The Best Side Salad Recipe
Food + Drink, Side Dishes

The BEST Side Salad Recipe

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The BEST Side Salad Recipe: A requested side dish at family gatherings. It’s not your ordinary run of the mill side salad.  There’s a SECRET, and it tops all salad recipes we’ve tried!

BEST Side Salad Recipe

The BEST Side Salad Recipe

I have to thank my mother-in-law for teaching me how to make the BEST of the best when it comes to side salad recipes.  The woman has some serious salad skillzzzz, and I couldn’t wait to share her secret with you.  Don’t worry, I asked for her permission!

For this side salad, there are two ingredients to her side salad recipe that will forever change the way you make yours. I promise. (Ok, well maybe I don’t promise because not everyone likes what I like… but I have a feeling 90% of you will feel the way I do.) I bet you even have these two ingredients in your cupboards.

Now, if you’d prefer a PASTA SALAD RECIPE, then you’re going to have to see this insanely easy, gorgeous cold pasta salad that we made a while back! It’s so dreamy!

BEST Side Salad Recipe

 What Makes This One of the BEST Salad Recipes?

So there are a few secrets to the best side salad recipe that has literally left people saying,

I don’t know what it is, but it’s SO good! Why is it so good!?

Well my friends, it’s a couple of things.

1. The Lettuce

The Best Side Salad Recipe

Type of Lettuce for Salad Recipes:

It’s simple leaf romaine, BUT… the key is chopping the lettuce into small pieces.

Have you ever had a chopped salad at a restaurant, and realized how much easier it is to eat, than a regular salad? I cannot STAND it when I have to practically murder my salad with a steak knife, just to eat it.

For the love of eating… can a restaurant PLEASE take an extra step in cutting the lettuce smaller so I don’t look like a total fool when trying to shove a giant piece of iceberg into my mouth.

No one likes to watch a poor soul struggle with opening their mouth for a dental check-up, just to take a bite.

Cut it with a fork and knife you say?  Sure, that’s fine when I’m on date night with my hubby.  But when I’m trying to cut up chicken nuggets, put ketchup on french fries, and tending to my kid’s needs at dinner while out… the last thing that I want to do is have to cut up my salad when I’m the last one left to eat anyway.

Sorry, rant over.  I think I went over all of this in my Facebook Live one day too. Apparently, I really need to work on frustration with this.

(P.S. In the video I talked about using leaf lettuce.  I’ve since learned that leaf has more of a bitter taste than romaine. My mother-in-law filled me in on that secret just days after filming! I wonder what else she’s hiding… that little turkey.)

The Best Side Salad Recipe

The Cut:

I love to take it an extra step further and remove the white-stalk from each lettuce leaf.  At times the stalk can have a bitter taste, and if I can remove that from the flavor of the salad, I’m going to.

To chop, I’m OBSESSED with my favorite Wusthof Santuko knife.  Not just for salad, but for everything when chopping or cutting.  Pricier? Yes. But soooo worth it. My uncle convinced me to get one, one day, and he’s now my favorite uncle.

Side Note:

Chop all of your toppings, into small bite sizes too.  Again, doing the work in the kitchen, rather than your dinner plate… is the key to enjoying the salad a bit more.

2. The Herbs That Make it the BEST Salad

BEST Side Salad Recipe: Salad recipes

So what are they?

Basil & Garlic Powder.

Dead serious. Isn’t that EASY?

This combination on a salad is dynamite.  I’m talking dried basil and garlic powder that you probably already have in your pantry. Sprinkle on your desired taste preference, and toss.

By FAR one of my favorite touches to this side salad. It’s easy, and it makes HUGE difference for your salad…. making it the BEST salad recipes of all time. At least in our house! 🙂

Making it even easier…

We have this salad at least a couple of times a week at home.  It gets in our veggies, and it takes a lot of guesswork out of what we are going to have alongside our main dish because it goes with almost everything!

I’ve never been a huge fan of making a large salad in bulk because I’ve been told that cut lettuce won’t “keep” as long in the refrigerator.

