No matter the time of year, sometimes we just crave crunchy greens, tender chard, or peppery arugula — common components of a well-composed salad. If you’ve ever struggled with reproducing, at home, the balance of flavors you find in your favorite restaurant salads, we're here to help, answering your questions about everything from dressings to greens, and sharing 50 of our favorite salad recipes.
Making a salad can be as easy as dumping a bag of prewashed greens into a bowl and dousing them with bottled dressing, but making a great salad requires some prep work. Look for seasonal ingredients at your local market. Lean on crunchy kale, grains, and citrus fruit salads in the cooler fall and winter months for bright, textured, and balanced salads. Then, transition to tender chard and spinach in the spring with juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, and sweet corn in the summer. Remember to always season your greens; salt and pepper will go a long way in building layers of flavor.
When it comes to flavor, a well-balanced dressing is essential. For vinaigrettes, remember the rule of ratios: three parts oil to one part vinegar. For a creamy texture, create an emulsion. Whisk together your vinegar with Dijon, honey, or a combination of both (these two ingredients will add body to your dressing and help maintain the emulsion). Then, slowly incorporate the oil, whisking the entire time. Lastly, season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Check out this Dijon vinaigrette recipe for exact measurements.
Finally, consider the toppings. Choose a balance of flavors and textures for the most appealing salad. Crunchy croutons, creamy avocado, and smoky bacon can all contribute to a balance of taste and textures. Similarly, you can achieve a similar effect with smooth roasted acorn squash, crunchy pomegranates, and tangy blue cheese crumbles.
This year, we’ve rounded up 50 salads, including chicken, seafood, pasta, noodle, raw, easy, grain, and classic versions to help you work more fresh produce into your diet no matter the season.
Whether grilled, roasted, poached, or seared, chicken salad is an easy and delicious entrée option any time of the year. Here we’ve included a couple of options that are good year round, like our version of a curry chicken salad and a barbecue chicken salad made with grilled chicken, as well as some seasonal options, like our grilled chicken salad with sweet summer peaches, or our sesame-ginger chicken salad, best served in spring and summer when arugula is at its peak.
Curry is a generic term for any South Asian spice blend, so the flavors and heat can vary. For a spicy curry blend, look for the word “muchi” on the label. — Perdue Chicken
This grilled chicken salad features spicy barbecue sauce, sweet apples, and salty blue cheese over a bed of Asian slaw and arugula.
Hot Buffalo sauce is paired with cooling blue cheese dressing for this delicious chicken salad recipe served with chopped romaine, celery, and cherry tomatoes.
This simple salad features precooked chicken strips. The mingling of spiced nuts with the mildly sweet peaches and sharp, salty gorgonzola makes for a balanced, delicious salad for lunch or dinner.
Shredded chicken tops a salad of arugula, celery, bell peppers, and cilantro tossed with an Asian-inspired soy sauce and sesame oil dressing.
There are a few salad recipes that you see time after time on restaurant menus, such as the Caesar salad or a classic Cobb salad. Here, we have rounded up a few of our favorite classic salads that mostly use ingredients you can find any time of year.
Sometimes, using a little help from the store can mean the difference between ordering takeout and making a home-cooked meal. The introduction of precooked fresh beets to the produce section is a boon to busy home cooks; no longer does anyone have to settle for canned beets when in a hurry. This quick and easy, delicious salad is a healthy starter for busy weeknights. — Maria Zoitas
Hormel Taco Meats
Serve your taco salad made with shredded greens, sliced chicken, avocado, and jalapeños for heat in a crisp tortilla shell. Here, chef Angela Sellars adds quinoa to her taco salad bowl for texture and extra protein.
The modern salade niçoise can be many things. I like mine with grilled fresh tuna, green beans and steamed potatoes, multicolored heirloom cherry tomatoes, a few nicely dressed greens, and a soft touch of anchovy.
This composed salad is perfect to serve when entertaining guests at lunch. Serve family-style along with a loaf of fresh crusty bread and sweet butter. — Patricia Wells
The definitive "chopped salad," the Cobb was invented in Hollywood, at the Brown Derby restaurant, and quickly became an iconic American dish. At the Derby, it was always presented with its colorful mix of ingredients arranged neatly side by side, then tossed at the table. — Colman Andrews
Believe it or not, salad recipes can become complicated when more advanced cooking techniques, difficult dressings, or garnishes are added. Here we have rounded up five salad recipes that won’t give you any grief. These light, fresh salads are perfect for a simple side with lunch or dinner or top them with your favorite protein for an easy entrée idea.
