With crunchy greens, juicy tomatoes, tender peas, cheddar cheese, plenty of bacon and eggs, and a bright, smoky dressing, this old fashioned 7 layer salad delivers more than you might be expecting.
My family tends to be hit or miss with enjoying salads that are served as a meal by themselves, but this one? They LOVE it. My middle son ate three huge servings the last time I made it.
A more appropriate name for this salad might be the Irresistible 7 Layer Salad with Smoky Bacon Dressing, but that’s kind of a lot. And in all honesty, 7 layer salads really are an old-fashioned favorite, aren’t they?
The salad can be assembled up to 24 hours in advance, making it perfect for busy summer nights. Layer it together in the morning, top it with the dressing, cover, and refrigerate. Toss the salad with the dressing just before serving.
Grandma’s 7 Layer Salad
Is there anyone for whom the traditional 7 layer salad recipe doesn’t bring back memories of church potlucks or dinner at Grandma’s house?
I’ve always enjoyed seven-layer salads, I mean really, a salad loaded with bacon and eggs is never going to be a bad thing in my world. But as you may already know, I am a salad lover down to the bone. So, I couldn’t resist playing a bit with Grandma’s recipe to make it my own.
Southern 7 Layer Salad Recipe
I’ve added a couple of extra eggs and a bit more bacon to the traditional Southern 7 layer salad recipe. Salads hearty enough to be a full meal on their own make me oh so happy.
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this salad:
- iceberg lettuce
- baby spinach
- salt and pepper
- green onions
- cheddar cheese
There really isn’t a right or wrong way to make this salad. Want 8 layers? Add some chopped bell peppers.
Want 9 layers or 10 layers? Try some broccoli, cucumber, or cauliflower too. Vegetarian? Feel free to skip the bacon, if that isn’t your thing. Me, I’m much more likely to double down on the bacon.
7 Layer Salad Dressing
I am all about quick and easy homemade salad dressings when it comes to fresh salads. Sometimes I crave a simple tossed salad, a spinach pasta salad, or an old-fashioned bean salad.
Other days, it might be creamy salads like this pea salad with a whole lot of bacon, or this dill pickle lover’s potato salad. As far as I’m concerned, there’s never a bad time for classic macaroni salad or a broccoli cauliflower salad.
Despite countless options, I continue to make almost exactly the same salad every single day for lunch, but there is no end to the ways we can change things up to keep the same basic salads interesting.
Mayonnaise Dressing for 7 Layer Salad
The first time I made a 7 layer salad and tasted the mayonnaise dressing, I immediately wanted to wake it up.
So, I reached for the pan I cooked the bacon in, added a tablespoon of warm bacon grease, and squeezed a couple of tablespoons of fresh lemon juice into the dressing. Gave it a stir and voila.
The result was a whole new bright, flavorful dressing with just a hint of smoky bacon flavor. I make the dressing with part sour cream, part mayonnaise and while that does serve to lighten it a bit, it also adds some tang that we love.
There isn’t a great deal of dressing here, it’s just over half a cup for the whole salad. When tossing the salad, the result is a very light dressing, nothing is going to be mayonnaise-soaked here.
I like to sprinkle salt and pepper over the greens when I’m layering this salad together, but you can just as easily add a bit of salt and pepper to the dressing too.
Lastly, while layered salads sure are pretty, let’s get real here. It’s not a whole lot of fun to actually serve yourself from a layered presentation.
When I’m making dinner for my family, I build the salad in a giant mixing bowl and toss it well to make sure that awesome dressing lightly coats every bite.
7 Layer Salad
- ½ head iceberg lettuce chopped into 1" pieces, about 6 cups
- 4 ounces baby spinach leaves stems removed
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 6 hard-boiled eggs peeled and sliced or chopped
- 8 ounces bacon cooked and chopped (reserve bacon grease for dressing)
- 3 large Roma tomatoes sliced in half, seeds removed, and chopped
- 4 green onions sliced thin
- 4 ounces freshly shredded cheddar cheese about 2 cups
- 6-8 ounces frozen peas partially thawed, about 1½ cups
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1½ teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon warm bacon grease
- In a large bowl, layer the lettuce, spinach, salt and pepper, eggs, bacon, tomatoes, onions, cheese, and peas.
- Stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, and bacon grease. Spread the dressing in a thin layer over the peas.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Toss well, just before serving.
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