The Best Salad Toppings

Salads are no fun without salad toppings! We've rounded up everything we could think of to add to your green lunches!

This citrus berry spinach salad is loaded with ingredients like pistachios, cranberries, goat cheese, oranges and blackberries and it's perfect for a summer salad!

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
  • arugula
  • spinach
  • kale
  • romaine
  • iceburg
  • butter lettuce
  • shredded cabbage
A salad topped with homemade ranch dressing.

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
  • croutons

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.

Salad Proteins

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...

Don't settle for boring salads! This?Plum Quinoa Kale Salad is packed with flavors and textures that will make this your new favorite salad. The salad has a bed of kale, topped with soft quinoa, crunchy and flavorful walnuts and sweet plums and has a simple honey vinaigrette to bring all of the flavors together.

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:

  • feta
  • goat cheese
  • parmesan
  • blue cheese
  • cheddar
  • 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:

Add this?Strawberry Vinaigrette Spinach Salad to your regular diner rotation! This salad has a spinach base, topped with walnuts, goat cheese, fresh strawberries, diced apples and finally tossed in a homemade strawberry vinaigrette dressing. The dressing is a perfect balance of sweet and tangy. This salad is perfect for any time of year, but especially satisfying for summer and fall!

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:

  • strawberries
  • apples
  • pears
  • oranges
  • lemons
  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • pomegranate arils
  • dried cranberries
  • raisins

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
  • olives
  • capers

Adding a crunchy element with croutons, seeds or nuts is another way to take a salad to the next level.

Homemade ranch dressing is poured onto a fresh salad.

Salad Dressings

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:

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.