This beautiful retro 7 layer salad is one that everyone still can’t get enough of! Layers of crisp lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, cheese, and a creamy tangy homemade dressing come together to form the perfect light lunch or side salad for all your family gatherings!
Table of Contents
Make it in 15 Minutes!
This old-fashioned 7 layer salad has loads of bright colors, yummy flavors, and crisp textures and has such a fun presentation! This salad isn’t tossed but instead kept in layers and served in a glass trifle bowl or Pyrex dish so that each of the distinct layers can be seen before it’s eaten.
My version of a seven layer salad recipe is made with crisp lettuce, hard boiled eggs, peas, red onions, bacon, and a rich creamy dressing that can easily be replaced with ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing.
Serve it with a long spoon or tongs so that there’s a little bit of everything in every scoop.
This timeless classic stems from the American south and has a longstanding tradition of making an appearance at everything from potlucks and BBQs to holiday gatherings, baby showers, and more.
Of course, it’s great just to have any time you want!
Why This Recipe Works
- Delicious. 7 layers of anything has to be fantastic right? It’s probably why the 7 layer dip is so popular. If I can turn a salad into something even my kids go crazy for, then I must be onto something!
- Easy. Other than cooking the bacon and grating cheese, this salad is basically effortless.
- Customizable. There are so many ways to make this salad your own. Over time, people have created their own version and I’m sharing some ways to switch it up below.
- Make ahead. Prep and assemble the day before and keep it in the fridge until it’s party time.
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Lettuce: Iceberg lettuce cored and chopped is the classic and popular choice. It’s crispy, and refreshing and can withstand whatever you put on top of it. Feel free to use romaine lettuce instead if that’s what you have.
- Red onion: Mild and slightly sweet, red onion adds a beautiful purple layer without being too pungent.
- Hard-boiled eggs: If you’ve got leftover hard boiled eggs from yesterday’s breakfast toss them in. Otherwise, take a few minutes to cook them before you begin. See below for instructions.
- Cheddar cheese: Use freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese. Usually I say it’s because it’s easier to melt, but this time it’s just for straight-up flavor. It tastes better!
- Bacon: Cooked ahead of time, either chopped or crumbled. Allow it to cool before adding it to the salad.
- For the dressing: A combination of mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, honey, garlic powder, lemon juice or vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. You can tailor the dressing to suit your tastes by adding a splash of apple cider vinegar, hot sauce, or pepper for a kick!
As mentioned above, there are so many ways to make this salad your own. Customize it by swapping, adding, or omitting certain ingredients. Below are just some ideas for inspiration:
- Green pepper
- Sugar snap peas
- Green onions
- Red bell pepper
- Grape tomatoes
- Cherry tomatoes
- Black olives
How to Make Seven Layer Salad
- Wash and dry the lettuce. This is important because any remaining liquid will cause the lettuce to be soggy and too much liquid to gather at the bottom of the bowl. Use a salad spinner to wash and dry the lettuce as best as you can, and then lay it on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb the rest of the water.
- Assemble the salad. Start with an even layer of lettuce at the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Then top with even layers of onion, eggs, and peas.
- Make the dressing. Whisk the mayo, Parmesan, honey, lemon juice, and garlic powder until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add top layers then chill. Spoon the dressing over the peas then sprinkle the final two layers of shredded cheese and bacon over top. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
Assemble the 7 layer salad up to 24 hours ahead of time. Such an easy way to prepare it!
- A decorative twist. If you’ve ever seen a 7 layer salad recipe that has a decorative row of sliced eggs around the edge of the bowl, you can do that too. Add a line of slices from 3 eggs around the inside of the bowl with the circles facing outwards. Then, add chopped eggs overtop the onions (inside the ring of egg slices) and continue layering as instructed.
- Use long tongs or a spoon with a long handle. To serve this salad, you want to make sure that everyone can dig deep enough to the bottom to get a little of everything.
- For individual portions, make smaller salads using glass mason jars. That way everyone can have their own 7 layer salad.
Yep! The lettuce, onions, eggs, peas, dressing, cheese, and bacon account for the seven layers.
Here’s the basics, find lots more tips in my how to hard boil eggs post. Place eggs in a single layer in a pot and cover with water. Heat over medium-high heat until the water starts to boil. Cover with a lid, remove from heat and set a timer for 12 minutes. Cool the eggs in an ice bath or run them under cold water. Peel and use as needed.
This is one of those side dishes that goes well with so many mains. There is a ton of protein in it, so it’s definitely a meal all on its own, but when used as a side, I like to have it with traditional barbecue dishes.
Homemade hamburgers, BBQ chicken or turkey burgers are family favorites.
Not at all. It actually acts as a barrier and helps to keep the bottom veggies nice and fresh. Of course, once you start serving it, it will naturally get tossed around, in which case will start to become soggy as any other salad would.
More Easy Salad RecipesBrowse all
7 Layer Salad
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1-2 Tablespoons honey or sugar , more to taste
- 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice , or vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt & Pepper , to taste
Optional toppings: Cherry tomatoes, sliced green onions
- In a salad spinner, wash and dry the lettuce. Lay on a paper towel-lined plate to soak up excess water. In a small bowl of cold water, soak the onion 5 minutes to mellow flavor. Drain and pat dry.
- In the bottom of a large glass bowl or baking dish, place the lettuce in an even layer. Sprinkle with salt. Top with even layers of onion, eggs and peas.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, parmesan, honey, lemon juice and garlic powder until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon the dressing over the peas. Then sprinkle the cheese and bacon over top.
- Cover and chill at least 1 hours or up to 24 hours. Before serving, top with any extra desired toppings. Scoop the salad to serve, or toss if desired.
- green pepper
- sugar snap peas
- green onions
- red bell pepper
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!