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The Trick to the Best Tossed Salad? Ditch the Bowl!

The one tool you already have in your kitchen that will lead to better salads than a bowl ever could.

Nearly every salad recipe since the beginning of time includes some version of, “In a large serving bowl…” and we’ve never questioned it. And yet, those serving bowls never seem to live up to expectations and the drawbacks are clear. They’re never quite large enough to keep our ingredients from jumping ship during a vigorous toss. Then, because we can’t mix things effectively, there’s always the temptation to add more dressing than we need, leading to a swampy mess. And if that wasn’t bad enough, all the heavier toppings sink straight to the bottom, which, depending on how you serve, can lead to someone having either none or all of the toppings in their helping.

While you could always buy an even bigger serving bowl (who even has the space for that?), we think it’s time to flip the generations-old script and use something else. Thankfully, the answer, and your soon-to-be new favorite way to eat salads, is something you already have on hand: your sheet pan! This kitchen workhorse offers the best surface area for tossing and even topping distribution. Whether you’re using a store-bought salad bag or making one from scratch, here’s how to toss the best salad on your sheet pan: 

Step 1: Spread your greens across the sheet pan surface. Drizzle pan with about a third of the dressing and toss to coat by pulling your greens towards the center and using folding or lifting and dropping motions. Taste a leaf at this point and make sure the flavor is good, adding a little more dressing or salt and pepper if needed. If your sheet pan has a nonstick surface, make sure to use wood or plastic serving tools to prevent scratching the surface. 

Step 2: Once lightly coated, spread the greens back out across the surface of the pan. Now take your toppings (like croutons, spiced nuts, crumbled cheeses, or chopped veggies) and sprinkle them evenly across the surface. This ensures no matter where someone serves themselves from, they’ll get a nice mix of all the ingredients and not miss out on anything.  

Step 3: Drizzle another third of the dressing over the salad, and serve in the middle of the table, allowing people to help themselves. Pass the remaining dressing for anyone who wants a little extra.

Looking to take your sheet pan salads to the next level? Try these ideas:  

  • Prechill your sheet pan in the fridge for 30 minutes to help keep your salad nice and cold and the greens crisp.  
  • Hot salads like this one with pork and apple are ideal for tossing right in the sheet pan after they come out of the oven
  • Salads you’d normally serve on a platter, such as this take on a salad niçoise or composed Waldorf salad are perfect on a sheet pan.

You’ll also have plenty of space for designs when making a centerpiece-worthy salad, like this Easter-inspired  cobb-style salad, which is sure to impress everyone at your table. 

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