But I AM a fan of pre-chopping the ingredients and putting them in containers ahead of time, so my side dishes get easier and easier throughout the week.

Toppings for a Side Salad

Keep in mind that I mix and match toppings all of the time, but I try to stick to my favorites:

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Boiled Egg
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Bacon
  • Tomato

Other toppings to consider: red onion, sunflower seeds, and croutons!

The Best Side Salad Recipe
3.69 from 145 votes

The BEST Side Salad Recipe

The BEST Side Salad Recipe: A requested side dish at family gatherings. It’s not your ordinary run of the mill side salad. There’s a SECRET, and it tops all salad recipes we’ve tried!

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword delicious side salad, easy side salad recipe, salad with bacon
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 5 servings
Calories 206 kcal
Author Jessica


  • 3 heads romaine lettuce
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 roma tomato chopped
  • 3-4 Slices cooked bacon chopped
  • 2 boiled eggs chopped
  • 1/4 cup celery chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrots chopped


  1. Slice romaine leaves off of white stems, (discard white stems) and chop lettuce into small pieces and pour in large serving bowl.
  2. Next layer on to the lettuce, the tomato, bacon, eggs, celery, carrots, and cheddar cheese.
  3. Sprinkle on top the garlic powder and the dried basil.
  4. Serve with choice of dressing. (Our favorite is to make the Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch dressing, with the seasoning packet, buttermilk, and mayo.)
Nutrition Facts
The BEST Side Salad Recipe
Amount Per Serving (1 salad (1/5 recipe; without dressing))
Calories 206 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 18%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 95mg 32%
Sodium 222mg 9%
Potassium 1088mg 31%
Total Carbohydrates 15g 5%
Dietary Fiber 8g 32%
Sugars 5g
Protein 12g 24%
Vitamin A 682.5%
Vitamin C 20.7%
Calcium 23.7%
Iron 26.7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

BEST Side Salad Recipe - Tops all Salad Recipes, we've made!

I hope you enjoy this side salad recipe! Of course, top it with the dressing of your choice, but we are HUGE fans of making the Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Dressing, with the seasoning packet with mayo and buttermilk!

If you’re looking to REALLY add to your recipe box, check out my Summer Side Salad Recipe, that DOESN’T have to be only eaten in the Summer.  It’s one of our faves too:

Summer Side Salad

Looking for More Healthy Side Dish Recipes?

I’ve compiled all of our healthy side dishes on the blog HERE! That way you can take a gander at what you’d like to serve along with dinner this week!

Slightly Homemade Recipes

Thank you so much for coming by! I hope your Pinterest boards just loaded up with tons of side dish inspiration!

Pin the image below to remember this salad recipe!

Mmm! Just those two simple things can make a huge difference! The BEST Side Salad Recipe.

29 thoughts on “The BEST Side Salad Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy here.

  1. Yum!! This sounds so yummy! I will have to try some of your ideas. 🙂

    1. Jessica says:

      You totally should! I promise you can’t really go wrong! XOXO!

      1. Mary Viadero says:

        Jessica how many people is this salad recipe supposed to serve please ?? I’d like to buy the ingredients but don’t want to go crazy with ingredients I’m making for two adults and three teenagers

        1. Jessica says:

          Hi Mary! I’ve found that it works great to serve 5 or so, as a side dish! I hope that helps! 🙂

  2. Aras Androck says:

    What a yummy recipe. I simply must try it.

    1. Jessica says:

      Thank you! I hope you get to try it! Thanks so much for stopping by!

    2. Jessica says:

      I hope you do! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Sylvia says:

    I love everything about your salad! Because those are what I do! I don’t like romaine because of the rib. I do like romaine without the rib in a salad. I use fresh crispy iceberg lettuce because I don’t like taking out the rib, too much time for me, but great idea and yummy just the same! We don’t use celery because I don’t like it, just never been a fan. But one thing for sure, I don’t like having to fix my salad when we eat out! And seasonings make the taste!

