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Better than traditional seven layer salad, this easy side dish recipe is high protein since it is loaded with cheese, bacon and eggs. The creamy homemade dressing has an amazing flavor. It’s a layered salad perfect for picnics and potlucks.
If you’re looking for a fresh and flavorful salad that’s easy to prepare and will impress your guests, look no further than the classic 7 layer salad. This colorful and tasty dish is a perfect blend of crisp vegetables, creamy dressing, and savory toppings, all layered to create a visually stunning and deliciously satisfying salad.
Whether you’re hosting a party, picnic, potluck or just looking for a new lunch option, this timeless salad is sure to become a favorite in your recipe collection. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps for making a perfect 7 layer salad, and share some tips and tricks for customizing it to your taste.
This salad is popular during the springtime, and it’s the perfect way to use up some of those Easter hard boiled eggs.
What is 7 layer salad?
Seven Layer Salad is a traditional American dish that is served in a glass bowl so that you can see all of the beautiful, colorful layers. Although the traditional recipe has changed slightly over the years based on what a family likes, there is one thing that has always stayed the same:
People love it. it’s the PERFECT picnic side dish.
The first step to making seven layer salad is to mix up the dressing in a small bowl. Allowing the dressing to “rest” while you prepare the rest of the salad helps the flavors to blend together beautifully.
Our recipe calls for mayonnaise, a little sour cream, a touch of sugar for flavor and here’s our powerful secret….parmesan cheese. Guys….I could add parmesan cheese to every.single.thing I eat. I find it adds amazing flavor and richness to recipes. And this seven layer salad dressing is no different!
Use freshly shredded Parmesan cheese for the best flavor. Buy a block of Parmesan and use a cheese grater to grate it finely. It’s so much better than pre-shredded Parmesan.
You’ll find different ingredients in just about every seven layer salad recipe you look at. When we make our salad we think about 2 things.
The first is color. We want our salad to be pretty!
The second is protein. I like to sneak extra protein into any recipe I can. My kids are active and it’s hard to get enough protein in them at times.
One egg has 13 essential vitamins and minerals, plus no sugar and no carbs. Adding eggs to this salad is a GREAT way to add not only protein, but other important dietary needs to this salad.
Here are the salad ingredient layers:
Lettuce. Seven layer salad traditionally calls for iceberg lettuce. Many times we will layer iceberg lettuce with baby spinach. This adds to the pretty green color on the bottom layer of the bowl. Use spring lettuce mix or Romaine if you’d like!
Tomato. We use grape tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes) and slice them in half. We also like to use sliced Roma tomatoes because they are small. If you have garden fresh tomatoes, definitely use those.
Peas. Use frozen peas rather than canned peas. Frozen peas will have a better color and they are firmer than canned peas. Don’t worry about cooking the peas. Just let them thaw and add them to the salad.
Hard Boiled Eggs. Use leftover Easter eggs or whip out some hard boiled eggs quickly. We like to make eggs in the Instant Pot. We find they come out beautifully every time! If you generally have trouble with the shell sticking to the egg and not coming off cleanly, be sure you are using eggs that are about 7-10 days old. Fresh eggs are harder to peel. You can also place the hot eggs into a bowl of ice water to cool them quickly. Cooling causes the egg to contract slightly in the shell which then makes it easier to peel off. Allow them to sit in the ice water for 5 minutes then peel them.
Cheddar. As with the Parmesan, we recommend using freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese. We prefer the taste of sharp cheddar, but you can use a mild cheddar if you’d like.
Dressing. This is the perfect amount of dressing for us. If you are afraid it won’t be enough, you could make a little more and serve it on the side.
Bacon. Make sure the bacon is drained, cooled and crumbled before adding it to the salad. Here’s a secret hint: We often pick up a maple flavored bacon and it adds a slight sweetness to the salad that is just unbeatable! The bacon crumbles will melt in your mouth.
Seven Layers Total. Serve in a clear glass bowl or a trifle bowl for a pretty presentation.
Make this in a 9×13 glass dish instead of a large bowl. The dressing will be more evenly spread over the salad that way.
Love onion? Try adding red onions in the salad or green onions on top of the salad.
If you don’t like peas, try green bell pepper.
If you have leftover Easter ham, use that in a layer, preferably right above the eggs.
Other veggies to try: carrots, red bell peppers, celery or even black olives. Just make sure everything is chopped into bite size pieces.
Make Ahead Instructions
This is an ideal make-ahead salad. You place the “heartier” layers up towards the dressing and the lettuce sits at the bottom. The dressing will cover the top of the salad to “seal” in the freshness.
