This classic seven layer salad recipe is a show-stopping side dish to serve at your next party.
Made with layers of bacon, hard-boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, peas, onions, and cheese on crisp lettuce with a creamy dressing, this salad recipe has been a favorite of mine since a co-worker used to bring it to our annual holiday party.
Once you find out how easy this 7 layer salad is to make, you’ll start bringing it to potlucks and serving it at brunches.
How to make a seven layer salad
This side dish is all about the layers!
1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients together until they’re well combined. Then set the dressing aside.
2. In a large glass trifle bowl, add the lettuce layer. The amount of lettuce is determined by the size of the bowl you’re using.
You may need to adjust things depending on the size of the bowl, too.
3. Slice and layer the eggs along the sides of the trifle dish or glass bowl for a pretty effect.
4. Continue adding the layers of bacon, grape or cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion, peas, cheddar cheese, and green onions.
5. Next spread the dressing over the top layer.
6. Then sprinkle with additional shredded cheese and peas. Cover the salad with plastic wrap.
7. Place the layer salad recipe for 4 to 6 hours or overnight in the fridge before serving.
8. Before serving, you can add more bacon and onions if you like.
9. Store leftovers in the covered bowl in the fridge.
The best ways to make hard boiled eggs
If you have an Instant Pot, use my method for Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Hard Boiled Eggs.
It’s a terrific way for making big batches of eggs that come out perfectly each time!
Or use this foolproof way to make them on the stovetop:
1. Put 8 or 9 eggs in a medium-sized pot and cover with cold water.
2. Place pot on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil.
3. Turn off heat. Keep the pan on the stovetop and cover.
If your stovetop doesn't retain heat when turned off, then lower the temp to low, simmer for a minute, and then turn it off.
4. Let eggs cook in the hot water for 12 minutes.
5. Bring the pot over to the sink, uncover, and rinse eggs under cold water until they are cool enough to handle.
6. Peel then eggs when they're still warm to the touch. They'll peel easier than when they're cold.
7. Rinse any shell pieces or membranes off of eggs, cut in half with a sharp knife, remove yolks, and prepare eggs as directed.
If you have unused eggs, save them for a quick egg salad sandwich or store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
How long does this salad last?
The layered vegetable side salad will stay fresh for about a day after assembly.
However, once you start serving it and the dressing starts to mix in with the layers, the lettuce will start to wilt. So any leftovers should be eaten the next day.
If you're a “waste not want not” kind of person, you can put any wilted salad into wraps along with some deli slices for a tasty sandwich.
How to prevent the layered salad from getting soggy
After washing the lettuce, make sure to give it a good whirl in a salad spinner so it’s as dry as possible.
Lastly, when serving the salad it's not necessary to toss the dressing with the lettuce and veggies. Everything comes together nicely when scooped out with a large serving spoon.
What kind of lettuce?
You can use any kind of lettuce you like.
However, I prefer chopped romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce since both stay crunchy even when doused for hours in dressing.
More tips for making 7 layered salad
Eggs: If you’re concerned about having perfectly cooked eggs, buy them at the store since they're already cooked and peeled.
Yes, they’re a little more pricey than cooking your own eggs, but it’s a big time saver.
Lettuce: Buy a big bag of precut romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce to save time when preparing the salad.
Making a healthy salad recipe
It’s all about making a healthier homemade dressing.
Mayonnaise: Use a lite mayonnaise instead of full-fat mayo.
Sour cream: Use a no-fat Greek yogurt instead.
Cheese: Use low-fat cheese or use half as much.
Bacon: I know, I know, this is a tough one. But you can try some turkey bacon or use half as much regular bacon. I won’t tell if you don’t!
Or you can substitute a healthier alternative, like some chopped rotisserie chicken. Or mix in a little bacon to the chicken as a compromise.
What if I don't have a trifle bowl?
Plus having a lid with your bowl means you can bring the salad to a potluck or friend’s party.
If you don’t have a trifle dish, assemble the salad in a regular glass or acrylic salad bowl instead.
Or you can make individual servings in wide mouth mason jars (easy to transport since they have lids!) or in smaller single-serving sized glass bowls.
How to mix your seven layer salad for serving
Please don't! Just use a spoon with a long handle and dig deep to get a bit of each layer in one scoop so you have a little bit of everything.
Since the dressing is on the top, you'll have plenty to mix with your layers for a terrific taste.
Can this 7 layer salad be made in advance?
You should assemble this salad at least 4 to 6 hours in advance.
This allows the flavors in the dressing to come together and everything to get nicely chilled
Can I make this salad dairy free?
You can make a dairy free salad but there quite a few substitutions that may affect the taste. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s worth it.
Mayonnaise: Mayo is dairy and lactose-free, so you should be OK here. But as always, check the labels as there are now Greek yogurt mayos on the market.
Sour cream: Use a vegan variety. I’ve tried a few and they’re usually pretty tasty.
Cheese: Try a shredded vegan shredded cheddar cheese. Again, I’ve sampled a few in the past and they’re not bad.
Vegan? If you want to make this layered salad vegan, use a vegan “bacon” and no eggs.
Can I add other vegetables and meats?
You betcha, though you may need to call it 8, 9 or 10 layer salad – or get a bigger salad bowl!
Add fresh veggies and rough chopped:
- black olives
- green olives
- sweet bell pepper (all colors)
- baby spinach
- cooked or pickled beets (red, golden, or orange – all are delicious and gorgeous!)
Instead of bacon, add chopped meats like:
- deli ham or turkey
- bits of Instant Pot Pulled Pork
- leftover Instant Pot Turkey Breast
- rotisserie chicken from the store
- leftover Instant Pot Whole Chicken
- leftover Crockpot Whole Chicken
- 8 cups lettuce, chopped (the amount of lettuce is determined by the size of the bowl)
- 4 eggs, hard-boiled and sliced
- 8 strips cooked bacon, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 2 cups mild or sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 4 green onions, tops sliced thinly, for garnish, optional
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a medium bowl whisk all dressing ingredients until well combined, set aside.
- In a large glass container with straight sides, add lettuce.
- Slice and add eggs, layering them along the sides.
- Continue with additional ingredients, adding in layers.
- Spread the dressing over the top layer.
- Sprinkle with additional shredded cheese and peas and cover with plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for 4-6 hours or overnight before serving.
- Before serving, add more bacon and green onions, if desired.
- Store leftovers in the covered bowl in the refrigerator.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 308Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 117mgSodium: 446mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 2gSugar: 7gProtein: 13g
Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.