15 Classic Salads Every Beginner Cook Should Know
One of the hallmarks of a satisfying dinner is a wonderful salad. Whether served as the entrée or as a complement to something heavier, salads are typically quick to prepare and endlessly tweakable. The following salad recipes are ones we return to again and again, no matter the season. Once you master these, you can add your own variations (or proteins), and keep them in rotation forever.
This is one of our most popular recipes of all-time, and for good reason: it's sweet, tangy, and delicious. The salad gets even better after a day in the fridge. Pair it with grilled meats, poached salmon, or anything.
Recipe: Cucumber Salad
Classic Green Salad
"A classic green salad—one featuring crisp lettuces and a few raw, seasonal vegetables, tossed with a barely-there vinaigrette—instantly elevates any meal," writes Senior Food Editor Mary-Frances Heck. "The trick to serving a properly dressed, but not wilting, salad is in the technique in which you build the salad, starting with the dressing, in a large wooden salad bowl."
Recipe: The Simplest Salad
Big Italian Salad
If you're looking for a salad that has the heft of an entrée, look no further. This antipasto-packed Italian salad hits all the right notes.
Recipe: Big Italian Salad
Classic Potato Salad
Don't hold back with the scallions and parsley (or any herb!) while making this creamy, super-simple potato salad.
Recipe: Classic Potato Salad
This easy pasta salad comes together in just 15 minutes with help from the grocery store olive bar. Fresh oregano, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese bring bright flavor to this easy summer salad, perfect for weeknight dinners, pool parties, and backyard barbecues. Customize this recipe with whatever captures your imagination at the store—casarecce pasta, stuffed olives, stemmed caperberries, pickled garlic—the possibilities are nearly endless.
This classic Caesar salad is loaded with plenty of garlic, anchovies and Parmigiano cheese. It's also fast and easy to make.
Recipe: Classic Caesar Salad
Chilled Soba Salad
"Using the ready-made jams and marmalades found in Asian supermarkets, we can build a huge variety of dressings for chilled noodles that pair excellently with a variety of vegetables creating a dish that is anything but the generic 'Asian-style noodle salads' we see across the US," says chef Lucas Sin.
The ultimate entrée salad, a Cobb can handle just about any topping you're in the mood for.
Of his delicious and crowd-pleasing Greek salad, Athens, Georgia, chef Hugh Acheson says, "It feeds four people like champions, or six like semifinalists."
Recipe: Greek Salad of Sorts
Green Goddess Salad
Green Goddess dressing—a mix of mayonnaise, sour cream, herbs, anchovies and lemon—was created at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in the 1920s, as a tribute to an actor starring in a play called The Green Goddess. The creamy dressing is typically tossed with a green salad, but it's also wonderful in Melissa Rubel Jacobson's chicken salad, made with a rotisserie bird.
Recipe: Green Goddess Chicken Salad
Chef Marco Canora says you can swap in any starch—like bread or pasta—for the farro (a nutty Italian grain) in this recipe.
Recipe: Summer Farro Salad
Vietnamese Chicken and Cabbage Salad
Chefs Eric and Sophie Banh like to poach the chicken for this brilliant dish, then toss the salad with a homemade scallion oil. To save time, use store-bought rotisserie chicken and skip the scallion oil; the salad already gets plenty of flavor from the spicy, vinegary dressing and abundance of fresh herbs.
Recipe: Crunchy Vietnamese Chicken Salad
This summer blockbuster panzanella from Samin Nosrat, author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, pairs oven-roasted sourdough croutons with juicy ripe tomatoes, raw red onion, and crisp cucumbers. Grated tomato adds a gentle acidity and chunky texture to the vinaigrette, helping it cling to every bite. Staggering the addition of vinaigrette, vegetables, and croutons similarly protects their crunch, and also helps season the salad properly, allowing salt, acid, and oil to be added in stages, as needed.
"Taking a cue from chef Nina Compton at Bywater American Bistro, we're adding a Crystal hot sauce–spiked dressing to this mash-up of a wedge salad and a po'boy sandwich," writes F&W Food Editor Kelsey Youngman. "Toasting the breadcrumbs in Old Bay–infused oil doubles down on the rich shrimp-boil flavor."
This herb-heavy variation of the Middle Eastern classic swaps the usual ratio of bulgur to herbs, making it brighter, leafier and less grainy than the standard salad.
Recipe: Parsley-Mint Tabbouleh