House Salad is a perfect quick and easy side dish that completes any meal. Crisp, crunchy and cold, it’s greens and colorful veggies full of flavor, drizzled with your favorite salad dressing.
It doesn’t matter what season we’re in, this House Salad recipe is a staple side at our house. It’s quick and easy. Plus, House Salad can be customized to the people you’re serving and with the in-season produce of your choice.
House Salad recipes can be tossed together in minutes and complement any main dish you serve. Everybody loves them and can select a salad dressing of their choice.
What is House Salad?
Who doesn’t love the house salad before a restaurant meal? House Salad recipes are usually simple tossed green salads with a few fresh veggies, that whets your appetite for the meal to come OR is an accompanying side for the main dish.
Our youngest daughter (now 21) was about 7 when she asked, “Mom can I order a before salad?” lol She had apparently watched me ordering a salad on the side, for years, and got brave enough to ask for her own. Who could say, “No” to that cuteness!!??! Bring on another $5 side salad! lol
And honestly, I have made this easy house salad recipe since my oldest girls (now 38 and 36) were small. I’d say, “Let’s make a lovely salad.” They knew exactly what I meant and loved them. They’d even help me make them.
There’s a reason for the appeal of house salad recipes. A classic house salad recipe, well done, can set the tone for the entire meal. It needs the freshest, crispy ingredients, vivid color and flavor that wakes up your taste buds.
And as far as the name, I think it simply refers to the fact that it is that particular restaurant’s personal side salad recipe. The “house’s” recipe. Their own signature “house” salad.
Well friends, they have nothing on us. We can all have our own fabulous House Salad recipe to share and enjoy, right in the comfort of our own homes!
As salad recipes go, I believe this simple side salad is one of the most versatile and easy to prepare. I hope you love it!
House Salad Recipe Ingredients
There are certain salad ingredients and ingredient qualities that are absolute “musts” in our House Salad recipe. Your list might look a little different, but my guess is that it’s fairly similar. The beauty of making a classic house salad recipe is that you can really make it your own.
- Fresh, crisp, bright green lettuce and greens. We typically choose Romaine and Iceburg Lettuce to make house salad. However, if we have them on hand, we will definitely add baby spinach, kale, leaf lettuce, butter lettuce or mixed greens to a side salad. So, you do you. Make your House Salad with your personal favorites.
- Crunchy, crisp cucumber slices. In season cucumbers are the ultimate for making classic house salad recipes. But, nobody loves rubbery, past their prime cucumbers. Choose garden cucumbers in season. Outside of garden season, I have better luck with thin skinned baby cucumbers or English cucumbers. They add that familiar light and crisp flavor that adds so much to our house salad.
- Firm, very ripe tomatoes. Again, summer garden tomatoes are the ideal. However, the varieties of grape and cherry tomatoes available all year long, now, make a great substitute for full-size tomatoes when the summer garden is done. They add sweet tart acidic pops of flavor and juiciness plus eye-catching color. And there flavor is usually better than their full-sized counterparts in the off-season.
- Radishes. Also, easily available to us year round. Crisp, bold flavor and gorgeous color that we love in a side salad.
- Celery. This doesn’t seem as natural to some, but for me, it’s a non-negotiable in House Salad, both for crunch and for flavor.
- Red Onions. I would be “chopped” every time on my favorite Food Network cooking show, because I LOVE raw red onion. Slivers of red onion are a must in my house salad.
Optional, But So Delicious
Those are all the non-negotiables for me, but there are other ingredients that can customize your perfect homemade house salad and make it SO scrumptious.
- Croutons. Hello! Crunchy, seasoned cubes of bread deliciousness. Yes, please. I normally buy them ready-made, but you can make fabulous croutons at home, too. Check out these awesome recipes from a few of my friends.
- Cheese. Freshly hand grated or cubed cheese in any of your favorite varieties is always a welcome addition to House Salad.
- Bacon Bits or Crumbles. Fresh bacon, chopped into salty nuggets of smoky, savoriness are delicious scattered through a mouthwatering dinner salad.
Our Favorite Salad Dressings
for a Classic House Salad
Sometimes, I’m in a hurry and just putting dinner on the table quick. On those nights, I pull our favorite store-bought salad dressing bottles from the fridge without an ounce of guilt. Do what you need to do to make a great dinner for your family when you have to hurry.
There is always ranch, because some people in our family will ONLY eat ranch on a House Salad. lol Tell me you have at least one of those.
Then we usually have an Olive Oil Italian Vinaigrette and a Blush Vinaigrette. We also have a salad dressing I have come to understand is a sort of Nebraska phenomenon. And not everyone knows about it. Dorothy Lynch. I’ll let you Google that one.
I prefer to make homemade dressings with either olive oil or avocado oil. Olive oil is used when I want that distinctive olive oil flavor. And avocado oil is my choice when I want something neutral that lets the other flavors shine. Both olive oil and avocado oil are super good for you. So, they make excellent bases for any dressing you use to top your side salad.
