberg lettuce and calling it a salad. Spinach based salads are my go-to for quick and easy side salads these days. They just have so much more flavor and have more nutritional value, too.

Spinach and arugula are the main greens at play in this Couscous Chicken Salad. It’s loaded with bell peppers, mushrooms and feta too, then finished with a spicy paprika dressing.

 Greek Quinoa Chicken Salad makes a regular appearance on our lunch and dinner menus, especially in the summer. With or without the olives, the flavor is incredible.

What to serve with Strawberry Spinach Salad?

As a side dish, this spinach salad pairs perfectly with almost any main dish. It’s delicious served with Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken and a basket of Dinner Rolls for a Sunday dinner.

Salad Nutrition Facts

Don’t underestimate the benefits of a hearty portion of iceberg lettuce. This well-liked, readily available veggie can promote good health.

1. Aids Healthy Weight Management

Iceberg lettuce is a volumetric food, meaning you can eat a large portion of it without racking up extra calories.3 Iceberg lettuce makes a great filler or base for higher-calorie foods, adding a satisfying crunch.

Use iceberg lettuce in place of bread or tortillas to make tuna roll-ups and taco boats. By visually filling up your plate, iceberg lettuce can reduce the feelings of deprivation that can make weight loss efforts more difficult.

2. Supports Diabetes Management

Lettuce is a nonstarchy vegetable, which is one of the best food groups for managing diabetes.4 A cup of raw iceberg lettuce is considered one serving, and the American Diabetes Association recommends a minimum of 3 to 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables per day.

The low carbohydrate content of iceberg lettuce makes it an ideal choice because it won’t significantly impact blood sugar. Loading up on non-starchy veggies can help crowd out cravings for less healthy food choices.

3. Improves Hydration

Lettuce is over 90% water, and iceberg lettuce has one of the higher counts among leafy greens. Staying hydrated isn’t just about the water you drink, as you also absorb water through the fruits and vegetables you eat.5 Add iceberg to your summertime menu for an added boost of hydration.

4. Promotes Heart Health

Getting a variety of fruits and vegetables is a cornerstone of heart-healthy eating. Although iceberg lettuce isn’t as nutrient-dense as some darker greens, it still provides essential nutrients for heart health, including folate, vitamin C, and potassium.

Iceberg lettuce is low in sodium, particularly when compared to more processed foods that it can stand in for (like wraps, crackers, or crunchy chips). Following a low-sodium eating plan made up of whole foods helps keep blood pressure levels down, protecting your heart in the long term.6

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