Make this salad one day before serving it for an overnight salad. Make sure the dressing covers the top and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.
How long does layered salad last?
As long as the layers are in tact, the salad will stay fresh for about 24 hours. But what about after you dig into the salad and the layers get a little mixed? At this point the lettuce may start to wilt the longer you keep it. We prefer to eat any leftovers the same day.
If add a little more lettuce the next day, you may find it is still ok to eat.
As you can see from the picture, this salad is beautiful when presented in a large glass bowl. The bowl we used was 4 quarts.
If you’d like, you can also make individual servings in wide mouth mason jars or in smaller single serving sized glass bowls.
Better than traditional 7 layer salad, this easy side dish recipe is high protein since it is loaded with cheese, bacon and eggs. The creamy homemade dressing has an amazing flavor. It's a layered salad perfect for picnics and potlucks.
1large head iceberg lettuce(rinsed, dried, and chopped)
1pintgrape tomatoes(cut in half)
2cupsfrozen green peas(thawed)
10ouncesshredded cheddar cheese(about 2 ½ cups)
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat until evenly brown and crisp. Allow the bacon to drain on paper towels. Crumble and set aside.
Prepare the dressing by whisking together the mayo, sour cream, sugar and Parmesan cheese. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to top the salad.
In a large 4 quart glass bowl, layer the chopped lettuce*, tomatoes, peas, eggs, cheese.
Drizzle the dressing over salad, covering as much of the top as possible.
Sprinkle the top with bacon.
Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve it.
*You can use whatever type of lettuce you’d like: romaine, iceberg, spring salad mix or spinach. Or use a mix of several types!The calories shown are based on the recipe serving 12 people, with 1 serving being 1/12 of the salad. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**
Great salad, I’ve used the receipe dressing or whatever is on hand. Try adding a layer of diced ham or chicken. Scallions and/or celery are a good option, try grated carrot as well.
I’ve made this same recipe several times now making this a family dinner favorite. I like to add cucumbers instead of the onions (not everyone in my family likes eating the raw onions). I also use LeSeur Very Young peas instead of the regular peas; I just refrigerate them before hand and they hold up quite well in the salad. I’ve also added cut-up chicken breast and ham on occasion.
I always enjoy this salad. It can be eaten along, with or without crackers, or with a good piece of Southern fried Chicken. My sister makes it with turkey and cauliflower. Thanks for the recipe.
I make this salad every year during the holidays.. I do it a little different to cut some of the calories .. I don’t use tomatoes or cheese, I use a layer of water chestnuts , and smoke beef beacon … In the salad dressing I use sour cream ,olive oil mayo mix in salad supreme season that’s just my twist on it , but each it’s own.. Thank u everyone for the different options I’m sure they all r good…
Where is the recipe for the dressing? I see the ingredients but not measurements. Thanks.
Need a substitute suggestion for the green peas..my family won’t eat them.
Made this last night to go with a chicken tamale casserole. They compliment each other very well. Everyone made pigs of ourselves eating this salad. The only thing I did differently was to add about 1/2 C of ranch dressing. I was worried The dressing would be too thick since the recipe said pour and not spread 😂😂.
Salad layers were good. Not so the dressing. I made it exactly according to the recipe and chilled it while I made the layers. When it came time to add the dressing, there was no question of pouring it—it was very thick and went on in blobs. Trying to eat it was unpleasant because while it had a good flavor, it was all concentrated in the cheddar layer, creating a cheese-on-cheese overload. I scraped off the dressing and mixed up a dressing that I use for broccoli/cauliflower salad: almost the same ingredients as your dressing in a slightly different ratio,… Read more »
Salad is a omplete meal in itself . Love added eggs, cheese, Chicken and all vegies. Yummy!
I love your baking too.
Thank you so much.
God bless you all.
That 7 layer salad looks sooo good. We will have to try it. Thanks for sharing your experiences and those of your family. We have 3 daughters who are all excited to try different recipes. Our son married a really terrific Japanese girl who has a sister who is of a similar nature to you. She’s kind and loves to cook and experiment. I’m an experimenter too. I like to examine the chemistry of cooking with different foods to get new flavors. Life can be so much fun. I just got a Breville bread machine and am experimenting making bread.… Read more »
Made and took to friends. It was a big hit and all was eaten! Great recipe. 😋
I need to start making this salad at least twice a month……………….I love it, and it’s great for me!!
My 7 layer salad consist of Lettuce, chicken, bacon bits, cheddar cheese, green onions, broccoli crowns and ranch dressing. We eat it as a main course.
I’m gonna make this on Thanksgiving! Thank you!! Its perfect!!!