    1. Jessica says:

      Yaaay! So true, so true! The rib makes me (blah!) Lol! I was an iceberg girl too for sure, until I tried this. You’re right, it takes some time to cut it out! I went with “leaf lettuce,”for a while, but it never had the taste that my mother-in-law’s did. (It was too bitter.) So now I’ll try to make a lot at a time to eat on it for days! 🙂 Thanks so much for coming by and dropping a note!

  4. Jo Tell says:

    Ya know, from someone who used to call a salad “rabbit food” you sure do have a way of making them really look scrumptious. Thanks for revving up my taste-buds interest!

    1. Jessica says:

      Awww yay!!! You’re so welcome! Thank you so much for coming by, and leaving such a sweet comment!

  5. Kathy L Jones says:

    This looks delicious! I am using cut pieces of chicken breast instead of the bacon because my son can’t eat pork. I am also going to add cabbage because it is sweet. Thank you for this recipe.

    1. Jessica says:

      Thank you Kathy!! Using chicken is a great idea! I may have to try that myself! 🙂 Thank you for coming by! XO

  6. fannie s mitchell says:

    That salad looks out of this world, Yum Yum can’t wait to taste it and serve it to my friends and family. I would love to receive your recipes by E-mail. They all looks so good . Thanks again for your wonderful recipes I love them.
    Deliciousos !!!

    1. Jessica says:

      Aw, thank you so much Fannie! If you’d like to receive emails you can enter your email address here! 🙂 Thank you!

  7. Noreen says:

    Thanks for this recipe. Was looking for a way to “jazz up” the usual tossed salad for the holidays. Have added the ingredients to my grocery list. Sounds great

    1. Jessica says:

      Oh good!! I’m taking this salad to our Thanksgiving this year too! I hope you enjoy! 🙂 XO

  8. Kelly Moore says:

    This is wonderful! Also, if you want to turn this into a main meal, add some grilled bbq chicken and add some bbq sauce to your homemade hiddenvalley buttermilk ranch dressing. *Amazing*. I would maybe substitute the boiled egg with grilled corn for that recipe though. You could even add black beans… avocado… SO good!!

    1. Jessica says:

      I LOVE all of these ideas Kelly! Thank you so much!!!

  9. Leslie Mitchell says:

    Going to try iy

  10. Temple Berry says:

    I will be making this salad, for sure. Please send me more recipes!

  11. Terri says:

    Looks delicious. Going to try!

  12. Terry says:

    Sounds good!

  13. Brittani says:

    Made this last night and it was AMAZING. I added some Texas toast croutons and both my bf and I loved it! Will definitely be using this as my go to salad from now on.

    1. Jessica says:

      Yay!!!! Thank you so much Brittani! I’m thrilled to hear that you loved it. Mmmmmm, the Texas toast croutons sound amazing on it! Thank you for sharing. XOXO

  14. Sherry says:

    This salad looks beautiful and has all the ingredients I love. I want to serve it to my dearest friends at a luncheon this week. Do you serve it individually or in a large bowl? If you serve it in a large bowl, do you toss it? I agree about cutting the large center rib out. I also do this. Much nicer.

    1. Jessica says:

      You can serve it either way. I actually like to serve it in a large bowl when serving to a large crowd, and I would say it would be best to toss it, just so everyone can make sure to get a little bit of the herbs and toppings… just so the flavor will pack a punch for everyone and not just the first few of those who grab some salad. 🙂
      I hope you enjoy it and thank you so much for sharing!!

  15. Kathy says:

    Hi. This looks perfect for Thanksgiving. Do you purchase romaine in a bunch or in the bag? Can I make this in the morning for a 5pm dinner? Thanks!

    1. Jessica says:

      I grab the bunch of romaine. It’s MUCH easier to cut off of the stems than using the pre-cut in a bag. Yep! I’d go ahead and make it in the morning. You may just want to keep some of the ingredients separate until close to serving, just in case you’re using something that can get soggy, and then don’t dress it yet either! But other than that, making it ahead of time should be just fine! 🙂

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