Our seven layer salad recipe can make you a gorgeous piece (that’s edible!) to place on your dinner table.
Salads are amazing — they’re colorful, fresh, packed with nutrients, and add texture to your meal. They’re an ideal palate cleanser, making every bite a new experience.
Today, we’re introducing such a salad, but with more perks. It comes in colorful layers of crisp veggies, savory toppings, a luscious dressing, and above all, an extra fancy appearance.
What Is Seven Layer Salad?
Seven layer salad is a salad with ingredients laid on top of one another, typically including crisp veggies, bacon, cheese, and mayo dressing. As the name suggests, it often comes in a large cylindrical salad bowl so all of the seven layers are displayed.
Legend has it that the salad originates from the Southern US, originally created with just peas, eggs, bacon, and dressing. As the culinary world evolved, it took on the more appealing form we know and adore — colorful and refreshing.
Currently, the Southern staple has iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, sweet peas, onions, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, cheddar, and dressing. Our recipe makes just that, but with a slightly healthier twist.
Is Seven Layer Salad Healthy?
The typical seven-layer salad is often portrayed with heaps of dressing, cheese, and bacon, which overall looks appealing. However, these are all ingredients that pack saturated fat and sodium, which the USDA’s dietary guidelines recommend us to consume less of.
To give you a healthier version that’s still delicious, our test kitchen ran through different recipes. As a result, our version of seven layer salad recipe may not look gigantic, but offers the right amount of everything.
Specifically, these are what each serving includes, compared to what’s recommended in the guidelines:
Daily Allowance — USDA’s dietary guidelines
Side Dish Allowance — Our guidelines
Besides these nutrients, the salad also complies with the guidelines in the sense that it calls for a variety of food. This allows us to get plenty of nutrients from different sources, meeting the micronutrient requirements.
If you love colorful salads with complement flavors and all sorts of textures, check out our salad recipes:
Chef Salad Recipe: crisp veg and juicy tomatoes with savory ham and creamy eggs all tossed together in a luscious dressing.
Egg Salad Recipe: a super flavorful salad with a silky dressing that you can also sandwich between two bread slices to make lunch.
Caesar Salad Recipe: a classic with tender eggs, juicy chicken, crunchy breadcrumbs, and fresh veggies topped with parm and dressed with a simple vinaigrette.
Ingredients for Seven Layer Salad
Let’s take a look at the layers and what we need to do with them.
1. The Veggies: Lettuce, Tomatoes, Peas, and Onions
First and foremost, lettuce, giving the green base to the piece. We’re using iceberg for the crispness — all they need is to be separated from the stem and a good wash.
For tomatoes, our red layer, we prefer cherry tomatoes because they are more presentative. We sliced them in half, laid them onto the lettuce, took some and pressed them against the bowl to present that beautiful pattern.
Next comes red onions, giving the beautiful purple hue that the piece needs. Remove their outer skin, wash them thoroughly, and remember not to slice the root end or you may find yourself tearing up.
For the (frozen) peas, we took them out from the freezer and thawed them overnight in the fridge. If you love tender instead of firm peas, give them a quick blanch before adding them on top of the onions.
After they’re boiled, shock them in an ice bath, peel them, slice them, and lay them on top of the tomatoes. Remember to take some of the slices and stick them against the bowl for presentation.
While boiling the eggs, heat a non-stick skillet and add the bacon slices in. They’ll be crisp after about 4 minutes (2 each side), ready to be crumbled and sprinkled with the cheddar.
We did use grated cheddar as it’s convenient, and we wanted the easiest option for you. However, we do agree that cheddar tastes better when freshly grated, so opt for whatever floats your boat.
3. The Seven-Layer Salad Dressing
Our dressing might not come in dollops or heaps, but it comes with enough to satisfy the craving. It’s super rich, enough to coat everything, and doesn’t bring your saturated fat intake up too high.
Our secret for “the healthier dressing” is using equal amounts of mayo, Greek yogurt, and milk. It still keeps the unique, irreplaceable taste of mayo, but is much richer and packed with good fats.
Finally, we seasoned it with salt, pepper, and added a dash of lemon juice for a bright tang. It was super tangy, so we added sugar for a balance, and the end result is amazing.
How to Make a Seven Layer Salad
Here’s a recap of the whole process:
Get a large salad bowl, layer in the ingredients.
Mix the dressing in a small bowl.
Add dressing on top, and serve/chill.
Although the steps are simple, layering can be time consuming as you need to work more carefully. It’ll be quicker (and more fun!) if made with family or friends.
How to Store Seven Layer Salad
As you finish assembling your fine edible decoration, you might want to serve it immediately or chill it. We find it tastes better after sitting for at least half an hour in the fridge.
Although it often serves four or five people, you can serve it in individual bowls as well, to avoid having leftovers. Salads don’t often make good leftovers, as they get wilted and lose their original taste.
What you can do instead, is have all layers ready, but stored separately from the dressing. This is the best way to store your salad, and have it served fresh, juicy, crisp every time.
Easy, Healthy Salad Recipes You May Like:
Besides this easy seven layer salad, we also have several amazing others that we would like you to try. They’re easy to follow and strictly comply with our guidelines:
Lay a third of the lettuce on the bottom of the serving bowl. Grab the halved tomatoes, stick them against the bowl, and place the rest in the middle (fill empty spaces with lettuce).
Stick egg slices against the bowl, on top of the tomatoes, and use lettuce to fill empty spaces. Layer in sliced onions, peas (blanched or thawed), bacon crumbles, and grated cheddar cheese. It doesn’t matter how messy the core looks, so try to keep the layers looking beautiful on all sides.
Mix mayo, Greek yogurt, sugar, milk, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Lay the dressing on top to finish the piece.
Chill for at least 30 minutes or serve immediately. Mix the salad well before you eat it.
Seven Layer Salad
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 213Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 4g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Vitamin A 1400IU
Vitamin C 22mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Lizzie Streit is a Minneapolis-based dietitian and founder of It’s a Veg World After All. She completed her MS in Human Nutrition from Drexel University, and is an expert in culinary nutrition, recipe development, and nutrition communications. Lizzie’s philosophy is centered around making nutrition recommendations, and especially the advice to eat more vegetables, approachable and realistic. She is excited to be working with the team at Healthy Recipes 101 to ensure that their recipes are both nutritious and delicious.
Seven Layer Salad Recipe
The ingredients sound tasty, healthy, and colorfully vibrant! Plus the dressing is so simple--all you need is mayo and sugar. Delicious!