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Traditional Seven Layer Salad

There’s not a funeral, baby shower or church potluck in the south that doesn’t have a traditional seven layer salad gracing its table. Usually made by a 70-something named Mable, it’s a beautiful and delicious side dish with its own unique dressing you won’t want to miss.

Seven layer salad in a clear bowl on a plaid napkin.

Seven layer salad goes with monogrammed Pyrex dishes like peanut butter and jelly.

That means it’s a potluck specialty–and for good reason–because it’s delicious. The trick is to make yours in a tall glass bowl or even a trifle dish so that everyone can see the layers.

What’s in a seven layer salad?

That is the most glorious part because really you can make it with any vegetables  you have on hand. I find this version to be the most “authentic” and sticks to:

-iceberg lettuce

-cheese

-hard boiled eggs

-peas

-tomatoes

-green onions

-bacon, and dressing

I saw a version that had cauliflower rice in it a while back. Ha! I dare you to serve that to a southern man and see how they like it.

‘Ain’t no cauliflower rice in this version (though I have seen several versions that have cauliflower florets in them).

You can add different ingredients to your own seven layer salad version if you would like to, but be careful how much you stray.

Making your seven layer salad in advance

Because the ingredients in this version are pretty durable (as in, not delicate) you can easily make this salad one to two days in advance and “seal” the vegetables in with the dressing layer on top, cover it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it. I made mine two days ahead and then served it and it was just as crispy as when I made it.

How to mix your seven layer salad for serving

The answer to that is, you don’t. In some places, the whole bowl might be tossed before serving but that’s  scandalous in my neck of the woods.

We use a spoon with a very long handle and encourage people to dig deep, get a little of everything in one scoop and mix it on their plates.

Since the dressing is on the top, they’ll get enough to mix with their veggies. It works, I promise!

And speaking of the dressing, it’s a mix of mayonnaise, sour cream and sugar but don’t panic–it’s not sweet. It’s sort of amazing what that little bit of sugar does in there. Magic, I tell ya.

If you’d like to be even more inspired, check out this list of other creative seven layer salads. 

4 pictures of the steps to making the seven layer salad first picture is iceberg lettuce the second picture is peas over the iceberg lettuce the third picture is of shredded cheese as the next later and the last picture is of a completed seven layer salad in a clear bowl
Seven layer salad in a clear bowl on a plaid napkin.

Traditional Seven Layer Salad

Every southern woman needs this classic in their recipes. It’s always popular at potlucks, funerals and baby showers and the blend of vegetables with the tangy dressing will make it irresistible. 
4.84 from 12 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 361kcal
Author: Rachel Ballard

Ingredients

  • 3/4 head iceberg lettuce outer leaves and core removed
  • 1 cup frozen peas thawed
  • 4 hard boiled eggs chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 medium tomatoes diced bite size pieces
  • 6 slices bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise like Duke’s or Hellmann’s
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • salt and pepper for sprinkling

Instructions

  • In a 3 1/2 quart glass bowl or trifle dish (make sure it’s at least that large), chop the lettuce in to bite size pieces and add it to the bottom of the bowl in an even layer. 
  • Add a pinch of salt and pepper over the lettuce. 
  • Add the peas, eggs, onions, tomatoes, bacon and cheese, layering them closer to the edges of the bowl if you choose. Add another sprinkle of salt and pepper then set aside. 
  • In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream and sugar. Stir well and spread over the top of the salad “sealing” it all the way to the edge of the bowl. Sprinkle with a bit of cheese or bacon before serving, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days. 

Nutrition

Calories: 361kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 351mg | Potassium: 254mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 790IU | Vitamin C: 10.6mg | Calcium: 142mg | Iron: 1.2mg

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Recipe Rating




amyo

Friday 27th of November 2020

78 years old grandma notes that frozen peas always go on top and under the mayonnaise dressing. They thaw overnight or overday and keep ingredients underneath fresh and crisp. Other than that... a perfect recipe from the 1940's.

Rachel Ballard

Friday 27th of November 2020

Okay good tip. Thanks!

Carla Moody

Monday 19th of October 2020

easy and delicious

Sandra Hougen

Saturday 16th of May 2020

Beautiful and filling as my main dish. This recipe is the best one so far. Summer dinner when it’s to hot to cook!

Tracy

Friday 10th of April 2020

THANK YOU for this! I've been looking through "traditional 7 layer salad" recipes for the past 20 minutes and yours is the first one that is exactly what I remember.

Kathy Raulston

Thursday 12th of December 2019

This is delicious. Just what I wanted. Thanks for the recipe. When I was a teenager I used to make what I called pea salad. I would get fresh tomatoes from the garden. Add two cups green peas and put dressing on it. I also added scallions from the garden.

amyo

Saturday 28th of November 2020

@Amy, what a great idea. my mom kept a can or two or three of sliced water chestnuts in her pantry. She used them to add that crunch, you mention here, to Tuna salad, casseroles. and I will be adding them to my 7 layer salad from now on.

Amy

Wednesday 29th of January 2020

I love the added crunch of water chestnuts!! Delish!

Rachel Ballard

Friday 13th of December 2019

I love sugar snap peas with dressing Kathy! But yes those fresh garden veggies just can't be beat. I'm glad this one was still good even in the winter. ;) --Rachel