33 Healthy Salad Recipes
Forget salads that leave you hungry and wanting more: Our best and most flavorful healthy summer salad recipes are the stars of any meal.
No one would dare call these salads “rabbit food.” With grilled meat on top, homemade dressings and vinaigrettes, and crisp, fresh veggie toppings, these summer salads make sturdy meals that will fill you up without stretching your waistband.
This classic salad niçoise—meaning in the style of Nice, in the French Riviera—combines hard-cooked eggs, fingerling potatoes, haricots vert, grape tomatoes, and, of course, tuna.
A traditional niçoise doesn’t require lettuce, but our version uses a bed of fresh mixed greens to add heft and texture to the meal. Arrange the toppings artfully on top or, if you’re more of a free spirit, toss everything together with delicious caper vinaigrette. Regardless of how you arrange this salad, it’s sure to taste amazing. Bon appétit!
- Recipe: Grilled Tuna Salad Niçoise
No anchovies here! The assertiveness of grated bottarga lends a sea-kissed flavor to an otherwise classic Caesar salad. Celery is a typically Sardinian pairing with bottarga; together they provide crunch and a creamy, luscious finish.
What is bottarga? Forcibly salty, briny, and unabashedly fishy, bottarga's essence is bold and hopelessly addictive. The charcuterie of the sea, bottarga is fish roe that is salt-cured and dried. It's most commonly produced from grey mullet; more precious varietals are made from the roe of tuna or even swordfish. The intact egg sac is removed from the fish, cured with sea salt, and then pressed and dried for a few weeks, depending on the desired firmness—much like salami. It can be grated on top of salads, pastas, and veggies, or sliced and served with bread and olive oil.
Recipe: Caesar Salad with Bottarga
This quick and easy salad (ready in less than 25 minutes!) is colorful, tasty, and healthy. Colorful radishes are included in the recipe, but for extra flair, garnish with fresh chives and Parmesan cheese.
Lemon zest in the Lemony Caesar Dressing adds an extra splash of summer flavor; even better, this dressing can be made ahead of time, so the meal comes together even more quickly! Don’t like anchovy? No problem! Because this recipe calls for homemade dressing, adding anchovy paste is optional, so you can customize this salad to fit your palette.
- Recipe: Grilled Salmon Caesar Salad
Quinoa, Corn, and Mint Salad emphasizes the best parts of quinoa, an uber-healthy, uber-delicious, and uber-popular grain that is full of nutrients. Known as “the mother grain” in some places, quinoa is a great source of protein—and it’s gluten-free!
With just a few additions, like fresh corn kernels, mint, and lemon juice, this powerful super-food serves as the base of a healthy summer salad full of seasonal ingredients, good nutrients, and fresh flavors.
- Recipe: Quinoa, Corn, and Mint Salad
The key to this recipe is the marinade: made of garlic, sugar, Champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, and hot pepper sauce, it gives the mushrooms and steak perfect flavor. Just be sure to give the mushrooms and the steak plenty of time to soak in the excellent marinade!
Once you’ve grilled the mushrooms and the steak to perfection, all you have to do is toss the ingredients together and drizzle your homemade vinaigrette—made by adding blue cheese to set-aside marinade—on top. Yum!
This salad is a veritable rainbow of veggies: red and orange roasted tomatoes, yellow corn, green avocado, and purple red onion. They say you should make your plate a rainbow to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs, and our Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Summer Salad makes it easy!
Topping this rainbow of veggies with juicy grilled chicken makes this salad a balanced meal. And with a light dressing made of Dijon mustard, honey, and olive oil drizzled on top, this colorful salad tastes just as amazing as it looks.
Talk about a simple summer salad recipe. In this dish, a handful of high quality ingredients—grilled salmon, fresh asparagus, crisp arugula, and juicy cherry tomatoes—offer great flavor with minimal prep time. The complexity in this salad comes from the dressing: a deliciously creamy Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette that you can easily made at home. Just combine all the ingredients and shake to blend!
