Traditionally, salads have been conceived as a large plate of rabbit leaves served with some bland chicken and tomatoes. Thankfully, that day is long gone and if you’re struggling to create salads to enjoy, then this article will coach you on how to make salad taste better with top tips from professionals to help you think beyond the leaves. Is the chicken caesar salad the only one you can conjure up? Are you sick of eating leaves all the time? Perhaps chicken is the only protein you’ve added to your salad! Want to be the envy of all your colleagues with vibrant salads just in time for summer?

Well, read on as we say goodbye to bland soggy salads and say hello to colourful, creative, delicious and healthy salads that will leave your family and friends in awe of your salad assembly skills. In order to achieve a balanced meal, the below sections are broken down based on the 3 macronutrients. By choosing 1 or more ingredients from each section, you’ll be well on you way to nutritionally satisfying salad recipes that will keep your satiety levels high and your belly full for longer. Who says salad has to be boring!

How to make salad taste better - Salad bowl with ingredients laid out in bowls

Protein

When choosing protein sources, they should ideally be complete sources of protein, i.e. containing all 9 of the essential amino acids. Fortunately, meat, fish and eggs are complete protein sources. Additionally, opt for lean cuts with no visible traces of fat or skin. Some of the healthiest sources of protein include:

  • Beef strips
  • Chicken breast
  • Eggs
  • Shrimp
  • Tuna steak
  • Turkey breast

Tip: Try marinading your meats and cooking them before adding them into your salad. This will provide a delicious taste to your dish!

Since many people don’t eat meat, fish or eggs, below is a list of alternative protein sources:

  • Cannellini beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
  • Quinoa

Tip: Chickpeas are not a complete source of all 9 amino acids, pair them with complete proteins, e.g. quinoa, tofu.

How to make salad taste better - quinoa salad dressing

Fat

Some people neglect to include a source of fat in their meals, and this includes salads. Don’t fear fat, remember that eating fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat! After all, it is an essential macronutrient that is necessary for healthily bodily functioning. You generally only need a small portion of fat-based foods to meet your daily requirements.

Below are a list of foods containing healthy unsaturated fats to add to your salad:

  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Cashew nuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Eggs
  • Olive oil
  • Peanuts
  • Salmon
  • Sunflower oil
  • Tuna
  • Walnuts

Tip: Canned tuna does not count as oily fish, so opt for fresh tuna where possible.

How to make salad taste better - Half an avocado with avocado cubes in a salad

Carbohydrates

When it comes to choosing carbohydrate sources to add to your salad, there’s an abundance of choices. From breads to pasta and grains, and let’s not forget fruit and vegetables too! All of these are excellent for adding bulk to your salad to keep you full and not reaching for a chocolate bar an hour or 2 later. Additionally, they will increase your fibre and energy intake for the day too!

Bread:

  • Ezekiel bread
  • Honey and spelt bread
  • Pita bread
  • Soda bread

Grains:

  • Couscous
  • Pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Rice

Fruit: The majority of people enjoy at least a few types of fruit, so why not add your favourite ones to your salad for some added crunch, flavour and get 1 of your 5 a day in too! Some suggestions include:

  • apple
  • avocado
  • pear
  • orange
  • grapes
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • dried fruit
  • tomatoes
  • mango

How to make salad taste better - chopped oranges and grapefruit on plate

 

Vegetables: Another ingredient to count towards 1 of your 5 a day of fruit and vegetables, so don’t be afraid to bulk up on vegetables. These also are a source of flavour, texture and nutrition for your scrumptious salad. These are a great addition to the base of your salad. Examples of vegetables to add include grated or chopped:

  • carrots
  • onions
  • peppers
  • peas

Roasting your vegetables is another method to shake up how you add vegetables to your salad. Try chopping and roasting some:

  • brussel sprouts
  • cauliflower
  • onions
  • red, green and yellow peppers
  • runner breans
  • sweet potato cubes
  • zucchini

Of course, no salad ingredient list would be complete without incorporating at least some leafy green suggestions. Some people go through phases of being stuck in the inevitable food rut, and as such, they consume the exact same leaves or salad mix which nearly drives them to the point of wishing they could go out to the lawn and chew on the grass instead, just for something different! Did you know that there are 16 types of lettuce alone?

Incorporating a mix of these into your salad will liven up your plate:

  • Butter lettuce
  • Curly endive
  • French crisp
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Lambs lettuce
  • Little gems lettuce
  • Oak leaf lettuce
  • Rocket
  • Romaine
  • Spinach
  • Spring mix
  • Watercress

Tip: Preparing your fruit and vegetables in different ways can lead to a completely different dish and introduces some variety, e.g. grated carrot, carrot sticks, carrot cubes, roast carrot.

