olive garden salad
This copycat Olive Garden Salad has the perfect flavor and texture pairing that tastes better than the restaurant recipe because it's homemade! Easy, quick, full of fresh ingredients.
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Table of Contents
  1. Copycat Olive Garden Salad
  2. Why We Love This Olive Garden Salad Recipe
  3. Ingredients
  4. Substitutions and Additions
  5. Recommended Tools
  6. How to Make Homemade Olive Garden Salad Recipe
  7. Tips from Recipe Developer
  8. Storage Tips
  9. Frequently Asked Questions
  10. Copycat Olive Garden Salad Recipe

This homemade Olive Garden Salad recipe is a copycat of the famous restaurant chain, quickly prepared with fresh lettuce, juicy tomatoes, crunch croutons, olives, peppers, parmesan, and onion, all tossed with its signature creamy Italian dressing. It is so easy to replicate this bright, crisp, and colorful dish at home with fresh ingredients–serve it as a simple side or top it with protein to make it a main meal.

olive garden salad

Copycat Olive Garden Salad

What if I told you that I’ve replicated the famous Olive Garden Salad (you know the one that’s all-you-can-eat and served with the bottomless basket of buttery breadsticks) and created my own version that tastes even better?

I’ve done it! My recipe is so quick and easy to make using only fresh ingredients that combine into a copycat dish with the same delicious flavors and textures. It’s crunchy, creamy, salty, tangy, and even has a bit of heat. The colors are bright and vibrant–it’s simply a satisfying, made-from-scratch restaurant favorite that I love to make at home!

The dressing in this salad is so delicious that many grocery stores are now selling it. And while the ingredient list is fairly long, it only takes minutes to make and when poured over the contents you have on your plate, it’s pure perfection!

Plus creating recipe favorites at home is not only cheaper (and you don’t have to leave a tip), but you can customize the flavors and have fun experimenting–add a protein for a main meal, leave out the olives, or change the cheese. No matter how you serve it, this Olive Garden Salad is addictively amazing!

Why We Love This Olive Garden Salad Recipe

  • Quick and easy to create this colorful dish at home.
  • Uses simple, fresh ingredients to replicate a restaurant recipe.
  • Dressing is so delicious that it’s even sold in stores!
  • It’s super satisfying to make copycat meals at home and much more economical.
  • Serve it as a side or top it with a protein for a main meal.

Other Copycat Recipes

olive garden salad

Ingredients

  • Iceberg lettuce: Any variety of lettuce or bagged salad can be used.
  • Pepperoncini peppers
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Pitted black olives
  • Red onion
  • Seasoned croutons
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • Water
  • Mayonnaise
  • Granulated sugar
  • Fresh minced garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes

Substitutions and Additions

  • 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.
  • Tasty Toppings: You can add chopped bacon, cubed ham, or even shredded cooked chicken or grilled shrimp to make it a main meal.
  • Dressing: Feel free to substitute Olive Garden’s premade salad dressing for the homemade dressing. You can also substitute a 0.7 ounce package of Italian dressing mix for the homemade dressing.
  • Cheese Please: Add some mini mozzarella balls, chunks of feta, or cubes of fontina cheese for a fun twist.
  • Vegan/Vegetarian Version: This Olive Garden salad only needs a slight adjustment to make this vegetarian or vegan. Chose a vegetarian or vegan parmesan cheese and mayo, or omit them completely.
olive garden salad
  • Large serving bowl
  • Mixing bowl or mason jar with lid
  • Measuring tools
  • Whisk
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How to Make Homemade Olive Garden Salad Recipe

This copycat Olive Garden Salad is so easy and quick to recreate at home. Using only fresh ingredients, this revised restaurant recipe tastes even more delicious, because everything is better when you make it from scratch!

