I have discovered the secret for a Strawberry Spinach Salad recipe that doesn’t make me feel like a dinosaur chomping on tree leaves. Say goodbye to stems in your teeth; this Spinach salad is chopped, and can I just say, COMES THROUGH with the strawberries, which is why we’re all here in the first place right? Add a sweet, tangy, pretty-in-pink poppyseed dressing, to further mask the fact that you are putting straight up spinach in your mouth, and you will know why this salad is a classic. Perfect for showers, brunch, or a main with grilled chicken. We make it every year for Easter!

up close on half of a bowl filled with chopped spinach strawberry salad with poppyseed dressing.
Table of Contents
  1. Strawberry spinach salad with poppyseed dressing
  2. The salad
  3. Strawberry spinach salad recipe ingredients
  4. How to make strawberry spinach salad
  5. What to serve with strawberry spinach salad
  6. How to store leftover spinach strawberry salad
  7. Can you freeze spinach salad with strawberries?
  8. Spinach and strawberry salad FAQ
  9. Long live salad!
  10. Strawberry Spinach Salad Recipe

I overheard my 7-year-old daughter Valentine telling a friend about the Super Bowl.

“I’m for the Chiefs, because, Taylor Swift, obviously.”

I butted in. “Wait Val, but Taylor doesn’t play football. She’s not on the Chief’s team. Why are you rooting for the Chief’s?”

She got this really confused look on her face, but then rallied. She said confidently, “You know why.”

I said, “Well yeah, I know why. But do you know why??”

“Because…Taylor Swift!!”

When the final touchdown was scored, she and her little friends screamed the loudest and the longest.

My brother Nathan sent me a tweet he saw right after the game ended, “Millions of fans just started watching football this year and now have the misconception that sports are fun. This isn’t how it works! You’re supposed to end every season angry, and maybe, just maybe, someday you’ll win it all (but really you won’t.”

I’m not really that into sports, but I have to say, that was the funnest I’ve ever had watching 5 hours of football. Valentine nailed it I think. Team Taylor!

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two bowls filled with dressed strawberry spinach salad with extra dressing and almonds on the side.

Strawberry spinach salad with poppyseed dressing

Who already knows and loves this salad? It’s a classic! The poppy seed dressing is my fav. It actually tastes really good even without the poppyseeds. I know, because I made it again yesterday, trying (in vain) to shake out the last 12 poppyseeds stuck to the bottom of my empty jar.

pink poppyseed dressing in a jar on a table.

But it still tastes amazing. I guess “Poppyseed dressing” sounds better than “Mustardy Oil and Vinegar.” And although the flavor of poppyseed is subtle, I do love the mild nutty crunch it adds, so I would never leave it out on purpose! Plus it’s just so pretty.

Poppyseed-less dressing is one thing, but listen to this: Years ago, one of Eric’s coworker’s (who is also a member of my church and doesn’t drink alcohol) was out at a business lunch. Everyone at the table was ordering fancy cocktails. He decided to branch out:

“I’d like a virgin mimosa please!”

Waitress: “So you want…a glass of orange juice?”

a metal spoon pouring poppyseed dressing over the top of spinach strawberry salad in a bowl.

I love this dressing because I usually have the ingredients on hand. And there are only 7 of them. 6 if you omit the champagne poppyseeds. This dressing is the best because it’s sweet, tangy, and an incredibly pretty pink color. And does a magnificent job covering up the taste of spinach! (Always a plus in my book). Read on for more spinach witchery:

The salad

This salad is basic basic. It’s just spinach, almonds, goat cheese, red onions, and some almonds for crunch. Just look at all this almondy crunch. It’s hard to not just eat these by the fistful when they come out of the oven:

toasted, slivered almonds spread out on a metal sheetpan.

The combination of these ingredients, you guys!! I love it so much.

But every time I’m served a version of this salad (we’ve all had this salad before, right?) I feel like I’m a koala bear gnawing on eucalyptus leaves. A cow with alfalfa sticking out of it’s giant mouth. Spinach stems are my nemesis!

The solution? CHOP.

bowl filled with chopped spinach, strawberries, onions, goat cheese, and almonds.

Chopping up the spinach takes 2 minutes prep time and changes the whole vibe of this salad. Instead of doing mental (and fork) gymnastics trying to figure out how you’re going to fit in your next enormous leaf, just easily scoop up all your neatly chopped spinach pieces. You can have every salad component in every single bite! This is a salad WIN, folks.

I love to serve this salad on Easter Sunday. Have you got your menu mapped out yet? Add this salad, if not. It’s a huge crowd pleaser, it’s ridiculously easy to put together, and it’s the perfect spring or summer salad recipe. Plus, need I reiterate how amazing you are going to feel shoveling this much spinach in your body?? Look at you!!

Strawberry spinach salad recipe ingredients

Here’s everything you need! A lot of the dressing ingredients are pantry staples, and the rest is a quick trip to the grocery store. Be sure to look at the recipe card for the full instructions.

ingredients for strawberry spinach salad - almonds, onions, homemade dressing, etc.

