This Seven Layer Salad is an updated take on a retro classic. Ideal as a make-ahead dish, the ingredients are layered on a platter with dressing on the side.
Seven layer salad is a retro dish commonly found at potlucks or church suppers. Today I'm sharing an updated version. This salad is full of hearty ingredients and lots of flavors. A creamy homemade dressing is a delicious finishing touch.
What is a seven layer salad?
A seven-layer salad is a salad with seven ingredients that are layered rather than tossed together. Traditionally, the ingredients are layered in a glass bowl and topped with dressing. But this is a modern take on a classic, so we are layering the ingredients on a platter and serving the dressing on the side. It makes for a beautiful presentation.
Serving on a platter in this fashion allows everyone to build their own salad with the ingredients they choose. With the dressing on the side, the salad stays fresh and crisp and is ideal as a make-ahead dish.
- Lettuce - I love using iceberg because it stays crisp and fresh. Romaine can also be used.
- Pickled onions are the most incredible addition to any salad. Pickling mellows out the pungent raw onion flavor and imparts the most vibrant pinkish red hue.
- Frozen peas thaw quickly while assembling the salad and are full of crisp, fresh flavor.
- Water chestnuts add great crunchy texture. They can be found in the canned vegetable or Asian food aisle of your local supermarket.
- Cheese - I use cheddar cheese, but Monterey Jack and Colby are also great options.
- Dressing - I like serving this salad with homemade blue cheese dressing. Any homemade or bottle dressing can be used based on what you love.
You can easily customize this salad by swapping any of these ingredients for your favorite salad fixings.
See the recipe card for complete instructions and ingredient amounts.
- To pickle the onions, add vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to a small saucepan. Heat slowly until the sugar is melted.
- Add the sliced onions to a glass jar and pour the pickling liquid over the top. Allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate.
- On a large platter, arrange the ingredients in rows.
- Season the hard-boiled eggs with pepper and paprika, if desired.
- Drizzle the dressing over the lettuce. Garnish with chives.
- Serve with extra dressing on the side.
If serving as a main dish, this salad will feed 4 people. If serving as part of larger spread, this dish should serve 6-8 people.
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Seven Layer Salad
Pickled red onions
- ½ med-large red onion (sliced thin)
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ head iceberg lettuce (washed, drained, and chopped)
- 16 ounces water chestnuts (sliced)
- 1 cup frozen peas (thawed and drained)
- pickled red onions (from recipe above, drained)
- 5 hard-boiled eggs (quartered)
- 6-7 slices thick-cut bacon (cooked and chopped)
- 6 ounces cheddar cheese (shredded)
- 1 cup blue cheese dressing (or dressing of choice)
- Add the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to a small saucepan. Heat slowly until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the sliced onions to a glass jar. Pour the vinegar mixture over the onions. Let cool at room temperature. Cover and store in the refrigerator.
- Arrange the lettuce, water chestnuts, peas, pickled onions, eggs, bacon, and cheese in rows on a large platter.
- Season the hard-boiled eggs with pepper and paprika, if desired. Drizzle dressing over the lettuce and garnish with chopped chives. Serve with extra dressing on the side.
- When served as a main dish, this salad serves 4 people. If served as part of larger spread, this should serve 6-8 people.
- The pickled onions can be made 1-2 days ahead of time.
- Use freshly grated cheese for the best texture and flavor.
Nutritional information is an estimate and will vary depending upon the exact amounts and specific ingredients used.
This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated.