Ensalada Navideña (Mexican apple salad)

Ensalada Navideña is a creamy Mexican apple salad with a delicious sweet and sour flavor and a chunky texture. Perfect to serve with roasted turkey or ham.

Mexican apple salad

What is Ensalada Navideña?

This delicious Mexican apple salad is known in Spanish with various names, such as ensalada de manzana, ensalada Navideña, or ensalada de Navidad.

The recipe is very popular in central Mexico during the Christmas season, it’s served mainly as a side dish paired with roasted meats because of its sour and slightly sweet taste.

The Mexican apple salad started to make an appearance on the Christmas tables back in the 40s when it was used to add mayonnaise and serve it on a lettuce bed.

So it’s believed that this recipe is the Mexican version of the famous Waldorf salad.

Mexican apple salad

The recipe for Mexican apple salad has been modified through the years and now is very common to have some variants from house to house, such as adding grated carrots, pineapple, and even cream cheese.

In modern days, most of the recipes for this apple salad will include condensed milk, but this can vary from family to family.

In my family version, this recipe has never included too much sugar, as my mother always served it as a side dish for bacalao a la vizcaína, roasted ham (pierna), or roasted turkey.

And I believe that the canned pineapple and juice should be enough to sweeten the salad without becoming a dessert.

Mexican Christmas salad

Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • Is delicious: The amazing tarty and tangy taste of apples, the sweet and sour taste of pineapple, and the salty touch make it one of the most tasteful salads for the holidays.
  • Is so EASY to make: Like you just need to cut, chop, and mix everything together. Perfect for this busy season, right?
  • It stores nicely: Make it ahead and bring it to potlucks, family gatherings, and parties. And it taste even better the next day!
  • Is budget-friendly: Apples are so cheap in the winter season, this salad can feed a crew with just a bunch of pantry ingredients.

¡Feliz Navidad, amigos!

Ingredients Needed

  • APPLES: It can be any type, even though Granny Smith apples are perfect to use since they’re more acidic and crisp.
  • PINEAPPLE: You can use a can of pineapple in syrup or also fresh pineapple. Plus some juice.
  • NUTS: Pecans are the choice here, but if you want to give it a twist you can also add some toasted almonds or a mix of your favorite nuts.
  • RAISINS: Don’t need to soak them as they will soften after mixing with the cream and pineapple juice.
  • CREAM: If you’re lucky enough to find Mexican crema, which has a sour taste, go with it. Otherwise use regular whole cream.
  • YOGURT: If you’re using Mexican crema you can skip the yogurt, I added it only to give the particular sour flavor this Mexican Christmas salad have.
Ingredients for Ensalada Navideña labeled with names and placed on a marble surface.

How To Make Mexican Apple Salad (ensalada Navideña)

Decide if you want to use the apple with the skin on or peel them, then cut them into ¾” (2cm) chunks. Place into a large bowl.

Drain the pineapple and reserve the juice for later, cut the fruit into small bites. Add to the bowl with the apples.

Collage for Ensalada Navideña preparation: Apples and pineapple in a bowl.

Add cream, then yogurt. Add the raisins, and the pecans roughly chopped, and then pour in the pineapple juice.

Collage for Ensalada Navideña preparation: Adding the cream, yogurt, raisins, pecans and pineapple juice to the bowl.

Add a pinch of salt and mix everything for about one minute or until the fruit is perfectly coated with cream and yogurt.

Collage for Ensalada Navideña preparation:: Mixing the salad on the bowl. Mexican apple salad, aka Ensalada Navideña ready.

Adjust with salt, cover the bowl with cling film and place the Mexican apple salad in the fridge for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Tips And Notes

  • Make a super easy and fast “Mexican crema” recipe by mixing regular cream with 1 tablespoon of lime juice + a pinch of salt. Mix to combine and allow to rest for 20 minutes, then use it in the recipe.
  • My mother used to add sometimes also a small pack of cream cheese to the mix, it gives a superb taste to this salad.
  • If you are going to prepare a large quantity of this Mexican apple salad, I recommend that as you cut the apples, place them in a large bowl with cold water mixed with the juice of a lemon, thus preventing the apples from browning.
  • If you want the nuts to keep their crunch, add them just a moment before serving this apple salad, mix well, and serve immediately.
  • The ingredients listed make 4 generous servings, but can be adjusted for up to 6 people in smaller portions.
Close-up of Ensalada Navideña, aka Mexican apple salad.

How To Serve

This Mexican apple salad can be served as a side for many popular (modern and traditional) Mexican dishes, here are a few we recommend trying:

  • Pork Tamales. A classic recipe that is never missed in Mexican homes during the Christmas season.
  • Yucatan-style Turkey Pibil. Fellow blogger Maggie show you how to make this delicious and incredible flavorful pavo yucateco.
  • Mexican Christmas Turkey. Sonia from “Piña en la cocina” shares her delicious and classic pavo adobado.
  • Ground Beef Tamales. There’s no Christmas season in my home with a good share of tamales, they really are a must!

How To Store

Ensalada Navideña can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in the fridge. You will also notice that is even more delicious as the flavors had time to blend. Just remember that to keep the nuts crunchy, add them before serving.

If you have leftovers, place them in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for up to 3 days. I don’t recommend freezing as the apples will become mushy after defrosting.

Watch The Video

Ensalada Navideña Recipe. Also know as Ensalada de Navidad. Christmas Mexican apple salad.

Ensalada Navideña (Mexican apple salad)

author Maricruz
4
This delicious Mexican apple salad is a favorite side dish for the holidays. Creamy and with a delicious sweet and sour flavor, perfect to serve alongside roasted turkey, ham, or Bacalao.
prep 15 minutes
total 15 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ lb apples (any kind)
  • 1 – 12 oz can pineapple in syrup
  • ¾ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup Mexican crema (read notes)
  • ½ cup pecans (roughly chopped)
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup pineapple juice (from canned pineapple)
  • salt

Instructions
 

  • Decide if you want to use the apple with the skin on or peel them, then cut them into ¾” (2cm) chunks. Place into a large bowl.
  • Drain the pineapple and reserve the juice for later, cut the fruit into small bites. Add to the bowl with the apples.
  • Add cream, yogurt, raisins, pecans, pineapple juice, and a pinch of salt.
  • Mix well to coat all ingredients nicely. Adjust with salt if needed.
  • Allow resting for about 15 minutes in the fridge before serving.

Notes

  • Make a super easy and fast “Mexican crema” recipe by mixing regular cream with 1 tablespoon of lime juice + a pinch of salt. Mix to combine and allow to rest for 20 minutes, then use it in the recipe.
  • My mother used to add sometimes also a small pack of cream cheese to the mix, it gives a superb taste to this salad.
  • If you are going to prepare a large quantity of this Mexican apple salad, I recommend that as you cut the apples, place them in a large bowl with cold water mixed with the juice of a lemon, thus preventing the apples from browning.
  • If you want the nuts to stay crisp, add them just a moment before consuming the salad, mix well, and serve immediately.
  • The ingredients listed make 4 generous servings, but can be adjusted for up to 6 people in smaller portions.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 532kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 52mg | Potassium: 651mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 1066IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




11 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love fruity salads with cold meats and this looks perfect for all those leftovers in the festive season. I love all that crunch!

  2. 5 stars
    What a great recipe to add to the festive menu! I’ve never tried an apple salad like this ever before, so looking forward to making it for my friends at the weekend!

  3. 5 stars
    This looks delightful! I especially appreciate your instruction for DIY Mexican Crema, as it’s not always easy to find. Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    What a delicious dish I love the ease of this recipe so good and see just got some beautiful apples from NY!