How to make salad taste better - Butter lettuce head

Dressings

The choice of dressing you choose can often make or break your salad. If you pick a nice dressing, it could be the tastiest meal you’ve ever had. However, if you don’t enjoy the dressing and you’ve sprinkled it all over your salad, you might even end up throwing the whole salad out!

Additionally, the dressing you choose could be harbouring an exorbitant amount of sugar, fat or calories. Creamy dressings, such as thousand island, ranch and caesar dressing and oil dressings, such as olive oil, can be rather high in calories, with the likes of thousand island dressing providing a whopping 190 calories per 2 tablespoons! If you start adding too much of these sauces, don’t be surprised to discover that your salad could amount to as much calories as a burger meal!

In most cases, you’re often better off making your own homemade sauce, which for many recipes, can take just a matter of minutes! For example, there are endless greek yoghurt based dressings that you can make at home. Or alternatively, you can opt for the reduced-fat versions of your favourite calorific sauces.

Regardless of whether you’re tracking calories in your dressings or not, there should never be a dull day in the dressings department, check out the below list of dressings for inspiration:

  • Balsamic vinaigrette
  • Bleu cheese dressing
  • Caeser dressing
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • French dressing
  • Honey mustard dressing
  • Lemon and herb sauce
  • Mayonnaise
  • Peri-peri sauce
  • Ranch dressing
  • Salad cream
  • Sesame ginger dressing
  • Thousand island

 

Tip: Instead for foregoing my favourite dressings due to the calories, I swear by these delicious Skinny Sauce – Virtually Zero® Calorie, sugar free, fat free sauces which would put even the sharpest tongue to the test to distinguish the difference between the original and the low calorie version!

How to make salads taste better

As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please note that you, the reader’s interests are my top priority, and I only recommend products that I have either tried and tested or thoroughly reviewed and consider good enough for myself to buy.

How to make salad taste better - glass bottle of olive oil

Toppings

Very similar principles apply with toppings too; they can also significantly contribute to calorie content of the meal, but at the same time, they may be just the icing on the cake in terms of taste, texture and appearance. Don’t forget that we primarily eat with our eyes, so little tricks such as adding appetising toppings to make the salad appear more vibrant and tasty will often result in us enjoying the meal more.

There are a range of toppings that you can choose from to garnish your salad:

  • Cheese: cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, goats cheese
  • Dried fruit: apricots, coconut cubes, raisins, sultanas
  • Fruit: apple slices, mango cubes, pomegranate
  • Herbs: basil, mint, parsley
  • Meat: bacon bits, diced chicken, shredded beef
  • Nuts: pistachio, pine nuts, walnuts
  • Seeds: chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Vegetables: grated carrot, spiralized carrot, spiralized zucchini
  • Wholegrains: barley, quinoa

How to make salad taste better - Chia seeds in wooden spoon and scattered on table

Summary

  • A protein source should accompany all salads and will leave you feeling fuller for longer
  • Sources of healthy fat should be added in limited quantities to a salad
  • Adding a variety of different fruit and vegetables creates texture, flavour and adds variety to your dish
  • Making your own homemade dressing can reduce the amount of sugar, fat and salt while minimising calories
  • When choosing dressings, caution should be taken as some of them are high in sugar, fat and salt
  • Adding salad toppings can provide extra flavour, texture and nutrition to the salad
  • Alternating how the food is presented can add variety to the appearance, flavour and texture

Eating salad shouldn’t be a monotonous or bland experience, and shouldn’t have to consist primarily of just salad leaves. I hope with the above list that you are well-equipped to transform your lifeless lunch into one that people would pay you to make!

Now that you know how to make salads, why not invest in some time and money saving gadgets from healthy eating kitchen gadgets – small utensils which will shred your ingredients in seconds and turn your salads into mouth-watering, delectable meals that you can whip up in minutes. These truly are a game-changer in terms of making life easier and your salads more appetising and even Instagram worthy!

Do you enjoy salads or are you turned off by the thought of eating rabbit food? What is your favourite salad and dressing? Have you ever made your own salad dressing? Please share your thoughts and comments below!

Sources

Gray, K., 2018. 10 Easy Ways To Add Protein To Your Salad. [online] Insider. Available at: https://www.insider.com/high-protein-salads-2018-10  [Accessed 29 June 2020].

Link, R., 2019. 8 Simple And Healthy Salad Dressings. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthy-salad-dressing#section1  [Accessed 29 June 2020].

