Classic House Salad – An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it’s flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.
Easy House Salad Recipe
Everyone needs an easy house salad recipe in their life! The type of basic salad recipe that uses common ingredients that likely already have on hand in your produce crisper drawer.
Crisp Romaine lettuce, juicy tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, shredded Parmesan, and crunchy croutons are a must.
After that, I use whatever I have on hand since and am craving or need to use since this is a super flexible salad recipe.
This salad is what I call a starter salad, side salad, or a dinner salad. It’s a side dish in plant-based form.
It’s the salad you serve before or alongside weeknight dinners at home as a way to round things out and get some greenery and vegetables into your diet, or your family’s, and balance out your plate.
While I like to shake together or whish together an easy olive oil and vinegar vinaigrette which also has a bit of Dijon mustard, garlic and onion powder and oregano for flavor, and a touch of honey or maple syrup for sweetness, you can use whatever vinaigrette or salad dressing you like – homemade or store bought included.
Ingredients in Classic House Salad with Vinaigrette
The beauty of a simple house salad is that it uses extremely basic fresh produce that you likely already have on hand or can find at any supermarket. And of course, I love the minimal prep time.
While there’s a ton of flexibility in what ingredients you use, here’s what I use in my house salads as well as ways to tweak the ingredients in parentheses:
- Romaine lettuce (or a lettuce blend, spring mix, or mix with a variety of lettuces including spinach, baby spinach, endive, arugula, butter lettuce, iceberg lettuce, radicchio, and so forth)
- Tomatoes (Beefsteak, heirloom, Roma, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, yellow or orange tomatoes, etc.)
- Cucumber (English or regular)
- Red onions or shallots (white or yellow onions)
- Croutons, for garnishing (homemade or store bought)
- Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnishing (or another favorite shredded or grated cheese Pecorino, Romano, grated white cheddar, feta or blue cheese crumbles, cheddar cheese, or shredded blend/mix such as a “Mexican cheese blend” or “pizza cheese blend” or whatever looks good to you)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Red wine vinegar (or rice vinegar/rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, balsamic vinegar, etc. but I am not a fan of basic white vinegar here. And see below that you can use equal parts lemon juice + vinegar rather than solely vinegar too)
- Dijon mustard
- Honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Dried oregano
How to Make a Simple House Salad
It’s a near foregone conclusion that you’re going to be serving this salad alongside something else. Therefore, don’t obsess!
You can either:
- Add the lettuce torn or chopped into bite-sized pieces, and then all remaining ingredients on top of it, in a large bowl. I use this method for big family gatherings and we pass the bowl around family-style. OR…
- Add a handful of lettuce to individual plates, and top each with the remaining ingredients. I tend to prefer this method when I am serving it to my family. Because it’s one less big bowl to wash and I just quickly plop down the lettuce and then top each pile of lettuce with the other ingredients to ensure everyone gets a bit of everything in their simple plated house salad!
How to Make a Quick Vinaigrette
Making your own vinaigrette is so quick and easy! It always begs the question for me why do people even buy them?
Literally add all the ingredients to the jar, seal, shake, taste, tweak to taste, and drizzle.
Jars for Vinaigrette
Make sure you have a Mason jar with a lid or some sort of little jar that you can seal.
An old mayonnaise jar, or jelly or jam jar works too. I never throw those out. Rewash, save, and repurpose!
Vinaigrettes and salad dressings in general I find are highly personal. My measurement guidelines are just that, a rough framework for you to use, but always add ingredients to your personal taste preferences including more salt, pepper, garlic or onion powder.
Vinaigrette Flavor Tips
Lemon lover? You can use equal parts vinegar + lemon juice. For today’s recipe, you would use 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar + 2 tablespoons lemon juice, rather than 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar for a lemony vinaigrette.
Fan of balsamic vinaigrette? Make one by replacing the red wine vinegar with balsamic vinegar instead.
Want it spicier? Add a pinch of red pepper flakes or even the tiniest pinch ever of cayenne pepper.
Lacks pizzazz or oomph? Likely this is a fault of not enough salt. Add more, and don’t be shy! This is the most common error home cooks make is under-salting.
Want it bolder? Add more garlic powder or minced garlic, and/or more onion powder.
Have fresh herbs? Finely dice your fresh basil, fresh mint, fresh parsley, and add them. You can also use a blender like I do in the two basil vinaigrettes that I link below.
Add more sweetener (honey, maple, agave, or a pinch of sugar) if you want to cut the pungentness of the vinegar. And/or if you used balsamic vinegar rather than red wine vinegar for example.
More Favorite Vinaigrettes
Substitutions and Variations for a Simple House Salad
I love making house salads with whatever I have in my fridge crisper drawer and use the “toss it all in” approach in general.