This salad is so simple, yet is packed full of so many different flavors: It’s peppery, bitter, and citrusy, all at once.
Savory feta, sun-dried tomato dressing, and fresh cherry tomatoes bring Old World flavor to this easy, yet impressive pasta salad. — Athenos
Executive Chef David Feau of Wally's Beverly Hills
For this recipe, you can cook the chicken in the microwave before shredding it and combining it with mayonnaise, celery, onion, and sweet relish for the easiest chicken salad recipe you’ll ever make.
Dan Olson Chef and Owner of Railtown Catering
By now, everyone knows the great health benefits of dark, leafy greens like kale, so why not treat your body to this fresh mix with homemade vinaigrette?
Sweet fruit salads are popular in spring and summer when most fruits are in peak season, but we have also included a few winter citrus salads, so you can enjoy a refreshing fruit salad any time of year.
This colorful salad is perfect for brightening up a gloomy winter day. In Los Angeles, we have access to amazing fennel and citrus at this time of year, and this salad was created to highlight the seasonal flavors and texture. At Picnic LA, we use exceptional J.J.’s Lone Daughter Ranch Valencia oranges and Underwood Family Farms sweet fennel. Savoy cabbage adds a satisfying crunch, while citrus juice bursts through with tons of flavor. — Chef Alex Resnick
My old-fashioned fruit salad is convenient to make in the slow-cooker when your oven and stovetop are occupied with other dishes. It's delicious alongside roasted meats, or even served over pound cake for dessert. — Debbie Kimbrough
Using fresh, seasonal stone fruit like peaches or cherries and pairing it with salty ricotta and sweet honey makes for a perfect summer grilled fruit salad. — Karen Hatfield
This simple salad may only have a few ingredients, but it has an absolute abundance of flavor. Tender roasted beets marry perfectly with juicy slices of orange, and black currant glaze adds an extraordinary depth of flavor. Using the best oranges possible is critical for this salad. At Picnic LA, we use a variety of seasonal oranges from many local farms. Pick oranges that are firm without any soft spots, and that smell sweet. Currant juice can be found in many supermarkets and health stores. Fried garlic and star anise are easy to find in a local Asian market. — Chef Alex Resnick
Grains are a healthy, hearty addition to your usual salad greens. Check out a few of our favorite salads featuring grains, like this season-less Southwestern-inspired quinoa salad or a wintertime blood orange and farro salad. Also, consider other nutritious grains like barley and bulgur when composing your favorite grain salad.
For a delicious, balanced grain salad, combine the earthy flavor of barley with sweet grapes bursting with flavor, bitter radicchio, and toasted pecans for crunch.
Healthy quinoa serves as the base of this black bean, poblano pepper, and sweet corn salad that is then tossed in Southwestern lime dressing.
Ancient grains are an excellent way to work more whole grains into your diet. Dressed with a blood orange vinaigrette, this farro salad is a nutty and bright choice for a meatless entrée or side dish with dinner.
Cucumbers, tomatoes, pine nuts, and olive oil team up for this healthy and delicious Mediterranean bulgur salad recipe.
Nutty farro, zesty lemon, and creamy ricotta all work together to make this Italian-inspired grain salad the perfect light lunch you’ve been looking for to make at home or pack in a lunchbox for work.
Here is a quick look at salads around the world: From Australia to North Africa, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite international salad recipes. Try seasoning your fresh-cut vegetables with pungent sumac, make a refreshing pea salad, or a simple vinaigrette using Japanese ingredients.
This pea salad recipe from Australia combines fresh or frozen peas, water chestnuts, and bell pepper with a creamy yogurt-based Dijon mustard dressing.
Middle Eastern sumac flavors this simple salad of fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions.
This simple cucumber salad dressed with honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil is the perfect tangy cooling side with homemade sushi or spicy noodles.
Tabbouleh salad is a classic Middle Eastern salad typically served alongside other small plates at dinnertime. This version calls for cracked wheat bulgur, but that can be replaced with quinoa for a gluten-free alternative.