Pro tip: Salmon skin is easier to remove after cooking, so grill (or broil) the fillets first.
This salad covers your food-group bases: it has a veggie foundation topped with rice noodles with a bit of bite and sweet marinated pork. The key to perfect prep for this meal is giving the pork enough time to marinate—at least one hour, or as long as overnight.
The chili-garlic sauce that lends the noodles their kick of flavor also kicks the vegetables—fresh greens, cucumber, shredded carrot, and mint—up a notch. This salad definitely isn’t short on flavor, but you’ll be lucky if you’re not short on salad after everyone comes back for seconds!
- Recipe: Vietnamese Noodle Salad
Who doesn’t love a good Tuscan meal? Next time you make Italian food at home, try something new with panzanella, a salad made of soaked stale bread (there is a use for that bread you didn’t quite finish last night!) and tomatoes. Our coastal take on the traditional Tuscan summer dish adds shrimp and two different types of tomato.
Pro tip: For the freshest shrimp on the market, look for I.Q.F. on the label. It means "individually quick frozen."
- Recipe: Grilled Shrimp Panzanella Salad
This twist on the traditional BLT sandwich has all the best parts of the sandwich, served with a bit of flair. Ripe tomatoes drizzled with a basic homemade vinaigrette that uses Dijon mustard for unexpected bite steal the show. Because the tomatoes play such a major role, be sure to pick only the best—your taste buds will thank you! French baguette slices smothered in goat cheese round out this delicious dish.
Pro tip: Tomato “shoulders” are tender, so to avoid bruising, store tomatoes stem side up.
- Recipe: Deconstructed BLT
This healthy summer salad is, in a word, gorgeous. Give us a few more words, and we’ll say it’s delicious, light, and perfect for summer. Use fresh watermelon and tomatoes—they’ll be the brightest!—to really make your meal pop. Feta cheese and a light drizzle of an olive oil and lemon juice mixture add some savory notes to balance out the sweet watermelon.
Pro tip: You can use any combo of fresh herbs in this salad; we like a mixture of mint, basil, parsley, and chives.
We wouldn’t normally associate a Caesar Salad with the coast, but this recipe uses a coastal favorite—fresh Key limes!—as a delicious addition to the classic Caesar. Key lime juice, when combined with typical Caesar ingredients like olive oil and anchovies, makes a thick and creamy dressing perfect for the whole romaine leaves the recipe calls for.
We suggest serving toasted baguettes with this salad, but feel free to make it your own by adding grilled chicken or wrapping it up in a tortilla to make a Caesar wrap.
- Recipe: Lime Caesar Salad
This summer salad recipe is completely customizable! Pick your favorite prepared chicken salad and mix in some poppy seed salad dressing. Add pecans and grapes, or macadamia nuts and chopped pineapple for a more tropical dish—it’s all your choice! If you’re going to go the tropical route, we recommend adding about half a cup of coconut—it’s a surprisingly delicious addition!
Serve with crackers or pita chips for a tasty dip that no one will be able to resist.
- Recipe: Poppy Seed Chicken Salad
Sure, you could just mash up a crab cake on top of your salad, but we like this thoughtful recipe for its lighter texture, its flavor, and the added benefit of fresh veggies! Red bell pepper and cucumber bring some fresh crunch to the soft crabmeat, and, because you top each serving with breadcrumbs, you can pick how much—or how little!—you want.
Wine pairing: Try a 2005 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, like the 2005 Huia Sauvignon Blanc.
- Recipe: Maryland Crab Cake Salad
This healthy summer salad has minimal toppings, so the focus is on the nuanced flavors of the fish and dressing!
Rubbing the salmon with a mixture of spices and sugar before grilling it adds some extra flavors that enhance and complement the natural taste of fresh seafood. The homemade peach dressing that brings this salad together is deliciously sweet, made with fresh peaches and honey—but with lime juice to make sure the sweetness isn’t overpowering.
