When it comes to potlucks and cookouts, nothing beats a 7 Layer Salad! Make this recipe ahead of time for an easy side dish everyone loves!
Why We Love This Recipe for 7 Layer Salad
- 7 Layer Salad is the perfect potluck side dish to make all summer long! Loaded with flavor, this salad is both light and nicely filling so it’s exactly what you’re craving when it’s hot outside.
- Chop, shred, whisk, and voila! Your salad is a work of art! This side dish is easy to prepare and assemble, with each beautiful layer on display, showcasing the delicious ingredients.
- Customize this salad with the ingredients you love by swapping similar colored items for the ones you don’t care for. Check out the tips section for ideas.
- This 7-layer salad recipe is a great make-ahead dish, so whip it up the night before the potluck and then there’s nothing to stress about when guests are arriving!
Ingredients for 7 Layer Salad
VEGGIES: To make this salad you will need iceberg lettuce, red onion, frozen peas, and a green bell pepper.
Other veggies that work great as substitutions are red bell pepper for the tomatoes, cauliflower and yellow bell pepper instead of eggs, and broccoli, cucumber, or celery for the peas. Add if you want to add an extra layer to two (like shredded carrots)… no one will mind.
EGGS: An entire layer of this salad is nothing but delicious hard-boiled eggs. Yum! It’s super easy to make them at home or you can buy hard-boiled and peeled eggs at the store.
TOPPINGS: Everything is better with cheese and crispy bacon so shred your favorite cheddar cheese and fry up bacon to crumble for a spectacular finish to this salad.
7 Layer Salad Dressing
REFRIGERATED ITEMS: To make the mayonnaise dressing for the 7-Layer Salad you will need mayo and sour cream. Both regular and light versions of these ingredients are fine.
SEASONINGS: You will need salt, pepper, hot sauce (such as Cholula), apple cider vinegar, and granulated sugar.
How to Make a 7-Layer SaladJump to Recipe
STEP 1 Add a layer of iceberg lettuce to the bottom of a trifle dish or large glass bowl. Top the lettuce with a layer of sliced red onions.
STEP 2 Layer the green bell peppers over the onions, and then add a layer of hard-boiled eggs (see my notes below about the presentation on this layer).
STEP 3 After that, you’ll add a layer of tomatoes and then the thawed peas.
STEP 4 To make the dressing, whisk together the mayo, sour cream, apple cider vinegar, hot sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper until smooth. Check the seasoning and adjust it to your taste. Then spread the dressing evenly over the peas. Now your salad has seven layers. Woo!
STEP 5 You can cover the salad with plastic wrap at this point or make a tasty choice and add shredded cheese and crumbled bacon over the salad and then cover it. Either way, refrigerate the salad for at least 6 hours before serving. Remember to scoop all the way down to the bottom of the bowl when serving so that guests get each delicious layer!
Tips & Tricks
- For the egg layer, sometimes I’ll slice the hard-boiled eggs and gently press the slices to the sides of the bowl so the white and yellow are visible. Then I’ll chop the ends of the eggs along with a couple of whole eggs and layer them over the peppers.
- When assembling the salad, start at the outside edge of the bowl and work your way into the center. This will keep the layers visible and even, for a beautiful presentation. You want to see all seven layers.
- The bacon and shredded cheese are totally optional but let’s not kid around, bacon and cheese make everything better so it’s a really great idea to add these items.
- If you’ll be making this 7-Layer Salad recipe way ahead of time, like earlier than the night before don’t worry about the lettuce getting soggy. The heartier veggies in the upper layers hold the dressing and don’t get soggy and the lettuce stays crisp at the bottom.
- Since we’re using a mayonnaise dressing for this 7 layer salad, you don’t want to let it sit out at room temp for more than a few hours.
7 Layer Salad Recipe FAQ
Can you make 7 Layer Salad the night before?
Yes, this is the perfect make-ahead salad! The dressing acts like a seal, keeping the veggies crisp and delicious. Because the dressing has to have time to fully come together anyways, letting the salad sit overnight is a great idea. I usually make this salad either the night before or the morning of the get-together and the flavors are spot on by the time I serve it.
How long does a 7 Layer Salad last in the fridge?
Once the dressing has been introduced to the lettuce, the lettuce will start to soften and lose its crispness. While the salad is absolutely fine the next day, the lettuce will be noticeably soggy so it’s best to eat the salad the day you serve it.
Where did the 7 Layer Salad originate?
Like many other delicious dishes, the Seven Layer Salad was created in the South, where it is known as a 7-Layer Pea Salad. This dish is right out of the 1950s but has enjoyed peaks of popularity since, both in the 1980s and then as a “must-have” fad dish in Portland, Oregon. Over the decades the layers have largely remained the same, consisting of lettuce, onions, peas, eggs, bacon, and a mayo-based dressing. This southern creation was and is a staple for church gatherings, potlucks, and picnics across the US.
Other Recipes You May Like
7 Layer Salad Recipe
- Place the lettuce in the bottom of a trifle bowl. Top lettuce with a layer of red onion and then a layer of bell pepper. (The trick for this salad is to see everything, so make sure your layers go all the way to the sides of your bowl.)
- Slice the eggs, so both the white and yolk show. Place egg slices around the side of the bowl, pressing into the side a bit so it'll stick. Chop any remaining eggs, slices, and ends and sprinkle them over the salad. (If you prefer you can chop all the eggs instead.)
- Top eggs with a layer of tomatoes and then a layer of peas.
- Make the dressing by whisking together the mayo, sour cream, vinegar, hot sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl until smooth. Pour the dressing over the peas and spread it into an even layer.
- Top the dressing with cheese and then bacon, for garnish. (You don't have to do this step and the salad already has 7 layers, but why not?!)
- Cover the salad in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours, and up to 24 hours.
- Uncover and serve cold. Be sure to dig the serving spoon all the way down into the bowl so you get a little of everything in each portion.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.