  1. Layer lettuce, olives, onion, tomatoes, and croutons in a large serving bowl.
  2. Top with another layer of lettuce, olives, onion, tomatoes, and croutons.
  3. Top the salad with pepperoncini peppers.
  4. Sprinkle parmesan over the salad and set aside.
  5. Combine the olive oil, white wine vinegar, water, mayonnaise, sugar, garlic, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes in either a mixing bowl or a mason jar.
    Pro Tip: If using a bowl, whisk until the dressing is well combined. If using the mason jar, tightly screw on the lid and shake until the ingredients are completely incorporated.
  6. Pour dressing over the top of the salad and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Tips from Recipe Developer

  • Make sure your red onions are sliced nice and thin. A mandoline would work well to slice them.
  • Small mason jars are just the right size to make salad dressing and to store any dressing leftovers in the fridge.
  • This salad is best served right away, otherwise, the croutons will start to soften in the dressing.
  • The dressing will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge in an airtight jar or bottle.
  • If you are making the salad ahead of time, add the dressing just before serving.

Storage Tips

  • To Store: Store any leftovers in an airtight container, or a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, for up to 2 days. The dressing can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
olive garden salad

Frequently Asked Questions

What is in the original Olive Garden Salad?

The Olive Garden salad is a combination of finely chopped lettuce (iceberg or romaine), tomatoes, very thinly sliced red onion, pepperoncini peppers, black olives, and garlicky croutons.

Can I make this salad ahead?

Yes, you can easily prepare this salad ahead of time, but leave off the dressing and croutons. Store it covered in the refrigerator and add the dressing when you are ready to serve it. This way, the lettuce, and croutons won’t become soggy.

What can I serve with my Olive Garden Salad?

This salad pairs perfectly with almost anything, from soups, to casseroles, to any of my main dishes. You can even serve like Olive Garden does with some simple breadsticks and soup for a light dinner or lunch. Have you tried my Cauliflower Breadsticks or my Crack Chicken Noodle Soup? You can make this salad a main meal and top it with my Grilled Salmon, Lemon Chicken, or my Garlic Butter Steak Bites.

olive garden salad
4.67 from 3 votes
olive garden salad

Copycat Olive Garden Salad

Serves — 8
This copycat Olive Garden Salad has the perfect flavor and texture pairing that tastes better than the restaurant recipe because it's homemade! Easy, quick, full of fresh ingredients.
Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins

Ingredients
  

Salad

  • 6 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
  • 6 whole pepperoncini peppers
  • 4 medium firm Roma tomatoes sliced
  • 1 cup whole pitted black olives drained
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 cup seasoned croutons
  • ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

Dressing

  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp fresh minced garlic
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Instructions
 

  • Using a large serving bowl, layer 3 cups of the chopped lettuce, ½ cup of the black olives, ½ cup of the sliced red onion, ½ of the sliced tomatoes, and ½ cup of the croutons.
  • Layer the remaining lettuce, black olives, sliced red onion, sliced tomatoes, and croutons.
  • Lay the pepperoncini peppers on top of the salad.
  • Evenly sprinkle the grated parmesan on top of the salad. Set the salad aside.
  • Using either a small mixing bowl and a whisk, or a quart-sized mason jar with a lid, combine the olive oil, white wine vinegar, water, mayonnaise, sugar, fresh minced garlic, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, kosher salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. If using the bowl and whisk, whisk until the dressing is well combined. If using the mason jar, tightly screw on the lid and shake until the ingredients are completely incorporated.
  • Immediately pour the dressing over the top of the salad. Serve immediately.

Jenn’s Notes

Storage:
Store any leftovers in an airtight container, or a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, for up to 2 days. 
Store extra dressing in a container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Tips:
  • Make sure your red onions are sliced nice and thin. A mandoline would work well to slice them.
  • Small mason jars are just the right size to make salad dressing and to store any dressing leftovers in the fridge.
  • This salad is best served right away, otherwise, the croutons will start to soften in the dressing.
  • The dressing will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge in an airtight jar or bottle.
    If you are making the salad ahead of time, add the dressing just before serving.

Nutrition Info

Calories: 270kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 516mg | Potassium: 230mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 677IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 1mg
Jennifer Fishkind

About Jenn

Jenn is a mom to three beautiful boys, wife to an amazing husband, social influencer and blogger. I love all things easy recipes, easy crafts, all things hacks, traveling EVERYWHERE and feeding my Pinterest addiction!

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