In this dish, colorful produce and creamy goat cheese come together to make a satisfying side salad—perfect for a summer seaside soirée.
This salad rejects leafy greens in favor of more vegetables: zucchini, yellow squash, sweet onion, and red bell pepper. Grilled to just-browned perfection, these veggies are then mixed with a simple olive oil and vinegar mixture for a little extra flavor. Crumbled goat cheese on top perfects the dish. Just remember: with a salad that focuses so much on the vegetables, picking the best produce is a must.
Everyone wants a dish that wows guests both in appearance and in taste, and this salad does both! The key to our Lime Shrimp Salad is taking the time to arrange the ingredients carefully. We recommend using lettuce as a base, mounding the boiled potatoes in the middle of your serving dish, and then surrounding the potatoes with avocado slices, shrimp, tomatoes, and watercress and drizzling the lime marinade on top.
Pro tip: Toss the warm boiled potatoes in some of the dressing mixture so they soak up the zesty flavor.
- Recipe: Lime Shrimp Salad
Marinated in a lively mixture of lemon juice, sriracha hot chilies, and fish sauce, these Vietnamese-style shrimp are full of savory flavor. Served on a bed of soft green tea soba noodles and cooling, crunchy vegetables, they’re sure to be a crowd-pleaser!
Pro tip: Soba noodles are made of buckwheat and wheat and have a nutty-earthy flavor. The version we use, made from green tea, can be tricky to find; you can easily substitute any long noodles, like spaghetti or linguine.
With minimal toppings, this summer salad recipe relies on fresh and flavorful grilled salmon with a light mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice marinade. This dish also uses a chunky tomato salsa-based dressing for added zest. Homemade croutons add crunch, but making them at home means you can control how much salt and sodium-heavy seasoning go on them.
Pro-tip: Instead of buying jarred salsa for the dressing, try making your own with one of our sensational salsa recipes.
This recipe is actually two in one: a delicious salad with crisp, crunchy radish and fresh, creamy avocado and a delicious golden crab cake filled with chopped herbs.
The salad serves as the base, with only a light lemon juice, olive oil, and mustard mixture for dressing, while the homemade crab cake on top brings texture and protein to the dish. The fresh chopped herbs in the crab cake set it apart; all together, this recipe is chock-full of unexpected combinations.
The simple marinade used on the chicken lends this dish its name, but it’s the dressing—a homemade feta dressing with white wine vinegar, honey, olive oil, and (of course) feta—that dominates the meal. Topping the salad with crumbled feta cheese and toasted pine nuts and serving with flatbread crackers adds an extra ounce of Mediterranean flair to the meal.
Pro tip: Grilled chicken is a classic for salads, but, if you want a little variation, try substituting your favorite fish.
- Recipe: Lemon-Thyme Chicken Salad
With grilled steak, crunchy spinach leaves, and a delectably fragrant and creamy Dijon-Rosemary dressing, this summer salad is sure to wow. Serving it with crumbled blue cheese on top and grilled baguette slices on the side only make the meal even more appealing.
But the best part about this dish? The steak is marinated in a red wine mixture. That gives us the perfect excuse to crack open a bottle for cooking and drink the leftovers!
In this perfect-for-summer salad, three different kinds of greens serve as the bed, and fresh vegetables and seeds on top add delicious flavor. The ingredients for this salad and herb vinaigrette are all items one might find in a home garden. And while not everyone’s garden will be this abundant, you can definitely find these ingredients in-season at your local farmers market.
Pro tip: You can save any leftover vinaigrette for up to two days in the refrigerator.
Sweet chopped mango and a homemade creamy dressing with just a hint of curry powder–punch meet in this dish, striking the perfect balance between sweet and spicy.
What else sets this colorful dish apart? It isn’t overly leafy. Chopped Napa cabbage (also known as Chinese cabbage) serves as the base, while the toppings—chicken, mango, red bell pepper, cucumber, and cilantro and red onion for flavor—take center stage and add plenty of texture to the meal.
