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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.

What bowl will hold the salad?

I use a 4-quart glass bowl. This one is my favorite:

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. 
4.86 from 14 votes
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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
Recipe Rating




Patricia Wood

Thursday 30th of September 2021

My Girlfriend had five Canasta Card Gamers over and served this particular 7 Layer Salad! It was amazing and healthy! She passed on the Recipe. Thanks!

Rachel Ballard

Thursday 7th of October 2021

You're so welcome Patricia!

tegma

Saturday 4th of September 2021

Are the peas left UNcooked as I see other recipes where they say "cooked". ?????

Rachel Ballard

Saturday 4th of September 2021

Yes. Technically frozen peas are blanched before freezing so they've had a touch of cooking time. If you have access to true, fresh, shelled peas you might want to blanche them to slightly soften them but I think that's optional. --Rachel

Krystal

Sunday 25th of April 2021

Don't layer the tomatoes in the salad; they are "wet" and can spoil faster than the other ingredients. Instead, put them on top of the dressing or even on the side. My layered salad always included water chestnuts for the crunch factor and texture - and always put finely grated Parmesan cheese on top of the dressing -- this really makes the dressing complete! Great salad enjoyed for decades!

KATHY Scully

Wednesday 19th of May 2021

@Krystal, this sounds like the recipe I use to have and lost. Would love to have it again, if you would be willing to share?

Rachel Ballard

Monday 26th of April 2021

We usually eat this within 12 to 24 hours of assembly so the wet issue isn't a problem but thanks for your thoughts Krystal! --Rachel

Cindy

Thursday 22nd of April 2021

Great salad love this thanks ? great colors and taste

Rachel Ballard

Thursday 22nd of April 2021

Great Cindy!

Ken

Friday 16th of April 2021

Absolutely Delicious!! Looked and Tasted Amazing!!

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