41 Best Salad Recipes That Come Without Lettuce

The stereotypical salad is brimming with leafy greens — a dish that is full of healthy nutrients that, nevertheless, can lose its luster after a while. But salads come in many forms. They can be full of legumes, roasted veggies, and cheese. They can consist of just a few ingredients or practically the entire contents of your fridge. You might even be able to make the case that salad is the broadest of food categories. Throw together some cold (or warm or room temperature) ingredients, drizzle them with dressing, and, voila! A salad. There are sweet salads made with Cool Whip and hearty salads made with lentils. There are side salads and salads so magnificent and filling that they could only be served as an entree.

In short, the foods that qualify as salads are diverse and abundant, and while the word might conjure images of dewy lettuce leaves, there are many recipes that omit this key ingredient entirely. Lettuce makes a refreshing, summery foundation for dressings and toppings, but there are only so many variations you can make before getting bored. With this in mind, we've rounded up our best salad recipes that do not contain lettuce, and we should warn you upfront: They will change the way you think about salads for good.

1. Avocado Tomato Salad

Eating vegetables can sometimes feel like a chore, but throw in enough color and even the most nutrient-dense bowl of veggies can appear indulgent. This salad pairs the sharp kick of red onion with creamy avocado, juicy tomatoes, and sweet corn for a flavor extravaganza that is as tasty as it is colorful.

These ingredients are so delicious that all you need to bring it all together are balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. This low-maintenance salad will be ready in minutes, but you'll be thinking about it long after you've savored the last bite.

Recipe: Avocado Tomato Salad

2. Shredded Carrot Salad

This shredded carrot salad provides a sweet and sour alternative to lettuce-based options. Packed with flavor and nutrients, it's an ideal choice for a side dish when you want to go a non-traditional route but still cater to a broad range of tastes.

It is also simple to put together and requires only a few ingredients. Grated carrots are the star of the show, while a sprinkling of parsley adds color contrast. The dressing is a light combination of mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, and olive oil, bringing an added brightness to this refreshing, nourishing dish.

Recipe: Shredded Carrot Salad

3. Cabbage Salad

Cabbage gets a bad rap, perhaps because it has connotations of blandness when cooked, but this salad will convince you otherwise. Two types of cabbage — napa and purple — are used, along with carrots, cilantro, and peanuts. But the dressing steals the show. Combining peanut butter, soy sauce, and sesame oil, it's a surprisingly simple recipe that is bound to impress.

The cabbage is crunchy and sweet, while the distinctive flavors of peanuts and sesame seeds make the salad shine. It can easily be presented as an entree, especially with the addition of chicken or tofu.

Recipe: Cabbage Salad

4. Lentil Salad With Tons Of Fresh Herbs

Lentils frequently feature in soups and curries, but this recipe makes a strong case for serving them cold. Combining the legume with raw veggies including red onion, cucumber, bell pepper, and a variety of fresh herbs, this salad is crunchy and refreshing with a mix of textures and bright flavors.

Green lentils are a must-have ingredient for this recipe as they hold their shape better after cooking than other varieties of lentils. They make the perfect base ingredient, especially when doused in a zesty orange and Dijon mustard dressing.

Recipe: Lentil Salad With Tons Of Fresh Herbs

5. Hearty Kidney Bean Salad

Summer salads are often defined by fresh greens and light, zesty dressings, but the possibilities are so much more vast than that. This kidney bean salad offers crunch, protein, and a sweet, creamy dressing that you'll want to keep in your fridge at all times.

Kidney beans form the substance of the salad, with celery and green onions providing crunch. The dressing is made from mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, and honey. Do yourself a favor and double the measurements on the dressing so you have some left over for future salads.

Recipe: Hearty Kidney Bean Salad

6. Three Bean Salad

If you think of bean salad as a bland side dish that you'd find at a potluck, this one will pleasantly surprise you. It's made with kidney, garbanzo, and green beans, which provide a diversity of flavor, texture, and color. It also offers a powerful dose of protein and nutrients.

Parsley and apple cider vinegar give this salad a bright kick. With no salad greens of any kind, this recipe is also a fantastic wilt-proof dish to take to an outdoor party during the summertime or to keep in the fridge for a few days.

Recipe: Three Bean Salad

7. Simple Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is a masterclass in simplicity, and it's no wonder it's stood the test of time as one of Italy's most iconic dishes. This recipe is without frills — just fresh tomato, mozzarella, and basil with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

Because of its simplicity, Caprese salad demands high-quality ingredients. Heirloom tomatoes add more flavor than conventional ones, while the mozzarella should be fresh and full of moisture. Now is the time to splurge on cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and traditional balsamic vinegar, the longer it's been aged, the better.

Recipe: Simple Caprese Salad

8. Peanut Soba Noodle Salad

Salads do not have to be made exclusively with vegetables. Take this soba noodle salad, for example. Made with buckwheat flour, soba noodles have a distinctly earthy flavor and chewy texture that make them the perfect base for a cold salad. But the standout component of this recipe is the peanut dressing made with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar.

Between the starchy noodles and the creamy, flavor-packed dressing, you won't notice how many nutrients you're getting from the kale, bell pepper, and cucumber.

Recipe: Peanut Soba Noodle Salad

9. Mediterranean Pesto Chickpea Salad

Any recipe involving pesto is a winner in our book, and this salad is bound to grab your attention. Instead of the usual pasta, this recipe pairs pesto with chickpeas. Their soft, starchy texture and mild, nutty flavor make them a great blank canvas for the flavor punch of pesto while providing a larger dose of protein than pasta.

These two ingredients are joined by feta cheese, fresh tomatoes, and Kalamata olives. It takes all of five minutes to prepare from start to finish and works well for lunch, snack, or dinner.

Recipe: Mediterranean Pesto Chickpea Salad

10. Cucumber Tomato Salad

For hot summer days, no ingredient hits the spot quite like cucumber. Refreshing and full of moisture, it makes the perfect base ingredient for bright, acidic flavors. This salad combines cucumbers with fresh tomatoes and red onion for a colorful summer dish that's bursting with juiciness and tanginess.

The dressing that holds it all together is a simple vinaigrette sprinkled with fresh basil, parsley, and dried oregano. This salad is healthy, hydrating, and delicious, especially in the hottest months of the year.

Recipe: Cucumber Tomato Salad

11. Tomato Peach Burrata Salad

Burrata is a truly decadent ingredient. It is essentially a mozzarella pouch with cream inside, and, like a poached egg, can be burst with a fork to let the contents spill onto your dish.

You could easily eat burrata by itself and call it a day, but this recipe does not rely solely on the star ingredient's innate deliciousness. Instead, it puts the burrata on a bed of peach slices, cherry tomatoes, and corn for a sweet, creamy salad that is nothing short of heavenly.

Recipe: Tomato Peach Burrata Salad

12. Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is traditionally made with fresh slices of tomato, but recipe developer Catherine Brookes has substituted these with roasted cherry tomatoes, which add smoky, savory, caramelized notes to the classic summer dish. Their flavor is amplified by the fact that they are roasted with garlic, vinegar, and a little sugar.

Once combined with fresh mozzarella and basil, these tomatoes are soft, juicy, and bursting with flavor. Use various colors of tomatoes if you can find them to enhance the visual allure of the dish.

Recipe: Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad

13. Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad

Roasted Brussels sprouts are often served on their own, but they are delicious when combined with other roasted vegetables. Even people who feel lukewarm about sprouts will probably be won over by this recipe. The addition of creamy feta and slivered almonds elevates this salad above a simple medley of roasted vegetables and makes it satiating and a little indulgent.

The dressing — a zesty mix of olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar — brings a bright and tangy contrast to the roasted vegetables.

Recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad

14. TikTok-Inspired Cucumber Bell Pepper Salad

TikTok is not known for its consistency when it comes to providing high-quality cooking inspo, but this cucumber bell pepper salad is worthy of the hype. Made with only five ingredients, it's perfect for a last-minute summer side dish.

Recipe developer Erin Johnson has opted to slice the cucumbers with a peeler instead of chopping them, giving them a more distinctive appearance. For best results, let the salad sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to absorb the seasonings.

Recipe: TikTok-Inspired Cucumber Bell Pepper Salad

15. Greek-Ish Salad With Marinated Cheese Curds

Cheese curds are substituted for feta in this spin on a classic Greek salad. The small chunks of curdled milk are salty and mild with a signature squeak. Recipe developer Ksenia Prints has found a way to make them extra flavorful by soaking them overnight in a marinade of ​​olive oil, oregano, and rosemary.

Aside from this mouth-watering deviation, the recipe follows a familiar ingredients list, featuring sliced veggies, Kalamata olives, and a lemon olive oil dressing. Delicious and surprising, it proves just how transformative a single substitution can be.

Recipe: Greek-Ish Salad With Marinated Cheese Curds

16. Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites)

Esquites is a Mexican street food made from grilled corn kernels that are cut off the cob and mixed with savory, spicy, and tangy ingredients. Our recipe includes mayo, cotija cheese, tajin, jalapeño, and cilantro. You can customize the heat level by cutting back on the jalapeño to make it milder or leaving the seeds in if you want it extra spicy.

