Italian Chopped Salad (CPK Copycat)

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Italian Chopped Salad is a copycat of the famous California Pizza Kitchen salad. This Italian Chopped Salad is loaded with ham, salami, chickpeas, tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, and lettuce. It’s tossed in an easy lemon, Dijon, and herb vinaigrette.

Overhead image of Italian Chopped Salad with wooden serving spoons in the bowl.

California Pizza Kitchen Copycat!

Several months ago I went to Vegas with some girlfriends. There is a California Pizza Kitchen® in the hotel where we stayed and we had lunch there a few times. For one of the lunches, I grabbed this salad and knew I had to create a copycat recipe. And, I’m pretty excited about this recipe, because I like it even better!

It’s chock full of delicious ingredients and the best part about making a chopped salad is you can leave out or swap in all kinds of ingredients. I’ve listed our preferences, which are heavy on chickpeas and tomatoes, but you can play around with the quantities you like best. This salad is very forgiving as long as overall proportions remain fairly consistent. 

Process shots-- images of the dressing being made and poured over the salad.

The dressing

The lemon, Dijon, and herb vinaigrette is very tangy with a hint of sweetness. It complements the veggies and meat in this Italian Chopped Salad perfectly. It’s also very quick to whip up; simply add all the ingredients to a covered container and shake vigorously to emulsify. A few dressing notes:

  • If you want less tanginess, I’d recommend reducing the Dijon mustard and/or adding a few additional teaspoons of sugar.
  • The better the olive oil used, the richer and more robust the dressing will taste. I recommend using extra virgin olive oil in this salad.
  • I recommend making the dressing in advance and storing it in the fridge so it can intensify in flavor and be cold when added to the salad.
  • If the dressing separates or forms clumps, don’t be alarmed. It’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, then shake it up to remix.
  • Add dressing slowly, since you may or may not want it all on the salad. We love dressing so we typically add most of it, but you may not want that much. Add to preference or set it out separate from the salad and allow guests to add their own.

Process shot with all the ingredients over a bed of lettuce.

 Salad Tips

  • Roll the romaine lettuce into thin cigars and thinly slice. Chop the thin slices to get thin and short ribbons of lettuce. This gives the lettuce more surface area for the dressing to coat and integrate better with all the other chopped ingredients.
  • Wash lettuce and make sure to dry thoroughly. There’s nothing that ruins a salad quicker than wet lettuce! Use a salad spinner if you have one or a few paper towels to ensure the lettuce is 100% dry before adding anything else.
  • The best thing about a chopped salad is getting all the flavors of the salad in one bite. To get everything in one bite, the ingredients do need to be chopped fairly small and evenly. Also, the dressing integrates even better and more evenly when the pieces are small. The more evenly everything is chopped, the better this salad tastes. 
  •  If you want to tame the flavor of raw red onion, soak the thinly sliced onions in ice-cold water (with a pinch of salt) for 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly before adding to this salad.

Overhead image of all the ingredients in a bowl fully dressed ready to be mixed together

Italian Chopped Salad Variations

  • The California Pizza Kitchen’s version of this salad uses chopped turkey, which can be used in place of the ham.
  • Swap out chickpeas for drained and rinsed white beans.
  • Add another type of cheese: Add in small cubes of Provolone or a finely grated Parmesan cheese in addition to the mozzarella pearls.
  • Instead of just using romaine lettuce, use a mix of two different lettuces like iceberg and romaine. 

Up-close overhead image of the Italian Chopped Salad, ready to be eaten.

Storing Italian Chopped Salad 

Once dressed, this Italian Chopped Salad doesn’t store well. The dressing makes the ingredients wet and soggy. I’d recommend only dressing what you will enjoy the same day. Store dressing and salad separately to enjoy later. 

Make ahead

The components for this salad can all be prepared ahead of time and then assembled at serving time. Store the dressing in a covered container in the fridge and shake for a minute before tossing it with the salad.