- Recipe: Chicken-Mango Chopped Salad
With this summer salad, making the homemade pistachio vinaigrette is easy—the hard part is picking which vegetables to grill! We recommend plum tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, bell pepper, red onion, and asparagus, but the beauty of this recipe is that you can pick the vegetables that look freshest or that you like the most! Customizing this recipe also means that you can make this dish year round, with different vegetables depending on what’s in-season.
- Recipe: Grilled Vegetable Salad
Revel in the fresh flavors of this delicious Mexican-inspired summer salad! Blackened shrimp is delicious enough to make this dish taste great, but when you add jicama—a sweet root vegetable—and grilled corn salsa and homemade cilantro-lime dressing, it becomes nearly sublime. And don’t worry about it being soggy—the blackened shrimp and crispy tortilla strips add plenty of crunch.
Pro tip: If you can't find jicama, use a crisp, white turnip instead.
Panzanella is a rustic Italian bread-and-tomato salad that comes from Tuscany. Crouton-like bread cubes bring plenty of crunchy texture to the dish, and red and yellow tomatoes marinated in olive oil, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar make deliciously juicy toppings.
This recipe uses cannellini beans as the main source of protein in the dish, but meat-lovers can add grilled chicken or their favorite fish. Crumbled pecorino cheese sprinkled on top polishes this salad off.
- Recipe: Panzanella
Top a fresh, crisp cucumber-watercress salad with seared sesame-crusted fish for a refreshing Asian-inspired summer salad. The red leaf lettuce and watercress salad is tossed in a sake, rice vinegar, and wasabi dressing and topped with cucumbers and radishes. The fish is marinated in a sweet, dark sauce for maximum flavor.
A fast-growing fish, mahi mahi is considered an ocean-friendly seafood choice. At the market, look for a fish with brightly colored skin and meat with a pinkish hue.
Hoppin' John is a good ol’ fashioned Southern dish, with black-eyed peas, rice, and a few strips of bacon for flavor. Eating it on New Year's Day is said to bring good luck, but it's a beloved side dish year-round.
This perfect-for-summer recipe adds jalapeño for a little extra kick; cooking shrimp in lemon juice and olive oil and adding it to the mix just brings some more texture to the meal.
- Recipe: Shrimp and Hoppin' John Salad
This chilled pasta salad is perfect for a picnic! Salmon, tomatoes, olives, and red onion make delicious, refreshing toppings, and the pasta base is just filling enough.
When cooking the pasta, use four to six quarts of water for every pound of pasta. Stir about ½ to 1 tablespoon of salt per pound of pasta into the boiling water before adding the noodles. Adding oil keeps the noodles from sticking together, but it also keeps flavorful sauces from sticking.
- Recipe: Salmon Niçoise Pasta Salad
Adding juicy watermelon to an otherwise savory salad may seem strange, but the sweet fruit balances out the savory flavors of the tomato and the grilled shrimp, and a rich homemade dressing made up of balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, and olive oil ties the dish together. A bed of crisp arugula—or baby spinach, if you prefer—supplies perfect texture. Because this recipe uses so few ingredients, picking the freshest, most colorful fruit and vegetables is imperative.
The surprising ingredient in this delicious summer salad? Bacon. Bacon and seafood are prepared together more often than you might think, and in this dish, they make a perfect pair. Scallops toughen easily, so take care not to overcook them, but be sure to prepare the bacon so it’s nice and crispy.
For a wine pairing, we suggest a German or French Riesling. Rieslings are great with bacon and seafood and will bring body to the meal.
Light, refreshing, and perfect for any time of year, this healthy summer salad can be tossed together in 15 minutes flat. The dressing uses honey, lime juice, and a few drops of hot sauce for surprising zest. The oxymoronic jumbo shrimp is flavored with onion and mint; combining it with sweet watermelon brings out its tangy fresh flavor. Feta cheese crumbles sprinkled on top make the perfect accompaniment.