Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Hearty and nutritious Roasted Sweet Potato Salad highlights mixed greens with roasted sweet potato, seasoned wild rice, dried sweetened cranberries, sliced almonds, creamy avocado, crisp apples, and salty feta cheese with a lemon balsamic dressing. Plus, I’m sharing some shortcuts to prepare this salad even quicker, tips to make it ahead of time and how to meal prep with this salad.

This salad is a holiday classic that pairs perfectly with other side dishes such as mashed potatoesroasted vegetables, roasted Brussels sprouts, and/or a sweet potato casserole!

 

Overhead view of Roasted Sweet Potato Salad.

Overhead view of Roasted Sweet Potato Salad.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

The minute fall hits, we make Roasted Sweet Potato Salad an embarrassing number of times. I’m typically craving a bit more veggies with all the fall baking that goes on around these parts. The minute September hits, I can’t resist making a few batches of this Pumpkin Coffee Cake or this Pumpkin Bread and when it comes to these Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars, let’s just say I could polish off the pan single-handedly if my kids let me!

So more veggies in the form of this salad, it is! And I’m not complaining; I enjoy this salad every bit as much as the aforementioned desserts. It’s loaded with a variety of textures — from the tender seasoned wild rice to the crisp apples to the creamy avocado to the perfectly caramelized sweet potatoes. And topping everything off is one of my all-time favorite dressings — a bright and crisp balsamic blend.

This particular dressing has a hint of lemon that is a wonderful complement to every component of this salad.

Process shots: dice sweet potatoes and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper; bake on a sheet pan and then add to the salad.

Process shots: dice sweet potatoes and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper; bake on a sheet pan and then add to the salad.

Roasted Sweet Potato tips

  • Use a large sheet pan. The more space the chopped sweet potatoes have (and the less crowded they are) the better they roast. When the potatoes are overlapping on a sheet pan, they end up steaming instead of roasting. I recommend using this 15×21 inch sheet pan to make sure the potatoes have plenty of space. They’ll also roast quicker with more room on the pan!
  • Toss every 10-15 minutes. Stirring while cooking ensures an even bake and caramelization. When tossing them, it’s easy to pay attention to the color and tenderness of the sweet potatoes and see when they’re done.
  • Season to taste. Because there are so many other flavors in this roasted sweet potato salad, we keep the seasoning very simple on the potatoes. Salt and pepper are all you need, but make sure to taste the potatoes to be sure they aren’t under-seasoned before adding them to the salad.

Let’s talk wild rice

While I don’t use too many boxed ingredients for meals, I’ll admit I do enjoy packaged wild rice. It’s convenient, tasty, and fast to make (particularly when making Roasted Sweet Potato Salad, since it has quite a few components). I use one package of wild rice for this recipe, or if I’ve got extra time, I prep the wild rice from scratch. Here’s my go-to from-scratch recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup (116g) wild rice*
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1 and 2/3 cups (359g) chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: fine sea salt and dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH: cracked pepper, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar

Instructions

  1. In a fine-mesh sieve, rinse the wild rice thoroughly.

  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a low simmer (a few notches above lowest temperature).

  3. Cover the pot, simmer for about 45 minutes and then check. If tender, stop cooking; if not, cook for another 10-15 minutes or until it is ready. Add additional broth as needed (if the liquid has evaporated but rice is not yet tender).

  4. When the rice is cooked, let it stand and steam for 5-10 minutes off heat (still covered with a lid); drain off any additional liquid and fluff it with a fork. 

*Alternatively, you could use 1/3 cup wild rice and 1/3 cup parboiled long white rice. It has to be the parboiled long white rice to cook evenly with the wild rice (Most packaged wild rice products contain a white/wild rice blend, due to the density of the wild rice alone).

QUICK TIP

Wild rice can be tricky sometimes since cooking time varies by the brand; keep an eye on it as it cooks.

Process shots: combine wild rice, herbs, broth and butter; cook and fluff; make dressing by blending all ingredients; combine salad ingredients on a large platter; drizzle dressing over all.

