How to Make a Salad From Scratch | Creating the Best Homemade Salad Recipes

How to Make a Salad From Scratch | Creating the Best Homemade Salad Recipes

Learn how to create the best (restaurant quality) salad recipes!

If you want to learn how to make a salad recipe – I’m talking about salads that don’t suck that you actually look forward to eating – I’m going to teach you the best method to this creative process! With a few tips, and my favorite secret weapon, you’ll be creating the BEST easy salad recipes at home all from scratch!

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I don’t think that I can handle eating any more salads that consist solely of iceberg lettuce and a bunch of ranch dressing. So often, when we eat at home and we want a salad, we get lazy and decide to just use a leafy green and some basic store-bought salad dressing.

Trust me… We can do way better than that! Let me show you some of my favorite secrets to creating salads that don’t suck. Which is a few tricks, and some creativity, you’ll be well on your way to creating the best {homemade} salad recipes!

peach tomato salad

Selecting a Salad Base

Every salad starts with a base of some type of salad greens. So often we only think of iceberg or romaine lettuce, but there are so many more types of salad greens and some of them aren’t even green. There are ones with red, yellow, white, or even brown leaves. Whatever you choose for your base is going to help set the tone and the flavor of your whole salad. So, remember this when deciding on the base.

Depending on where you live and what season we’re in will determine what type of greens are available. Some of my favorite options include arugula, radicchio, butter head lettuce, endive, or microgreens. Of course there’s always the typical spinach, cabbage, and red and green leaf lettuces. But, try to think outside of the box with this! There are so many different colors and textures to choose from, so pick wisely!

Types of Salad Greens

  • Arugula
  • Baby green bibb
  • Baby red bibb
  • Baby red oak leaf
  • Baby red romaine
  • Belgian endive
  • Boston or bibb lettuce
  • Brune d’Hiver
  • Chicory
  • Curly endive
  • Dandelioni
  • Edible flowers
  • Escarole
  • Fresh herbs
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Leaf lettuce (red & green)
  • Lola Rosa
  • Micro greens
  • Mâche
  • Pirate
  • Radicchio
  • Red Saila
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Sorrel
  • Spinach
  • Sprouts
  • Watercress

HELPFUL TIP: If you’re in a pinch and need to revive some wilted greens, soak them in chilled water for up to an hour. Then, drain the greens in a salad spinner for about 30 seconds and refrigerate until crisp.

Create your own homemade salads grahic

Ideas for Salad Toppings

Another important piece to making the best salad recipes is mixing up the different textures and colors. There are an unlimited amount of other veggies and toppings to add on top! Salad toppings are where you can really use creativity and spice things up.

One of my favorite resources to use when brainstorming ideas for salad toppings is the Flavor Bible. This book is packed full of different flavor combination ideas! If you’re new to learning how to pair ingredients together, or want to stretch your creativity and try new flavor combinations, then this book is for you!

Within this book is an alphabetical list of various ingredients. You can look up almost any common ingredient and find lots of information on that one ingredient. The book shares when the ingredient is at the peak of season, the overall taste of the ingredient (i.e. sour, sweet, etc.), different cooking techniques for how the ingredient can be prepared (i.e. simmer, raw, baked), and of course, different ingredients that pair well with the main ingredient you’ve looked up. 

Let me show you how it works! Let’s say I wanted to make a salad with the base of arugula. I can look up arugula in the Flavor Bible and see all of the different combinations that pair well with it. Almonds, basil, white beans, bell peppers, goat cheese, dill, fennel, lemon juice… And the list goes on and on and on. Choose your favorites to add to the top of your salad.

{RELATED POST: Fall Cobb Salad}

{RELATED POST: Summer Blistered Tomato Peach Salad}

the Flavor Bible example page

What Can I Put in My Salad for Protein?

Part of the reason salads always seem boring, is their lack of ability to keep you full for longer than 30 minutes. Adding protein to a salad will not only keep you full…it’ll also add another layer of flavor and complexity to the dish.

If you’re feeling lack of creativity, browse the Flavor Bible for new and interesting protein sources. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Bacon
  • Black beans
  • Cheese (any kind, really!)
  • Chickpeas
  • Deli meat
  • Edamame
  • Fish (salmon’s my favorite)
  • Grilled chicken
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Shrimp
  • Tofu

Girl holding the flavor Bible book

Create a Homemade Salad Dressing

It seems super intimidating to make a salad dressing from scratch, but it adds so much to the dish. AND you get to customize the dressing to pair perfectly with the other ingredients in your salad.

Remember our example with the arugula salad? Well, turns out, arugula pairs perfectly with lemon. Making a homemade lemon vinaigrette is just what this dish needs to finish everything off!

The Flavor Bible is really going to help with this step as well! The book has a whole section for ‘vinegar’ if you’re a fan of vinaigrette salad dressings.

HELPFUL TIP: The typical ratio for vinaigrette is three parts oil to one part vinegar.

Think Outside of the Box

Don’t forget that salads don’t always have to be the same ole’ lettuce + toppings + liquid dressing. You always have the option to be more creative than that!

Throw together a pasta salad with meat & cheese toppings.

Mix up some garden fresh tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion with a balsamic dressing.

Make panzanella (bread salad) with crusty bread and stone fruit.

The options are endless!

The Flavor Bible has 100% helped me in creating my own recipes. It’s taught me to get creative, pair new flavors together, and be inspired by all the fun fresh food! Any home chef looking to up their game needs this book in their life!

the Flavor Bible cover

With these steps you’ll be well on your way to creating delicious, unique salad recipes at home! The best part is using your creativity and pairing together new ingredients! I can’t wait to see the salad combinations you create with the Flavor Bible!


I love trying new recipes! Let’s discover new recipes together on Pinterest!

P.S. If you used this guide to create your own salad recipe, share a picture with me on Instagram using #HomebodyEats. I love seeing your creations!!

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