The Types of Salad of Everyone Needs to Know About
Consider this your salad cheat sheet.
There are a lot of different types of salads out there. Most of these salads can be categorized into three different subgroups: tossed, composed, and bound. Here's everything you need to know about these salad types, including how to identify and make each one:
This is probably what you think of when you think "salad." Tossed salads are made by tossing ingredients (and usually dressing) in a haphazard way, so that they end up evenly mixed.
Types of tossed salads you may be familiar with are:
Romaine lettuce, croutons, and Parmesan tossed with a dressing featuring lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Italian restaurateur Caesar Cardini is credited with inventing the salad in the 1920s. In its early days, Caesar salads were tossed at the table by the chef.
Get the recipe: Caesar Salad Supreme
Leafy Green Salad
"Green salad" is a general term that can refer to any tossed salad made with greens, such as iceberg lettuce, arugula, and spinach. Many basic salads are made with mixed greens, which you can buy at the grocery store. Bags of mixed greens usually include romaine, Swiss chard, arugula, and more.
Get the recipe: Strawberry Spinach Salad
A Greek salad consists of tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta, and onions. It's lightly dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Greek salads can be served with or without lettuce — when there's no lettuce, it's sometimes called "horiatiki."
Get the recipe: Greek Salad
Fattoush is a Levantine salad composed of mixed greens and toasted or fried khubz, or flatbread. It often includes vegetables (like tomatoes and onions) and herbs and spices (like sumac, a Middle Eastern spice with a sour taste).
Get the recipe: Arabic Fattoush
Traditionally, salade niçoise is made with tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, anchovies or tuna, and Niçoise olives. Modern versions of the salad can include potatoes and seasonal vegetables. The famous French dish — which originated in Nice — can be served tossed or composed, but you'll most often find it tossed in olive oil.
Get the recipe: Salad Niçoise
Composed salads are, well, composed. While the ingredients in a tossed salad are thrown together with dressing, the ingredients in a composed salad are carefully assembled from the ground up with a certain structure in mind.
A Cobb is a hearty salad, so it's generally served as an entree instead of a side dish. It's made with chopped lettuce, bacon, grilled chicken, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, avocados, Roquefort cheese, and red wine vinaigrette. The lettuce is usually found on the bottom of the bowl or serving dish with the other ingredients arranged neatly on top.
Get the recipe: Cobb Salad
A wedge salad is made from a halved or quartered head of iceberg lettuce. The leaves are kept intact and not separated or shredded. The lettuce is topped with crispy pieces of bacon and blue cheese dressing.
Get the recipe: Wedge Salad with Elegant Blue Cheese Dressing
Caprese is a classic Italian salad made with sliced tomatoes, sliced fresh mozzarella, fresh sweet basil, salt, and olive oil. The red, white, and green hues found in this salad match the colors of the Italian flag. The ingredients are usually arranged artfully in the chef's favorite design.
Get the recipe: Insalata Caprese II
Bound salads are held together with a binding agent like mayonnaise or a thick dressing. They look a bit different than traditional composed or tossed salads, as vegetables aren't a requirement. This is a kind of salad you'll often find at traditional picnics or potlucks.
"Chicken salad" usually refers to a dish made of shredded chicken and mayonnaise. Other common chicken salad ingredients are grapes, hard-boiled eggs, pickles, and onions. The beauty of chicken salad is you can get as creative as you want — start with a chicken-mayo base, then go from there.
Get the recipe: Basic Chicken Salad
Ambrosia is an American fruit salad. Though it's considered somewhat vintage today, ambrosia salad is still a hugely popular side dish in much of the country. There's not a set recipe for ambrosia, but it generally consists of canned or fresh fruits (like Mandarin oranges, cherries, and pineapples), mixed shredded coconut and marshmallows. There's usually a thick binding agent (like mayonnaise, cream cheese, or sour cream) to hold the ingredients together.
Get the recipe: Sarah's Ambrosia Fruit Salad
A Waldorf salad is a fruity, nutty salad that gets its name from the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York where it originated. It's made with grapes, apples, celery, walnuts, and mayonnaise. It may or may not be served over a bed of lettuce.
Get the recipe: Chef John's Waldorf Salad