This recipe uses frozen corn for a more streamlined process, but make sure you purchase the fire-roasted variety to get that signature grilled flavor that esquites is known for.

Recipe: Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites)

17. Fresh Asian Cucumber Salad

The refreshing taste and absorbent texture of cucumbers invite inventive dressings, and this recipe seizes the opportunity with both hands. Cucumber makes up the bulk of the dish, with a sprinkling of scallions, red onion, cilantro, mint, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes as a flavor-packed garnish.

However, the main event in this salad is the dressing. Comprised of lime juice, olive oil, rice vinegar, garlic, maple syrup, and salt, it makes a delicious, vibrant marinade for the cucumbers without obscuring their fresh, clean flavor. Slice them as thinly as possible to maximize the harmony between the vegetable and the dressing.

Recipe: Fresh Asian Cucumber Salad

18. Quinoa Zucchini Salad

Quinoa is a whole grain (though it is technically a seed) that is packed with protein. As such, it is an excellent addition to salad when you want something that is as filling as it is nutritious. This recipe calls for cooked zucchini and cherry tomatoes to be tossed with quinoa, spinach, and goat cheese.

With the added flavors of lemon juice, garlic, and shallot, this salad is creamy, tangy, and filling. Serve it on its own as a light lunch or pair it with grilled fish or chicken.

Recipe: Quinoa Zucchini Salad

19. Healthy Moroccan Carrot Salad

Carrots usually feature as a garnish on lettuce-based salads, but this recipe puts them front and center. With toasted sunflower seeds for an extra crunch, parsley and scallions for sharpness, and golden raisins for pockets of sugar, this salad would be delicious as-is, but recipe developer Miriam Hahn has added an ingenious dressing that takes the flavor up several notches.

Olive oil, vinegar, garlic, honey, mustard, and curry powder conspire to make this salad a delicious fusion of sweet, tangy, and aromatic flavors.

Recipe: Healthy Moroccan Carrot Salad

20. Sweet And Sour Cucumber Salad

Pickles are delicious, but it takes a long time to make them at home, and they aren't the most traditional main ingredient for salads. Recipe developer Hayley MacLean has created a marinated cucumber salad that has all the elements of pickles without losing the fresh taste or color of cucumbers.

The marinade consists of rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, and lime juice. Make sure to drain the sliced cucumbers on paper towels before marinating so they soak up every last drop of dressing.

Recipe: Sweet And Sour Cucumber Salad

21. 5-Ingredient White Bean And Pesto Salad

Pesto is an all-star ingredient that we'll take any excuse to incorporate into a meal, especially when that meal turns out to be healthy. This 5-ingredient salad takes 10 minutes to whip up and makes a crowd-pleasing dish for any occasion.

Cannellini beans add substance to the fresh grape tomatoes and cucumber, while Kalamata olives reinforce the Mediterranean flavor of the pesto. With a balance of protein, fat, and fiber, this salad makes a light but filling meal or a hard-working side dish.

Recipe: 5-Ingredient White Bean And Pesto Salad

22. Shepherd Salad

Known as çoban salatası in Turkish, shepherd salad is a refreshing side dish full of healthy veggies and plenty of flavor. With chopped cucumber, tomatoes, feta, and red onion, it's similar to Greek salad but even crunchier and fresher with the addition of parsley and scallions.

Adding to the bright flavor is a lemony dressing that puts this recipe at the top of our list for summertime picnicking. Pair it with warm pita for a Mediterranean appetizer or eat it straight from the bowl.

Recipe: Shepherd Salad

23. Marinated Carrot Salad

Of all the ingredients you'd expect to find in a salad, tomato soup isn't one of them, but this marinated carrot salad proves how well it can work. Carrots, celery, red onion, and green bell pepper provide the bulk of the recipe, but it's the tomato soup marinade with Worcestershire sauce, sugar, vinegar, and mustard that truly shines.

This recipe calls for a quick, five-minute boil to make the carrots tender-crisp. Not only does this make them absorb the marinade better, but it makes for a salad with greater textural variation too.

Recipe: Marinated Carrot Salad

24. Smashed Cucumber Salad

This smashed cucumber salad provides a hefty kick of flavor that will improve just about any meal. It's also fun to make, thanks to a bit of brute force you'll have to conjure.

It starts by smashing the cucumber with the end of a rolling pin (don't overdo it). A dressing made with garlic, sugar, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and a whole tablespoon of chili flakes will set your taste buds alight in the best way possible and defy the mild connotations associated with cucumber.

