The Best Side Salad Recipe
Recipes, Salad Recipes, Savory Salads, 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!

Side Salad with bacon, cheese, tomatoes, romaine lettuce in a white bowl

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!

More Salad Recipes You’ll Love:

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 LettuceCut romaine lettuce leaves

Type of Lettuce for Salad Recipes:

It’s simple 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.

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 Santoku 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

The BEST side salad recipe

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:



Hard Boiled Eggs

Shredded Cheese



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

The Best Side Salad Recipe

The BEST Side Salad Recipe

Jessica Burgess
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!
3.97 from 440 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 5 servings
Calories 206 kcal


  • 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


  • Slice romaine leaves off of white stems, (discard white stems) and chop lettuce into small pieces and pour in large serving bowl.
  • Next layer on to the lettuce, the tomato, bacon, eggs, celery, carrots, and cheddar cheese.
  • Sprinkle on top the garlic powder and the dried basil.
  • Serve with choice of dressing. (Our favorite is to make the Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch dressing, with the seasoning packet, buttermilk, and mayo.)



Serving: 1salad (1/5 recipe; without dressing)Calories: 206kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 12gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 222mgPotassium: 1088mgFiber: 8gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 34125IUVitamin C: 17.1mgCalcium: 237mgIron: 4.8mg
Keyword delicious side salad, easy side salad recipe, salad with bacon, the best side salad recipe
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
The BEST Side Salad Recipe

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!

More Salad Recipes

If you’re looking to REALLY add to your recipe box, check out more of my side salad recipes here on the blog! Side salads, pasta salads, cornbread salads, dessert salads, and so much more!

Dessert Salad Recipes

If you’re looking for dessert salad for your barbecue or to simply enjoy during a busy week, you’ll love these:

Pasta Salads More Your Thing?

We love pasta salads around here, so we’ve compiled a list of our favorites and some of the top food bloggers pasta salad recipes so you’re armed and ready!

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!

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

75 thoughts on “The BEST Side Salad Recipe

  1. Julie Fletcher says:

    I have to serve a crowd right when we get back in town. If I keep the ingredients separate can I chop the lettuce two days ahead? What are your storage tips? Should I put a damp paper towel in the container to keep it crisp?

    1. Jessica says:

      Hi Julie! I’ve read that storing your DRY chopped lettuce in a bowl, topped with a paper towel so the moisture doesn’t get to the lettuce, and covered with plastic wrap helps! I’ll have to try this myself to see how it does! 🙂

      1. Wendy Hampton says:

        5 stars
        I washed my veggies, chopped them up, spun them in my salad spinner and put them into a glass bowl, topped with a paper towel and plastic wrap and it worked perfectly! In fact, it lasted a couple days which surprised me!

        1. Jessica says:

          Yay!!! This is fantastic to know. Thank you so much for taking the time to do so!

  2. Tina says:

    5 stars
    The chopped lettuce in a bowl with a paper towel works very well. It actually kind of crisps the lettuce some. This truly is the best side salad that i have made. My husband and i actually have this as a main meal. It’s because i always make so much.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Jessica says:

      YAY! I’m so so glad and thank you for mentioning the paper towel trick! 🙂 XO

  3. Connie Peck says:

    My Mother in law ALWAYS washed her lettuce immediately after purchasing and wrapped in a paper towel. Break the head up some. Place in the crisper of the refrigerator after wrapping in 4 or 5 paper towels. It’s so much crisper. I still do this. I will try this salad probably tonight. It’s sounds delish!!

    1. Jessica says:

      That’s a great tip! Thank you so much. Oh I hope you get to make this salad recipe… I think you’ll love it!

  4. Leigh Ann says:

    5 stars
    Genius! Funny how such a simple and common ingredient can send a recipe over the top!

    1. Jessica says:

      Aw, thank you! I know, right? So easy and SOOO good!

  5. Debbie says:

    I also hate getting large chunks when dining out. I started chopping my salads last year. And I know this sounds crazy, but I swear that just chopping the ingredients makes it taste so much better! My husband agrees! I can’t wait to try those two secret ingredients. Sounds so good!

    1. Jessica says:

      Totally agree!!! I can’t wait for you to try the 2 ingredients too! I think you’ll LOVE it! 🙂

    2. Mollybea says:

      I also hate getting all those big white chunks from the Romaine Lettuce. Give me more GREEN! 😊

  6. Sue says:

    5 stars
    I used to think my salads made at home were boring until I made this salad . Never thought of seasoning a salad . Now I always make my salads this way . Love it !

    1. Jessica says:

      Awww, I totally agree. That’s exactly how we felt before doing this to our salads Thank you for taking the time to leave the comment and review!

  7. Jackie says:

    5 stars
    This salad is my go to for family get togethers in the spring & summer months! I usually make more than her recipe only because i want everyone to get some!! The bowl is always empty when we go to clean up!!
    Side note she has tons of other great recipes that my family loves!!
    Thanks for sharing them!!

    1. Jessica says:

      Haha!! I can totally relate. Doubling (or tripling) is definitely recommended at our house too! Lol!

  8. Brandy Rhea says:

    5 stars
    This side saiad is so good! Great for any time of year!

    1. Jessica says:

      Thank you!!! You’re so right… it’s pairs well with steaks, pizza, chicken, fish, as a main dish… or just about anything!

  9. Sue says:

    Oh, yum! I have all the ingredients in my fridge. I’m going to make this tonight, but I’m adding cucumbers to it. I love cucs in salads!

    1. Jessica says:

      Mmm! Cucumbers in it is so good too! I hope you love it!

  10. Karen Hicks says:

    Have you tried using fresh basil and/or fresh garlic?

    1. Jessica says:

      Hi Karen! I haven’t, but I’d love to hear how it goes if you try it!

  11. Laura Randell says:

    the best ever

    1. Jessica says:

      I’m so glad that you liked it Laura!! Thank you for letting us know!

  12. May Allen says:

    Try using chopped fresh herbs – Delish.

    1. Jessica says:

      I will have to give that a try!

  13. Ingrid miller says:

    5 stars
    Hi loved the salad I also put chopped dry dates they’re like a kick of sweet candy everyone loves them even non date lovers thx ingrid

    1. Jessica says:

      Oh good! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it and the addition of dates sounds great!

  14. Diane Simmons says:

    5 stars
    I made this for dinner and it was a huge hit! It is really good and the spices add a lot of great flavor. I was requested to bring this for our family potluck. It is a keeper!

    1. Jessica says:

      This is great to hear! I’m so glad that you liked it! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review and for letting us know!!

  15. Jo Anne says:

    I have always been told that cutting lettuce with a steel knife would cause lettuce to turn brown faster. Try cutting with a serrated plastic knife instead.

    1. Jessica says:

      Hi Jo Anne! I’ve heard this too but have never had this problem thank goodness… because I’m picky when it comes to knives. 🙂 But using a plastic knife is definitely ok!

  16. Gayle says:

    I added black beans and can corn because I had it in my fridge. Great!

    1. Jessica says:

      Yum! That sounds like great additions! Thank you so much for sharing!

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