Easy Traditional Seven Layer Salad Recipe {Southern Potluck Classic}

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A classic, easy 7 layer Salad recipe served in a trifle bowl. So many options for the seven layers, you choose what you love. Perfect for potlucks!

A classic, easy 7 layer Salad recipe served in a trifle bowl. So many options for the seven layers, you choose what you love. Perfect for potlucks!

Growing up, my mom always made a 7 Layer Salad in the summer.

I feel bad.

I didn’t appreciate it back then. 

At family gatherings there was always an abundance of salads and side dishes, and the layered salad recipe with vegetables and sour cream never called my name.

I mean, things like Pistachio Fluff Salad and Snicker’s Taffy Apple Salad were my go-to choices.

And while I still love those sweet dessert salads, I’ve come full circle in life to where I tend to love and appreciate those foods from my childhood that I turned up my nose at (remember these 7 layer cookie bars?).

Anyway, let’s get started on all the details to making THE BEST Seven Layer Salad recipe!

How to Make a 7 Layer Salad

A classic, easy 7 layer Salad recipe served in a trifle bowl. So many options for the seven layers, you choose what you love. Perfect for potlucks!

STEP 1: Make your hard boiled eggs. You’ll need about 6-8 large eggs for this recipe. PRO TIP: I love using my Instant Pot Hard Boiled Egg recipe for quick and perfect eggs. They peel like a dream. Once cooked, cut eggs into quarters.

STEP 2: Prepare your bacon. Whether you like your breakfast bacon chewy or crunchy doesn’t matter for today’s salad. You MUST make the crunchy version. Trust me, in a salad, wimpy chewy bacon is never a good option.

To get perfect crisp bacon I opt to fry it up in a skillet while my eggs are cooking! Crumble the bacon once it is cooked to a crisp!

STEP 3: Cut and dice your remaining vegetables. 

  • Lettuce: Iceberg lettuce is what I usually choose for 7 layer salad. Wash it good with cold water, shake off excess water, blot with paper towels, then give it a rough chop into bite size pieces.
  • Cherry Tomatoes: Slice in half.
  • Red Onion: Cut onion in half, peel, and make thin slices.
  • Red Bell Pepper: Thinly sliced and seeded.
  • Frozen Peas: Thawed. You can also use canned sweet peas that have been drained. I prefer the frozen though as they have a less “mushy” texture.
  • Green Onion: Sliced thin, using the white and the green tops.

STEP 4: Mix the dressing. Using a medium size bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, granulated sugar, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and onion powder.

STEP 5: Assemble the salad. In a large trifle bowl or clear glass salad bowl (so you can see the layers!), layer 1/2 of the chopped lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red onion, hard boiled eggs. Add about 1/3 of the dressing. Top with the remaining lettuce, black olives, peas, and red bell pepper. Add the remaining dressing on top. 

Garnish the top of the salad with shredded cheese, bacon crumbles, and green onions slices (optional). 

STEP 6: Refrigerate. It’s very important for a seven layer salad to chill in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Serve and enjoy!

A classic, easy 7 layer Salad recipe served in a trifle bowl. So many options for the seven layers, you choose what you love. Perfect for potlucks!

What are the layers in a 7 Layer Salad

  1. Lettuce
  2. Tomato
  3. Onion
  4. Eggs
  5. Olives
  6. Peas
  7. Peppers
  8. OOPS. I have too many layers. Dressing.
  9. Cheese.
  10. Bacon.
  11. Green onion

As you can see there is a LOT of flexibility with layers. Sometimes I omit the olives and peppers. Sometimes I get rid of the onion and peas. Seriously, make it with the layers YOU love.

This salad makes a big trifle bowl full of fresh veggies, and is the perfect crowd feeding recipe! 

A classic, easy 7 layer Salad recipe served in a trifle bowl. So many options for the seven layers, you choose what you love. Perfect for potlucks!

Can you make Seven Layer Salad ahead of time?

One of the things that makes a layered salad ideal for potlucks and picnics is the fact that it can be made ahead of time.

It actually NEEDS to be made ahead of time. By assembling the layers in a trifle dish and topping with dressing, you’re sealing in the freshness. This hearty salad needs at least 8 hours to chill.

Once you’ve started serving this salad, the lettuce will mix with the dressing and begin to wilt. While it will still taste good, it won’t look good. We usually try to make about 8-24 hours in advance, and then once we begin eating the salad, it’s best to use for an additional 24 hours.

Do NOT leave this salad out for more than an hour without refrigerating it or the mayo will go sour!

