The BEST Creamy Grape Salad

Sweet grapes, crunchy pecans, and vanilla bean sour cream are combined in this unexpected and delicious creamy grape salad. My boys went nuts over this the first time I made it and I couldn’t stop eating bites of it myself.

I’ve made this simple grape salad with pecans countless times now and my youngest son still can’t get enough of it. Every time he sees grapes in the store or in our refrigerator, he asks if we can make “the really good grape salad” again. How could I ever say no to that?

Grape Salad with Vanilla Bean Sweet Cream - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

Creamy Grape Salad

There’s no big secret here. Just tasty fresh grapes and pecans covered in creamy, tangy, very lightly sweetened sour cream. Sometimes the simplest recipes really are the best!

This is a popular dish to bring to gatherings with friends, but it’s also great served with a sandwich or wrap for an easy family lunch.

Grape Salad with Pecans

Salads with grapes are classic potluck and party dishes. If you’ve never tasted one, this recipe is the perfect one to make first.

Or, if your experiences with grape salad call to mind overly sweetened, gloppy dishes at family reunions or work picnics, I promise you this particular grape salad recipe is so good it will have you scraping the bowl and going back to the buffet table for seconds.

The pecans in this recipe add great texture and crunch to the salad. As far as I’m concerned, they aren’t optional. If you really dislike pecans, slivered or sliced almonds will also work, though they are not my first choice.

I’d suggest swapping in walnuts before almonds, but in my experience, if someone is averse to pecans, they almost never enjoy walnuts. Just use whatever nut you like best for crunch here, if you don’t care to include the pecans.

Grape Salad Recipe Without Cream Cheese

This grape salad is NOT your average potluck dish. The recipe features a lightly sweetened sour cream dressing and I’m happy to say that this salad trumps any other grape salads I’ve tasted.

Years ago, we made versions of this salad with cool whip or vanilla pudding. They were fine but nothing spectacular so I wasn’t in any rush to make them again.

I’ve also tasted grape salads made with yogurt or cream cheese dressings. Again, they tasted okay but didn’t leave any big impression. I could take them or leave them, really.

Sour Cream Grape Salad

Then, I discovered lightly sweetened sour cream. Several years ago, I made these Layered Lemon Cheesecake and tasted sweetened sour cream for the first time. I was impressed by the difference a tiny sprinkling of sugar made in the typically tangy (and sour) cream.

If you haven’t tried lightly sweetened sour cream before, you’re in for a fun treat. I have served this salad to several people who were shocked that the creamy dressing was simply sour cream.

Sour cream with just a touch of sugar provides the perfect amount of tangy and sweet to compliment the juicy grape flavor in this salad. I would happily eat this grape salad with sour cream for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert.

barely sweetened sour cream dressing poured over salad with grapes

Salad with Grapes

Grape salads are easy hassle-free side dishes. When grapes are tossed into a basic garden salad, they contribute an irresistible, fresh, sweet bite that I love.

Crisp broccoli is combined with sweet, juicy grapes, and crunchy bits of red onion just before being tossed with a tangy, sweet balsamic dressing to make this Broccoli Grape Salad.

Chicken, fresh grapes, and crunchy walnuts are tossed in a tangy-sweet poppyseed dressing to make this Poppyseed Chicken Salad.

Sweet grapes, candied walnuts, crisp greens, and nutty cheese are combined to make this truly tempting Grape and Candied Walnut Salad. (Yes, I just called a salad tempting and I stand by that!) I like this salad so much, I will happily eat it twice a day whenever I have the ingredients in the house.

Tender bites of chicken, sweet grapes, pasta, are combined and tossed with a creamy poppyseed dressing to make this simple Poppyseed Chicken and Grape Pasta Salad.

Sweet grapes and tender chicken in a tangy dressing come together as the base for a really tasty Cashew Chicken Salad.

Tart apples and sweet grapes, bananas, and blueberries are tossed with crunchy pecans in a light and creamy vanilla dressing to make this “red white and blue” Creamy Fruit Salad.

fruit salad process shots in a photo collage

Grape Salad Ingredients

  • green grapes
  • red grapes
  • sour cream
  • sugar
  • vanilla
  • pecans

Kitchen Tip: I use this set of mixing bowls to make and store this salad. (You can see the bowls in the video at the top of this post. The exact pattern has been discontinued, but I’ve linked a similar set.)

Recipe for Grape Salad

After mixing together the sour cream, a little sugar, and fragrant vanilla, simply add a bunch of sliced green and red grapes to the bowl.

Throw in a generous handful of crunchy pecans with the grapes and sour cream dressing and you have a delicious, lightly sweetened dish that’s ready to serve.

You can enjoy this Grape Salad right away or store it in the fridge. If you won’t be serving the salad within a couple of hours, wait to add the pecans until just before serving so they don’t get soft and mushy.

If you want to make this recipe but only have one variety of grape in your fridge, go for it anyway! I like the combo of green and red grapes for the nice color and flavor variety it adds to the dish but it would also taste good using all green grapes or all red grapes.

It goes without saying that you should use seedless grapes in this recipe if at all possible. We want the nice crunch in this salad to come from the pecans rather than from surprise seeds hiding in each juicy bite of grape. Seedless grapes are also easier to slice.

creamy fruit salad with grapes and pecans in mixing bowl

Substitute for Vanilla Bean

Sugar adds sweetness but what really makes this sour cream fruit salad dressing sing is the addition of vanilla. You can use either fresh vanilla bean or real vanilla extract to add the vanilla flavor to the sour cream.

Skyrocketing costs of vanilla and the difficulty of finding fresh vanilla beans in many grocery stores mean that I typically use vanilla extract when I make this recipe. It works just as well without as much fuss or expense.

It’s easy and inexpensive to substitute vanilla extract for vanilla beans. One teaspoon of pure vanilla extract is roughly equivalent flavor and aroma wise to one vanilla bean.

I know there are plenty of vanilla purists out there who argue that fresh vanilla bean is always the better option in baking and cooking. I can’t say I always agree.

While fresh vanilla is amazing it’s simply not convenient or cost effective for most of us. The difference in quality of taste and flavor simply isn’t as significant as the difference in expense for me.

Everyone has their own preference, though, and that’s why I say use whatever mode of vanilla flavor that’s best for you.

If you happen to have a fresh vanilla bean lying around, definitely use it! I LOVE what it adds to this recipe, but for the rest of us, there’s our trusty vanilla extract. Both ways of adding vanilla flavor are delicious and really enhance this grape salad.

Sweetened Sour Cream

I haven’t tried using this sweetened sour cream dressing on many other fruit salads yet (it’s fantastic on this one though!) and I’m looking forward to experimenting with it on different combinations of fruit.

It’s so creamy and light that I bet it would taste great on lots of other fruit salads, in addition to being a great dip for strawberries or banana slices. If you decide to play with the recipe, be sure to let me know what you think and the different combinations you come up with!

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Servings: 8 servings

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  • In a medium size bowl, stir together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Add the grapes and pecans to the bowl and stir to coat. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

Calories: 246kcal · Carbohydrates: 27g · Protein: 2g · Fat: 15g · Saturated Fat: 4g · Cholesterol: 14mg · Sodium: 25mg · Potassium: 312mg · Fiber: 2g · Sugar: 23g · Vitamin A: 260IU · Vitamin C: 4mg · Calcium: 53mg · Iron: 0.8mg

originally published 5/16/14 – recipe notes and photos updated 6/29/23

grape salad with vanilla bean dressing
photo collage of ingredients for grape salad

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