The humble seven-layer salad recipe just got updated! I’ve thought about posting this recipe for years, but wanted to improve it first, and it finally happened. This is my 2023 take on this popular salad, just in time for summer!
Seven-layer salad, often served in a small bowl, has its origins in the southern United States in the 1950s. I wasn’t into it in the ’50s, but I remember making this salad at a lot of potlucks and church dinners in the ’70s and early ’80s.
The original contents of (most) seven-layer salads consisted of iceberg lettuce, frozen peas, red onions, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, and finally grated cheese. All topped with a thick, sweetened mayonnaise. Seriously. Just mayo and sugar. Where’s my big-eyed emoji?
The mayo topping and frozen peas were a real hit for me, but I know this salad was (and still is) a favorite for many. I’m happy to say that this updated version is now one of mine Favorite summer salads entertaining!
Update of the seven-layer salad
I felt the classic seven-layer salad was in dire need of a refresh, so I set to work recreating a salad that could be prepared ahead of time, was visually appealing, tasted as good as it looks, and served a large crowd serves. I liked the idea of stacking the lettuce in a pile covered glass and also loosen up the dressing. I kept part of the old ingredient list and added a few new ingredients (along with suggestions for other substitutions).
The dressing needed a modern twist too, so I spiced it up a bit with olive oil, light mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice, and lots of ground pepper. I love the way the dressing turned out! Just sweet enough and not too heavy.
This salad goes well with many different combinations of vegetables and proteins. If you value visual appeal, stack the ingredients to create a bit of contrast. But also try to keep ingredients with more moisture (onions, pickles, chopped tomatoes) away from ingredients that get soggy easily (cheese, bacon, etc.). lettuce).
The lettuce layer ideas are endless! Here are a few:
Cauliflower, broccoli or carrots
Hard boiled eggs
Chicken, diced or shredded
Different types of cheese
Secret of success with seven-layer salad
- One of the most important steps in preparing this salad is washing and thoroughly drying the lettuce. Skipping this step will seriously affect the quality of the lettuce. That’s why I use romaine lettuce. Wash, spin, spin again. Wrap in paper towels and let rest in the fridge.
- The order of the layers is important.
- It is best to use uncut grape or cherry tomatoes. This will significantly reduce the moisture in the lettuce!
- Shredded cheese is a good choice. The desiccant prevents clumping and prevents the cheese from becoming soggy. Grating cheese yourself works too! For pre-shredded cheese, I love Tillamook’s Farmstyle Thick Cut cheese.
- When using cucumbers, I recommend English cucumbers. They have a lower water content and seem to retain their crunchiness better than traditional garden cucumbers.
- I like to use scallions, which also have less moisture than chopped red onions.
I think you’ll love this updated version of the classic seven-layer salad. I can’t wait for you to try it!
Recipe for a seven-layer salad
This classic salad just got an update! Layers of veggies, cheese, and bacon are prepared ahead of time and presented in a glass container to showcase the ingredients. Topped with a homemade, lightly sweetened dressing.
For the salad:
heads or about 16 cups chopped romaine lettuce*
cooked crispy and chopped (I like thick slices)
grape or cherry tomatoes
skin on, deseeded and diced, about 1 large English cucumber
fresh green beans
Blanched and cut into 2.5cm pieces
Bunch of spring onions
washed and chopped (green and white parts)
shredded cheese (cheddar, colby, swiss)
For the salad dressing:
light olive oil
plus a teaspoon of honey or sugar
fresh lemon or lime juice
freshly ground pepper
For the salad:
1st layer: wash lettuce, dry thoroughly or spin dry. Crush and place on the bottom of the bowl or container.
2nd layer: Grape tomatoes, place on well drained lettuce. Don’t chop the tomatoes.
3rd layer: seeded and chopped cucumbers, layer grape tomatoes on top.
4th layer: green beans, layer cucumbers on top.
5th layer: Layer the spring onions (not necessary, but I divided them into two layers) on top of the green beans.
6th layer: bacon, layer spring onions on top.
Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Can be prepared a day in advance. If making more than 6 hours ahead, top with bacon and cheese just before serving.
For the salad dressing:
In a blender, add mayonnaise, olive oil, honey or sugar, lime or lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well mixed. Store in the refrigerator while preparing and blend again just before serving.
- As stated in the recipe post, drying the lettuce thoroughly is extremely important! Do not use spring mix. This salad needs a firm green to hold up under the layers of veggies, cheese, and meat.
- I’ve also seen this salad in 1-2 9×13 or slightly larger pans.
- The original dressing was mayonnaise and sugar, some recipes also included grated Parmesan cheese which would be a great addition! Simply grate 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese into the dressing ingredients and toss to combine.
- It’s tempting to cut the grape tomatoes in half, but it will add moisture to your salad. Instead, stack them whole in the container. Look for smaller grape tomatoes!
- This salad will keep its shape for two days after assembly, but I recommend making it no more than 24 hours in advance. If possible, add the bacon and cheese layer last.
- The dressing can also be added to the salad or poured over it as an extra layer.
- This salad is enough for 12 to 15 people as a side dish or about 8 people as a main course. For a main course, add two halves of chicken breasts, grilled, cooled and chopped.