McGrane, K., 2020. 13 Nearly Complete Protein Sources For Vegetarians And Vegans. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/complete-protein-for-vegans#11.-Pita-and-hummus [Accessed 29 June 2020].

Steen, J., 2020. 12 Easy Tricks To Make Salad Not Just A Boring Bowl Of Veggies. [online] Huffingtonpost.com.au. Available at:  https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/01/15/12-easy-tricks-to-make-salad-not-just-a-boring-bowl-of-veggies_a_21655408/?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAGjMScPcyJS_yQftcaRShTznSu5vScpb94jRz0FJGEA0sq35tey4zSGnY5CGvJI6PQU1JzQmMPhJBCvoAVKX4nlftOle11tkw_CfX5Dx43IGU9jZcGptgfuhEiIOc0-YrEdSvn_Znit_DTQCze1oNqmqpJYyMf2wnmQIp61DI4l4 [Accessed 29 June 2020].

Streit, L., 2018. Top 20 Healthy Salad Toppings. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthy-salad-toppings#section21 [Accessed 29 June 2020].

Watson, M., 2020. 16 Lettuce Choices To Make Your Favorite Salad Even Better. [online] The Spruce Eats. Available at: https://www.thespruceeats.com/varieties-of-lettuce-4065606  [Accessed 29 June 2020].

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10 Comments

Prav · 30/06/2020 at 2:25 AM

Wow. I never imagined so many ingredients can go into a salad. There are so many permutations and combinations possible now 🙂 Thank you for this wonderful article.

    Sharon · 30/06/2020 at 2:10 PM

    Hi there,

    Thank you so much for your kind words. There really is so much variety when you look into it. I hope the article was of interest and use to you and you found some ingredients and swaps to use!

    If there’s anything I can be of assistance with, don’t hesitate to reach out!

    Best wishes,
    Sharon

Waldmann · 01/07/2020 at 7:57 PM

I agree with you having people add protein in order to stay fuller longer. Normally I will just pair a salad with a meat like chicken wings or steak. That makes for a very well rounded meal. I find homemade bacon bits the tastiest way to add a little bit of fat as well.

    Sharon · 03/07/2020 at 2:29 PM

    Hi there,

    That’s a great way to have a balanced salad, never thought of pairing chicken wings with a salad. I think we all hear you on the bacon bites, they’re so tasty!

    Thanks for your input,
    Sharon

Amanda · 02/07/2020 at 5:33 AM

Hi Sharon,

This was a great article. I usually avoid eating salads, because I find them boring and plain. But your article has inspired me to eat salads again because now I know how to add variety to them. So thank you.

-Amanda

    Sharon · 03/07/2020 at 2:35 PM

    Hi Amanda,

    Thanks so much! It sure is valuable to know that it has inspired you to return to salads again.

    Thanks for visiting and posting your comments on the page, it’s much appreciated.

    Best wishes,
    Sharon

Jeff · 02/07/2020 at 1:20 PM

I really learned a whole bunch of helpful information from your post, I do eat salads several times per day so your awesome suggestions just gave me some great alternatives to the salads I have been eating. I thank you such a creative post on How To Make Salad Taste Better, and I am sure this will encourage others to eat more salads and become healthier.

Thank you
Jeff

    Sharon · 03/07/2020 at 2:46 PM

    Hi Jeff,

    Good to hear, I’m glad the post was educational and hopefully you’ll apply some of the tips too. we agree and you found it valuable to read! If you make salads so frequently, I’m sure this article has some time saving gadgets that’ll speed up the time it takes you to make salads, just said I’d mention it: healthy eating kitchen gadgets – small utensils

    Also, thank you for sharing your own opinion and experiences.

    Best wishes,
    Sharon

Habib · 02/07/2020 at 7:20 PM

This is one of the best appetizing post I’ve come across today! All the recipes look super tasty and of course very healthy. I like you ‘tip’ at the end of each recipe. I did not know the chickpea did not contain all the 9 amino acids, and you need to include quinoa or tofu to it as well. I also did not know the tinned tuna was not classed as oily fish. I have taken all these in to account.

It’s a great post! Thank you

    Sharon · 03/07/2020 at 3:01 PM

    Hi Habib,

    Thanks for your generosity. I’m delighted that you like the tips, I’ve recently been incorporating them into my posts, so your feedback is much appreciated. Yes, that’s the unfortunate case with choosing plant-based protein sources, but thankfully it’s surmountable.

    I honestly never knew the fact about the tinned tuna until I researched it, so I was slightly disappointed to find that out. If you’re looking for more protein sources, you should give good pre-workout foods: protein a quick read.

    Thanks,
    Sharon

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