National Pasta Association
Coriander, cumin, and cinnamon are tossed with warm couscous, garlic, ginger, and eggplant for a distinctly Moroccan-inspired salad.
These noodle salads are better with a little time to marinate, which makes them the perfect option for packable lunches. Try a simple soba noodle salad, add prawns to your cold noodle salad for some lean protein, or try our vegetarian tofu noodle salad.
Fresh vegetables, soba noodles, and a spicy peanut dressing are layered up in a Mason jar for the perfect healthy, wholesome lunch to take with you to work. — Hannah Hoskins
This grilled prawns, pea shoots, and noodle salad has all of the components of a meal already in it. Tasty grilled marinated prawns with Asian seasonings sit on a bed of pea shoots and edamame. A drizzle of honey mustard vinaigrette brings the whole dish together. Perfect for summer. — Adora’s Box
Just about everyone loves sesame noodle salad, including me. This delicious version improves on the traditional one because it uses a mixture of creamy peanut butter and sesame oil in place of the customary sesame paste. The resulting dish is lighter, not only because the noodles are more delicately coated with the dressing, but because there’s less of them in relation to the chicken and vegetables. — Ming Tsai
This is an incredibly satisfying noodle dish that balances different textures and a bold mixture of flavors. Creamy miso dressing over soba noodles, tangy pickled vegetables, and a spice-crusted salmon filet makes an exotic and exciting dish. — Jullie Anne
This simple shiratake noodle salad can be served cool, at room temperature, or even warm depending on your mood. Add any vegetables you have on hand like baby bok choy or broccoli. — Nasoya
Loaded with healthy greens and fresh herbs, this chard salad is best in the spring when rainbow chard is in season and at its most tender. Toss your fresh vegetables with cooked and cooled whole wheat penne pasta in a pesto sauce (you can add sour cream for a creamer sauce).
You can make this simple Italian pasta in fewer than 30 minutes, and the presentation is super trendy — thanks to Mason jars. The jars make it easy to bring this pasta along to picnics and outdoor events, so start planning your next outing now. — Barilla
The peanut butter gives this pasta salad just the kick it needs to go from good to great. The rich, creamy peanut dressing coats the noodles and provides plenty of complex, salty peanut butter flavor to a bowl of noodles and vegetables.
Check-out these no-cook salads that use fresh, whole ingredients for lots of flavor. Raw zucchini ribbons take the place of noodles in our healthy shaved zucchini salad, while our raw harvest Kale salad is the perfect vegan way to satisfy your hunger during cooler months.
Seaweed snacks, avocado, and bell pepper are tossed with a soy and sesame oil dressing that is perfect for a light lunch.
A photo of finely cut vegetables inspired this dish. It turns out that when you thinly slice a zucchini lengthwise, it’s a total beauty — like a wide ribbon or vegetal pappardelle pasta. You don’t need a mandoline to achieve the effect; a vegetable peeler does the job. — Klancy Miller
This is a cooling, crunchy salad that is so easy to pull together. The pink radishes and beautiful green mint and pistachios make for a beautiful light lunch or side dish. — Hannah Hoskins
Photo courtesy of M Cafe
This detoxifying salad is raw, vegan, and perfect for incorporating seasonal vegetables into your meal. — Lee Gross
Crispy, sweet and light, this salad can quickly be thrown together as a side dish for carrot buns, easy stir-fries, or other Asian-flavored main dishes. — Yasmin Fahr
In less than 20 minutes, this beautiful, protein-packed salad will be ready to eat. — Hannah Hoskins
Here's a refreshing, seasonal starter for an elegant dinner party. Searing watermelon caramelizes some of its sugar and brings out its sweet flavor, and a simple spice mix accentuates it further. Store any extra vinaigrette for another salad. — E. Michael Reidt
A great way to serve this salad is to slice a 9-inch round focaccia in half horizontally, fill it with the tuna, and press a plate down on top of the round bread. Place a heavy can or weight on top for an hour, and the dressing will seep into the bread. Slice and serve. — Whole Foods Market
Picnic-Perfect Avocado, Prawn, and Cabbage Salad
This sweet and spicy Asian-inspired salad is just what you need to add to your weekly summer meal staples.
This salad is bright and refreshing, with lots of textures from all the citrus and the squid, pops of flavor from all the fresh herbs and pairs perfectly with our 21 quick and delicious weeknight grilling ideas.
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