This seven-layer salad is a marriage of vibrant colors, delightful textures, and mouthwatering flavors! It’s the ultimate party treat!
It has layers of chopped lettuce, red onions, peas, cheddar cheese, cauliflower, bacon, and a cheesy mayo dressing.
This salad is a truly a party on its own.
It’s not just the combination of textures and flavors that make this salad a huge hit.
Displayed in a tall, trifle bowl, each layer is displayed for everyone to see.
Stacked on top of each other, the layers’ contrasting colors make the salad look extra appetizing.
Here’s another reason to love it: the recipe is incredibly easy!
So, if you’re looking for an easy yet show-stopping dish to bring to a potluck, the answer is this scrumptious seven-layer salad.
What Is Seven-Layer Salad?
This timeless classic has been around for decades, and to this day, it continues to impress.
A seven-layer salad, as its name suggests, is a salad with seven distinct layers.
It’s served in a tall, glass bowl to showcase all seven layers.
There are many versions of this salad.
At its core, it’s made of greens, crunchy vegetables, cheese, and a creamy dressing.
For this recipe, the layers include iceberg lettuce, red onion, green peas, cauliflower, cheddar, bacon, and a mayo-parmesan dressing.
When piled on top of each other, the components form lovely layers with colors that complement and contrast each other.
Also, it’s delicious. The combination of fresh and decadent elements forms such a tasty and well-balanced dish!
- Dressing – Let’s be honest, no salad is edible at all without a dressing. For this one, the layers will be tied together with a creamy mayo dressing.
- Mayonnaise – Go for any brand of mayo you like. Stick to real mayo, though, and none of the Miracle Whip or fat-free mayo. The flavor won’t be the same!
- Granulated Sugar – Just to give the mayo a little bit of sweetness. Be sure to whisk the ingredients well to dissolve the sugar.
- Grated Parmesan Cheese – Its saltiness and nuttiness go wonderfully with the creamy mayo.
- Bacon – No explanation needed. If you like a little bit of sweetness to your salad, use maple-flavored bacon.
- Iceberg Lettuce – You can either use iceberg or Romaine here. The important thing is that the base of your salad should be crisp and sturdy enough to handle all the other layers that’ll go on top of it.
- Red Onion – Warning: red onion tastes extra sharp when raw. Soak it in cold water for 15 minutes to make it milder.
- Green Peas – Besides the pop of color, green peas also add a nice touch of sweetness to the salad. Use frozen peas, not canned ones! They’re firmer and more vibrant.
- Cheddar Cheese – Instead of pre-shredded, get a block of cheese and shred it yourself. Its taste and texture are far superior.
- Cauliflower – For extra crunch! Its nutritional value is also a plus.
How to Make Seven-Layer Salad
1. Make the dressing.
In a large bowl, whisk the mayo, sugar, and parmesan until the sugar is dissolved.
Don’t delay this step! Making the dressing before you prepare the layers will give the flavors time to meld together.
2. Cook the bacon.
Add the bacon strips to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook them until they’re brown and crispy.
Pat them dry with paper towels to remove excess oil. Chop them into crumbles.
3. Chop up the vegetables.
Cut up the lettuce into small pieces (or shred it).
Mince the red onion.
If you want to tone down the sharp flavor of the onion, soak it in cold water for 15 minutes. Or, just use white onion, as its flavor is milder.
Chop the head of cauliflower into florets.
3. Assemble the layers.
Layer the chopped lettuce into the bottom of a glass bowl, followed by the onion, peas, shredded cheddar, cauliflower, and bacon.
Spread the mayo dressing on top. Be sure the entire top layer is covered.
This will protect the other layers from exposure to air and keep their integrity intact.
Cover the salad bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours.
5. Serve and enjoy!
Do not toss the salad in the bowl. It’s meant to be served as-is. Use a long spoon or a pair of tongs to get all the layers.
Tips and Tricks
- The first thing you should do when making this salad is to prepare the dressing. This way, it’ll have enough time to rest, allowing the flavors to marry.
- Soak the red onion in water for 30 minutes to dial down its sharpness.
- It’s important for the dressing to go on top because it serves as a protective cover to keep the other layers from being exposed to air.
- If you want more dressing, add another layer of it somewhere in the middle. Don’t add it on top of the lettuce, though. This will make the lettuce wilt!
- It’s fine if you use powdered canned parmesan, but I’m telling you, real parmesan will elevate your seven-layer salad to a whole new level! Buy a block and shred it yourself.
- Save yourself some time and get a bagged salad mix instead of chopping the lettuce yourself. It won’t affect the taste of the salad at all.
- In the same way, just get packaged bacon crumbles instead of cooking it and crumbling it yourself.
What Is the Best Bowl for This Salad?
You’re already making an effort to cook bacon and chop vegetables, so you might as well show off all that hard work!
Serve this salad in a clear glass bowl, preferably one with straight sides like a trifle bowl.
That way, all the colorful layers in the salad will be on display.
If you don’t have one, you can also make the salad in a 9×13-inch glass dish.
The seven layers in the salad vary from one recipe to the next.
Some versions have chopped hard-boiled eggs, while others have carrots and celery.
The good thing about it is that you get to decide what layers to add or omit.
Use this recipe as a base, but feel free to make it your own.
Here are some suggestions for variation:
- I use a mix of mayo, parmesan, and sugar. Try adding sour cream or ranch for added flavor.
- Mix in a splash of vinegar to add some tanginess.
- This dressing isn’t healthy at all, so if you want to make it lighter, use Greek yogurt and honey instead.
- Add some toasted chopped pecans to the dressing for crunch.
- Boiled Eggs: This is a great way to add protein to the salad.
- Shredded Carrots: Their crunchiness and orange hue will add more character to the salad.
- Bell Peppers: A perfect substitute if you don’t like peas.
- Ham: A great replacement for bacon.
- Cheese: Try provolone, feta, sharp cheddar, or blue cheese instead of just cheddar.
- Crunchy Toppings: Fried onions, croutons, more bacon bits, you name it.
Can I Make Seven-Layer Salad in Advance?
In some places, this salad is called the “overnight salad.” It actually tastes better the next day.
The key is to keep the lettuce and the dressing as far away from each other as you can.
Once they come in contact, the lettuce will start to wilt.
Also, be sure the dressing covers the entire top of the salad. Doing so encloses the salad, sealing in its freshness.
Cover the salad bowl tightly with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge.
With these techniques, your salad should still be fresh and crisp even after 24 hours.
How to Store Seven-Layer Salad
The salad will keep well in the fridge for 1 to 2 days, as long as all the layers are intact.
Specifically, the dressing should still cover the layers to seal them in and protect them from exposure to heat or air.
The dressing should also remain far away from the lettuce, otherwise, the vegetable will start to wilt.
What to Serve with Seven-Layer Salad
More Salad Recipes You’ll Love
Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad
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