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Italian Chopped Salad (CPK Copycat)

4.79 from 19 votes
This Italian Chopped Salad is a copycat of the famous California Pizza Kitchen salad. It's loaded with ham, salami, chickpeas, tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, and lettuce. It is tossed in an easy lemon, Dijon, and herb vinaigrette.
Print Recipe

Italian Chopped Salad (CPK Copycat)

4.79 from 19 votes
This Italian Chopped Salad is a copycat of the famous California Pizza Kitchen salad. It's loaded with ham, salami, chickpeas, tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, and lettuce. It is tossed in an easy lemon, Dijon, and herb vinaigrette.
Course Salad
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Italian Chopped Salad
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 as a side
Calories 313kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $8.12



  • 1 large head (4 cups; 285g) romaine lettuce (See Note 1)
  • 1 can (15 ounces; 439g) chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans),drained and rinsed
  • 1 pint (2 cups; 300g) cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters (use heirloom tomatoes if available)
  • 1/2 cup (48g) red onion very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (4 ounces; 120g) chopped salami
  • 1/2 cup (80g) chopped ham
  • 1 cup (5oz, 140g) fresh mozzarella pearls, halved
  • 1/3 cup (40g) thinly sliced pepperoncini
  • 10-12 large fresh basil leaves


  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 clove garlic (1/2 teaspoon minced)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper


  • DRESSING: Place all of the dressing ingredients in a container with a lid. Season to taste with salt and pepper -- I add about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and shake briskly to combine. Place in the fridge and store there until ready to dress the salad.
  • LETTUCE: Wash and chop the lettuce. I like to cut the lettuce into ribbons (roll up the pieces into cigars and then thinly slice) and then halve the ribbons -- thinner salad pieces allow for more surface area for the dressing to adhere to. Use a salad spinner to ensure the lettuce is 100% dry before adding any other ingredients.
  • SALAD INGREDIENTS: Add in the drained and rinsed chickpeas, quartered cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, thinly sliced salami, chopped ham, halved mozzarella pearls, and thinly sliced pepperoncini. Chiffonade the basil pieces (see Note 2) and add those to the salad. Toss the salad and adjust add-ins to personal preference. (The amounts listed are general guidelines of how we like this chopped salad. But the best part of making this homemade is adding additional toppings to personal preference!)
  • ADD DRESSING: Remove the dressing from the fridge and shake again to recombine. Only add the dressing to the quantity of salad you will be enjoying immediately. Unfortunately, the salad doesn't sit well with dressing, so keep it separate until right ready to eat!
  • LEFTOVER DRESSING: You may not use all the dressing in this salad (dress to preference). Leftover dressing keeps up to a week in the fridge.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Lettuce: For crunch and variety, use two different types of lettuce -- romaine and iceberg. If you do mix and match use 1/2 head of iceberg and 1/2 head of romaine. (I typically just use romaine though)
Note 2: Chiffonade: Chiffonade is the technique of cutting thin ribbons, usually from lettuces or herbs. To chiffonade basil, gather the leaves together into a stack, and roll up like a cigar. Make thin slices through the rolled bundle, and unroll to see the delicate ribbons. For shorter chiffonade, cut each slice in half before unrolling the leaves.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 6as a side | Calories: 313kcal | Carbohydrates: 18.5g | Protein: 21.2g | Fat: 18.1g | Cholesterol: 35.1mg | Sodium: 376.5mg | Fiber: 5.6g | Sugar: 5g

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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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I made this tonight for my kids and I. They loved it and begged for this salad only for future salads.

  2. 5 stars
    Made this salad lastnight to go with stuffed shells and it was DELICIOUS. The dressing in particular is something I will use whenever I get the chance. Great recipe!

  3. 5 stars

    This looks delicious and plan on trying this weekend. For the pepperoncini,do you use pickled or fresh?

    Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    I loved this salad sooo much and so did our wine group that I made it for!! Making it again tonight.. But I love all your salads and so does everyone else I make them for.. yummy!!!!!

  5. 5 stars
    Your recipes look amazing! I’m making my grocery list now, as I plan on trying a few very soon. May I ask where you got your wood salad servers with the twisted handles? I love them.

    Thank you and wish me luck!

    1. Thank you so much! I hope you love this salad & good luck! 🙂 I’m sure this isn’t the answer you’re hoping for, but they were bought in Johannesburg Africa (my in-laws lived there for a bit) at the Joburg market. Wish I had a link to share for them

  6. 5 stars
    Used the salad recipe as a base but added cut up mortadella instead of ham. Gotta say, the dressing recipe is a keeper ( cut it down to 2 teaspoons though ). Be sure to let it chill in fridge for a bit!

  7. 5 stars
    wow – my husband and teenage boys are not salad fans but they sucked this down and asked if we could have it every week! plus it was super easy to modify for the vegetarian daughter and still give her plenty of protein. that dressing is the bomb. this is a new whole family staple – thank you!

  8. 5 stars
    Made for a family gathering last week and making again tonight. Delicious and will be in my regular rotation. Thanks for the great recipe!

  9. 5 stars
    This salad:dressing is phenomenal! Loved the Chiffonade technique too. It not only makes for a beautiful presentation but helps to get a little bit of everything on your fork!! 😊 Delicious, thank you!!

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