For the dressing

  • apple cider vinegar
  • dried mustard powder
  • red onion
  • Kosher salt
  • poppy seeds
  • sugar
  • olive oil

For the salad

  • baby spinach
  • strawberries
  • goat cheese
  • sliced almonds, toasted

How to make strawberry spinach salad

First start by making the dressing! It’s quick and easy, and you probably have everything on hand:

poppyseed dressing ingredients - apple cider vinegar, oil, onion, poppyseeds, etc.
looking down into a blender at the blended poppyseed dressing.

The dressing is pink because of the red onion. Give it a taste! It’s seriously so good. Decide if you want to add a lil more salt n pepper. You can make the dressing ahead and store in the fridge for several weeks! I love to keep this dressing on hand, I put it on all kinds of stuff.

If you are one of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle‘s Tiny-Bite Takers (like me) take a minute to chop up your spinach.

top uncut spinach leaves on a cutting board, bottom same leaves now chopped.

For me, chopping is the difference between an amazing salad experience and being slightly annoyed the whole time I’m eating. Spinach leaves are huge, okay?? I know they are flexible and technically you can just shove them in, but I hate the whole process of forking in a bite, errant spinach stems sticking out every which way, getting salad dressing all over my lips and having to mop my face with a napkin, feeling like I need a shower…and repeating. I want to feel messy when I’m eating a burger, not when I’m eating a salad.

So. I chop the spinach into smaller pieces. I swear, once you try this, you will never go back, and your guests will kiss you for being so kind.

Add your spinach to a large bowl…

top chopped spinach leaves in serving bowl, bottom sliced strawberries added on top of spinach.

and top with the strawberries. AN INAPPROPRIATE NUMBER OF STRAWBERRIES. We are calling this a spinach salad guys, but really it’s strawberry salad, yes please.

Add some red onions if you want to be a grown up. I am not a crazy onion lover, but I genuinely love the color and bite they give to the sweetness of the strawberries and the dressing.

top sliced red onion added to top of salad, bottom goat cheese added to salad.

And don’t forget the goat cheese! You could also use feta cheese or bleu cheese if you prefer. I like to add the cheese before I dress and toss the salad, so that the cheese melds a little bit into the spinach as you toss.

close up of poppyseed dressing being poured from a spoon on top of the ready salad.

Finally, drizzle on the dressing. Only do this the MOMENT before you are going to eat, because the spinach will start to wilt as soon as the dressing hits it, and it will wilt even faster if you chopped your spinach.

Eat it right away! It’s so addictive. You would never voluntarily eat this much spinach in your life (without blending it first), but here you are, look at you, you health machine.

ceramic serving bowl filled with spinach strawberry salad with poppyseed dressing and salad tongs.

What to serve with strawberry spinach salad

Honestly, this is such a simple salad that you could serve it up alongside any main dish! My particular favorite is to serve it with grilled chicken for some protein, and if I’m really feeling it, some bread or rolls.

bright mix of spinach, strawberries, onions, goat cheese, and toasted slivered almonds.

How to store leftover spinach strawberry salad

I have sad news my friend, leftover spinach salad that has been tossed and dressed is kind of just a no-go. It gets so soggy-sad, even in the fridge. It’s honestly one of the hardest things about this dish! I’ve shed many a tear over this reality. (Because I’m often making it for guests (like on Easter!) and am totally eyeballing how much I think people will eat.)

So eat up, share with neighbors, and do your best to think about just how much you need before tossing the salad together. If you are my husband Eric, save the dressed salad and eat it for lunch the next day while your children make retching noises in the background. (We have low standards over here maybe??)

Now, the whole story changes if you have leftover salad components, like plain spinach and sliced strawberries. These can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Keep the spinach as dry as possible. I always add paper towels to the container. Once sliced or chopped, strawberries and spinach can give up the ghost quickly, so keep an eye on your salad ingredients to make sure they’re still good.

There is one bright spot in this sad leftover story. The dressing will last for weeks in the fridge! Let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to allow the oil to return to liquid, shake it up, and boom good to go.

close up shot of salad mostly showing strawberries, with some spinach, onions, and almonds.

Can you freeze spinach salad with strawberries?

Heck to the no. Seriously though, there is no part of this salad that is worth taking the time to freeze, thaw, and eat again since all of it would get completely mushy and gross. The salad dressing lasts for a long time in the refrigerator, so I would just keep it there and use it til it’s gone. The only exception is the almonds; you could add them to a ziplock bag and keep them in the freezer for up to 6 months.

individual bowl filled to the top with dressed strawberry spinach salad with a spoon in it.

Spinach and strawberry salad FAQ

can you eat spinach raw in a salad?

Absolutely! The best tasting spinach are the young leaves called ‘baby spinach,’ because they are more tender and mild. Plus, most bags/containers of baby spinach come pre-washed so there’s little to no prep. (Unless you are fussy like me and prefer to chop your spinach.)

what is salad dressing made of?