A classic, easy 7 layer Salad recipe served in a trifle bowl. So many options for the seven layers, you choose what you love. Perfect for potlucks!

What to serve with a 7 Layered Salad

If you’re bringing this to a potluck, you never know what might show up. But making and serving this layered salad with dinner is definitely a genius decision.

We like this salad with Baked Pork Chops, BBQ Chicken, or Mississippi Pot Roast!

You could even toss in a layer of rotisserie chicken and make this salad a meal.

Tips for a PERFECT Overnight 7 Layer Salad

  • For quick assembly, feel free to use precooked bacon and hard boiled eggs. You can buy both at most large grocery stores!
  • The dressing is key to this salad. It’s just slightly sweet from the sugar, but the zesty flavor comes from the buttermilk. I buy THIS buttermilk powder to store in my refrigerator for longer periods of time so it’s handy when I need it!
  • In a pinch, don’t tell my mom, but you COULD use a thick ranch dressing if needed.
  • Assemble this salad at least 8 hours in advance! This allows the sugar in the dressing to absorb and the flavors to mingle.
  • No trifle bowl? No problem. Assemble in a 13×9 instead. You could also assemble in a regular glass bowl (not see through) and mix the salad RIGHT before serving!

A classic, easy 7 layer Salad recipe served in a trifle bowl. So many options for the seven layers, you choose what you love. Perfect for potlucks!

Tools and Ingredients Needed a Traditional Seven Layer Salad Recipe

If you want a quick glance at what’s needed for today’s recipe, look no further. For the printable recipe with measurements, scroll all the way down!

Ingredients:

  • Large Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Cherry Tomatoes (or Grape Tomatoes)
  • Red Onion
  • Frozen Peas
  • Black Olives (sliced)
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sour Cream
  • Buttermilk- gives GREAT flavor!
  • Sugar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • Green Onions

Tools:

A classic, easy 7 layer Salad recipe served in a trifle bowl. So many options for the seven layers, you choose what you love. Perfect for potlucks!

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MORE SALAD RECIPES:

Yield: 12 servings

7 Layer Salad

7 Layer Salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

A classic, easy 7 layer Salad recipe served in a trifle bowl. So many options for the seven layers, you choose what you love. Perfect for potlucks!

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 8 Large Eggs, hard boiled, quartered
  • 1 package (12 oz) bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 8 cups Iceberg lettuce
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes), halved
  • 12 oz frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 can (4 oz) sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and sliced thin (or diced)
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 green onions, chopped

For the dressing

  • 1 1/2 cups Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 1/4 cup Buttermilk
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder

Instructions

    1. Make your hard boiled eggs. You'll need about 6-8 large eggs for this recipe. I love using my Instant Pot Hard Boiled Egg recipe for quick and perfect eggs. Once cooked, cut eggs into quarters.
    2. Prepare your bacon. To get perfect crisp bacon I opt to fry it up in a skillet while my eggs are cooking! Crumble the bacon once it is cooked to a crisp!
    3. Cut and dice your remaining vegetables. (see ingredients above).
    4. Mix the dressing. Using a medium size bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, granulated sugar, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and onion powder.
    5. Assemble the salad. In a large trifle bowl or clear glass salad bowl, layer 1/2 of the chopped lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red onion, hard boiled eggs. Add about 1/3 of the dressing. Top with the remaining lettuce, black olives, peas, and red bell pepper. Add the remaining dressing on top. 
    6. Garnish the top of the salad with shredded cheese, bacon crumbles, and green onions slices (optional). 
    7. Refrigerate. It's very important for a seven layer salad to chill in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. SERVE and ENJOY.

Notes

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 390 Total Fat: 33g Saturated Fat: 9g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 21g Cholesterol: 160mg Sodium: 575mg Carbohydrates: 13g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 8g Protein: 12g
*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.
A classic, easy 7 layer Salad recipe served in a trifle bowl. So many options for the seven layers, you choose what you love. Perfect for potlucks!

Traditional, Southern 7 Layer Salad recipe with zesty dressing. Perfect for potlucks and parties.

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3 comments on “Easy Traditional Seven Layer Salad Recipe {Southern Potluck Classic}”

  1. Pingback: The Best 7 Layer Dip Recipe {with or without meat}

  2. Chelsea

    This salad is soooo delicious! Each layer compliments the other perfectly. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Kara

    I left out the red onions (so my kids would eat it), and it was amazing! The dressing is better than some of the toppings I’ve had with seven layer salad. I love taking this to potlucks!

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