Bright, crunchy, and colorful, this easy Seven Layer Salad recipe is a fun blast from the past for any party. Make it as-is, just like you remember it, or switch up those layers in a million different delicious ways.
Full disclosure: Seven Layer Salad is very much a classic Midwestern recipe.
If you’ve never had it, you’re probably scratching your head trying to figure out how it works, what’s in it, and what it will taste like. (It’s really, really good.)
Making Seven Layer Salad for a crowd? All you have to do is click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
What’s in Seven Layer Salad?
Technically, Seven Layer Salad ingredients are only limited by your imagination. But here’s what a traditional Seven Layer Salad always includes:
- Lettuce. Iceberg, crispy head lettuce, or Romaine.
- Red Onion.
- Frozen peas.
- Cheddar cheese.
- Optional: Hard Boiled Eggs. Many people say this salad should include egg, however, I've never had a seven layer salad with it. Feel free to add it!
**Some cooks swear by adding freshly grated Parmesan cheese to the dressing, too!
How to make Seven Layer Salad:
Before you begin, you should decide on what bowl to use for your layered salad. A clear glass bowl shows off all the hard work you put into chopping the vegetables. And a clear glass bowl with straight sides makes it easy to assemble.
First layer: in the bottom of the bowl, spread the shredded lettuce.
Second layer: a thin layer of chopped red onion.
Third layer: chopped celery.
Fourth layer: peas.
Fifth layer: spread the mayo over everything. Sprinkle with a little sugar. (This is also where the Parmesan cheese comes in, if you’re using it. Mix it into the mayo or sprinkle it on top.)
Sixth layer: grated cheddar cheese.
Seventh layer: crispy chopped bacon.
That’s all there is to it! Cover the salad up with plastic wrap and chill for a at least a couple hours.
Seven Layer Salad dressing:
A thicker, mayo-heavy dressing is usually the best dressing for Seven layer Salad because it stays on top and doesn’t make the salad soggy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t tweak it a bit!
Here are some great options:
- Mayonnaise dressing. Plain, good quality mayo like Hellman’s or Best Foods is perfect. A little sugar makes it just slightly sweet, but even that’s optional if you’re watching your sugar intake.
- Sour cream. Some cooks love mixing half mayo, half sour cream to make Seven Layer Salad dressing. It adds a little extra tanginess to the dressing.
- Miracle Whip. Families are either mayonnaise or Miracle Whip families. The only difference between them is that the salad dressing Miracle Whip already has added sugar, paprika, and garlic powder, unlike mayo.
- This is totally up to you and your taste, but you can use Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise.
- Parmesan cheese. A few tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese taste great added to the mayo.
- Blue cheese. Crumbled blue cheese, or the Best Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing might be fabulous.
- Ranch. Ranch dressing might be too thin, but if you season the mayonnaise with Ranch seasoning—-now we’re talking!
What else can you put in a Seven Layer Salad?
The bowl is the limit, but you can mix up the ingredients as you like. Switch out a few layers, or change it up entirely based on a theme or season. There are absolutely enough ingredients that you could make a different type of Seven Layer Salad that you could eat every day.
- Chopped bell peppers.
- Sliced cherry tomatoes.
- Marinated artichoke hearts.
- Hearts of palm.
- Toasted walnuts.
- Cubed avocado.
- Gorgonzola or blue cheese.
- Feta cheese.
- Diced turkey or ham.
- Roasted red peppers.
- Pitted olives.
- Blanched green beans, chopped.
- Toasted pine nuts.
- Mandarin orange segments.
- Roasted beets.
- Crispy fried onions.
How to serve Seven Layer Salad:
Even though you might be tempted to mix the whole thing up, don’t! Serve the salad with a deep spoon and let everyone scoop out what they like. They’ll get enough of everything and it will get mixed up on their plates. Promise!
Seven Layer Salad Recipe
- 1 head lettuce shredded
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 2-3 stalks celery sliced (about 1 cup)
- 12 ounces frozen peas thawed
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 pound bacon fried and crumbled
- Spread the lettuce evenly in the bottom of a glass bowl. Top with red onion, celery, and peas.
- Spread mayonnaise on top of celery and sprinkle with sugar. Top with cheddar cheese and bacon. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.