Salad is rarely my meal of choice. I never make it and I typically won’t order it unless it’s a last-ditch option at a quickie to-go place or deli. Standing in front of a salad bar is something I actually dread. But honestly, these yummy summer salads are game-changers for me in 2021. Look out, world! Lettuce is my new fave thing.
It’s not even that I hate greens, but I just find a bunch of toppings thrown onto a bed of spinach or romaine to be a giant snooze, unless it includes a mountain of parmesan or bleu cheese—and I know I’m not alone! Salad has always lacked appeal to me, but my quest to discover exciting summer salad options has completely flipped my opinion. Now, I might as well be eating salads every single dang day!
Lucky for me, there are tons of people on this planet whose minds are much more talented than mine at dreaming up creative salad recipes that are just as healthy as they are tasty. Read: These salads are so, so good. Call me a convert, because I honestly love and recommend them all.
If you’re in need of some yummy recipes to switch up your meal routine, I got you! Here, 50 recipes to help make your salads a little less pedestrian and a lot more like meals you’ll actually look forward to. Here’s to a summer full of leafy greens!
1. Best of Summer Kale Salad with Blueberry-Balsamic Vinaigrette
This salad claims to be the “best of summer,” so yes, you need to make it. Just don’t be surprised when you want to drink that blueberry-balsamic vinaigrette like a beverage. It’s that good!
2. Summer Stone Fruit Salad with Burrata
Stone fruit and burrata is a match made in Italian food heaven. Who knew they’d work so well for a tasty salad, too? If you haven’t had these ingredients together before, now is the time.
3. Strawberry-Basil Chicken Salad with Fried Goat Cheese Balls
This salad is topped with fried goat cheese balls. Do I really need to say anything else? It’s a must-try.
4. Sweet Potato Pomegranate Salad with Crispy Quinoa
Pomegranates are so good for you, I’m honestly shocked that I don’t eat them more often. This salad is the perfect reason to put ’em in my regular rotation.
5. Balsamic Lentil Salad
Destination Delish really knocked it out of the park with this Balsamic Lentil Salad, don’t you think? A pop of color makes any salad more inviting!
6. Quinoa & Kale Protein Power Salad
If you’re coming home from a workout and need something to give you a boost, try this recipe from Foodie Crush for a majorly delicious pick-me-up.
7. Summer Peach Caprese Salad
Caprese salads are so simple—try something new by adding peaches into the mix this year.
8. Chicken Spinach Salad
Chicken and spinach with summer fruit may feel like an odd combination, but trust me when I say that in this recipe, it works!
9. Thai Quinoa Salad
Thai-inspired flavors really kick this simple quinoa salad up a notch. Or, like, 10 notches, if you’re keeping track.
11. Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad
Cranberries and apples aren’t normally associated with summer salads, but let’s change that with this walnut-topped dish.
12. Cilantro Lime Cucumber Salad
This cucumber salad could not be easier to make, so what are you waiting for? Perfect for super hot summer days when the idea of a heavy meal is too much to even consider.
13. Loaded Greek Quinoa Salad
Greek salads are too yummy to pass up, so I had to include one on this list—obviously!
14. Seared Ahi Tuna with Chimichurri Sauce Arugula & Avocado
Ahi Tuna is the star of this salad and I am 100 percent okay with that. Spicy arugula and cooling avocado really make it something special.
15. Glowing Grilled Summer Detox Salad
Detox who? This grilled summer salad is the perfect side dish to accompany literally any of your favorite meals.
16. Kale Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
Meyer lemons are a bit sweeter than your average lemon selection (and they’re a little harder to find), so they make this kale salad feel anything but basic. It’s worth the hunt!
17. California Wedge Salad with Proscuitto Crumbles & Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Proscuitto crumbles are just *chef’s kiss* on a salad, so yes, I will be adding them to everything I eat right now after trying and loving this recipe.
18. Pina Colada Chicken Salad with Pina Colada Vinaigrette
No, this salad isn’t actually a pina colada. But hey—it’s pretty damn close. Serve it with its namesake drink to seal the deal.
19. Roasted Cauliflower & Mushroom Quinoa Salad in Balsamic Vinaigrette
Roasted cauliflower is a great way to trick yourself into eating something healthy, because it’s so tasty! Give this salad a try if you’re craving something hearty.
20. Mexican Grilled Salmon Salad with Avocado Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing
Grilled salmon and avocado? Sign me up! Or, just make me this salad. That refreshing yogurt dressing is all I need in the summer.
21. Berry Feta Salad
Summer berries and feta cheese are a match made in salad heaven in this recipe by Carl’s Bad Cravings. All those colors will look so good on your table.
