These healthy salad recipes make eating more greens a pleasurable experience.—
Salads are awesome: they come in a huge variety, are quick to make, and taste great if done the right way. They can be a light meal on their own, a complement for heavier dishes or a healthy solution to food cravings.
Before getting to the recipes, though, you need to understand the basics; what makes salads healthy and which salad to choose. In the next few sections, we hope to get you up to speed, and hence, help you make better choices.
How Are Salads Healthy, Exactly?
Healthy eating means getting sufficient nutrients (by eating from all food groups) and setting nutrient goals. Since they usually contain just fruit and veg, it would be unfair to let salads ‘own’ the ‘healthy’ label.
Still, many people’s diets lack these two important food groups. If you consider your diet to be of a similar nature, salads present an easy way to redress the balance.
Choosing Better Salads
Besides fruit and veg, salads can contain meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, even pretzels, too. A salad bowl abundant in ingredients contains more nutrients than one with just a few, and hence is a better choice.
It’s also important to choose a salad depending on what your meal is missing. For instance, a chicken salad could be seen as something extra for meaty barbecues, but it’s more of a need alongside a low-protein cauliflower pasta.
Finally, some salads can be high in calories, saturated fat, and sodium, levels of which you should regulate. Such will be easier if you go for recipes with sound nutritional profiles, which we’re introducing in this roundup.
How to Make a Salad
Believe it or not, you can easily make salads without following any recipes once you understand the basics.
1. What to Put in a Salad
A rule of thumb: use a variety of fixings.
First, build a veggie base with your favorite vegetables. Cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes are good choices for beginners; if you’re used to making salads, opt for arugula, kale, or spinach – those with a stronger aroma.
Here’s our tip: use seasonal produce. Zucchini or cucumber salads are perfect for the summer while squash or beetroots make a hearty bowl of fall salad.
Next, feel free to add proteins, fresh fruits, dried fruits, nuts, cheese, or even snacks to the base:
- Proteins: egg, canned tuna, poached chicken breast, bacon, ham, etc.
- Fruits: corn, shaved coconuts, apples, berries, avocados, sweet citrus, grapes, etc.
- Dried fruits: dried cranberries, raisins, etc.
- Nuts: shaved almonds, broken walnuts, pine nuts, etc. (all should be toasted.)
- Cheese: feta, burrata, jack, cheddar, parmesan, etc.
- Snacks: pretzels, crackers, chips, etc.
Some combinations work better than others, so we suggest you keep trying until you’re happy with your own creation.
Finally, your salad needs a matching dressing.
2. Dressing for Your Salad
There are many dressings to choose from, but as a beginner, it’s okay to stick to the basic, easy ones like vinaigrette, honey mustard, and mayo-based. You can retrieve their recipes here.
In our experience, the dressing should either complete the flavor profile of the chosen ingredients or be in tune with the salad’s theme. For example:
- Our spinach salad has sweet fruits for toppings and a tangy dressing.
- Our egg salad has creamy boiled eggs, crunchy cubes of veg, and a creamy mayo dressing.
Of course, there are exceptions and they are vast. To better grasp how salads work, we suggest you look through our collection of healthy salad recipes below.
A small reminder before you do: avoid overdressing your salad by adding the dressing bit by bit; taste and stop when you feel like there’s enough. An overdressed salad might taste good at first, but the next few mouthfuls will be too overwhelming to enjoy.
Chicken Salad Recipes
In this category you’ll find protein-rich salads made with cooked chicken breast. They make a great complement to meals that lack protein.
- Chicken Salad With Grapes: This one comprises chunks of tender chicken, crisp veggies, juicy grapes, and nutty almonds tossed in a mayo-based dressing. The natural sweetness of the grapes pairs perfectly with the tangy, creamy dressing.
- Southern Chicken Salad: Mixed with chicken and crisp celery are dried cranberry pieces, pecans and sweet pickle relish. It’s a creamy, flavorful salad-bomb.
- Chinese Chicken Salad: This one packs shredded carrots, chicken, and crispy deep-fried egg noodles to make for a refreshing and fun salad. The sauce is made of soy sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar; a true Chinese staple.
- Grilled Chicken Salad: If you have leftover grilled chicken, this recipe is the perfect way to use it up. Toss it in a honey-mustard dressing with some basic salad ingredients like avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, and lettuce, for a quick, delicious salad.
- Buffalo Chicken Salad: A fan of spicy salads? This one might be right up your alley. Slather cooked chicken with buffalo sauce and toss it with various crunchy veggies in a sour cream-mayo sauce.
- Avocado Chicken Salad: This hearty salad is a fusion of textures. Each bite contains creamy avocado, juicy tomato, soft kidney beans, crunchy sweet corn, and chicken cubes coated in a simple lime juice and olive oil dressing.
- Caesar Salad: The all-time classic with ingredients everyone loves: cooked chicken, semi-hard-boiled eggs, and crunchy croutons. Everything sits atop a bed of lettuce, topped with bacon and parmesan, and drizzled with a basic vinaigrette.
