This Olive Garden salad recipe is a copycat of the restaurant favorite with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, onion and croutons, all tossed with a creamy Italian dressing. Serve this salad as a hearty side dish, or add some grilled chicken to make it a meal!

Whenever I go to Olive Garden, I order their Zuppa Toscana, minestrone soup, chicken scampi and of course have a generous helping of their famous salad. In my opinion, this homemade version is even better than what you’d get at the restaurant.

Olive Garden salad with tomatoes, croutons, cheese and olives.

Olive Garden is a popular restaurant for good reason – who can resist all those hearty, cheesy Italian food options? My favorite part of eating at Olive Garden has to be the soup and salad. I’ve learned to make copycat recipes like Olive Garden salad at home, and it happens to be quite simple to make! This salad recipe pairs well with so many different main course options, including favorites such as chicken primavera, lemon thyme chicken, pan seared chicken breast, and chicken with spinach artichoke pasta.

Olive Garden Salad Ingredients

To make this salad, you will need iceberg salad mix, tomatoes, red onion, pepperoncini peppers, black olives, croutons and parmesan cheese. The dressing is made with Italian dressing mix, extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, water, sugar, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and mayonnaise.

How Do You Make Olive Garden Salad?

This recipe starts with a bag of iceberg lettuce mix, which contains the lettuce along with carrots and a little red cabbage. The lettuce goes into a bowl along with tomatoes, olives, pepperoncini, red onion, crunchy croutons and parmesan cheese. Whisk together the dressing ingredients until well combined. The final step is to pour your homemade dressing over the top, toss, then serve.

Lettuce, vegetables, olives and croutons in a bowl.

Tips For The Perfect Salad

  • It’s most convenient to buy a bag of pre-prepared iceberg lettuce mix, but you can cut your own lettuce if you prefer, and mix it with 1/4 cup shredded carrots to get the same effect.
  • I use a mandoline to thinly slice my red onions for this recipe.
  • I like to use shaved parmesan in this recipe because it stands up well to the other ingredients and the dressing, but at the restaurant they often use grated cheese. You can use whichever variety you prefer.
  • This salad is best served immediately as the croutons will soften as they sit in the dressing.
  • If you’re looking to assemble the salad in advance, you can prepare the dressing 3 days before you plan to use it. Store the dressing in a jar or airtight container. Place your lettuce in a bowl along with all the other salad ingredients except for the croutons. Cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours. Add the croutons and dressing just as you’re ready to serve the salad.

Quick Tip

The dressing recipe makes enough for 2-3 day’s worth of salads. You can store any leftover dressing in the fridge for up to 5 days.

A bottle of homemade salad dressing.

Olive Garden Salad Variations

This salad is the classic version that you’d get at the restaurant, but sometimes I like to add other ingredients to the mix to make it even more special. It’s easy to customize the flavors to your taste!

  • Protein: Top your salad with grilled chicken breast, garlic butter shrimp or grilled flank steak.
  • Vegetables: I like to add other veggies such as roasted red peppers, green olives, corn, marinated artichokes and cucumbers. You can also use cherry tomatoes instead of Roma tomatoes. Try romaine hearts instead of iceberg lettuce!
  • Beans: Try adding 1/2 cup of canned chickpeas or white beans to your salad.
  • Cheese: Add some mini mozzarella balls or cubes of fontina cheese for a fun twist.
Dressing being poured over a bowl of salad.

Recipe FAQs

What is Olive Garden salad made of?

Olive Garden salad starts with a base of iceberg lettuce, and contains tomatoes, olives, cheese, croutons, red onions and pepperoncini peppers.

What kind of dressing does Olive Garden use?

Olive Garden uses a creamy Italian dressing for its signature salad. This dressing is made with olive oil, white wine vinegar, plenty of seasonings and mayonnaise.

How long does Olive Garden salad last?

