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8 Tips for Making a Better Salad

Fast, fresh, and easy ways to create memorable salads every time.
salad Salads

There’s no doubt that salads are one sure way to get a variety of nutrients, flavors, and textures in one delicious bowl. But finding the right ingredients to make your salads something to look forward to can be a challenge. From lackluster greens to not-so-filling toppings, homemade salads can sometimes fall short and become monotonous. But not all hope is lost. There are plenty of easy ways to mix things up and make a craveable, better salad. Try these tips to turn your homemade salads into a well-rounded, chef-worthy dish.  

Switch Up Your Base

You don’t always have to start with lettuce, like iceberg or Romaine lettuce. There are so many more options to choose from that can will bring a pop of flavor and texture. Alternatively, try a warm salad base by sautéing greens, like in this Warm Kale Salad with Cranberries, a grain base like quinoa, farro, or rice, like in this Sesame Chicken and Rice Salad with Edamame, or even pasta, like this Spinach & Artichoke Tortellini Salad.   

Explore Protein Options

To make sure your salad is hearty enough to keep you full, adding a protein source is important. While typical meats like grilled chicken or steak are always popular (and a tasty way to use leftovers), there are many other options to explore. Seafood, like frozen popcorn shrimp, canned tuna, or smoked salmon, can be a tasty addition to your salad if you’re looking for some variety. This Salad with Smoked Salmon and Rye Croutons makes a luxurious lunch when you want to spoil yourself. Vegetarian protein sources like eggs and cheese are great as are vegan proteins like chickpeas, edamame, and tofu. Try this Ramen Noodle Salad with Baked Tofu for a meal-worthy salad.  

Amp Up the Veggies

When in doubt, add more veggies, and not just because they’re good for you. Raw peppers, carrots, and radishes can add the perfect amount of color and crunch to each bite, while grilled or roasted squash, eggplant, or corn bring variety. On the other hand, if an acidic tang is what you’re looking for, pickled cucumbers, peppers, and onions are the way to go, like in this Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pickled Onions. The key is to add a variety of veggies to keep things exciting.    

Factor in Fruit

Salads aren’t just limited to veggies. Fruit adds a touch of sweetness and texture to salads. Our favorites include sliced or diced apples, berries, and peaches, but almost any fruit can shine. Oranges and other citrus fruit can add some acidity and brightness, like in this Spinach Salad with Salmon and Quick-Pickled Blackberries. If you don’t have fresh fruit on hand, try adding dried fruit like dried cranberries, banana chips, or dried mango for a fun twist. 

Bring on the Crunch

A crunchy, crispy addition to your salad is a must-have to ensure your salad has varied textures and is satisfying. While croutons are usually the old-school choice, seeds, nuts, tortilla strips, or crushed tortilla chips are all fun ways to mix things up. Feel free to get creative! Or raid your pantry for more unusual choices, like nori snacks and rice paper crisps, like in this Chicken Salad with Rice Paper Crisps. 

Dress It Up

Making the right salad dressing choice that blends well with all the other ingredients can truly transform your salad. For salads using delicate greens, or where you want one or more of the ingredients to be the main star, a simple oil and vinegar dressing is a good option. However, if you’re dressing hearty greens, grains, pasta, or veggies, you can try something heavier, like Caesar, ranch, and blue cheese. Experiment with a variety of salad dressings to find ones you really like. Alternatively, you can try making your own dressing at home. We love this avocado dressing that’s easily made in a blender on hearty, main course salads. 

Don’t Forget to Season

Don’t forget to season your protein, bases, and toppings with salt and pepper and you can even add spices like paprika or crushed red pepper flakes for extra flavor. Plus, you can add fresh herbs to your salad for pops of flavor throughout, like this Salad with Chicken, Basil, and Berries. Just be sure any herbs or spices complement the overall flavor profile of the other ingredients you bring to the table.  

Serve it in Style

Think beyond the bowl the next time you make a salad. We love building our salads on platters or other serving dishes, a serving suggestion that lets you casually layer ingredients and then drizzle with dressing. Or create a “composed” plate and arrange the ingredients separately on a platter. Everyone can then assemble their own personal salad creation on their own plates. If you have a glass bowl like a trifle dish, go for a colorful layered option like the Layered Southern Cornbread Salad. These are perfect for potlucks and cookouts since they look impressive and can be made in advance. Or get creative and serve individual portions in a Mason jar, like this Cobb Salad in a Jar—great for work lunches and picnics.  

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