This Keto Glazed Pecan Salad with Goat Cheese, Pears, and Sugar-free Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette is super easy to make but full of complex and deliciously paired flavors! It’s PERFECT for the holidays! The soft and creamy goat cheese paired with the crunch of the glazed pecan, the sweetness of maple syrup balanced with light acidity of balsamic vinegar, and the crisp mixed greens topped with thinly sliced pears…. All it takes is one bite, and you (and your carb eating friends or family) will be coming back for more and more! Feast away, because this is all made sugar-free, low carb, and basically GUILT FREE. 🙂
I made this salad a week ago, for our annual Friendsgiving Dinner (this is a group of about 16 of us that do this every year!). I based this recipe off an old recipe I had used ages ago (before I went keto), once I had thought about how EASY it would be to make it keto-friendly! The original version, had dried cherries in it, which can still be added if you have carbaholics joining you for dinner (they’re REALLY easy to pick around to make it keto friendlier!). I hadn’t planned on sharing it, until literally EVERY single person at our friendsgiving came up to me and said, “oh my gosh, I LOVED your salad!!!” Little did ANY of them know, the whole thing was SUGAR-FREE ???? (with exception of the dried cherries I added). When our salad bowl was the first of all the dishes empty, I knew it was a KEEPER!
Before you panic at the sight of PEARS, let me just tell you there is barely ANY in each serving. The pears are meant to be sliced super thin, not only to make it easier & visibly prettier, but because it lowers the carbs significantly by making only a little pear, go a LONG way. You don’t even need a lot of pear anyways! Just a few little slices per serving of this salad, and it still tastes JUST as amazing as if there was tons it. There’s plenty of sweetness in the sugar-free glazed pecans in this recipe, as well as in the balsamic vinaigrette.
If you do have any hesitations about the pear in this recipe, let me just tell you, that I am CRAZY about hidden carbs and ‘guessing’ how much. So, I weighed my D’anjou pear precisely before putting in this recipe. One D’Anjou pear, after coring and trimming the peel off, was just about 100 grams exactly. That’s only 12 g net carbs in total, and that serves AT LEAST 8 people since this is a BIG salad dish. 🙂 So, in the grand scheme of things, it barely adds any carbs to each person’s salad. Besides, the great thing about a salad, is you can just pick out a few pear slices when you’re scooping, if you think you get too many out of the salad bowl ????♀️?
The glazed pecans in this recipe, are SOOOOO easy to make. The full recipe is actually in another post (the OG!), but I’ve included the shortened instructions here within this keto glazed pecan salad with goat cheese and pear recipe just make it easier for you all! You can find the full recipe for my 5 Minute Sugar-Free Glazed Pecans here.
If you don’t read the original post, my only little tip to you is just to follow the instructions written below (see the # of seconds in the pan after the glaze goes on!) and be careful NOT to burn them when pan-toasting. Pecans actually start to burn super quickly after they’ve reached the toasted status (a key sign to know when they’re toasted is when your house starts to smell like TOASTED pecans). Trust me, burnt pecans DO NOT TASTE THE SAME (it makes them bitter!). 😉 So that being said, just be ready so that if you see they overbrowning in the pan, you can spring into action to finish the glaze and get those babies off heat within about 15 seconds! 🙂
There are TWO ingredients in this recipe, that I have to say are pretty close to being MUST haves. They’re only ‘pretty close to‘ being required because well…. Can you substitute other brands for them? SURE, you can …. at your own risk ????. Can I guarantee it will come out the same and taste as AMAZING as my recipe as it is written? No, unfortunately not. And I know from experience (“if yaaaaaa know what I mean..” Billy Madison anyone?), because I made this with a variation of brands, and it just wasn’t the same! Adjustments were needed to make it closer to my original recipe!
I am referring to the brands of Sugar-Free Maple Syrup in this recipe, and the brand of Brown Granulated Sweetener used for the Pecans. The two brands that will yield the BEST RESULTS here are…… Golden Lakanto (this brown sweetener seems to dissolve the BEST in the glaze) and Choc-Zero Maple Syrup (sweetest, thickest, and BEST flavored keto maple syrup for this dressing!).
I have tried the Lakanto Maple Syrup here as a substitute and it just doesn’t taste the same. You can as I said before, certainly use other brands, but you will have to adjust the amounts used in the Vinaigrette based off of taste as some taste sweeter than others. For the Lakanto brand of Sugar-Free Maple Syrup, for example, I had to add almost an entire 1 Tablespoon more than when using Choc-zero because it is less sweet and a thinner syrup (more of a watery taste and less concentrated!). The sweetness of the sugar-free maple syrup is IN THIS RECIPE to balance the acidity of the balsamic vinegar, so not adding ENOUGH sweetness can mean a little bit too vinegary of a vinaigrette (????). When we tested this recipe, Sugar-Free Choc-zero Maple Syrup was DEFINITELY the favorite when it comes to taste.
My hubby was NOT a fan of the Lakanto Maple Syrup here, at ALL…I thought it was decent once I added enough(the extra 1 TBSP of it) – I mean I thought it was decent as in it was edible, but it just didn’t have that WOW factor that my first batch with the Choc-Zero Maple Syrup did! The Choc-Zero Maple Syrup version of this Balsamic Maple Vinaigrette was the one I took to our Annual Friendsgiving — the one OF WHICH NOBODY HAD A CLUE IT WAS SUGAR-FREE! So, if you want to fool people that aren’t a low carb diet- DEFINITELY, DEFINITELY, DEFINITELY use Choc-Zero Maple Syrup!
Maybe if you used another brand, Like Cary’s Sugarfree maple syrup, it might work as a 1:1 replacement. I remember that one being nice and thick and sticky, but it’s been a long time since I have used, and it is not tested with this recipe…. so test at your own risk!!
