Olive Garden Salad is a fresh side dish with a zesty Italian dressing and lots of fresh vegetables! From red onion to cucumber, tomato, olives and parmesan cheese, this is a fan favorite salad.
Olive Garden Salad Recipe
If you have ever been to Olive Garden restaurant you know they are famous for their large, endless bowls of salad and breadsticks! Their salad is simply divine. A simple mix of lettuce, vegetables, and a tangy Italian style dressing.
What’s not to love about a heaping bowl of salad?! A simple (but delicious!) garden salad is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner, holiday side dish or meal prep lunch. This salad is far from boring. It is packed with delicious toppings and the most irresistible salad dressing.
What is Olive Garden Salad?
Olive Garden salad is a world famous Italian garden salad. The base of the salad is garden mix which is a mix of iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, match stick carrots and shredded purple cabbage. The toppings of the salad pair so perfectly together – tomato, red onion, black olive, croutons, parmesan cheese and a pepperoncini pepper!
One of the best parts of every salad is the dressing and Olive Gardens Salad Dressing is simply the best! A creamy, zesty Italian salad dressing packed with fresh herbs, parmesan cheese and a combination of lemon juice and vinegar.
What to Serve with Olive Garden Salad
I have always loved dining in at Olive Garden for their endless soup, salad and breadsticks! I love to pair this salad with a soup, pasta or chicken cutlets dinner:
- Olive Garden Breadsticks
- Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup
- Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana
- Loaded Baked Potato Soup
- Chicken Romano
- Chicken Marsala
- Fettucine Alfredo
- Pasta Da Vinci
What is in Olive Garden Salad?
- Garden Salad Mix – for a low prep recipe you can use a bag of store bought garden mix lettuce. It has iceberg, romaine, matchstick carrots and shredded purple cabbage. You can also make your own mix of these veggies or use your favorite lettuce instead!
- Croutons – one of my favorite parts of every salad. I love when the croutons soak up the dressing and become soft with a slight crunch to them!
- If you love croutons in salad as much as I do then you have to try my Strawberry Panzanella Salad! Panzanella salad is basically a crouton salad.
- Red Onion – for the classic Olive Garden salad slice the red onion into rings. It looks beautiful plated on top of the salad.
- Tomato – the perfect tomato for this salad is roma tomato sliced into rings. They are not overly seedy so you don’t have to worry about them making the salad soggy.
- Pepperoncini – I personally never actually eat the pepperoncini that comes in Olive Garden salad but they do always serve one to garnish the salad.
- Black Olives – I absolutely love olives! Black olives are packed in water, not a salty or pickled brine. They have a very mild flavor but they are a great addition to the salad. You can of course use any olive you prefer such as manzanilla olive, green, kalamata or even a garlic or almond stuffed olive!
- Parmesan – I think everyone has had that experience at an Italian restaurant when the server is grating fresh parmesan cheese over top of your dish and you never want them to tell them to stop. I always look the other way and try not to make eye contact so I can get extra, extra parmesan cheese!
- Olive Garden Salad Dressing
- Homemade Copycat Recipe – my copycat recipe is just as good as the restaurant but making it at home means you can control exactly what goes in it!
- Store-bought can be purchased at Costco or directly at an Olive Garden Restaurant
How to Make Olive Garden Salad
Full Printable Recipe at Bottom of Page
1 Transfer the garden mix salad into a large serving bowl or platter.
2 Prepare the toppings. Slice the red onion and tomato into rings. Grate the parmesan cheese.
3 If using homemade salad dressing, prepare the dressing.
4 Layer the red onion, olives, tomatoes, and croutons on top of the lettuce and garnish with the parmesan cheese and pepperoncini pepper.
5 Add the dressing on top, toss until combined. Serve and enjoy!
Tips for the Best Olive Garden Salad
- Lettuce – you can use a store bought iceberg garden mix which already comes with matchstick carrots and shredded purple cabbage. I recommend using store bought for a faster recipe. Or you can buy iceberg lettuce, carrots and purple cabbage and slice them your self.
- Toppings – for the classic Olive Garden flavor the only toppings are red onion, tomato, black olives, croutons, parmesan cheese and pepperoncini peppers. However, you can customize the toppings to your personal liking. Add cucumbers, bell peppers, hard boiled eggs, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
- Main Course Salad – take this side salad up a notch by adding a grilled protein to make this a main course. Grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon or steak pairs perfectly with this salad.
FAQs Olive Garden Salad
If the salad has already been dressed it will last in the fridge for 1 day but the lettuce will become slightly soggy. If you anticipate having leftovers, do not dress the salad. Keep the dressing on the side and allow each person to take a portion of salad on their plate and add the dressing on their plate. Then store the salad in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. Just before serving add the dressing and enjoy!
To make the salad ahead of time, prep all the toppings and store in an air tight container in the fridge. Prep the salad and keep it in a separate container. To serve, assemble the salad and top with the dressing.
Yes, this is a healthy salad packed with fresh vegetables. Making the dressing homemade is a great option for keeping the salad healthy.
This salad recipe is vegetarian.
For a vegan Olive Garden salad, use a vegan parmesan cheese and when making the homemade salad dressing swap the honey for agave, use a vegan mayonnaise and vegan parmesan cheese.
For a gluten free Olive Garden salad follow the recipe normally but use a gluten free crouton.
For a dairy free Olive Garden salad follow the recipe normally but use a dairy free parmesan cheese (for example, vegan parmesan).
Looking for More Salad Recipes?
- Dill Pickle Chopped Salad
- Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
- BLT Pasta Salad
- Avocado Corn Tomato Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, may earn me a small commission.
Olive Garden Salad
- 2 bags iceberg garden salad, 12 ounce bags, iceberg mix with carrot and purple cabbage
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced into rings
- 1/4 cup pitted black olives
- 2 roma tomatoes, sliced into rings
- 1/2 cup croutons
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese grated
- 1 pepperoncini pepper, for garnish, plus additional for serving if desired
- 1 recipe Olive Garden Salad Dressing, or store bought Italian salad dressing
- Transfer the garden mix salad into a large serving bowl or platter.
- Prepare the toppings. Slice the red onion and tomato into rings. Grate the parmesan cheese.
- If using homemade salad dressing, prepare the dressing.
- Layer the red onion, olives, tomatoes, and croutons on top of the lettuce and garnish with the parmesan cheese and pepperoncini pepper.
- Add the dressing on top, toss until combined. Serve and enjoy!