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, this super simple side dish is a staple in many Mexican households.

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, and it’s served mainly as a side dish paired with roasted meats.

The Mexican apple salad started to make an appearance on the Christmas tables back in the 40’s when it was used to add mayonnaise and serve it on a lettuce bed. So it’s believed that ensalada Navideña is the Mexican version of the famous Waldorf salad.

Mexican apple salad

The Variants

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

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

Ingredients Needed

  • APPLES: It can be any type, even though Granny Smith apples are perfect to use since they’re more acidic and crunchy.
  • 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. Read more about the health benefits of pecan 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 cream you can skip the yogurt, I added it only to give the particular sour flavor ensalada Navideña have.
Ingredients for Ensalada Navideña labeled with names and placed on a marble surface.

The Recipe

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.

The apples and pineapple on a large bowl.

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

Adding the cream, yogurt, raisins, pecans and pineapple juice.

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

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 one hour before serving.

Tips & Tricks

  • 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.
Ensalada Navideña closeup.

Make It Ahead

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.

Storage

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 ensalada Navideña as it will become mushy after defrosting.

Watch How To Make It

More Christmas Mexican Recipes

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

Ensalada Navideña

This delicious Mexican apple salad is a favorite side dish for 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
5 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 4
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ lb apples (any kind)
  • 1 – 12 oz can pineapple in syrup
  • ¾ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup cream
  • 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, then yogurt. Add the raisins, the pecans roughly chopped and then pour in the pineapple juice.
  • Add a pinch of salt and mix everything for about one minute or until the fruit is perfectly coated with cream and yogurt.
  • Adjust with salt, cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge for at least one hour 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
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




10 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!