Most salad dressings follow a similar pattern: some kind of oil (like extra virgin or light olive oil), something acidic (lemon juice, vinegar, etc), and then extra flavors like spices, herbs, etc. Some are barely stirred together (like Italian), and others use an emulsifier (often an egg) to bind the oil and acid to make a creamy dressings (like Ranch). Today’s poppyseed dressing has oil, vinegar, and a red onion for pinky delicious flavor!

Is poppy seed dressing healthy for you?

I say all things are good for you in moderation! But if you’re asking if it’s low calorie, then no, it’s not. Poppy seed dressing is made of fat, sugar, and salt. The reason you’re using it is to make spinach taste good, a real feat! Haha. If you want to eat a salad with no dressing, be my guest (maybe you even like it that way!), but as for me and my house, we will douse with poppy seed dressing.

Can you make Spinach Strawberry Salad in advance?

Strawberry spinach salad can be prepped in advance, but not completely assembled. The dressing can me made a couple weeks in advance. To ease the pressure of making this salad for an event, make the dressing, slice the strawberries and onions, crumble the cheese, and toast the almonds ahead of time. But keep everything separate until you’re ready to serve it. A dressed spinach salad is only good until the dressing makes it soggy (which happens fairly quickly), so prepare just the amount that you want to eat.

dressed strawberry spinach salad with poppyseed dressing ready to serve with tongs.

Long live salad!

I love a good salad. They go as a side dish with any meal, or can be hearty enough to be a meal themselves. Plus, they always make me feel good about myself for eating so many vegetables! Check out some of these other salads to love:

Meal Salads

Side Salads

I originally posted this recipe back in 2014 (ten YEARS ago, what even??) Here is my photo from yesteryear:

Copycat Cafe Zupas Poppyseed Dressing

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Strawberry Spinach Salad

5 from 4 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients

For the dressing

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon poppyseeds
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 small red onion, about 1/4 cup
  • 1 cup olive oil, I love to use "light flavored" olive oil; you can also use vegetable oil

For the salad

  • 2 cups sliced almonds, toasted
  • 16 ounces baby spinach, chopped, if you want
  • 2 pounds strawberries, sliced (you need about 6 cups sliced)
  • 8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 3/4 small red onion, sliced thin

Instructions

  • Make the dressing: Add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon poppyseeds, and 3/4 cup sugar to a blender. Chop a small red onion in half, then in half again. Add one quarter of the onion to the blender (save the rest for later.)
    Blend the ingredients until smooth. With the blender running, add in 1 cup vegetable oil in a slow steady stream. Adding the oil while the dressing is moving allows it to emulsify immediately, meaning that your dressing has become one team (instead of separating into skins and shirts (oil and vinegar) every time you're not shaking the bottle.) Scrape the dressing into a mason jar or container and set aside.
  • Toast the almonds. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread 2 cups sliced almonds (or more if you love almonds!) on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 350 for about 4-7 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. The nuts are toasted when they have turned a light golden brown. Don't walk away! They burn fast. Take them out of the oven and set aside to cool.
  • Prep the salad. If you enjoy chopped salad (you do!) take a moment to chop your spinach. Smaller pieces of spinach make this salad 100% more enjoyable. Only chop what you will eat right now!
  • Hull and slice about 6 cups strawberries. I'm not that into kitchen gadgets, but I genuinely love my strawberry huller. Makes it so much faster!
    Slice the rest of the red onion that you used for the dressing.
    Add the goat cheese to a bowl and gently crumble with a fork.
  • Assemble the salad. In a large bowl, add the spinach, and top with sliced red onions and sliced strawberries. Only add however much you think you and your guests will eat right now! Save the rest for later.
  • Add the goat cheese in crumbles on top of the strawberries, onions, and spinach.
  • Pour some of the dressing over the salad. How much you use is totally up to you! I rarely use all of it. Use tongs to toss it all together.
  • Sprinkle the top with the toasted sliced almonds. Toss again if you want, or leave the almonds on top (and add more goat cheese) for a pretty presentation.

Nutrition

Calories: 390kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 198mg | Potassium: 466mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 3749IU | Vitamin C: 54mg | Calcium: 131mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Calories: 390
Keyword: Salad, Spinach, strawberry
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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Comments

  1. Absolutely fantastic dressing! I did not make the salad, just the dressing. My boyfriend said it was better than any store-bought version he has had! :) 

    1. Homemade dressings almost always beat store bought! I don’t know why I don’t make it more often! Thanks for the reminder :)

  2. Thanks for much for this dressing recipe. I use a store bought poppy seed dressing which we love but it has so many ingredients in it I would rather make it ourselves especially the type of oil used.

  3. I just made the dressing and had to comment to tell you it’s fabulous! I did reduce the sugar to 1/2 c because my family doesn’t like things as sweet. I have only eaten it out of a spoon so far, but in sure it’ll taste even better on a salad! I made it to go on a broccoli apple slaw.

    1. Oh yum this would be good on a broccoli salad! With apples! Yum I’ll have to try it out.

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