- Cobb Salad: Featuring blue cheese, our Cobb salad is one of the must-tries on the list. The sweet and tangy red wine vinegar dressing ties together all the layers of flavor that come from seared chicken breasts, boiled eggs, avocado, and crunchy veg.
Pasta Salad Recipes
Boil some rotini, tortellini, or whatever short pasta you have on hand until al-dente and you’re already halfway to a delicious salad. Easy, yet satisfying.
- Tortellini Salad: The fresh veggies and soft, creamy tortellini are complemented by the honey-mustard dressing with a touch of Italian seasoning. The tortellini are store-bought so this recipe is suitable for those busy evenings.
- Chicken Pasta Salad: This salad calls for arugula, cooked rotini, bell peppers, chicken, onions, and tomatoes, all tossed with a flavorful 10-ingredient dressing. It’s a good chance to use up leftover rotisserie chicken.
- Pesto Pasta Salad: This salad features seared shrimp, cooked rotini, tomatoes, olives and bell peppers, all coated in delicious pesto. The thick pesto is made by blitzing olive oil with basil, Italian aromatics and seasonings, lending this salad a robust, unique flavor.
- Macaroni Salad: Creamy, crunchy, and chewy, this macaroni salad is satisfying, yet still within our healthy eating standards. The mayo dressing with added cheddar, mustard, chopped dill, and finely chopped cornichons ties everything together nicely.
Veggie Salad Recipes
If your meal already has plenty of proteins and carbs, give it some balance with these veggie salads.
- Greek Salad: Our most frequently used salad with a basic choice of veg and a simple dressing. It features lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, radish, red onions, olives, and feta cheese coated in a 3-ingredient vinaigrette.
- Wedge Salad With Blue Cheese Dressing: Blue cheese has a unique flavor that’s even better when turned into a dressing to drizzle over this lettuce wedge salad. It’s finished with tomato cubes, shredded cheddar, and bacon crumbles, making it creamy and flavorful.
- Mustard Potato Salad: This salad has creamy potatoes and sweet baby carrots tossed with a mustard-mayo dressing, all sitting atop a bed of peppery watercress. We used whole-grain instead of smooth mustard for a greater variety of textures.
- Pea Salad: It’s an old-fashioned southern classic that features green peas, onions, cheddar, and bacon all mixed together with a luscious mayo dressing; a great way to use up your frozen peas.
- Broccoli Cauliflower Salad: There’s everything in one bite: crisp veg, chewy raisins, crunchy nuts, and savory cheese. The florets are blanched before being mixed with the other ingredients and the sweet, creamy mayo dressing.
- Avocado Salad: This one packs creamy avocado cubes complemented by juicy tomatoes, pungent onions, and a flavorful 11-ingredient dressing. It seems a lot but most of the ingredients can be found in the average pantry — a true must-try.
- Quinoa Salad: Fluffy, crunchy quinoa seeds are mixed with chunks of carrots, peas, blanched broccoli, and broken walnuts. The salad is coated in a vinaigrette and topped with sliced avocado as a creamy finish.
- Panzanella Salad: This Tuscan staple has jumbo crunchy croutons mixed with crunchy, juicy veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. All are tossed with a garlicky mustard vinaigrette.
- Loaded Potato Salad: This salad is seriously loaded with creaminess, from both the potatoes and the mayo dressing. It’s topped off with fresh herbs, shredded cheddar, and crumbled bacon.
- Red Cabbage Salad: This salad is made with just red cabbage, carrots, some toasted almonds, and a tangy mustard-mayo dressing. It’s easy yet mouth-watering.
- Mushroom Salad: This savory salad packs a punch with its intense flavors. It features peppery arugula, savory mushrooms, crumbled feta, toasted walnuts, and a simple lemon vinaigrette.
- Broccoli Salad: Fresh, chewy, and nutty, this salad has all the delicious textures a salad should have. Everything is coated in a simple Greek yogurt dressing, giving it a tantalizing finish.
- Chickpea Salad: Loaded with soft chickpeas, crunchy veggies and nutty almonds, this salad gives you a little bit of everything in each spoonful. The mustard dressing perfectly complements all the fixings, creating a delicious, fulfilling salad.
- Three Bean Salad:nA combination of green beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas along with crisp veg and a lemon-mustard dressing, this classic salad is one to keep in your back pocket. Garnish with some crumbled feta and fresh herbs to really bring out its flavors.
Protein-rich Salad Recipes
These salads are the perfect addition to meals that are low on proteins. Some of them can also make a handy lunch for the day after.
- Seafood Salad: This classic salad bar item is piled with boiled shrimp, calamari, blanched crab, and crunchy veggies, all tossed with a mayo-mustard dressing. It’s a tantalizing side that can be turned into a tasty sandwich or pasta for a fuss-free lunch.
