Classic Seven-Layer Salad ♥ A Favorite Family Recipe

Classic Seven-Layer Salad ♥, the picnic and potluck favorite, just lightened up.
A classic summer salad, the seven-layer salad, with layers of romaine, peas, bacon, cheese, tomato, cooked eggs. Great for potlucks and a family favorite for holidays year-round. So many people love this salad!

An American-Style Potluck for an Estonian Food Blogger

Last week my favorite Estonian blogger, Pille from the food blog Nami-Nami who also hosts the Estonian equivalent of Epicurious, visited for a few days.

Ha! I write that so matter-of-factly, as if her visit all the way from Estonia were no big deal. But the few days we had were special, time spent with someone who, thanks to blogging, I already knew even as we met face-to-face for the first time. Thank you, Pille, for coming to St. Louis!

On the Monday, we invited some St. Louis food bloggers over for a supper potluck. Since this was Pille's first trip to the U.S., "American food" was the theme. For a "school night", the eight of us laughed long and late. Twas fun, all, thank you for coming over!

Transforming a Seven-Layer Salad from Heavy to Light

For the first time ever, I made the classic seven-layer salad – but only because it was so "American". You see, I've had seven-layer salads at potlucks – they're standards, right? doesn't someone always bring a seven-layer salad to a potluck? – and to my taste, they're too often icky-heavy.

But not this time! I used my long-time favorite Buttermilk Garlic Salad Dressing which is sooo much lighter in both texture and calories than the typical mayonnaise versions that other seven-layer recipes call for, some times just plain ol' mayonnaise glopped on.

So this salad – this Classic Seven-Layer Salad – was really good!

And pretty too! In the tall clear glass trifle bowl, my Seven-Layer Salad turned into 14 layers – it was so pretty!

Usually, I think, other cooks do seven layers in a 9x13 pan so the trifle bowl is entirely optional. In fact, it's probably easier to stir a seven-layer salad in a 9x13. Plus, since you stir before serving, the drama of the layers is lost, anyway.

An Easy Transition to a Vegetarian & Vegan Seven-Layer Salad

Since Nupur from One Hot Stove and Lisa from Show-Me Vegan (sorry, that site's no longer live) were attending, I also made a vegan version of the Seven-Layer Salad, omitting the bacon, cheese and eggs and using a vegan mayonnaise made with almonds called Almonnaise. [Note to Vegetarians]

More American Dishes from St. Louis Food Bloggers

Nupur brought her summer rolls, which are so delicious, we decided would qualify as "new American".
Lisa brought her BBQ Beans with Dark Rum (sorry, Lisa's blog is no longer public).
Bruno from Bruno's Dream brought a delicious pizza which was just as good, cold, for lunch the next day.
Joy from The Spiral of Seasons brought homemade bread with two homemade butters which we all raved over.
Pille made a variation of her beet and blue cheese tartlets and also her gorgeous orange and red onion salad.
For dessert, we had a cherry cobbler from Ann at Kitchen Conservatory
For cupcakes, Stef of Cupcake Project brought Snickerdoodle Cupcakes


In 2014, we visited Pille in Estonia, meeting her husband and three beautiful children. Global friendships, so important, I think! I wrote about it here, Estonian Deviled Eggs.
Want to learn more about St. Louis food bloggers? Follow all the fun at

~recipe updated, first published way back in 2008~
~more recently updated recipes~


Hands-on time: 20 minutes (presumes dressing, eggs, bacon, already made)
Time to table: 4 hours
Serves a bunch (amounts shown in parentheses below are plenty to serve 16)

Romaine lettuce (about 1 pound), chopped into bite-size pieces
Frozen peas (about 8 ounces), rinsed under cold water briefly to thaw, then drained well
Cooked bacon (about 8 ounces)
Good summer tomato (about 1 pound), chopped
Hard-boiled eggs, sliced (about 3 eggs)
Cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces), grated
About 4 tablespoons Buttermilk Garlic Salad Dressing

FOR GARNISH (save aside some of the above for garnish)
Cheddar cheese around the edge
Chopped tomatoes in the center
A handful of peas over the tomatoes
A sprinkle of bacon bits over the tomatoes

SALAD LAYERS Reserve some of the cheese, tomatoes, peas and bacon for garnishing. In a 9x13 pan or other dish, build salad in layers, from bottom to top. Drizzle lightly with Buttermilk Garlic Salad Dressing, letting the dressing slip into the cracks; you'll need less dressing than you think because the lettuce, peas and tomato also provide lots of moisture. If needed, do a second or third set of layers and drizzle again.

