Build a Better Salad

Does seeing the word salad in the title of this post feel like a let down? I hope not, because I love a really good salad. Sure, there are some sad, sad salads out there (SMH), but like everything in life, we can’t let the bad ones ruin it for the good! Instead, let’s pick up a few tips so we can all build a better salad!

Restaurants aren’t much help, maintaining the boring and bland predictable standard. So, I always make the best salads at home. With the ability to be totally transformed each time, salads are the ultimate variety food, and even though they get a bad rap for being “health food”, I don’t consider that a bad thing. When you make the perfect salad you get all the benefits of healthy goodness with the excitement of a creative and dare I say, “craveable” bowl of food, too!

How to Build a Better Salad

So, what’s the secret? Well, you just have to let yourself get a little carried away!

A few things I always do to make my most bomb-diggity salads are:

1. Chop The Greens: So much more pleasant than shoving huge, floppy lettuce leaves into your mouth. Chop, chop, chop up those greens!

2. Homemade Dressing: Always better than store bought, so I’ve provided a few easy recipes at the end of this post.

3. Texture: A satisfying salad requires a variety of texture, so be sure to include creamy, crunchy, crisp, chewy, tender and toothsome!

4. The More the Merrier: See the veggies column in my cheat sheet below? I will pick five or six items from this category. Sure, it makes for a huge salad, but every bite is exciting and I am sure to not finish hungry.

How to Build a Better Salad

Just to illustrate how many options and combinations there are, I created a handy cheat sheet, or formula, for foolproof salad building. Forget the last boring salad you ordered at a restaurant and create your own combination. Mix and match your favorite ingredients, then switch up the formula every time you make a meal-worthy salad. Max out the flavor, texture AND nutritional value making a meal you can feel proud of and really enjoy all at the same time.

How to Build a Better Salad

How to Build a Better Salad

Finally, you can’t forget about the dressing. Not to sound repetitive, but homemade dressing is ALWAYS better than store-bought. Make something from scratch, then use it all week! Then, make something different the following week. For inspiration on preparing your own dressings, I’ve included a video demo I did on my personal chef website to inspire people to make their dressings from scratch. I guess you could say it’s a bit of a motto of mine! For added motivation, I included the four recipes I share about in the video in the recipe card below. So you have all the info you need to get started!

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Homemade Salad Dressing

Salad Dressings from Scratch

  • Author: Emily Wilson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1/2-1 cup 1x
  • Category: Salad


Homemade salad dressings are always better than store-bought. Here are four easy varieties you can start making yourself.



Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/32/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

White Balsamic & Tarragon Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/32/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Honey Mustard

  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste


Balsamic Vinaigrette

  1. Combine balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and Dijon mustard in a jar. Season with salt and pepper. Screw lid on tight and shake vigorously to emulsify. If vinaigrette seems too acidic for your taste, add more olive oil.

White Balsamic & Tarragon Vinaigrette

  1. Combine white balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, chopped tarragon, and chopped shallot in a jar. Season with salt and pepper. Screw lid on tight and shake vigorously to emulsify. If Vinaigrette seems too acidic for your taste, add more olive oil.

Honey Mustard

  1. Combine Dijon mustard, honey and apple cider vinegar in a jar or bowl. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  For a sweeter version, add more honey. For tangier flavor, add more Dijon mustard.

Blue Cheese Dressing

  1. Combine mayo, sour cream, buttermilk, Worcestershire, red wine vinegar and blue cheese crumbles in a jar or bowl. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4 thoughts on “Build a Better Salad”

  • good tip on combining fruit and veggies. I don’t usually do that as a rule but it turned out great!. Love the blue cheese dressing.

  • This is a genius way to approach salads, since the grid makes it so much easier to think of combinations. Your raw corn addition to salads is exceptionally good, and your ideas to add it to sweet potatoes and other vegetables make all the ingredients better. Thanks so much.

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