Friday, February 10, 2017

The Ultimate Salad Bar


Last summer (yes, I am behind in my posts), we had a lovely salad bar for one of our Sunday dinners. We made some wonderful homemade salad dressing discoveries. Plus, it's always handy to have a great list of salad bar ideas on hand. So, check out these salad dressing recipes and the massive list of options to have at your next salad bar!

Chef John's Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing


1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 ounces frozen blue cheese, grated


Place mayonnaise, sour cream, and buttermilk in a bowl. Add garlic, black pepper, dry mustard, salt, sugar, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk together thoroughly.

Mix grated blue cheese into the cream base a little at a time to ensure it is evenly incorporated and doesn't clump.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (preferably overnight) to consolidate the flavors.

Source:, recipe by Chef John. You can find it here.


Creamy Italian Dressing I


1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 small onion
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon white sugar
3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


In a blender or food processor, combine mayonnaise, onion, vinegar, and sugar. Season with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.

Source:, submitted by Cathy. You can find it here.

Famous Japanese Restaurant-Style Salad Dressing


1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup peanut oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
2 tablespoons minced celery
2 tablespoons ketchup
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


In a blender, combine the minced onion, peanut oil, rice vinegar, water, ginger, celery, ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend on high speed for about 30 seconds or until all of the ingredients are well-pureed.

Source:, submitted by MARBALET. You can find it here.


Honey Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette


1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and pepper, to taste


Whisk balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

Source:, submitted by GumboGirl. You can find it here.


Honey-Lime Vinaigrette


1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil


Blend lime juice, honey, sugar, mustard, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and cumin in a blender, stream olive oil and canola oil into the juice mixture while blending to emulsify the oil into the juice.

Source:, submitted by Lisa Weston. You can find it here.

Spaghetti Factory's Creamy Pesto Salad Dressing

Makes about 2 1/2 cups


1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 1/2 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly, finely grated Parmesan cheese


Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.  Whisk until smooth and creamy.  Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate 1 hour (this will help the flavors develop).  Serve over salad or use as a dip.

Source: Again, I found this on Pinterest and it is from a blog called "Cooking Classy" which you can find here.

Recipe Notes: The author of the recipe noted that if you are in a hurry and don't have time to refrigerate the dressing for an hour prior to serving, you can serve it right away, if necessary.

Notes: This dressing was great.  I ate it on salad...and then I dipped some baby carrots in it...and then we dipped some pizza and bread sticks in it.  Seriously, this stuff was awesome.

Just Like Cafe Rio Cilantro Ranch Dressing/Creamy Tomatillo Dressing


1 packet traditional Hidden Valley Ranch mix (not buttermilk)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
2 tomatillos, husks removed, cut into quarters
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, roughly cohpped
Juice of 1 lime (1-2 tbsp bottled, if fresh is not available)
1 jalapeno (remove seeds for less heat, keep seeds if you like things spicy)


Place all ingredients together in a blender. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Source: I found this online a few years ago on a blog very much like my own. I don't remember the particular site, however.

Notes: This dressing is so spot on. It tastes almost exactly like what you get in the restaurant. Be careful though. This makes a lot, and as you can see, it's not low fat!

Ideas for the Ultimate Salad Bar:



Diced or shredded chicken (poached or from a roast chicken)
Diced turkey
Diced ham
Crumbled bacon
Cubed salami
Mini or small shrimp (or a shrimp tray)
Sliced or quartered hard-boiled eggs

A Little Crunch:

Toasted Sliced almonds
Toasted macadamia nuts
Candied pecans or walnuts (if you don't have tree nut allergies to deal with like we do)
French fried onions
Tortilla strips
Toasted pita strips
Crispy chow mein noodles



Shredded or diced Cheddar cheese
Shredded or diced Monterey Jack cheese
Gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbles
Cubed Swiss cheese
Mozzarella (shredded, cubed, or bocconcine fresh mozzarella balls)
Crumbled Feta

Vegetable Toppings:

Baby corn (canned)
Sliced fresh mushrooms
Sliced beets (canned or roasted)
Black, green, or Kalamata olives
Pepperoncini peppers, whole or sliced
Tomato wedges
Grape or cherry tomatoes
Cucumber slices
Diced or sliced zucchini
Diced or sliced avocado
Thinly sliced red onion
Green onions, sliced
Thinsly sliced red, yellow, and/or green peppers
Shredded carrots
Sliced radishes
Chickpeas aka Garbanzo beans
Kidney beans
Cannellini, white, or navy beans
Black beans
Hearts of palm
Artichoke hearts
Bean sprouts
Alfalfa sprouts


Vegetable sides (for dipping):

Sweet peas
Small sweet peppers
Bell pepper slices
Sliced jicama


Fruit salad toppings or sides:

Orange segments, mandarin oranges, or cuties
Quartered strawberries
Sliced kiwi
Diced apples
Diced pears
Dried cranberries
Dried cherries

Lettuce Ideas:

Baby Romaine
Green leaf lettuce
Butter lettuce
Boston lettuce
Sprink mix
Iceberg mix
Coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage (green or purple)

Dressing Ideas:

Ranch dressing (homemade, bottled, or prepared using Hidden Valley Ranch packets)
Italian dressing (prepared using Good Seasons packets)
Blue Cheese dressing
Green Goddess dressing
Thousand Island dressing
Poppy Seed dressing
Balsamic dressing
Asian Sesame dressing
Creamy Tomatillo Ranch dressing
Other favorite homemade or bottled salad dressings

Mexican Themed:

Shredded sweet pork
Crispy tortilla strips
Caramelized onions
Sour cream
Black or pinto beans
Crumbled cotija cheese or Parmesan cheese
Creamy Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

Asian Themed:

Chow mein noodles
Mandarin oranges
Shredded poached chicken
Asian Sesame dressing

Fruit Themed:

Romaine lettuce
Favorite nuts
Chicken (or not if you want to keep it more simple)
Poppy Seed dressing 

Did I miss anything? If so, let me know in the comments and I will add it in! What other ideas do you have? However, that right there is a list for a pretty amazing, satisfying, and filling salad bar!


  1. This salad bar is fast becoming a favorite tradition! I loved having the homemade dressings. If you are going to that work to chop and shop, don't pull out a bottle! The fresh dressings made the salad!

  2. I completely agree! Homemade salad dressing is so fast to mix together, but it makes such a huge difference.