22. Vegan Glow Bowl
Damn, I will eat anything that promises to make me glow afterwards! The antioxidant-rich blueberries in this salad should do the trick.
23. Israeli Salad
This simple Israeli salad recipe looks (and tastes) so authentic. Even better, it’s both vegan and gluten-free!
24. Barbecue Chicken Cobb Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing
If you love a regular old cobb salad, you’re going to be obsessed with this one from The Suburban Soap Box with BBQ chicken.
25. Watermelon Feta Salad
Say it with me: It’s not summer without watermelon! This salad contains everyone’s favorite summer treat alongside salty feta.
26. Grilled Chili Lime Chicken Fajita Salad
The chili and lime combo in this salad brings just enough heat to an otherwise simple grilled chicken salad dish.
27. Asian Ramen Chicken Chopped Salad
Who needs actual ramen when you can make this chopped salad by Cooking Classy instead? It’s truly the best of both worlds.
28. Greek Lemon Garlic Chicken Salad
Few things taste better than a dish that combines lemon, chicken and garlic. This salad has all three in it and damn, is it flavorful.
29. 30-Minute Italian Chopped Salad
If you need to eat dinner ASAP after a day at the office, make this chopped salad that comes together in half an hour or less.
30. Candied Walnut And Pear Salad
This sweet summer salad is the perfect way to start off any summer feast. BRB—making this for everyone I know.
31. Garlicky Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas
You had me at crispy chickpeas. And some garlicky kale is honestly just too much for my salad-loving heart to handle! I need this salad right now.
32. Copycat Maggiano’s Chopped Salad
If you can’t actually eat at Maggiano’s, make this salad instead! It’s basically the same thing as their famous version (and tastes just as good!).
33. Easy Thai Steak Salad
This salad looks charming but takes close to no time to create. The longest part of this entire process is the Thai-marinated steak!
If it has peanuts in it, sign me up! I mean, how yummy does crispy sesame tofu sound? Too good not to make tonight, that’s for sure!
36. Master Cleanse Salad
Feel free to enjoy this master cleanse salad even if you’re not on a diet this summer. It’s too yummy to pass up on!
37. Beef Taco Salad with Homemade Tortilla Bowls
If you don’t want to order in Mexican food, make this easy-as-hell taco salad with beef. I’ll eat anything that comes in a tortilla bowl!
38. Ultimate Chicken Casar Salad
It doesn’t get much better than a chicken Caesar Salad. This “ultimate” version is topped with hard-boiled eggs, bacon and parm, so feel free to throw out your old recipes.
39. Vegan Nicoise Salad
Now just about everyone can enjoy a classic Nicoise salad. Make this baby if you know that you’re going to have people with strict dietary restrictions at your table, or if you’re new to the whole “vegan” thing.
40. Steak Salad with Blue Cheese, Avocado & Basil Balsamic Dressing
Steak and bleu cheese might seem a little odd, but trust me—this salad is so good. The avocado and basil dressing adds a fresh twist.
41. Mandarin Almond Salad
This yummy Asian-inspired dish contains mandarin oranges, avocado and slivered almonds (plus some parm!) to create the crunchiest-ever salad to eat on your lunch break.
42. Pulled Pork Salad
This pulled pork salad is not your average summer meal! It’s hearty and spicy and will suit any crowd—even your hungriest sports fan friends.
43. Tabouli Salad
You need to try this twist on a classic Mediterranean dish this summer. Because there’s no formal Tabouli recipe to begin with, feel free to add in ingredients to fit your personal tastes.
44. BBQ Chicken Salad
Another day, another BBQ chicken salad to munch on this season. This colorful mixed salad is the perfect cheat-day meal (or any day, honestly!)
45. Easy Tossed Big Italian Salad Recipe
This classic Italian salad recipe is so good, your friends won’t stop asking you to make it whenever they come over. What’s better than that?
46. Spicy Kale and Quinoa Black Bean Salad
This salad tastes just like your usual order at Chipotle, but is so much easier (and way more affordable) to make on a daily basis.
48. Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Miso Dressing
Shrimp salads are the epitome of summertime eating. This version has Miso dressing and works for either lunch or dinner.
49. Tabouli Salad With Quinoa
Another day in the summer, another Tabouli salad recipe! This one features crunchy quinoa and lemon for added flare.
50. Salmon Salad With Grilled Corn and Heirloom Tomatoes
Summer is tomato season, so here’s a recipe that makes them taste better than you ever thought possible.
A version of this article previously appeared in July 2016.