This salad is best when consumed within 2 hours of preparation. If you’re making extra salad to have some for another night, store the lettuce, vegetables in cheese in one container, and add the dressing and croutons right before serving.

FOLLOW ME

Olive Garden Salad Dressing

Olive Garden salad dressing has a fairly long ingredient list, but it comes together in just minutes. The base of this dressing is a packet of Italian dressing mix. The dressing mix is blended with olive oil, vinegar and plenty of seasonings. A bit of mayonnaise adds a creamy texture. I make a bottle of this dressing at the beginning of the week and pour it over salads for days.

A tossed Olive Garden salad with Italian dressing, vegetables and olives.

There’s no need to set foot in Olive Garden when you can make this legendary salad in the at home! Serve up a full Italian meal, or use this salad to round out other main course options such as chicken and rice bake, sausage and rice casserole and one pot chicken with tomato basil risotto. You’ll find yourself making this versatile salad all the time.

More Italian Favorites

Olive Garden Salad Video

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5 from 42 votes

Olive Garden Salad

AuthorSara Welch
Olive Garden salad with tomatoes, croutons, cheese and olives.
This Olive Garden salad recipe is a copycat of the restaurant favorite with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, onion and croutons, all tossed with a creamy Italian dressing. Serve this salad as a hearty side dish, or add some grilled chicken to make it a meal!
Time
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 minute
Total Time21 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine Italian
Serves 6

Ingredients 

For the salad

  • 12 ounce bag iceberg salad mix
  • 2 Roma tomatoes sliced
  • 1/4 cup red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pepperoncini peppers whole
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 3/4 cup croutons
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese shredded or shaved

For the dressing

  • 1 packet Italian dressing mix
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Instructions 

For the salad

  • Place the salad mix, tomatoes, red onion, pepperoncini, olives, croutons and parmesan in a large bowl.

For the dressing

  • Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth.
  • Pour 2/3 cup dressing over the salad. Toss to combine, then serve.

Notes

  1. The dressing recipe makes enough for 2-3 day’s worth of salads. You can store any leftover dressing in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  2. I like to use shaved parmesan in this recipe because it stands up well to the other ingredients and the dressing, but at the restaurant they often use grated cheese. You can use whichever variety you prefer.
  3. This salad is best served immediately as the croutons will soften as they sit in the dressing.

Nutrition

Calories: 167kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 432mg | Potassium: 85mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 251IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg

Hello! I’m Sara!

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Comments

  1. I wish this recipe allowed printing. It’s one of my favorites and I would love to create a PDF so I can keep it organized

  2. 5 stars
    This was the perfect salad and the dressing is amazing. I took this to a dinner party and received rave reviews. We will definitely make this again and keep the dressing on hand all the time.

  3. 5 stars
    Love this one! I was actually looking for East side Mario’s Garden salad dressing recipe but very similar to Olive Gardens if I remember correctly. I added a little onion powder and dry mustard powder and a wee bit of extra vinegar cuz I like mine a little more tart but all together great recipe thanks for sharing! 👌

  4. 5 stars
    Uhhhmmmm……..this dressing is a game changer! My Dad, Mr. Meat & Potatoes, raved about this OVER some perfectly cooked smoked tri-tip (jaw dropper). Never…ever…in 80 years…has that happened!

  5. What can I use if I can’t find Italian Dressing mix? I’m in Canada and I don’t know if it exists here.

  6. 5 stars
    The salad is one of my favorite things about Olive Garden, especially the dressing! I’m so glad I came across this copycat recipe and can’t wait to try it!

  7. 5 stars
    Such a fun copycat recipe! It sounds even more delicious at home. Love all those flavors and how easily they come together.

  8. 5 stars
    The salad itself is so colourful, this will absolutely work for me. The dressing was so simple to make and delicious.

  9. I haven’t had an Olive Garden Salad in a very long time! I’m looking forward to making this as a side dish for a Mother’s Day meal. What kind of Croutons did you use? Are they flavored? Thank you!