Recipe: Smashed Cucumber Salad

25. Peach Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is already a quintessential summer salad, but add peaches to it and you've got a dish that celebrates the best that the sunny season has to offer. The peaches provide the tomato-mozzarella-basil trio with a level of sweetness that does not detract from the fresh, mild flavors in the classic flavor combination. They are also a match made in heaven for the tangy balsamic vinegar drizzled on top.

If you can't find suitably juicy peaches at the grocery store, recipe developer Kristen Carli suggests choosing nectarines or plums rather than settling for mediocre peaches.

Recipe: Peach Caprese Salad

26. Summer Tomato And Corn Salad

One of the highlights of summer is fresh corn on the cob, and we've got a recipe that celebrates it in all its sweet, crunchy glory. Rather than smothering this tomato and corn salad in dressing and overshadowing the flavor of the veggies in the process, this recipe calls for a scant two tablespoons of rice vinegar and a little olive oil.

Feta cheese, shallot, and basil round out the flavor profile, but the ripe cherry tomatoes and lightly boiled corn are unequivocally the stars of the dish.

Recipe: Summer Tomato And Corn Salad

27. Hearty Fall Salad With Roasted Butternut Squash

Just because it's fall doesn't mean you have to stop eating salad, and this recipe provides the perfect opportunity to stock up on healthy vegetables. It's chock-full of filling, nutrient-rich ingredients, that hit the spot when light, refreshing dishes aren't as enticing as they are in the summer.

Toasted pumpkin seeds, sliced apple, roasted butternut squash, kale, cranberries, and farro make this salad a complete meal, perfect for a heart-healthy lunch on a crisp fall afternoon.

Recipe: Hearty Fall Salad With Roasted Butternut Squash

28. Avocado Caprese Salad

There is no end to the variations you can make on a simple Caprese salad, but we're willing to bet that this one will be one of the best you'll ever taste. Doubling down on the creamy freshness of mozzarella is avocado, the perfect addition for a more substantial spin on the salad.

Recipe developer Kristen Carli suggests serving it with crusty bread and butter or roasted salmon. Make sure to serve it immediately to maximize the freshness of the ingredients.

Recipe: Avocado Caprese Salad

29. Easy Balela Salad

Balela salad is a Middle Eastern dish known for its bold flavors and wholesome ingredients. It also happens to be completely vegan, making it an ideal contribution to a potluck when you're not sure about the guests' dietary requirements. Comprised of chickpeas, black beans, fresh veggies, basil, Kalamata olives, and sundried tomatoes, it is just as filling and nutritious as it is delicious.

Although the dish works as a side salad, it can also be used as a dip for tortilla chips, a filling for wraps, or a garnish for other salads and entrees.

Recipe: Easy Balela Salad

30. Mango Quinoa Salad

One bite of this delicious side dish will have you wondering why mango doesn't feature in salad recipes more often. Made with an array of healthy ingredients, including quinoa, avocado, black beans, red onion, and cherry tomatoes, this recipe has enough carbohydrates, healthy fats, and flavor to make you forget that it's mostly plant-based.

For added flavor, recipe developer Susan Olayinka cooks the quinoa in chicken stock, which imparts a mild, savory flavor without overpowering the fresh ingredients. If you'd prefer a fully vegan recipe, however, you can always use vegetable stock instead.

Recipe: Mango Quinoa Salad

31. Summer Pea Salad

For a celebration of fresh, crisp, summer veggies, look no further than this recipe for summer pea salad. With cabbage, radishes, scallions, parsley, and, of course, peas, it's light, flavorful, and full of crunch.

To make it even easier to prepare, you can drizzle it with your favorite store-bought dressing, but recipe developer Miriam Hahn has provided simple instructions for a lemony apple cider vinaigrette to bring out the freshness of the veggies. Grate a little lemon zest over the bowl as a final touch to complete this deceptively simple, elegant summer dish.

Recipe: Summer Pea Salad

32. Refreshing Corn Salad

Corn adds just the right amount of sweetness to savory dishes while still tasting like a vegetable. Recipe developer Kristen Carli devised this recipe as an ode to white corn, which you can use straight out of the can.

Adding texture, flavor, and lots of hydration to the main ingredient are cucumber and bell pepper, while fresh mint, basil, and parsley contribute to the refreshing taste that holds this recipe together. The combination is so harmonious that all you need for dressing is olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Recipe: Refreshing Corn Salad

33. Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Greek salad, with its refreshing combination of cucumber, tomato, onion, olives, and feta, is a delicious addition to a summer meal, but it probably won't satisfy your appetite on its own. This recipe turns the beloved dish into a complete meal with the healthy addition of chickpeas and quinoa.

