Italian Chopped Salad Recipe like at Portillo's and Giordanos
Main Dishes, Recipes, Salad Recipes, Savory Salads, Side Dishes

Italian Chopped Salad

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Italian Chopped Salad – Using romaine, ditalini pasta, chicken, bacon, blue cheese, honey mustard, & more, makes this one of our NEW favorite salad recipes!

Italian Chopped Salad Recipe like at Portillo's and Giordanos

Italian Chopped Salad

I don’t even know how to begin telling you about this salad.

Well, I’ll start here I guess…

Last month I went to Chicago for a home influencer conference, and before leaving town on the last day, I was STARVING and on the hunt for something good.

I decided to pop in to a popular pizza restaurant to order that delicious deep dish pizza that I had already fallen in love with, and I saw a salad on the menu that caught my eye.

So after making an indulgent decision of getting deep dish pizza AND this salad, I quickly found myself in salad (and pizza) heaven.

Salad with Pasta?

I know, it probably sounds crazy right? But it caught my eye on the menu and let me tell you… the added texture of the ditalini pasta in this lettuce salad, is insane. INSANE I tell you. So flipping good.

So since Chicago is too far away to simple go down the road to get this salad anytime that I wish, I decided I better try and recreate it at home. Friend, I got it pretty close… and it has now come a favorite in our house.

Salad Ingredients

Combine the romaine (and head lettuce if you wish) and ditalini with ingredients like:

  • bacon
  • chicken
  • green onions
  • roma tomatoes
  • chopped red cabbage
  • blue cheese crumbles
  • honey mustard dressing

…and this salad is going to fill you up on so many levels with the protein, flavor.

How to Make Italian Chopped Salad

If you’ve made my “BEST Side Salad” recipe, then you know how I feel about big hunks of lettuce leaves in my salad.

I don’t feel that anyone should have to slice and dice their salad just to take a bite. (Unless it’s a wedge salad of course, but we’ll save that deliciousness for another day.)

Romaine Lettuce Leaves

But what I do differently in this salad than my side salad recipe, is that I leave some of the stalks of the romaine for a bit more crunch.

3 heads of romaine lettuce to use for salad

However, I remove a lot of the white, bitter part of the stalk, and only keep the little bit towards the top of the leaves. (You can adjust this with how you prefer it too! Salads are super flexible, so change it up on how you prefer it!)

Cut romaine off of stalks - using a cutting board

Feel free to use some romaine AND some head lettuce to really up your salad texture game here.

Chopped romaine lettuce and/or iceberg

Salad Toppings

Besides the photo below looking super pretty with all of the colors of the salad ingredients, the flavors that these bring in to this Italian Chopped Salad are’

Make sure to chop up all of your ingredients into smaller pieces, so it becomes the “chopped salad” you’re aiming for.

Toppings for chopped salad - chicken, blue cheese, bacon, red cabbage, green onions, tomatoes

TIP: I like prepping and chopping my salad ingredients ahead of time, while the chicken, bacon and the pasta are cooking, to help speed things up.

Cooked Ditalani pasta on Italian chopped salad

Easy Italian Chopped Salad

I’ve liked salad since being a little girl, but now that I’m older and I’m the “head chef” here in my house, I STILL love salads because they’re so easy to make, versatile and forgiving.

Feel free to assemble how you wish because you will toss this all anyway, but I wanted you to get a good look at the ingredients as I added them in!

I believe food is love, and I believe photos can help tell the love story…

Ditalani pasta on top of lettuce in a salad bowl
Italian Chopped Salad - tomatoes on top
Italian Chopped Salad like from portillo's and Giordano's - red cabbage
Italian Chopped Salad - blue cheese, gorgonzola on top
Chopped green onions on top of Italian chopped salad
Chopped bacon on top of an iItalian chopped salad

Chopped Italian Chicken Salad

Now although you can leave the chicken out of this salad and use the ingredients as a side salad, rather than as a hearty main dish… I DO love the texture (and protein) that the chicken provides.

If you cut out the chicken, you can serve it as a side salad alongside a pasta dish like this Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta or this Spaghetti Bolognaise!

Feel free to use and cook chicken tenders like I did for this recipe, or even grab a rotisserie chicken from the deli of your grocery store to make things super quick and easy.

Chopped chicken on top of Italian Chopped Salad

What Kind of Salad Dressing for Italian Chopped Salad?