- Shrimp Salad: This colorful salad harmonizes seared shrimp, chopped romaine, corn, avocado, and bell peppers for a fresh and delicious experience. The honey-mustard dressing is fused with chopped garlic, lemon zest, and parsley.
- Imitation Crab Salad: Each spoonful packs shredded imitation crab soaked in a tantalizing rich dill-mayo dressing. Corn, chopped celery, red onion, and radish are also mixed in there, adding a fresh and pungent element to the dish.
- Steak Salad: Steaks are great on their own, but did you know that they make amazing salads, too? Our steak salad comes together in minutes and combines medium sirloin strips with fresh vegetables, apples, and a mustard-vinaigrette dressing.
- Chef Salad: Usually a chef salad is served at buffets where you get to pick the ingredients, but in this case, we’ve made the selection for you. This recipe combines tomatoes, cucumbers, ham, boiled eggs, lettuce, cheese, and a rich dill-mayo dressing for a pleasurable experience every time.
- Egg Salad: This rich egg salad comprises chopped eggs dotted with celery, red onion, dill, green onion, and literally smothered in dressing. You can eat it with a fork, make little lettuce wraps, or spread it in a sandwich for lunch.
- Nicoise Salad: This salad combines fresh romaine, juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and crunchy green beans with savory tuna, creamy eggs, and potatoes for a flavorful experience. It’s dressed in a sweet, pungent vinaigrette.
- Lyonnaise Salad: Combining greens, mushrooms, bacon, poached eggs, croutons, and a simple egg yolk vinaigrette, it’s a great appetizer or light brunch.
- Burrata Salad: With a ball of burrata, you can turn ordinary ingredients like arugula, carrots, tomatoes, herbs, nuts, and croutons into a glorious salad. The dressing is a balsamic and honey vinaigrette, which should be drizzled right before serving to avoid soggy croutons.
Summer Salad Recipes
Some salads are specifically designed to enjoy during the summer heat, and this section features the best ones. They come in different flavors, but they’re all similarly thirst-quenching.
- Watermelon Arugula Salad: Juicy watermelon, crisp arugula, salty feta and toasted almond slices combined with a citrusy vinaigrette make this salad an addictive dish. It’s even better when served chilled.
- Spinach Salad: Baby spinach, strawberries, crisp apple, dried cranberries and walnuts come together for a sweet, refreshing summer salad. All are coated in a tangy dressing that balances out the sweet fruits.
- Thai Mango Salad: With Thai cuisine you can expect dishes with strong flavors, and this salad is no exception. The sour mangoes, seared shrimp, shredded carrots, and tomatoes are dressed in a surprisingly complementing, and typically Thai, peanut dressing. It’s one of the best Thai dishes.
- Zucchini Salad: This simple, yet refreshing salad is made by tossing shaved zucchini with feta, toasted cashews, mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. It is deliciously light in both presentation and flavor.
- Cucumber Salad: If you’re simply looking for some respite from the sweltering heat of summer, this fresh and creamy cucumber salad will do the trick. It’s a simple mix of slices of cucumber, onions, and bell peppers mixed with a dill-mayo dressing.
- Beet and Feta Cheese Salad: Pairing nicely with feta and walnuts, the earthy aroma of beetroots and peppery tones of arugula are balanced out with citrusy orange segments. Everything is coated in olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Corn Salad: With the colors of a summer evening, this chilled corn salad is filled with different flavors and textures. The tangy vinaigrette and crumbles of feta surely complement its sweet, crunchy, fresh ingredients.
- Kale Salad: Speaking of diverse flavors, this salad has them all: crisp apples, nuts, chewy dried berries, juicy citrus, feta, and fresh kale. They’re all tied nicely together with a mustard vinaigrette, and can be served in a variety of ways (see the recipe for details).
- Fruit Salad: Our list finishes with a fruity dessert of chilled kiwis, strawberries, mangoes, and cantaloupe. Cut into cubes and coated in honey and lemon juice, these fruity bites make for an ideal summer treat.
How to Keep Salad Fresh
Here’s our rule of thumb: store the veg and the dressing separately and make just enough for the serving. There are exceptions (like coleslaw or egg salad), but unless clearly indicated in the recipe, this rule still stands.
Moisture can make leafy greens wilt quicker than they’re supposed to, so make sure they’re dried before storing. You can spin-dry them or shake the water off, then roll them in kitchen towels like sushi rolls before storing — the towels will absorb any excess moisture.
Last but not least, make sure to store salads in air-tight containers. If you’re using Ziploc bags, remove as much air as possible.
Stick to these rules and your salad will keep for about 5-7 days. For an exact time frame, refer to the storage section in each article.
Remember, salads should not be kept in the freezer, since the juicy ingredients like fruits and vegetables don’t thaw well.
Luna ReginaWriter, Author
Tuyet PhamChef, Culinary Consultant
- Mary St
March 22, 2023 at 7:21 AMAll the recipes look delicious and it's great to have so many options. I'm definitely going to try a few this weekend!