19 of Grandma's Best Summer Salads
When you hear the phrase, "eat your veggies," chances are, you think of mom. (Grandma is more often the one who slips you candies, cookies, or perhaps an extra big scoop of ice cream behind mom's back.) But where did mom get that penchant for produce in the first place? From her mom, no doubt! That's where these grandma salad recipes come in. Ranging from creamy potato salads to refreshing coleslaw recipes and picnic-perfect pasta salads, they showcase timeless ways to eat more fruits and vegetables disguised as favorite summer salads.
Best Classic Potato Salad
"Creamy, tangy, and crunchy, with a hint of spice and sweetness from pickles, this reminds me of my grandmother's potato salad served any time we had barbecue. She always dotted it with olives for a finishing touch and a perfect briny addition. This is the best classic version of good old-fashioned, Southern-style potato salad," says Nicolemcmom, who shared this recipe. With just enough mayo to complement the zip, courtesy of sour cream, mustard, dill pickles, and olives, this potato salad is an ideal complement to any summer sandwiches or grilled entrées.
Elotes (Mexican Corn in a Cup)
Allrecipes home cook Kelsie explains, "I grew up just outside of a Mexican border town, and at least twice a month my grandmother would take me across the border to do some shopping. I remember the food stands found at every corner street and almost all of them sold elotes. It was one of my favorite vendor foods. Every time I make it, I am reminded of my childhood." Whether or not you grew up on Mexican cuisine, this easy elotes recipe will warm your heart and please your taste buds. A squeeze of lime and dash of Tajin are ideal complements to the richer elements of mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese.
Roasted Lettuce, Radicchio, and Endive
Rather than being a family heirloom recipe from her own grandma, this recipe came to Allrecipes home cook Buckwheat Queen while she was traveling. "A Sicilian grandmother taught me to make roasted lettuces this way. I like it for a change from serving cold salad. It is healthy and delicious! Most people like it served with crunchy bread." Or try the olive- and caper-studded leafy green salad stacked inside a sandwich or as an omelet filling.
Marinated Garden Tomatoes
Fresh herbs, tomatoes, green onions, and a super-simple red wine vinaigrette star in this super-refreshing make-ahead salad recipe. Allrecipes home cook Mrs_Mike says, "My grandmother first served this wonderful dish with tomatoes fresh from her garden when I was a child. It's great on a hot day for a crisp side dish. I use the leftover marinade when the first batch is gone and add it to the next batch. Its tangy taste is much loved, even by my non-veggie-loving kids!"
Pasta Chickpea Salad
For a Mediterranean twist on a classic pasta salad, try this make-ahead side dish that features chickpeas, Parmesan cheese, and olives, plus plenty of fresh parsley and oregano. "This recipe was my grandmother's, brought over from Italy many years ago. It was always one of my favorites. Thanks, Norna," says home cook Anita Hughes. After one bite of our first batch, we're ready to echo those sentiments — thanks, Norna!
Grandma's Macaroni Salad
"A sweet macaroni salad just like Grandma used to make," recipe creator Hope explains of this dish that gets its slightly-sweet flavor from sweet relish in the salad itself, plus Miracle Whip and a pinch of sugar in the dressing. "The dressing is a good basic macaroni salad dressing that you can use with your own macaroni salad recipe. You must refrigerate for at least 4 hours for all of the flavors to blend together."
Grandma's Cucumber and Onion Salad
On the hottest days of summer, little is more refreshing than a hydrating cucumber salad. Light on ingredients and prep time but heavy on zippy flavor, this salad was a summer staple for both of the recipe developer's grandmothers come cucumber season. Fans who have tried this suggest starting with half as much sugar as called for, then adding more to taste. "Takes me back to younger days...family reunions, picnics in the park; much easier and relaxed times," says Allrecipes member gijoedad. "Great recipe!"
Amelia's Tuna Macaroni Salad
Pasta salad meets tuna salad in this hearty yet healthy summer salad. Canned tuna, canned peas and jarred pickle relish make it easy — and affordable — to make this dish any day. Good thing, because we're always craving a little extra dose of nostalgia. "This macaroni salad will remind you of Grandma's. I love this when the weather is warm," says Peach822, who shared this recipe. "One of the basic comfort foods!"
Purple Apple Slaw
Whether you opt for entirely grandma's way, or simply just give a nod to her, you can't go wrong with an heirloom coleslaw recipe. This refreshing, low-fuss rendition is "pretty and delicious, too! The combination of the purple cabbage (a little sweeter than the green) and the apples is awesome. The dressing is my Grandma's recipe," says recipe creator STARFLOWER. "You will be sure to impress your guests!'
Nina's Cucumber Salad
"Not only was it delicious, but it was also low in calories and carbs, which tickled me," raves Allrecipes home cook Sarah Jo, who ranked this recipe a full five stars. The entire sour cream- and dill-infused cucumber salad is also a breeze to make, calling for just 15 minutes of prep time. It's passed down from Brandi Rose's grandma, who swore by this summer salad as the way to use up cucumbers and herbs from her garden.
Grandma Edythe's Sour Cream Potato Salad
Speaking of sour cream, it teams up with the more classic potato salad dressing ingredient in this mayonnaise-based salad to offer a welcome tangy element. Briny pickles, buttery potatoes, savory hard-boiled eggs and fresh green onions round out the line-up. For extra zip in this summer salad, pour in a splash of pickle brine!
Grandma Z's Crunch Salad
Named after the kitchen-savvy matriarch who created it, this big-batch broccoli salad is coated in just enough of the warmly-spiced curry dressing. Salty bacon balances the sweet grapes, while pine nuts add crunch. "My family loves this! Definitely a keeper, and perfect as a side dish for cookouts," says Allrecipes Allstar fabeveryday, who rated this salad recipe worthy of five stars.
Date-Marshmallow Waldorf Salad
Admittedly, it feels like a bit of a stretch to call anything with a mayo- and whipped cream-based dressing a "salad." But such is the Midwestern way come potluck season, and this is a delightful variation on the creamy fruit salad theme. Walnuts and tart apples offer crunch, while sweet dates and marshmallows make this taste totally dessert-worthy. Allrecipes home cook Linda says, "I've kept this recipe from my Grandmother. Apples, celery, dates and walnuts are dressed in a light fluffy marshmallow cream. It's very good and children seem to love it."
Grandma Bellows' Lemony Shrimp Macaroni Salad with Herbs
"This salad came straight from my grandmother's recipe collection. It's a tradition every summer and soooo refreshing and delicious," explains Allrecipes home cook Parizienne. "Be sure to put this on ice if it's going to be served outdoors." The chilled portion is important to deliver the best flavor, plus for food safety reasons — this mac salad features shrimp and hard-boiled eggs so it eats more like a mini meal than a side dish.
Grandma Wells' Tuna Macaroni Salad
Fully loaded with freezer and pantry staples (mayonnaise, elbow macaroni, frozen peas, canned tuna, pickles), this nostalgic and delicious salad can be made without a special trip to the store — and without a lot of fuss. "This is how tuna salad is supposed to be," says home cook dndsmom. "If you want 'fancy schmancy' then go make up your own recipe and leave this one alone! Thank you Grandma Wells."
Crisp Marinated Cucumbers
Remarkably light and refreshing on a scorching summer day, this salad only needs white vinegar, white sugar, sweet onion, celery seed, salt and — you guessed it! — cucumbers. "This is IT! I've tried a couple recipes from this website and neither have been the exact kind that my mom used to make. This is though!" says Alllrecipes fan Turquoise, who whipped up mistyaikin's grandma's recipe and rated it five stars.
Incredible as a side with sandwiches of any kind, this recipe with sauerkraut will win over even the kraut-averse. After chilling for 2 days prior to serving, the flavors meld and mellow (just like great grandma Maida Dixon did, according to recipe-sharer Joan Long Dixon), the results are well-balanced and crowd-pleasing. Carrots, celery, bell peppers, and pimentos amp up the color and crunch factor. "It really is worth the wait," Joan says.
Candy Apple Salad
A fruit salad that tastes like candy or caramel apples, thanks to some frozen whipped topping, crushed pineapple and dry-roasted peanuts in the mix? Sign us up! "My grandmother gave me this recipe earlier today. I am not crazy about apples, but love this salad," says PRAISINGGOD, who kindly shared the recipe. "I told my husband to hurry up and eat it before I eat too much. My grandmother told me it is like the candy apples at a fair, which I also am not crazy about. Still this was the best salad ever!"
Cumin and Coriander Chickpea Salad
With a hint of Mexican and Indian flair (hat tip to you, cayenne pepper, cumin, bell pepper, and cilantro), this bean salad pairs beautifully with everything from tacos to tri-tip steak to takeout deli sandwiches come picnic season. Mrs_Mike's grandma used to toss it together to share at summer gatherings, and Allrecipes home cooks have been following her lead for years. "Looking for something new to bring to our weekly family lunches, I stumbled upon this interesting looking recipe. All I can say is that it was easy to make (although a bit time consuming), and a huge hit! Everyone FLIPPED for the bean salad," says Joyce. "It's light and great for the summer."