Olive Garden Salad

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Craving that iconic Olive Garden Salad? Whip up this copycat recipe, loaded with sweet tomatoes, zesty peppers, rich olives, and crisp croutons. Go classic with a creamy Italian dressing or grab Olive Garden’s bottled magic from the store.

Pair this salad with some other Olive Garden copycats like this Zuppa Toscana Soup  or this Pasta e Fagioli Soup

The salad beautifully dressed and prepared for a delightful meal.

Best Olive Garden Salad Copycat Recipe

We’re obsessed with this Olive Garden copycat salad — it’s light, fresh, healthy, and loaded with flavor. And what’s more, the Italian dressing is easy to make and filled with good-for-you ingredients. How does olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and plenty of herbs sound? It’s the perfect pairing for all the veggies!

The ultimate finishing touch to this salad is the crunchy, garlicky croutons and freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top!

Ingredients for the salad: pepperoncini, croutons, and olives, ready to enhance the flavor.

  • Lettuce: Olive Garden uses an iceberg lettuce mix, but we like it best with Romaine lettuce; either type of lettuce works!
  • Red onion: Onions add a nice bite to the salad. If they seem to have too much of a bite, see my quick tip below to help tame them. 
  • Pepperoncini: These are sweet, mild chili peppers, usually sold pickled. 
  • Tomato: Any good ripe tomatoes will work in this salad. We often use cherry tomatoes.
  • Black olives: We like them whole, but feel free to halve or slice them.
  • Croutons: Olive Garden sells their croutons at the grocery store, and they work great in this salad. You can use any garlic-herb flavored croutons. Or, you can even make your own!
  • Parmesan cheese: I like to grate fresh Parmesan cheese on a microplane and add it to this Olive Garden Salad.

QUICK TIP

If raw red onions are too strong for you, soak them in salted ice-cold water for 10 minutes, then drain and dry before adding to your salad.

Olive garden salad with the iconic olive garden salad dressing being generously poured over the greens.

Vibrant olive garden salad recipe, displaying every ingredient beautifully.

Tips For Success

  • Only add dressing, cheese, and croutons to the amount of salad that will be eaten the same day you make it. Otherwise, the ingredients will get soggy if they sit in the dressing too long.
  • Make ahead: You can make everything for this copycat Olive Garden Salad ahead of time. Just store the salad ingredients separately and then toss them all together right before serving. 
  • Grating Parmesan cheese: I highly recommend grating the cheese on a microplane. It gives it an awesome light texture and helps it disperse more evenly throughout the salad. If you’ve never tried a microplane, it’s a game-changer. I like this one because it’s so easy to use.

More Delicious Salad Recipes:

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Olive Garden Salad

4.75 from 12 votes
Craving that iconic Olive Garden Salad? Whip up this copycat recipe, loaded with sweet tomatoes, zesty peppers, rich olives, and crisp croutons. Go classic with a creamy Italian dressing or grab Olive Garden's bottled magic from the store.
Olive garden salad beautifully dressed and prepared for a delightful meal.
Print Recipe

Olive Garden Salad

Olive garden salad beautifully dressed and prepared for a delightful meal.
4.75 from 12 votes
Craving that iconic Olive Garden Salad? Whip up this copycat recipe, loaded with sweet tomatoes, zesty peppers, rich olives, and crisp croutons. Go classic with a creamy Italian dressing or grab Olive Garden's bottled magic from the store.
Course Salad
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword olive garden salad
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 -6 servings (as a side)
Chelsea Lords
Calories 426kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole black olives
  • 2 large Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 of 1 large red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 6 whole pepperoncini peppers
  • 1 cup garlic-herb flavored croutons (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons good quality full-fat mayo

Instructions

  • SALAD: Coarsely chop the lettuce, wash, and thoroughly dry (I love a salad spinner for this step). Place lettuce in a large bowl. Top the salad with black olives, thinly sliced tomatoes, very thinly sliced red onion, and pepperoncini.
  • DRESSING: Add all the dressing ingredients to a large glass jar. Put on the lid and shake to combine. It might take a minute of good vigorous shaking, but the mayo should completely integrate (keep shaking until it does). If you have time, make this ahead and chill in the fridge to intensify the flavors. Shake again right before mixing into the salad.
  • ASSEMBLY: Right before eating (See Note 1), toss the salad with the dressing (you probably won't use all the dressing -- See Note 2). Add the croutons and freshly grated Parmesan cheese right on top and enjoy immediately.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Freshness: Only add dressing, cheese, and croutons to the amount of salad that will be eaten the same day you make it. The salad ingredients will get quite soggy if they sit too long in the dressing.
Note 2: Dressing: This makes a lot of dressing! You can halve it if you'd like, but I like to make this full batch and use it on other recipes throughout the week. It will last up to a week stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 6servings (as a side) | Calories: 426kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 26g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 525mg | Potassium: 294mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 5394IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 148mg | Iron: 2mg

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




23 Comments

    1. Ditto on the OG LIte Italian Salad Dressing. My wife and I really enjoy it.

      For anyone on Weight Watchers, 2 tablespoons is 1 smart point

  1. 5 stars
    I always just get salad and breadsticks at Olive Garden. NOW I don’t have to go there anymore! This SALAD looks yummy and tastes even better than the version that inspired it. WAY less salty. Love it!

  2. Tried this, love Okive harden’s dressing, but this has way too much red wine vinegar . I will definitely adjust the amount next
    time. all I could taste was vinegar.

  3. 4 stars
    This didn’t really taste like OG dressing to me but not bad. The vinegar is overpowering. I would reduce the vinegar next time. Now that I’ve made it, what can I add to tone down the tanginess? Thanks!

  4. 5 stars
    I just made this salad and it’s spot on! The dressing is so close to Olive Garden’s and I love that it’s made with fresh ingredients. Definitely making this again

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