Traditional 7 Layer Salad recipe layers an ultra creamy dressing with lettuce, peas, cheese, eggs, and bacon. Layer salad can be made ahead, refrigerated overnight, and is ready to serve for a crowd or party!
This post first appeared over at Real Housemoms where I’m a contributor.
Seven Layer Salad
You would be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t encountered a traditional Seven Layer Salad at a party, potluck, or funeral luncheon. This overnight layered salad recipe will bring you back to the one Grandma used to make.
It’s an American staple when any sort of crowd is gathered, right up there with chicken salad, fudgy brownies and jello salad. A classic 7 Layer Salad recipe never goes out of style because it’s perfect for entertaining.
It’s effortlessly made by layering simple ingredients, covering them in a thick dressing, and refrigerating overnight. An easy, yet beautiful side dish is ready to feed a crowd!
Making 7 Layer Salad in 9X13 Dish
Seven Layer Salad can be made and served in a variety of different dishes, not just a trifle bowl. The key is for it to be glass to see the layers, and big enough to hold at least 4 quarts.
Overnight Layered Salad Ingredients
Seven Layer Salad is adaptable to preferred vegetables and ingredients. Below are the most traditional ingredients in 7 Layer Salad and suggestions of ingredients to add or swap out.
- Lettuce – Iceberg lettuce is ideal because it maintains its crispness after refridgerating overnight
- Red onion – Preferred because of its milder flavor. Soak the sliced onions in water to mellow the flavor.
- Hard boiled eggs
- Peas – Add frozen peas to the salad. They will thaw by the time it’s served and it keeps the layers extra cold and crisp.
- Red bell pepper – I love the color, crispness, and sweetness it adds to layer salad
- Cucumber – Halve and scrape out seeds so extra moisture doesn’t make the salad soggy
- Bacon – I prefer to cook bacon in the oven because I hate mess it makes on the stove!
- Cheese – Cheddar, Colby jack, or blue cheese
Alternative ingredients used in traditional 7 Layer Salad:
- Cauliflower or Broccoli – Adds another crunchy, crisp layer
- Green or yellow pepper – Substitute for red pepper
- Celery – Substitute for cucumber
- Tomatoes – A lot of Seven Layer Salads add chopped tomatoes, but I find they add too much moisture. If used, remove the seeds or use whole grape tomatoes.
- Green onions – Substitute for red onions
7 Layer Salad Dressing with Mayonnaise
Although the dressing uses five simple ingredients, it doesn’t lack in flavor. Adding a touch of sugar balances out the creamy mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip) and vinegar.
Hot sauce gives a tangy kick, without an overwhelming spice. My preferred brand is Frank’s Red Hot because it has a mellow heat that won’t overwhelm.
If you have a favorite dressing feel free to swap out for ranch, blue cheese, or whatever creamy dressing you love. But I highly recommend trying my homemade dressing.
It’s kind of amazing, uses simple ingredients, only takes 5 minutes. Sounds manageable, right?
How long will 7 Layer last and keep it from becoming soggy
This salad will last and stay crisp for a couple days by following these tips:
- Dry the lettuce thoroughly and remove excess moisture. The best way to do this is by using a salad spinner and then laying the lettuce on a dish towel to soak up any remaining water. Salting the iceberg lettuce also draws out extra moisture.
- When serving the salad it’s not necessary to toss the dressing with the lettuce and veggies. The dressing, veggies, and lettuce all come together perfectly when scooped out with a large spoon. Plus this ensures any leftovers stay just as crisp and delicious!
- Follow the order of ingredients on the recipe. The layer of thick dressing on top keeps all the veggies sealed and fresh.
- Use veggies that maintain crispness, even after a day or two. Although some recipes use chopped tomatoes and mushrooms, I don’t recommend it because they contain too much moisture. If you’d like to add tomatoes use uncut grape tomatoes.
How To Make 7 Layer Salad Recipe
- Rinse and dry lettuce. Place half the lettuce in the bottom of a trifle bowl, 9X13 glass pan, or other large glass serving bowl. Sprinkle with salt
- Top with layers of onion, hard boiled eggs, peas, bell pepper, and cucumber. Top with reserved lettuce.
- Mix dressing ingredients and spread over top of the salad in a thick layer.
- Top dressing with shredded cheese and crumbled bacon.
- Refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours.
Other Favorite Potluck Recipes:
- BBQ Pulled Chicken
- Snickerdoodle Bars
- Baked Beans
- Shrimp Avocado Salsa
- Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad
- Classic Macaroni Salad
- Sugar Cookie Bars
- Frozen Fruit Salad
- Strawberry Feta Salad
SAVE THIS SEVEN LAYER SALAD TO YOUR PINTEREST BOARD!
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7 Layer Salad
- 1 head iceberg lettuce, cored and chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin
- 6 hard boiled eggs, peeled
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 cucumber, halved, seeded, and chopped
- 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
- 10 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce, Frank's Red Hot is preferred
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Wash the chopped lettuce and thoroughly dry. Running through a salad spinner and then laying on a dish towel to soak up excess water is recommended. Meanwhile, soak red onion in a small bowl of cold water for 5 minutes to mellow flavor. Drain and pat dry.
- Layer half the lettuce on the bottom of a trifle bowl or glass bowl. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Layer red onion on top.
- Slice 3 eggs and place, standing up, around the edge of the bowl, sitting on top of the onion. Chop the remaining eggs and sprinkle on top of onion. Alternatively, chop all the eggs and layer on top.
- Layer frozen peas, bell pepper, and cucumber on top. Add remaining lettuce to bowl and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- Mix together all the dressing ingredients and spread on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle cheese and bacon on top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. (see note) It isn't necessary to toss the salad before serving. Leaving layers in tact will keep the salad crisp and fresh longer.
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