Italian Salad

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Italian Salad is packed with fresh veggies, crunchy croutons, and an amazing herb dressing. This is the perfect salad to whip up alongside your favorite Italian dishes or to add some grilled meats and make it a meal! This salad is easy to customize with whatever you have on hand. If you don’t have fresh herbs, delicious Italian Dressing works great too.

If you’re looking for an Italian salad with pasta, try this popular Italian Pasta Salad recipe!

Italian Salad recipe in a bowl ready to be served.

Favorite Italian Salad

One of my mom’s favorite things to use is Kraft’s Italian dressing—she seriously loves it! Growing up, her go-to snack was a bowl of cottage cheese, avocado, tomato, and lots of that dressing.

She also added this dressing to lots of our dinners, like this pasta salad or Zesty Italian Pasta. If it wasn’t in the meal, it’s was on the table with a big salad complete with tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, onions, and an avocado. Sometimes, she’d throw in artichokes or a chopped pepper too.

While I still like store-bought Italian dressing, homemade is way better in my opinion. The first time I tried the herby dressing in this recipe by Jenn Segal, it blew my mind! It’s still one of the best dressings I’ve ever tasted. Now, I just can’t have Italian salad any other way!

Why I Love This Recipe

  • Easy to Make Your Own: You can add different veggies and proteins depending on what you love (or have on hand).
  • Delicious Dressing: It has a fresh, herby dressing that I’m seriously obsessed with.
  • Easy to Prepare: It’s quick to put together, and you can even prep some of it ahead of time.
  • Goes with Everything: It’s the perfect side dish to go alongside just about any meal.

All the ingredients in this recipe prepped out for easy assembly.

Ingredients In Italian Salad

  • Romaine lettuce: Ensure it’s crisp and fresh. Make sure to allow plenty of time for the lettuce to dry after washing it. Wet lettuce will make for a blah salad. A salad spinner works wonders here! 
  • English cucumbers: These cucumbers are less seedy and more crunchy, plus you don’t need to peel it first!
  • Red onion: Adds sharpness and flavor. Soak in cool water with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes if you want a more mild flavor.
  • Tomatoes: Use ripe, firm tomatoes. Cherry or grape tomatoes will also work great!
  • Black olives: Or use Kalamata olives! Don’t forget to pit ’em!
  • Avocado: Use ripe avocados for a nice added creaminess to the salad. Slice just before adding to the salad so they don’t brown. 
  • Croutons: If you’re feeling ambitious, nothing beats homemade croutons!

Dressing Ingredients

  • Fresh Herbs: Basil and parsley are key to the flavor of this dressing. Choose bright, fresh bunches without any wilted or bruised leaves. Grab flat-leaf rather than curly parsley as there’s a big difference in flavor.
  • Flavor Enhancers: A pinch of dried oregano, some minced garlic, and salt and pepper bring out more flavor. Adding a bit of honey balances the tang.
  • Red Wine Vinegar: Provides a tangy base and that classic Italian dressing flavor.
  • Olive Oil: Use extra virgin for the best possible flavor. High-quality oil makes a big difference!

QUICK TIP

Try the dressing as you make it. Add a little more sugar, vinegar, or salt if needed.

The Italian dressing being made for this Italian salad.

How To Make Italian Salad (Tips)

  1. Make Dressing Early: If you have the time, prep the dressing a few hours before. This helps the flavors mix together nicely.
  2. Dress at the Last Minute: Pour the dressing over the salad just before you eat to keep everything fresh and crisp.
  3. Keep Toppings Separate: Save toppings like croutons and cheese to add right before serving so they stay nice and crunchy.
  4. Add Some Protein: If you want more of a filling meal instead of a side, add some grilled chicken, shrimp, or grilled flank steak. Or for plant-based protein, top this salad with air fryer chickpeas.
  5. Chill Your Bowls: Put your salad bowls in the fridge before you start. This helps keep the salad cool and crisp.

All the ingredients being combined in a bowl and the dressing being poured over everything.

Variations

  • Try Different Greens: Use spinach, leaf lettuce, or mixed greens instead of romaine.
  • Add New Veggies: Toss in bell peppers, carrots, artichokes, or radishes for extra crunch.
  • Experiment with Cheese: Use feta, goat cheese, or shaved pecorino instead of Parmesan.
  • Add Nuts or Seeds: Sprinkle toasted nuts or seeds on top. Favorites include sunflower seeds, pepitas, roasted pistachios, and sliced almonds.
  • Change the Dressing: Try balsamic vinaigrette, Greek salad dressing, or my favorite lemon dressing to change things up.

The dressed and ready to eat Italian Salad in a bowl.

STORAGE

  • Make-ahead: Prepare dressing and salad components separately, refrigerate, and combine just before serving.
  • Storage: Store dressing and salad ingredients (excluding avocado, cheese, and croutons) separately in airtight containers in the fridge. Add perishables fresh when serving.

More Italian-Style Dishes

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Easy Italian Salad

4.96 from 21 votes
Delicious and flavorful Italian Salad with a perfect herb dressing and plenty of veggies is easy to customize.
Italian Salad recipe in a bowl ready to be served.
Print Recipe

Easy Italian Salad

Italian Salad recipe in a bowl ready to be served.
4.96 from 21 votes
Delicious and flavorful Italian Salad with a perfect herb dressing and plenty of veggies is easy to customize.
Course Salad
Cuisine Italian
Keyword italian salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Chelsea Lords
Calories 170kcal
Cost $5.60

Ingredients

For the Dressing

  • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, loosely packed
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 up to 3 teaspoons honey (add to taste preference)
  • 3/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

For the Salad

  • 1 large head Romaine lettuce washed, dried and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup English cucumbers, halved and quartered
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion OR coarsely chopped drained artichokes
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes halved
  • 1/3 cup pitted black olives halved
  • 1 large avocado, chopped or thinly sliced
  • Croutons store-bought or homemade
  • Optional: pepperoncini, parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • DRESSING: Combine all the "dressing" ingredients in a food processor or mini blender. Season; I add a heaping 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Blend. Taste and adjust to personal preference. Transfer to a mason jar and place in the fridge until ready to use. Shake before using.
  • ASSEMBLE: In a large bowl, combine chopped lettuce with veggies. Just before serving, add half of dressing, avocado, and Parmesan cheese, tossing well. Adjust dressing as needed to coat lettuce generously. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with croutons and additional Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
  • SERVING: Add avocado, dressing, cheese, and croutons only to the portion of salad that will be finished immediately. This salad doesn't hold well with dressing; leftover salad may result in soggy croutons and browning avocado.

Video

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 170kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 100mg | Potassium: 175mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 762IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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4.96 from 21 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




29 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve eaten three batches of this salad using my original dressing. I swear I could eat it every day! Making for a party next week too. Best dressing ever!

  2. 5 stars
    LOVE this dressing!! It makes the salad next level! Even my “ranch dressing only” daughter liked the dressing!! Thanks.

  3. 5 stars
    This is my go to salad! I get compliments on it every time I serve it to someone new. The dressing is so easy and amazing. I love this salad!

  4. Loved this salad—- but the dressing didn’t keep well for me. Once refrigerated it turned really thick, almost paste like in the jar. Idk what I did wrong

    1. You didn’t do anything wrong! That’s just the olive oil solidifying, which it does at cold temps. Take the vinaigrette out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes or so before you need it to bring it back up to temperature; then shake it up to remix.

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