Well, when I think of an Italian salad of any kind, I think of using Italian dressing.

But when I had this salad in Chicago, it was made with what tasted like a honey mustard dressing, so I went with that, and I was NOT disappointed.

SIDE NOTE: I actually used the honey mustard dipping sauce you see below, instead of honey mustard dressing. Why? Because that’s what I had on hand.

But I’m actually liking the thicker texture it provided on this salad, so I’m not sure if I’ll ever use a different one.

Honey mustard dressing or dip - Sweet Baby Rays Bottle

Make-Ahead Salad

Planning on serving this salad at a party or later in the day? No problemo! I like making things ahead of time, and am especially a fan of make-ahead salads.

REMEMBER: Refrain from adding the dressing to the salad until right before serving, but feel free to go ahead and toss the ingredients beforehand and place it in the refrigerator until ready.
(However, I wouldn’t make this salad or blend the ingredients together until the day you’re planning on serving it, in case the toppings make the lettuce soggy.)

Mix together ingredients for Italian Chopped Salad
Individual Italian Chopped Salad in serving bowl

Tossing the Chopped Salad

If you have one of the large Pampered Chef mixing bowls, or similar, I LOVE using it for this salad.

It’s big enough to mix the salad and I can even slip the lid right on it if I need to store it for later.

Chopped Salad in a large bowl with lid to mix in dressing

Serving the Whole Salad

If you’re dressing the entire salad at once, rather than dressing individual salads, and depending on the size of your bowl with a lid, a fun tip I have is to pour your honey mustard dressing on top of you salad, put the lid on, and shake it!

Such an easy way to dress your salad! Grab some tongs and portion out the salad on to individual salad plates!

Italian Chopped Salad Recipe like from Portillo's or Giordanos
Italian Chopped Salad Recipe like at Portillo's and Giordanos

Italian Chopped Salad

Jessica Burgess
Italian Chopped Salad – Using romaine, ditalini pasta, chicken, bacon, blue cheese, honey mustard, & more, makes this one of our NEW favorite salad recipes!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 523 kcal


  • 5 chicken tenderloins
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1 cup cooked and cooled ditalini pasta (About 1/2 cup uncooked.)
  • 3 heads romaine lettuce
  • 1.5 cups chopped red cabbage raw
  • 5 green onions chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes chopped
  • 1 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • honey mustard dressing


  • Begin by dicing chicken tenderloins in to small, bite-size peices and saute and cook thouroughly in 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Set aside.
  • Cook bacon according to package directions. (I prefer a softer bacon texture, rather than crunchy for this particular salad.) Set aside.
  • Tear romaine leaves off of the stalks and wash and dry (air or salad spinner).
  • With a knife (my favorite knife) chop lettuce into bitesize peices. (I remove most of the white stalks and disgard, as this tends to add bitter flavors to the salad.)
  • Chop remaining veggies and bacon in to small, bite-size peices. 
  • In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and toss with honey mustard dressing, either individually or as a bulk salad! (Just remember, tossing all of your salad with the dressing will make any leftovers soggy!)


Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is just a rough estimate and variations can occur depending on the specific ingredients used. 


Serving: 1gCalories: 523kcalCarbohydrates: 51gProtein: 25gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 799mgPotassium: 1236mgFiber: 8gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 27980IUVitamin C: 30.4mgCalcium: 249mgIron: 4.1mg
Keyword chopped chicken salad, italian chopped salad, salad with pasta
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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4 thoughts on “Italian Chopped Salad

  1. Donna B says:

    5 stars
    Jessica, this salad is AMAZING! I made it to have with dinner and now I’ve had two bowls for lunch already and excited to have it again at dinner! This salad has a nice mix of flavors and textures. I think it will be a perfect salad to take to a potluck or anytime really! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    1. Jessica says:

      Woohoo!!! I’m SO glad that you like it as much as we do! We had it again along with chicken noodle soup last night since it uses the same pasta! It made it a breeze! 🙂 Thank you so much for letting me know. 🙂

  2. Sandi Gasper says:

    I had this salad for the first time at Giordanos yesterday. It was fabulous! Of course I had to search Pinterest for the recipe and YAY! I found you! So excited to try your version of this salad!

    1. Jessica says:

      Hi Sandi! That is so exciting and I’m so glad you found my recipe! I hope you love it as much as we do!

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