Process shots: combine wild rice, herbs, broth and butter; cook and fluff; make dressing by blending all ingredients; combine salad ingredients on a large platter; drizzle dressing over all.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad shortcut tips

After making this salad so often, I’ve come up with a few shortcuts (for when I’m lazy or don’t have enough time) to get this salad on the table quick! Some of these tips leave you with slightly less flavor, but it’s not all that noticeable for a quick lunch.

  • Microwave the sweet potato instead of roasting. I know, nothing can compare to good roasted sweet potatoes, but this tip saves a lot of time! Thoroughly wash and then pierce some holes with a fork, throughout the potato. Place pierced potato(es) on a plate in the microwave and cook for about 7-8 minutes (for a large sweet potato) or until it’s completely tender. Let it cool for 1-2 minutes and then cut in half and pull the skins off (they should easily slip right off).  Chop and it’s ready to go.
  • Use a box mix for the wild rice. I talk about this more in the section above, but essentially the boxed wild rice will be ready in about 15-20 minutes, and in that time, the (microwaved) sweet potato will also be ready to go and the other elements of the salad can be prepped as well.
  • Prep dressing ahead of time. While not really a short-cut tip per se, it can feel like one! This lemon-balsamic dressing goes well with many things, so make up a batch (or two) at the beginning of the week and it will make prep on this roasted sweet potato salad go that much quicker. Plus, you can use any leftovers on other salads or drizzle on roasted vegetables throughout the week. Win-win!

Overhead views of Roasted Sweet Potato Salad, showing the sliced avocados, wild rice and apples and of course, the roasted sweet potatoes.

Overhead views of Roasted Sweet Potato Salad, showing the sliced avocados, wild rice and apples and of course, the roasted sweet potatoes.

Make-ahead tips

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad is one of my favorite meal prep recipes; I prep it ahead of time and enjoy it throughout the week. Prep in Mason jars or separate meal prep containers and then quickly assemble before eating.

Here’s how I separate the ingredients:

  1. Prep the wild rice and the roasted sweet potatoes at the same time. Allow both to cool and then toss together. Place the potato/ rice mixture in one meal prep or plastic container.
  2. Prep the dressing. Give it a quick whiz in the blender and then store it all together in a Mason jar to dress individual salads throughout the week or separate it into individual dressing containers to take on the go with everything else.
  3. Add cranberries, almonds, and cheese to small individual containers or bags. Divide out the cranberries, almonds, and cheese for however many salads you’ll want throughout the week. Add these to individual bags or containers so they’re ready to grab on the go. 
  4. Lettuce, apple, and avocado. These last three ingredients are tricky to prepare ahead of time. For the lettuce, I usually buy a large plastic container of mixed greens. I leave it in the fridge and take out handfuls when ready to prep the salad or add it to a container if taking it on the go. The apple and avocado can’t be prepared too far in advance as they will brown and lose texture. I recommend chopping/dicing the avocado or apple right before eating the salad or the morning of. Both will generally stay well for several hours when drizzled with lemon juice.

If you aren’t planning to meal prep this salad but would like to make it ahead for an event like Thanksgiving, the above tips apply. Separate the ingredients into four containers (one each for wild rice and sweet potatoes; the cranberries, almonds, and cheese; the lettuce; and for the dressing. Chop/thinly slice avocado and apple right before serving. Combine and toss everything together right before serving. 

QUICK TIP

If the dressing separates or forms clumps, don’t be alarmed. It’s just the olive oil solidifying, which it does at cold temps. Take the vinaigrette out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes or so before you need it and bring it back up to temperature. Then shake it up to remix.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad leftovers

Once dressed, this Roasted Sweet Potato Salad doesn’t store very well. The dressing makes the lettuce soggy and the apples and avocado begin to brown and change texture. But it’s a small price to pay for all of this deliciousness!

I’d recommend only dressing what you will enjoy the same day. See tips in the section above for storing the dressing and salad components separately, and try to only cut apples and avocados that will be consumed immediately after making.

Overhead view of the completed Roasted Sweet Potato Salad.