Possible Variations and Substitutions
Variations in a perfect house salad can be as wildly different and creative as the person who is making it. When making a side salad, individuality and creativity are a plus.
There is a whole world of vegetables (and fruit) that can be fantastic in a classic house salad. Choose by seasonality for the best quality and flavor in the perfect side salad.
Definitely “mix it up”. Make your side salad your own perfect creation. The info graphic below, is divided into the four seasons, with lists of which fruits and vegetables will be at peak perfection during each time.
Of course, there will be some variation based on your location, but as a general rule it’s an excellent guide. Use it to help you build the perfect side salad recipe.
Click on this image to open a downloadable and printable pdf
to help you choose the best in-season produce.
How to Make a Salad
This is where some of those specific “characteristics” of a truly excellent house salad come in. And, if I’m honest, I’m picky about them.
So, here’s the list of what I believe makes a perfect house salad, regardless of what ingredients you choose. Follow these and your House Salad is going to be spectacular! 🙂
Tips for Preparing a Great House Salad
- Tear the lettuce, instead of cutting it, unless the entire house salad will be eaten immediately. Oxidation of the edges of the lettuce leaves happens more quickly when they are cut. If you tear the leaves, they will break along natural fault lines in the leaf which means fewer cells are ruptured and browning is slowed. Tearing, instead of cutting, can extend the life of your side salad one to two days.
- Tear the lettuce into BITE-SIZED pieces. There is nothing more frustrating than sitting down to a salad with gigantic pieces of romaine lettuce or iceburg leaves in it. Stabbing a gargantuan piece of lettuce and then trying to maneuver it into your mouth or back onto the plate to be cut table side is not fun.
- Choose variety in color and texture when selecting veggies for your salad. Selecting many bright, vibrant colors means a wide variety of nutrients are being added to your house salad, as well as making it beautiful to look at. It really is true that we eat with our eyes, first.
- Select the freshest produce available. It goes without saying, nobody wants limp, wilted or spongy vegetables in a delicious salad. Lettuce should be bright green and crisp. Other vegetables should be firm and vibrantly colored. Choose what is at it’s best in-season quality in that moment.
- Wash and dry all your greens and vegetables before you start tearing and chopping. It makes prep work go quickly. Plus, when the greens and vegetables are completely dry, the salad will keep longer.
- Cut or slice vegetables into thin, bite-size pieces.
- Store tomatoes at room temperature for the best flavor. Only refrigerate when it’s necessary for slowing down the deterioration process. See this article for more information.
Assembling Your House Salad Recipe Ahead of Time
Of course. Tear the greens and slice everything except the tomatoes up to 24 hours ahead of time. Instead of assembling the salad, place each of the components in individual containers and store in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve your house salad, halve the tomatoes and then simply toss all the prepped ingredients with the salad greens and serve.
Assembling Your House Salad to Serve Immediately
Okay, now you’ve already selected and prepped all your ingredients. The rest is simple.
- Combine the greens and cut vegetables (or fruit) in your salad bowl. Be sure to toss thoroughly so all the ingredients are evenly distributed. It’s that easy!
- Take the salad to the table with your favorite salad dressings on the side. And oh my gracious, is it ever going to be delicious!
What to Serve with House Salad
I hope you love this house salad recipe! And I hope it serves you well as a quick and easy, nutritious side for your family meals.
If you get a chance to make and enjoy it, I would love for you to come back and leave a comment with a 5 star rating, to let me know. Your 5 star rating helps others to find our recipe when they do a Google search. Thanks so much for your support!
House Salad is a formula or guide to help you make one of my favorite salad recipes, ever. Use the tips and information in the post, along with this recipe, to create a truly spectacular classic dinner salad for your next meal. Everybody loves a great salad and it can complement any main dish you’re serving.
- iceburg lettuce, 1 small head
- Romaine lettuce, 1 heart
- 3 baby cucumbers (or 1 English cucumber), cut into 1/8th inch rounds
- 6 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 3 stalks celery, cut into 1/4th inch slices
- 5 radishes, cut into thin rounds
- 1/4 cup red onion, cut into slivers
- Clean and dry the produce you’ve selected.
- Tear the greens into bite-sized pieces and place them in a large salad bowl.
- Slice the cumbers and radishes into thin rounds.
- Cut the celery into 1/4‑inch slices (half moons).
- Cut thin, slices and slivers of red onion until you have about 1/4 cup.
- Add the cut vegetables to the torn greens and toss to combine and evenly distribute everything.
- Serve with your favorite salad dressing and optional toppings, like cheese, bacon pieces and/or croutons.
- Choose the salad greens and vegetables that you and your family prefer.
- Choose in-season produce.
- Make this salad recipe your own.
To Make Salad Ahead of Time
Tear the greens and slice everything except the tomatoes up to 24 hours ahead of time. Instead of assembling the salad, place each of the components in individual containers and store in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve your house salad, halve the tomatoes and then simply toss all the prepped ingredients with the salad greens and serve.
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Category: Side Dish, Salad, Vegetable
- Method: Cold Prep
- Cuisine: American