Apart from the suggestions I gave in the ingredients list above (like using other types of lettuce in place of Romaine), if you have any of the following on hand, they are all great house salad ingredients:
- Leftover grilled vegetables such as zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower
- Roasted vegetables including bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant and just about anything you can roast!
- Fresh bell peppers, radishes, mushrooms, celery, broccoli, cauliflower
- Asian-inspired veggies such as bok choy, baby corn, peapods, snow peas, shelled edamame
- Mexican-inspired veggies such as grilled corn, fire-roasted green or red chiles, pickled jalapenos, pickled red onions, and so on.
- Nuts including walnuts, almonds, pistachios, etc.
- To make the salad vegan (not just vegetarian), omit the grated cheese. Or use a vegan cheese substitute. To make it gluten-free, omit the croutons or use gluten-free croutons.
What To Serve with a Classic House Salad
As I mentioned, this easy house salad recipe is the perfect side salad that goes with just about any main dish or entree.
In particular, the freshness and crispness of the lettuce and veggies will be a welcome addition to these main dishes and so many more!
Classic House Salad FAQs
After doing some research, it seems that traditional house salads that are served in restaurants encompass very basic ingredients – lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, etc. It’s a simple, inexpensive, easy salad made with things that most kitchens (restaurant kitchens or home kitchens) always have on hand.
Again, it seems this goes back to a starter salad or basic salad that restaurants serve to guests as an appetizer or first course. Of course you can customize it and build on it by adding other vegetables or proteins.
Of course! If you want to serve this as more than just a starter or side salad and want to it to be more of a meal, adding protein is the way to go. Chicken is an easy and obvious choice.
Feeling like shrimp? My easy 10 Minute Orange Chili Shrimp are ready in a flash.
And if you’re a bacon fan, Air Fryer Bacon is a fast way to prepare it before adding some bacon crumbles to your salad.
Yes of course! If you don’t want to make your own, by all means, crack open a bottle of Ranch, French, Blue Cheese, Caesar, Honey Mustard, or whatever dressing you enjoy or have on hand.
Yes you sure can. As written, using 1 head of Romaine lettuce or a similar amount of bagged lettuce, you can make about 4 to 6 small salads. You can easily adjust the yield by halving, doubling, tripling all the ingredients, as desired.
Storing Leftover House Salad and Vinaigrette
Salads are always best enjoyed when they’re freshly made. While you could assemble a salad up to 24 hours beforehand – say for a work or school lunch on the go – the closer you can assemble and then serve it, the better.
However, if you do have leftover homemade vinaigrette or homemade salad dressing, they tend to keep well in an airtight container or jar for up to 7 days in the refrigerator.
Note that the olive oil + honey or maple syrup will tend to firm up in the fridge (not harden fully like gravy for example) but take it out 30 minutes before you plan to dress your salad so you can shake and add it with ease. Otherwise a 5 second zap in the microwave can help!
- 1 head Romaine lettuce, washed and trimmed (or 12-ounce bag of Romaine)
- 1 large diced tomato (heirloom or similar), 2 diced Roma tomatoes, or 3/4 to 1 cup halved or sliced cherry/grape tomatoes
- 1/2 medium cucumber or English cucumber, sliced or diced small (I peel regular cucumbers but not English)
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots or about 1/2 cup small diced carrots, peeled
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onions (rinse under cold water to remove some of the ‘bite’)
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnishing to taste
- Croutons, for garnishing to taste (homemade or store bought)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 to 2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon onion powder, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste if desired
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste if desired
- Salad – To a large bowl (or individual plates), add the lettuce, and top with the remaining ingredients, as desired.
- Vinaigrette – To a small glass jar with a lid (Mason jar or an old and well-washed mayo/jam/jelly jar, etc.) add all the ingredients. Seal, shake, and taste. Tweak the flavor, as desired. Flavoring/Seasoning Tips – If it tastes at all “boring” or lacks pizzazz or oomph, that’s generally a sign it needs more salt. Don’t be afraid to add it (and generously), as desired. Likewise, don’t be afraid to add more sweetener (or a pinch of granulated sugar) if it’s overly “bitey” or potent. It’s normal to need to add something sweet to balance the acidity of the vinegar.
- Once dressed, salad should be served immediately. Extra vinaigrette will last airtight in the fridge for at least 7 days. Remove it from the fridge about 30 minutes before shaking and using as the cold air in the fridge will cause it to be overly thick and hard to shake but it will loosen up at room temp.
