Copycat Olive Garden Salad is one of my all time favorite restaurant salads ever! And now you can have this bright zingy incredible salad at home!
Copycat Olive Garden Salad
Olive Garden has a cult following for good reason. They serve hearty soul satisfying pasta dishes and soups that are absolutely delicious. Everyone loves those breadsticks with the buttery, salty, garlic flavor. And then there is the salad. It is crisp, fresh and so addictive. The combinations of flavors when you really look at it is a bit odd, but it works! It is crunchy, soft, salty, tangy and even has a bit of heat. It comes together with that incredible dressing, and I could eat it every day! The colors of the salad are so vibrant and inviting. It is so good!
I love that I have been able to duplicate it here at home and it tastes every bit as good as it does from the restaurant. I dare say even better too. It is so simple to make, that you will be making this every week. This is a go-to salad when I’m hosting friends or family because I know everyone is going to love this salad. Olive Garden salad is ideal for lunches, brunches and makes a fabulous side to any dish. It is a classic favorite that takes little effort. Now if I could just remember to chill my salad plates as they do at Olive Garden, that would make it perfect!
What You Need for Olive Garden Salad
For the best tasting salad use the freshest ingredients you can find.
- Garden Salad Mix* Using a mix saves time and is still delicious.
- Roma tomatoes: Slice the tomatoes, you can cut them in half if you want them smaller.
- Pepperoncini: Adds that bit of heat.
- Red onion Sliced thinly.
- Large black olives: Drained
- Croutons: Use store-bought or make your own. Recipe here.
- Shredded Parmesan Cheese: Shred fresh for the best flavor.
- Olive Garden Salad Dressing: Use this homemade recipe for the best results.
Making Olive Garden Copycat Salad
This salad will come together in a snap and it is so yummy!
- Combine: In a large bowl combine the salad mix, tomatoes, pepperoncini, red onion, black olives, croutons, and Parmesan Cheese.
- Add Dressing: Toss with Olive Garden salad dressing recipe.
Olive Garden Salad Tips
Perfect for any occasion, whip up this favorite in no time for a true crowd pleaser.
- Salad: Using an Iceberg mix from the store matches what they serve, but you can cut in romaine as well. I like the iceberg because it makes it nice and crunchy and holds up well to the dressing.
- Pepperoncini: Olive Garden serves them whole in the salad, which not everyone always loves. You can substitute it with the jarred sliced pepperoncini to get the same great taste, but it will be easier to eat.
- Red Onion: Keep the red onion slices thin. If you have one a mandolin works perfectly to slice them. I also cut them into bite-sized pieces (about an inch) to also make them easier to eat.
- Tomatoes: You can also use halved grape or cherry tomatoes for the salad. This can also make it easier to eat as they are a bit smaller than the Roma tomatoes.
Make-Ahead Tips and Storing
Easy to assemble, you can do it ahead of time and save you time later.
- Prep: Get all your ingredients ready except the dressing, pepperoncini, and croutons. Place in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up 8 hours ahead.
- Assemble: Right before serving toss the ingredients adding in the pepperoncini, croutons, and dressing. Serve immediately.
- Storing: This is not a great salad to have leftovers. The croutons will get soggy and no one likes that. If you are afraid you might have leftovers, serve the croutons on the side, letting your friends and family top their own salad. That way if you do have leftovers, you won’t have soggy croutons. Store leftovers for 1 day. After that, the whole salad can get pretty soggy, but will still taste amazing.
Truly this salad could go with just about anything, from soups, BBQ to casseroles. You can even serve it as they do sometimes at the restaurant with just some breadsticks and soup for a light dinner or lunch. The flavors of the salad are so unique and stand on their own so they pair really well with other main dishes. This copycat salad is not overpowering, it just adds the perfect touch of flavor, texture, and color to any meal.
Making your own restaurant favorites at home is simply the best! First of all, it is way cheaper, you do not have to leave a tip, although I am sure the cook would much appreciate one. Second, it tastes so much better at home, made from scratch and full of love. It is true. There is something simply super satisfying about being able to replicate a favorite at home. And the best reason is that you can customize your favorites to your exact likeness. You can add a little bit more of this or that, or leave something out. It is just so much fun to experiment and even more, fun to eat them! Try these favorites next time for an incredible eating experience.
Copycat Olive Garden Salad
- In a large bowl combine the salad mix, tomatoes, pepperoncini, red onion, black olives, croutons and Parmesan Cheese.
- Toss with Olive Garden salad dressing recipe.