Can you Prep This Salad Ahead of Time?
Absolutely! I definitely even RECOMMEND making the glazed pecans ahead of time because they ideally need an hour or two to cool (although 20 minutes really will suffice if you’re in a hurry!) before adding them to your salad. So, you can make the pecans even multiple DAYS in advance, and same goes for the vinaigrette! Then, all you have left to do is toss together some fresh mixed greens, goat cheese, and the pears and you ARE GOOD TO GO! Pears tend to get a little mushy and browned if you cut them up too early before serving, so I highly recommend you prep everything EXCEPT the pears if you’re taking this salad with you somewhere or will need to make it anymore than 30 minutes before eating. All you would have to do is slice up the pears real quick when it’s time to serve. 🙂
okay, just one more recommendation here on the Sugar-free Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette – Do not mix the dressing into the salad ahead of time!! I recommend leaving the Keto Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette on the side for people to add it onto their salads themselves as they dish up, OR for you to pour it on and toss it it all together ONLY SECONDS before you’re serving it. This is only because leaving the vinaigrette on for TOO long before eating, will make your glazed pecans less CRUNCHY, and will also make the goat cheese turn too mushy!
So, toss the dressing with the salad ingredients either IMMEDIATELY prior to eating (you might not need ALL the dressing either by the way!), OR just leave it on the side for people to add to their salad portions as they dish up for BEST results here! 🙂
Happy Keto Turkey Day Everyone, or happy WHATEVER day it is you decide to make this (because seriously good, it should be enjoyed ALL year round)!Print
Whether you’re you’re making this for Thanksgiving or just for any day of the week, this Keto Glazed Pecan Salad With Goat Cheese, Pears and Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette will NOT disappoint. The combination of a subtle sweet CRUNCH from the glazed pecans with rich creamy goat cheese, a few little slices of D’anjou pears, and that DELICIOUS Maple Balsamic vinaigrette dressing is to DIE for! This salad will even fool carb eaters into thinking it’s not low carb, when it actually IS totally keto friendly!!!!
8 –10 Oz Mixed Greens
1 D’Anjou Pear (cored, and sliced VERY thin)
1/4– 1/2 Cup Goat Cheese, Crumbled
1–2 Cups Sugar-Free Glazed Pecans (RECIPE BELOW OR CLICK THIS LINK FOR FULL POST)
OPTIONAL: 1/3 Cup Dried Cherries (if you add this for non-keto people, then just pick around them to keep it lower carb!)
Sugar-Free Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1.5 Tablespoons Choc-Zero Maple Syrup (can sub other brand but see *note 1 First!)
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1.5 Tablespoons Olive Oil (or Avacado Oil)
1/2 teaspoon Smooth Dijon Mustard (not the grainy kind!)
2 large pinches of salt (around a scant 1/8th teaspoon)
5 Minute Sugar-Free Glazed Pecans (click here for original recipe post!):
3 Tablespoons Lakanto Golden
1 Tablespoon Hot Water
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Choc-Zero Maple Syrup (OPTIONAL, but advised )
2 Cups Pecan Halves
To Make Sugar-Free Glazed Pecans:
1.) Mix all ingredients together, except the pecans, in a small bowl. Whisk together until combined. Set aside.
2.) Place the Pecan halves in a large skillet, over medium/high heat, stirring/flipping them around every 15 seconds or so for 2-3 minutes, or until you start to SMELL toasted pecans (careful not to let any of them get BURNT/blackened though!). As soon as pecans are toasted (remember, you’ll smell toasted pecans!), drizzle in your sweetener/water mixture the pecans & stir to coat each pecan. Continue to cook for ONLY 15 SECONDS! Remove from heat immediately (so they don’t burn!), and dump glazed pecans onto parchment paper to cool. Spread the pecans out, seperating each one so that they don’t all stick together as they cool. The glazed pecans will look wet at first, but will crisp up like candy very quickly after this. Let pecans cool ideally for 1-2 hours (they should be crisp enough though within 20 minutes if you’re in a rush!).
3.) If you’re making these a day or more head of time, then store cooled glazed pecans in an airtight container at room temperature.
For the Salad:
1.) Place mixed greens in a large salad mixing bowl. Sprinkle in glazed pecans, goat cheese, and thinly sliced pears (& dried cherries if you choose to add). If you are making this more than 30 minutes before eating, then wait to add the pears until closer to eating (so they don’t get soggy and brown!).
2.) Make the Vinaigrette. Add all ingredients into a bowl and whisk vigorously until oil is no longer seperated from vinegar and syrup. Set aside (or refrigerate) until you are ready to eat the salad. Dress the salad either RIGHT before serving or leave the dressing on the side for individuals to add as they’re served. 🙂 The salad does taste exceptionally delicious, if you add the dressing and gently toss right before eating though! Be warned though, you might not need ALL the dressing, so just add bits at a time and toss to your personal PREFERENCE!
Note 1: If you are not using choc-zero maple syrup, then you may need slightly different amounts of syrup with other sugar-free brands. I tried this with Lakanto Maple Syrup (which I love on pancakes!), but it isn’t as thick and doesn’t taste quite as sweet as choc-zero, so I had to add little more of it to the dressing to counter the acidity of the balsamic vinegar. Just use your judgement and taste the dressing as you mix if you’re using other brands! Choc-Zero Maple Syrup is DEFINITELY my favorite taste and texture in this recipe though!
Net Carbs = Per serving (serving size = 8-10, and doesn’t include the optional dried cherries)
Carb counts vary based on the brands of each item used. My calculations are for the brands listed/suggested.
- Category: salad