Nutritional Information – Plain salads are extremely low in fat and calories. It’s the vinaigrette (or salad dressings of any kind) that add calories and fat which is what is happening here. The less you add, the lower the stats will be. Nutritional info is computer generated and provided as a courtesy. Calculate on your own or by hand if desired.
Lettuce – Romaine lettuce is the classic but a lettuce blend or mix with a variety of lettuces such spinach, endive, arugula, butter lettuce, iceberg, radicchio, and so forth all work. You can use a head of lettuce or use bagged lettuce that’s already washed, chopped, and ready to go.
Tomatoes – Heirloom, beefsteak, Roma, cherry, grape, heirloom, yellow or orange, etc.
Vinegar – Instead of red wine vinegar, you can use rice vinegar/rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, balsamic vinegar, etc. but I am not a fan of basic white vinegar here. You can also use equal parts lemon juice + vinegar rather than solely vinegar if you want a lemony vinaigrette. In this recipe, use 2 tablespoons lemon juice + 2 tablespoons vinegar.
Onions – Red onions, shallots, white or yellow onions are fine.
Cheese – Freshly grated Parmesan cheese is great but another favorite shredded or grated cheese such as Pecorino, Romano, grated white cheddar, feta or blue cheese crumbles, or shredded blend/mix such as a “Mexican cheese blend” or “pizza cheese blend”, etc.
Vinaigrette Options and Substitutions
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 280Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 309mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 5gSugar: 17gProtein: 4g
More Easy Salad Recipes:
30 Best Easy Healthy Salads — Looking for easy salad recipes that are both filling and flavorful? The 30 healthy salads on this list are the BEST salads you’ll ever eat!!
Chopped Chicken Salad — An EASY chopped salad with so much FLAVOR and CRUNCH topped with PERFECT juicy oven-baked chicken that’s ready in 15 minutes!! Homemade honey apple cider vinaigrette adds the finishing touch!!
Chicken Gyro Salad with Tzatziki Sauce — Chicken gyros transformed into a HEALTHY salad with an EASY homemade tzatziki sauce that’s loaded with tangy dill FLAVOR!! Ready in 20 minutes!!
Lemon Basil Greek Orzo Salad — EASY, ready in 25 minutes, and lemon and basil give it such a FRESH taste!! Feeds a crowd, great for parties, picnics, and potlucks!
BLT Salad with Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing — A BLT salad packed with an abundance of veggies for added texture and flavor, all topped with homemade ranch! Fast, fresh, healthy & satisfying!
Southwest Chicken Cobb Salad – A Southwestern spin on traditional Cobb salad complete with tender chicken, crispy bacon, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, black beans, corn, and avocado over a bed of Romaine lettuce! Topped with barbecue sauce and Ranch, there’s so much FLAVOR and TEXTURE galore in every bite of this crispy, crunchy, EASY salad!
Mediterranean Cobb Salad — This Mediterranean salad easy, healthy, accidentally vegetarian, ready in 10 minutes, and you can easily size the recipe up if you’re making it for a larger group.
Apple, White Cheddar, & Grilled Chicken Salad — All the flavors just POP in this fast, easy, and healthy salad!! The Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette doubles as marinade + salad dressing to save time!!
Grilled Corn Salad with Chicken — An EASY salad that’s ready in 15 minutes and you won’t be able to stop eating it!! Tender chicken, juicy corn, crisp bell peppers and tomatoes, creamy avocado, cilantro, and fresh lime juice for the WIN!!
Strawberry Chicken Salad — The grilled chicken is so JUICY and moist thanks to a homemade pecan butter marinade!! Sweet strawberries and crunchy pecans add extra texture and FLAVOR!!
Greek Pita Chip Salad — Greek salad just got a makeover!! Still uses classic ingredients like red peppers, cucumbers, onions, olives, and feta but now there are PITA CHIPS for extra crunch and texture!
The Best Broccoli Salad — My FAVORITE recipe for the classic salad with a tangy dressing that everyone LOVES!! Flavor and texture galore in this EASY salad that’s perfect for parties, picnics, and potlucks!!
Salmon Niçoise Salad with Basil Vinaigrette — An ELEGANT French-inspired salad with juicy salmon, tender potatoes, soft-boiled eggs, crispy haricots verts, and more. And it’s all drizzled with a super FLAVORFUL fresh basil vinaigrette!! This BEAUTIFUL salad has something for everyone!!
Honey Lemon-Glazed Salmon Salad— Ready in 15 minutes and can easily be meal prepped. My whole family loves this recipe and said it’s their favorite salmon salad I’ve ever made!
Spinach Apple Salad with Cheddar & Cranberries — The flavors just POP in this fast, easy, and healthy spinach salad! There are so many wonderful textures and flavors in every bite you can’t help but like it!