Chef Salad


A classic salad recipe for those who also like sandwiches

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This classic Chef Salad is filled with fresh vegetables and protein-packed meat and eggs all drizzled with a savory homemade ranch dressing.

If salad feels like boring diet food, I hate to tell you but you’re making them wrong! This Chef Salad is a perfect example of how a lettuce filled, healthy meal like salad can be delicious and incredibly filling.

A large chef salad on a plate filled with tomato, egg, cheese, turkey and radishes. Topped with ranch dressing.

It’s easy to get your veggies in and fill up on protein with this salad on the menu. While you can serve it alongside the main dish, I recommend just grabbing a large bowl and digging into this salad as your lunch or dinner.

Top this fresh salad with a hefty drizzle of easy homemade ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing for a healthy and delicious meal!

What is a chef salad?

A Chef Salad is hearty enough to count as a meal and can include any variety of foods you have in your kitchen. While it’s packed with vegetables and leafy greens, it also has plenty of protein and fat for a balanced meal that will keep you full and satisfied.

Traditionally, a Chef salad is made of hard boiled eggs, ham or turkey, cheese, and fresh vegetables served on a bed of lettuce and drizzled with dressing, but the variations possible (see below) are endless!

Crunchy chef salad topped with radish, egg, tomato, deli meat and creamy ranch dressing.

How to make a chef salad

Chef salads are easy to make at home, especially if you already have the dressing made.

  1. Wash the lettuce and pat it dry or run it through a salad spinner to dry the leaves.
  2. Chop and slice your vegetables, cheeses and meats.
  3. Toss all ingredients (except for the dressing) together in a large bowl.
  4. Serve with dressing on the side or mix the salad dressing into the salad.


Key ingredients & substitutions

  • Green leaf lettuce – This soft and tender lettuce is the perfect base for a Chef Salad, but you can substitute it with romaine, iceburg lettuce, butter lettuce or another salad blend if needed.
  • Arugula – Not present in a classic Chef Salad, but adds a peppery flavor that complements the salty and savory ingredients.
  • Cucumber – Use English or garden cucumbers, sliced and cut into half moons. Keep the skins on unless they’re extra tough or bitter.
  • Radishes – Also not found in a traditional Chef Salad; however, thinly sliced radishes give this salad a bit of a peppery & spicy kick.
  • Cherry tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes are ideal because of their sweet taste and small size. You can also halve grape tomatoes or dice up a Roma tomato for this recipe.
  • Hard-boiled eggs – You can easily hard boil eggs in the air fryer, on the stove or in the oven. Or purchase boiled eggs from the grocery store.
  • Deli ham & turkey – Choose deli meat that’s free from added sugars.
  • Cheddar cheese – Shredded cheddar is classic for a Chef Salad, but you can also use Colby, Swiss cheese or blue cheese crumbles.
  • Ranch dressing – Make your own or buy a  store-bought ranch like the Primal Kitchen brand.

Chef Salad Recipe Video

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Chef Salad Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber, peeled & cut into half moons
  • 2 heads green leaf lettuce, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 8 oz arugula
  • 3 oz radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, quartered
  • 8 oz deli ham, sliced
  • 8 oz deli turkey, sliced
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, sliced
  • 2/3 cup ranch dressing

Chef Salad Directions

  • Chef Salad
  • A pinterest image of a chef salad with tongs on top with text that read 'how to make the best chef salad'.

    How to choose quality deli meat

    Deli meat has a notorious reputation for being unhealthy and even cancer-causing. Some deli meats can have added sugars as well. This is why it’s important to be selective about the type of deli meat you eat.

    When choosing deli turkey and ham for your Chef salad, avoid these common ingredients:

    • Sodium Nitrate
    • Added Sugar
    • BHA or BHT
    • Corn Syrup

    For healthier deli meats, try Applegate and 365, the Whole Foods brand of deli meats. Just be sure to read the nutrition facts for added sugars.

    Top down view of a large chef salad filled with fresh veggies, meat and cheese.

    Chef salad variations

    While the ingredient list is typical for a classic Chef Salad, you can always switch things up by using different toppings and dressings.

    Try some of these options for a fun spin on the traditional recipe:

    Storage information & meal prep instructions

    To meal prep this salad, just prepare the fresh veggies, hard boiled eggs, and deli meat up to 3 days in advance.

    Store it all in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator until ready to serve. When it’s time to eat, combine the ingredients, top with dressing and serve.

    Chef Salad: FAQS

    Why do they call it Chef salad?

    Chef salads are made based on what the “chef” has available in his or her kitchen. This is why there are no set rules on what ingredients are needed for a Chef salad.

    What’s the difference between a cobb salad and a Chef salad?

    Cobb salads and Chefs salads are very similar with a variety of vegetables, meat and cheese, but Cobb salads typically include avocado, blue cheese and bacon as staple ingredients.

    What kind of cheese goes in a Chef salad?

    A chef salad recipe can include any kind of cheese, typically cheddar, swiss, provolone, or blue cheese.

    Nutritional information & Macros

    Nutrition Information

    Chef Salad

    Servings: 6

    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 423
    Fat 29.4g
    Protein 30.5g
    Total Carbs 9.2g
    Net Carbs 6.5g

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