Salads are no fun without salad toppings! We've rounded up everything we could think of to add to your green lunches!
Salads — you either love them or you hate them. They're a necessary evil!
But anyone can love a salad when it's topped with your favorite toppings! Leave off anything you don't like.
We've put together a list of our favorite salad toppings, from veggies to dressings. But we have to start with the foundation: the right base.
Choosing a Base
Leafy greens come in many shapes and textures. Start with your favorite or use up what's in your fridge.
Ideally, the base should complement your desired toppings. For example, if you go for a bitter-tasting green, you might wish to add some cheese and a sweet element.
Here are a few to try:
- mixed greens
- butter lettuce
- shredded cabbage
Classic Salad Toppings
If you go to a salad bar, you'll likely find a spectrum of classic toppings. These timeless choices never fail. They provide a balance of flavors, textures and colors.
Try one of these universally loved salad toppings:
- diced tomatoes
- cherry tomatoes
- sliced cucumbers
- red onions
- shredded carrots
- grated cheese
You can even make salads as part of a rice bowl, grain bowl or burrito bowl. Add the greens on top of a base of your favorite rice, like brown rice or Mexican cauliflower rice, or a grain, like quinoa or farro.
Protein is a must to make a filling, satisfying salad. If there's no protein, you won't stay full for long.
Here are some ideas for salad proteins:
- meat & fish: steak, bacon, grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon
- nuts & seeds: almonds, pecans, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds/pepitas
- plant-based: tofu, chickpeas, plant-based burgers
- eggs: hard-boiled eggs, sliced or halved
Cheese is another way to add protein. Speaking of...
Cheesy Salad Toppings
Different types of cheese bring different textures and flavors. They can be creamy, tangy or savory and soft or hard.
But don't go crazy. Stick to one or two types of cheese, such as:
- goat cheese
- blue cheese
- pepper jack
Best Veggie Toppings for Salads
Use a variety of cooked and raw vegetables in your salads to create a range of textures and colors. Plus, they up the nutritional value!
Try these veggies:
Fruits for Salads
Incorporating fresh fruits is a great way to liven up a boring salad. Fruits can provide natural sweetness and a burst of refreshing flavors with every bite.
Additionally, dried fruits like raisins can add chewy and sweet pops of flavor too.
Try these fruits on your salad:
- pomegranate arils
- dried cranberries
You could even spoon leftover fruit salad over greens for a doubly good salad.
Gourmet Salad Toppings
You can get very creative with salads! Here are some ideas for more unique yet sophisticated salad toppings:
- marinated artichoke hearts
- sun-dried tomatoes
Adding a crunchy element with croutons, seeds or nuts is another way to take a salad to the next level.
Salad dressings are a must! But you can leave them off or serve them on the side as a dipping sauce if you prefer.
Be sure to select the right dressing to tie all the toppings together. You might not want to serve a creamy, tangy dressing like ranch with something fruity like strawberries, for example. If you're unsure, taste the dressing with ingredients you're not sure about before dressing your salad.
Some people prefer to add salad dressing first, massaging it and mixing it into the greens so they are well coated. But drizzling it over top works just fine too. It's all a matter of preference.
For an event or dinner party, you should add a few options to the table, such as:
- balsamic vinaigrette
- ranch dressing
- blue cheese dressing
- Catalina dressing
- Caesar dressing
- jalapeño ranch dressing
- Italian dressing
- thousand island dressing
- Russian dressing
- strawberry vinaigrette
And that's not all! Here are even more ideas to add to your salad creations.
More Salad Toppings to Try
What would you add to this list? Comment below and let us know.