14 Classic Salads Every Beginner Cook Should Know

From Cobb to panzanella.

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 know these well, you can add your own variations (or proteins), and keep them in rotation forever.

Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad
© Lucy Schaeffer

This is one of our most popular recipes of all time, and for a 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

Salad Done Right
Victor Protasio

"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

Big Italian Salad
© Quentin Bacon

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

Classic Potato Salad
© Fredrika Stjärne

Don't hold back with the scallions and parsley (or any herb!) while making this creamy, super-simple potato salad.

Recipe: Classic Potato Salad

Pasta Salad

Best of the Olive Bar Salad
Greg Dupree

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.

Recipe: "Best of the Olive Bar" Pasta Salad

Caesar Salad

Classic Caesar Salad
© Marcus Nilsson

This classic Caesar salad contains plenty of garlic, anchovies, and Parmigiano cheese. It's also fast and easy to make.

Recipe: Classic Caesar Salad

Chilled Soba Salad

Yuzu Chilled Noodle Salad
Emily Kordovich

"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.

Recipe: Chilled Soba Noodle Salad with Yuzu Dressing

Cobb Salad

Southern Cobb Salad with Roasted Sweet Onion Dressing
Every good barbecue has a fresh salad on the side. © Con Poulos

The ultimate entrée salad, a Cobb can handle just about any topping you're in the mood for.

Recipe: Southern Cobb Salad with Roasted Sweet Onion Dressing

Greek Salad

Greek Salad of Sorts
© John Kernick

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 Chicken Salad
© Petrina Tinslay

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

Farro Salad

Summer Farro Salad
© John Kernick

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

Crunchy Vietnamese Chicken Salad
© Lucy Schaeffer

Chefs Eric and Sophie Banh like to poach the chicken for this brilliant dish, then toss the salad with 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


Tomato, Basil, and Cucumber Panzanella
This summer blockbuster panzanella from Samin Nosrat, author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heatpairs oven-roasted sourdough croutons with juicy ripe tomatoes, raw red onion, and crisp cucumbers. Victor Protasio

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. It also helps season the salad properly, allowing salt, acid, and oil to be added in stages, as needed.

Recipe: Tomato, Basil, and Cucumber Panzanella

Wedge Salad

Shrimp Wedge Salad Recipe
Greg DuPree

"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."

Recipe: Shrimp Wedge Salad with Old Bay Breadcrumbs and Hot Sauce Dressing

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