Overhead view of the completed Roasted Sweet Potato Salad.

More delicious Thanksgiving recipes

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

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Hearty and nutritious Roasted Sweet Potato Salad features mixed greens with roasted sweet potato, seasoned wild rice, dried sweetened cranberries, sliced almonds, creamy avocado, crisp apples, and salty feta cheese with a lemon-balsamic dressing. Plus, I’m sharing some shortcuts to prepare this salad even quicker, tips to make it ahead of time, and how to meal prep with this salad.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

.wprm-recipe-rating .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-full svg * { fill: #33658a; }

Hearty and nutritious Roasted Sweet Potato Salad features mixed greens with roasted sweet potato, seasoned wild rice, dried sweetened cranberries, sliced almonds, creamy avocado, crisp apples, and salty feta cheese with a lemon-balsamic dressing. Plus, I’m sharing some shortcuts to prepare this salad even quicker, tips to make it ahead of time, and how to meal prep with this salad.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (438g) chopped sweet potatoes cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and cracked pepper
  • 1 package (6 oz; 170g) Long Grain and Wild Rice Mix (like Uncle Ben’s)(See Note 1)
  • 2 large apples (we love Honeycrisp best) chopped or thinly sliced
  • 1-2 ripe avocados chopped or thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (66g) dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1/2 cup (48g) sliced roasted almonds
  • 9 cups (8 oz; 231g) mixed greens lettuce (I use a 50/50 blend spinach & spring mix leaves)
  • Optional: crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese (add to personal preference)

Lemon Balsamic Dressing

  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup (108g) olive oil

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Peel and chop the sweet potato into 1/2-inch chunks and add to a large sheet pan.

  • SWEET POTATOES: Drizzle chopped potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil plus some salt and pepper (I add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Use your hands to toss and coat in oil and seasonings; then press in an even layer (the more room to roast, the better!). Bake for 10 minutes, flip and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Flip once more and bake for 5-10 additional minutes or until the pieces are crisp-tender and roasted through. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

  • WILD RICE: Meanwhile, prepare the wild rice (either according to the package directions or see Note 1.) Once rice is tender, refrigerate about 10 minutes to cool down a bit so it doesn’t wilt the lettuce.

  • DRESSING: Combine all of the ingredients in a small blender or food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper). Pulse until combined and emulsified; taste, adjust to personal preference, and then pour into a dressing bottle or Mason jar and place in the fridge.

  • APPLE AND AVOCADO: Chop or thinly slice the apple and avocado(s). Drizzle 2 teaspoons lemon juice over all the pieces.

  • ASSEMBLY: Add lettuce to a large bowl. Top with room-temperature potatoes and cooled wild rice. Add cranberries, almonds, and optional feta or goat cheese. Add the apples and avocado.

  • STORAGE: I recommend only dressing what you will enjoy the same day. (Once dressed, the salad doesn’t store well.) See tips in the post for storing the dressing and salad components separately.

  • DRESSING: Drizzle dressing over salad to personal preference. Gently toss salad with dressing and enjoy. You will likely not use all the dressing. Use leftovers on other salads or roasted vegetables; dressing stays good for 5-7 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Here’s how to make homemade wild rice:

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup (116g) wild rice
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil)
  • 1 and 2/3 cups (359g) chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: fine sea salt and dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH: cracked pepper, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar

Instructions

  1. In a fine-mesh sieve, thoroughly rinse the wild rice.

  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low simmer (a few notches above lowest temperature).

  3. Cover the pot, simmer for about 45 minutes, and then check. If tender, stop cooking; if not, cook for another 10-15 minutes or until it is tender. Add additional broth as needed (if the liquid has all evaporated but rice is not yet tender).

  4. When the rice is cooked through, let it stand and steam for 5-10 minutes off heat (still covered with lid) and then drain off any additional liquid and fluff it with a fork.  (Wild rice can be tricky sometimes, since cooking time varies by the brand, so you’ll want to keep an eye on it as it does cook.)

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 625kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 135mg | Potassium: 1303mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 18653IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 164mg | Iron: 3mg