This is a favorite both in restaurants and made at home!

Italian Salad is filled with crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes, olives, red onions and of course zesty pepperoncinis. We add in a simple homemade Italian vinaigrette for the perfect fresh salad.

This salad is full of flavor and we love it as a fresh side dish next to our favorite Italian-inspired recipes.

An Italian salad in a wood bowl with dressing and parmesan cheese next to it

When we go to an Italian restaurant, one of the things I look forward to the most is endless bowls of fresh Italian Salad.

Ingredients

Lettuce – I love a combination of lettuce in this recipe, I start with either iceberg lettuce or a large head of romaine lettuce and add in a little bit of radicchio.

Toppings – Keep it simple or add lots of goodies. This recipe uses red onion, Roma or cherry tomatoes, pepperoncini, olives, and homemade croutons.

Dressing – I love homemade Italian dressing (or creamy Italian dressing) but any vinaigrette you love will go well with this recipe.

Variations

  • Pasta – Turn this into an Italian pasta salad by adding cooked and cooled cheese tortellini or penne.
  • Veggies – Add artichoke hearts, red peppers, cucumbers.
  • Other Additions – Try salami or white beans if you’d like.
A close up photo of an Italian salad with parmesan cheese

How to Make Italian Salad

  1. Wash and dry the lettuce and radicchio and tear them into pieces.
  2. Prepare the rest of the fresh ingredients per the recipe below.
  3. Prepare the Italian Dressing if making it homemade.
  4. Toss everything in a large bowl and serve immediately.

If you’re preparing this salad recipe in advance or planning for leftovers, don’t add the dressing until you’re ready to serve the salad!

Prep Ahead for an Easy Meal

  • To make ahead of time, add the ingredients to the bowl (except croutons), and don’t cut the tomatoes.
  • Cover with a slightly damp paper towel and loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours.  Add croutons and toss with dressing just before serving.
Pouring dressing over an Italian salad in a wood bowl

Italian Salad Dressing

We love homemade Italian dressing but use any kind of vinaigrette including balsamic or dijon vinaigrette.

DRESSING TIP: Oil and vinegar (or vinaigrette) dressings can separate, including dijon or a bit of honey (or even an egg yolk like in Caesar Salad dressing) can help keep the mixture from separating so don’t skip them! Shake in a mason jar before serving as ingredients may settle.

Tips for a Great Salad

  • If prepping ahead, tear the lettuce leaves (rather than cutting) to prevent the salad from wilting or bruising. If you’re serving it right away, cutting is just fine.
  • For a fancy presentation, use a vegetable peeler to shave pieces of parmesan cheese if you’d like.
  • Add additional lemon juice or fresh or dried herbs (like dried oregano) and minced cloves of garlic to bottled dressing to boost the flavor.
  • If planning for leftovers, don’t add dressing to the whole salad.
A close up photo of an Italian salad with parmesan cheese

This Italian salad recipe can be topped with salmon or chicken as a full meal.

It is great serving with Italian favorites like chicken parmesan or chicken piccata. Don’t forget to add in a side of focaccia bread (with olive oil for dipping)

More Easy Salads

An Italian salad in a wood bowl with dressing and parmesan cheese next to it
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Easy Italian Salad

This Italian Salad recipe is filled with crisp lettuce, tomatoes, olives, onions, and of course zesty pepperoncini, all mixed in a zesty Italian dressing.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients  

  • 8 cups lettuce romaine or iceberg
  • 2 cups radicchio
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
  • ¼ red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 cup seasoned croutons
  • ½ cup black olives pitted
  • 6 pepperoncini peppers
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese or to taste, shredded
  • ½ cup Italian dressing homemade or store bought
  • 1 tablespoon fresh herbs parsley or basil

Instructions 

  • Wash and dry lettuce and radicchio.
  • Add remaining ingredients along with dressing to taste.
  • Mix and top with freshly shredded parmesan cheese.

Notes

Store leftover salad (separate from the dressing) in an air-tight container for up to 4 days. 
Homemade Italian Dressing
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or use half olive oil, half vegetable oil)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or 1 very small clove) garlic, optional
5 from 30 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 139 | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 490mg | Potassium: 352mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 835IU | Vitamin C: 23.7mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 1.4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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