Even better, this salad keeps in the fridge for several days, meaning you can make a large batch and enjoy it for more than one meal, or make it ahead of when you plan to serve it.

Recipe: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

34. Sweet Kale Salad

Kale has a reputation for being the epitome of health food, but there are ways to make it much more exciting and delicious than this reputation suggests. This recipe uses the fibrous green as the foundation on which sweet ingredients like apples, dried cranberries, and maple syrup dressing can shine.

It also features an array of textures, thanks to the inclusion of slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds, as well as the fresh crunch of cabbage, raw Brussels sprouts, and broccoli slaw. This salad is bursting with unexpected ingredients and, though undoubtedly healthy, is far from bland.

Recipe: Sweet Kale Salad

35. Easy Carrot Raisin Salad

For a healthy side dish that veers deliciously close to dessert territory, try this carrot raisin salad, a combination of sweet ingredients and creamy mayo. You'll be able to have it on the table in only 10 minutes.

The ingredients are simple and minimal. You probably won't even have to make a special trip to the store. Carrots, sugar, raisins, and mayonnaise are all you need, with a little parsley if you want to prove to skeptics that the concoction does, in fact, count as a salad.

Recipe: Easy Carrot Raisin Salad

36. 15-Minute Mexican Quinoa Salad

When you're looking for a healthy, Mexican-inspired meal that won't take long to whip up, this salad will hit the spot. It has all the ingredients to satisfy your cravings and satiate your appetite while also making you feel nourished.

Quinoa, black beans, corn, avocado, grape tomatoes, and red onion provide the substance, while a zesty lime dressing takes no time to make and adds a zing of flavor that brings it all together. This salad is the full package, and it might become your go-to meal when you're looking for something quick and delicious.

Recipe: 15-Minute Mexican Quinoa Salad

37. Sauerkraut Salad

Sauerkraut is not a universally loved food, but don't dismiss it outright. When paired with other ingredients, it is easy to fall in love with, and we've got just the recipe to get you hooked.

The sharpness of the sauerkraut is mitigated by fresh carrots, celery, and red pepper, while homemade vinaigrette provides a brightness to further dilute the main ingredient. Still, the strength of this salad lies in its powerful flavor, and you'll probably find yourself using it as a garnish on everything from hot dogs to hummus.

Recipe: Sauerkraut Salad

38. 15-Minute Greek Farro Salad

For another spin on Greek salad, this farro option provides an earthy taste from the healthy whole grain, making for a filling side dish that maintains all the freshness of the traditional Mediterranean recipe. In addition to farro, recipe developer Miriam Hahn has added a plethora of complementary ingredients, including chickpeas, artichoke hearts, and the usual red onion, bell pepper, Kalamata olives, and tomatoes.

The combination is so delicious and filling that you won't miss the feta cheese, though you are certainly welcome to add it if you want to.

Recipe: 15-Minute Greek Farro Salad

39. Muffuletta Olive Salad

To take advantage of the vastness of the salad category, you must try this olive concoction that is usually found ensconced in a muffuletta sandwich. The salad can also be eaten on its own, on bruschetta, or presented as part of a charcuterie platter.

Although this recipe requires a wide range of ingredients, some of which you might not have in your kitchen, it is unequivocally worth the extra trip to the grocery store. Plus, once you have the olives, pepperoncini, artichoke hearts, and piquillo peppers, it only takes 15 minutes to make.

Recipe: Muffuletta Olive Salad

40. Shaved Asparagus Salad

Uncooked asparagus makes a surprisingly delicious base ingredient for a salad, as evidenced by this quick springtime recipe. The key is to thinly slice the asparagus stalks with a peeler to ensure they absorb the dressing and aren't too fibrous.

Goat cheese adds a creamy tang to the recipe, while lemon zest and champagne vinegar make it a sophisticated side dish that will impress dinner guests or simply thrill your own taste buds. The shredded asparagus makes for a unique visual presentation as well, signaling that this is no ordinary salad.

Recipe: Shaved Asparagus Salad

41. Roasted Mushroom Salad

When fall and winter roll around, fresh greens and citrusy dressings do not have the same appeal that they do in the summer. This salad is hearty, flavorful, and healthy, with not a single leafy green in sight. Instead, it's made with farro, roasted mushrooms, asparagus, feta, and walnuts, with a generous helping of maple Dijon dressing.

Whether you serve it warm, cold, or at room temperature, it will bulk up any meal and play well with just about any entree. You could even cook an egg over it and serve it for breakfast.

Recipe: Roasted Mushroom Salad