GARNISH Spread a thin layer of cheddar cheese around the perimeter, then fill the center with tomatoes. Sprinkle with peas and bacon.

TO SERVE Cover and let chill for 4 hours in the refrigerator before serving. Stir just before serving.

ROMAINE For the romaine, the smaller the pieces, the easier the salad will be to stir. Do tear, not cut, the romaine, otherwise the edges will appear dark and bruised. If there's romaine left over, take it along in a freezer bag and stir it into the salad just before it's served. This helps make it a more "lettuce" salad than a "cheese and bacon salad".
BACON Here's how to make homemade bacon bits. Don't buy the product called Bacon Bits, they're awful; if you don't have time to cook your own bacon, then skip this ingredient.
EGGS Here's how to cook perfect hard-boiled eggs.
DRESSING If using another dressing (or the plain mayonnaise that many Seven-Layer Salads call for), make sure it's thin enough to "dress" the salad, not just thickly coat the lettuce and other layers. If it comes too thick, just thin with milk or buttermilk. Another dressing to use? The gorgeous My Everyday Creamy Herb Salad Dressing.
USE A LIGHT TOUCH It's really easy to turn this salad into something too heavy. Even though I used what seemed like a lot of romaine lettuce at the time, there wasn't enough lettuce for it to really be a salad. Because there are so many other layers, I should have (1) done really thin layers, a sprinkling even, of the non-lettuce layers and (2) used much more lettuce.
SEVEN-LAYER SALAD DOESN'T KEEP While the salad does need to rest for the dressing to soak in and the flavors to meld, it doesn't hold over well the next day so you'll want to make just enough.

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© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2008, 2011, 2019 (repub) & 2020

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Fabulous spread! Sounds like a very grand visit for Pellie! Love this salad and will for sure be trying that dressing!

  2. This sounds wonderful! Thanks for the recipe. I really do like Seven Layer Salad. The links to the other recipes look great too. Can't wait to click around.

  3. This salad is a staple in our family - we sometimes add avocado as well. Can't wait to try it with your dressing though!

  4. AnonymousJune 11, 2008

    Thanks for being such a gracious hostess Alanna! It was nice meeting Pille and seeing some of the local food bloggers again.

  5. Oh, it sounds like you had a lovely time! Um, I don't know how to tell you this, Alanna, but I've never heard of the classic 7 layer salad. The closet thing I can think of is a Mexican layer salad with black beans from my college days. Thanks for bringing me in the loop!

  6. My family made a Seven Layer Salad for almost every "occassion" when I was growing up. I think they also submitted their recipe to several church cookbooks. Thanks for bringing back those family memories with a new twist! :-)

  7. Thanks so much for having us over and being so attentive to your veg guests. It was really fun to get to know the local bloggers better, as well as to meet Pille, and hear about Estonian food. I really enjoyed your veganized salad!

  8. What a fun time for everyone getting to meet Pille. Wish I could have been there.

    This salad is a classic in Utah, where it's often called "Sarah Salad" although I have no idea why! Someone brings it nearly every time we have a family party. S

  9. I enjoyed this salad a lot - and think I'll be making it during the summer on a few occasions. I need to find a lovely glass bowl, however..

  10. wow! wish I was part of the fun too. The salad looks perfect for such a fun time with friends!

  11. AnonymousJune 14, 2008

    The dressing sounds perfect for the 7 layer salad. I am planning a graduation party for next weekend and can't wait to check out the other links you have posted.

  12. AnonymousJune 14, 2008

    I loved hearing about your get together. Pot Luck meals are good fun although I did attend one that was less than successful. There were twleve Quiche Lorraine and a glut of garlic bread. No coordination, no variety. More pot than luck.
    Seven layer salad has been printed off and Freddie is a little nervous but up for a challenge!

  13. Thanks again for hosting! It was such a fun evening with great company and fantastic food!

  14. Sorry I'm coming late to this post, but I'm wondering if you ever posted the veggie or vegan version of this salad. I tried searching and didn't easily find it. Thanks!

  15. No problem, Kelly - thanks for pointing this out. I used this vegan mayonnaise and omitted the eggs, bacon, etc.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna