Portillo’s Chopped Salad

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Portillo’s Chopped Salad is loaded with lettuce, cabbage, tender pasta, veggies, and lots of bacon. A delicious, creamy balsamic dressing coats this salad and gorgonzola cheese gives it the perfect finishing touch!

Overhead image of portillo's chopped salad with serving spoons.

Portillo’s Chopped Salad

With locations all over the U.S. (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin Florida, Arizona, and California), Portillo’s is a popular place to eat! Their chopped salad in particular seems to have taken the internet by storm — probably because it’s been their most popular salad on the menu since 1990. I’ve seen it for years and finally gave it a try.

This salad is the perfect sweet and savory combination of flavors and there is so. much. texture.! This salad has quickly become a family favorite and a great addition to any potluck or BBQ. The original salad is a bit different than my “copycat” ended up, but we like this version even better. The major difference is in the dressing. The original Portillo’s Chopped Salad has a sweet Italian vinaigrette, while my recipe uses my favorite creamy balsamic dressing. It’s my current favorite dressing and I’ve been dying to try it in a pasta salad.

Process shots--images of lettuce and cabbage being prepped; dressing being made; pasta being cooked and drained; all the toppings being added; and dressing being poured over it all.

Creamy Balsamic Dressing notes

  • Use a flavorful Greek yogurt; the flavor really matters in this dressing.  Yogurt lends an incredible creaminess and great dressing flavor. Our absolute favorite yogurt to use in this dressing is Greek Gods® Honey Vanilla Yogurt. (Not sponsored, just a fan). Whatever brand you get, aim for a vanilla-flavored yogurt, not just plain. Grab a yogurt you enjoy eating by itself (then you know you’ll love it in this dressing).
  • Maple syrup adds needed sweetness. This sweetener contributes a much-needed sweetness to counteract the acidity and tartness of the other dressing ingredients. While there is a good amount of maple syrup in the dressing, I’ve found it’s the perfect complement to the savory notes of the dressing and my version of Portillo’s Chopped Salad as a whole. Make sure to use pure maple syrup, not pancake syrup.
  • Leftover dressing. The dressing recipe makes a good amount of dressing. Depending on how dressed you like your salads, you may use it all or you could have some leftover. Leftover dressing will stay good, stored in an airtight container in the fridge, for 5-7 days. Use it to top other salads or raw veggies.

Portillo’s Chopped Salad ingredient notes

  • Ditalini pasta: This pasta is a small tube-shaped pasta. It’s especially great in this salad because it incorporates so nicely. If you can’t find ditalini, use a different small pasta shape such as orzo, orecchiette, mini pasta shells, or a small elbow macaroni.
  • Salt the pasta water: Since this salad is eaten cold, the pasta can taste bland if not well seasoned. Salting the pasta water is the only chance you have to season the actual pasta. I also like to toss the ditalini with a few tablespoons of the dressing to further infuse it with flavor.
  • Gorgonzola cheese: Gorgonzola is a great complement to the lettuce and bacon, but if you aren’t a fan of blue-veined cheese, feel free to leave it out or swap it for another type of cheese. I give a range for how much to add; simply add to desired personal preference. We typically prefer less cheese since it does have such a strong flavor.
  • Bacon. Again, I give a range for how much to add, depending on personal preference. If you’re in a hurry,pre-cooked bacon can be a lifesaver!
  • Lettuce. The original Portillo’s salad combines iceberg, romaine, and red cabbage, but feel free to customize the lettuce in this salad. You can use just one, a combo of two, or all three — whichever is easiest and most convenient for you. It is nice to have the different varieties of lettuce to change up the texture throughout the salad.
  • Chicken. Omit the chicken if you want to serve this chopped salad as a side dish. For a main course, I like to add chicken in for extra protein and to make the salad more filling. Any leftover chicken works here — either leftover grilled chicken (from this grilled chicken marinade) or a rotisserie chicken (what I typically use for this salad). 

Up-close overhead image of portillo's chopped salad.

Salad storage

  • Portillo’s Chopped Salad doesn’t sit or store well once dressed. The dressing wilts the lettuce and the bacon becomes soggy.
  • The salad can be made in advance as long as the salad, bacon, cheese, and dressing are stored separately. Combine them all right before eating and dress only what will be eaten immediately.
  • If you do make the dressing for Portillo’s Chopped Salad in advance, don’t be alarmed if it clumps and separates in the fridge (the clumps are the fats (oil) separating and solidifying). To fix this, simply shake the dressing together again until smooth (If it’s still clumpy, let it stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes and then shake again).

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Portillo's Chopped Salad

5 from 12 votes
Portillo's Chopped Salad is loaded with lettuce, cabbage, tender pasta, and plenty of veggies. A delicious, creamy balsamic dressing coats this salad and Gorgonzola cheese gives it the perfect finishing touch!
Print Recipe

Portillo's Chopped Salad

5 from 12 votes
Portillo's Chopped Salad is loaded with lettuce, cabbage, tender pasta, and plenty of veggies. A delicious, creamy balsamic dressing coats this salad and Gorgonzola cheese gives it the perfect finishing touch!
Course Dinner, Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 -8 as a side
Calories 253kcal
Cost $7.49

Ingredients

Chopped Salad

  • 1 cup (125g) uncooked ditalini pasta
  • 1/2 cup (43g) cooked and crumbled bacon (7 slices)
  • 2 cups (230g) rotisserie chicken (or leftover grilled chicken), diced
  • 5 cups (250g) chopped lettuce (I like to use half romaine (2-1/2 cups; 100g) and half iceberg lettuce (2-1/2 cups; 150g )
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (130g) chopped red cabbage
  • 1 cup (150g) cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 cup (80g) thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4- 1/2 (27-57g) cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Creamy Balsamic Dressing

  • 1/2 cup (117g) honey-vanilla Greek yogurt (I recommend Greek Gods)
  • 1/4 cup of EACH: balsamic vinegar (54g), pure maple syrup (73g) (not pancake syrup!), olive oil (45g)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: finely minced garlic, fine sea salt, freshly cracked pepper

Instructions

  • DRESSING: Place all the dressing ingredients in a small blender jar. Blend until combined, creamy, and emulsified. Transfer dressing to a mason jar and store in the fridge until ready to eat. Shake up the dressing before dressing the salad.
  • COOK PASTA: Cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente. Make sure to generously salt the water; this is what will actually season the pasta! I add 1 teaspoon salt to every 4 cups of water. Drain and cool; run under cold water and shake off to dry. When dry, toss with a few tablespoons of the prepared dressing.
  • BACON AND CHICKEN: Cook bacon in a skillet or on an electric griddle. Remove, let cool slightly, and then chop coarsley. Chop a rotisserie chicken (or leftover grilled chicken) into small bite-sized pieces.
  • SALAD ASSEMBLY: In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, red cabbage, halved or quartered tomatoes, and thinly sliced green onions. Add in the cooled pasta, chopped bacon, and chopped chicken. Add gorgonzola cheese. If eating all of this salad, add dressing to desired preference (you may not use it all -- See Note 1) and toss to combine. If not, only dress what will be eaten; this salad doesn't sit well with the dressing.
  • SALAD STORAGE: The salad can be made in advance as long as the salad, bacon, cheese, and dressing is stored separately. Combine right before eating.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: The dressing recipe makes a good amount of dressing. Depending on how dressed you like your salads, you may use it all or you could have a good amount leftover. Leftover dressing will stay fresh, stored in an airtight container in the fridge, for 5-7 days. Use it to top other salads or raw veggies.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 8as a side | Calories: 253kcal | Carbohydrates: 20.3g | Protein: 12.3g | Fat: 10.6g | Cholesterol: 28.8mg | Sodium: 92.9mg | Fiber: 1.7g | Sugar: 9.7g

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




33 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Absolutely fabulous! Did half the amount of syrup and plenty sweet. Added 1/2 English Cuke bc I needed to use it. Otherwise, exactly as written. Family gave it 5/5

    1. I don’t think the two would exchange particularly well in this recipe because honey is such a strong flavor and maple syrup is much more subtle.

    2. We made this for dinner it was amazing! Two of my people don’t like blue cheese so I took their portions out and added it in after. So good

    1. I’m so happy you guys have enjoyed this and have been able to make it work with dietary preferences! 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

    2. I’ll be making this the same for my daughter, for Christmas. Also trying Cheesy Monkey Bread. We’ll have ham and I hope, share the salad.

  2. 5 stars
    This is the second time I made this. My friend is recovering from surgery and requested this again as one of the best tasting things she had during her recovery. So good!!

  3. Made this tonight and OMG it was AHMAZING!!! I always have the Italian Beef Sandwich when I go to Portillos so can’t compare the taste but will definitely be making this again and again!! That dressing WOW I could eat that by the spoonfuls!

    1. I haven’t tried freezing it, but I don’t think it’ll freeze well. If you try let me know! Thanks Peggi! 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    I love love love PORTILLO’S CHOPPED SALAD
    recipe. It tastes delicious. Everyone asks for the recipe. It’s a keeper !

  5. 5 stars
    One of my favs! LOVED this salad!! Dressing is phenomenal! Next time I make it , will add toasted pecans.

  6. I’ve made this several times now using a store bought Portillo’s dressing. I used vegan bacon bits and omitted the chicken. Thanks for posting!

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