Olive Garden Salad is loaded with fresh veggies, crunchy croutons, pepperoncinis, and a tangy, creamy parmesan vinaigrette dressing. Learn how to make a copycat of the famous dressing at home – it’s ready in just 10 minutes and made with only 5 ingredients!
This Olive Garden Salad copycat is my go-to salad when I need a simple side dish to serve with dinner. It goes with everything, like Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs, Baked Pork Chops, Spinach Lasagna Stuffed Shells and Million Dollar Spaghetti. And the copycat dressing is not only great on salads – use it to marinate chicken and pork, too!
What’s in Olive Garden Salad?
This salad is actually not that hard to make at home. The salad itself is simple.
- Lettuce – I prefer romaine over iceberg, but you can use your favorite. A mix of the two (mostly iceberg) is traditionally what’s served at the restaurant. You can also just buy a bag of iceberg salad mix from the grocery store and it will already have the red cabbage and carrots in it.
- Tomatoes – Roma tomatoes are traditional, but cherry or grape tomatoes will also work. Slice larger tomatoes into big slices to recreate the restaurant version.
- Olives – the olives always seem so big and juicy. Grab a can of the jumbo size olives to replicate.
- Onions – The classic salad has red onions but we prefer white. Again, totally your call – use what you love.
- Croutons – Did you know you can get Olive Garden croutons in the grocery store? I found them at my local Ralphs (Kroger) and on Amazon. You could also make your own Homemade Croutons.
- Pepperoncinis – Notice I left out the peppers – don’t like them, never have. But for a true copycat, you’ll want to add them to your salad.
To make the salad, simply chop the veggies in your desired thickness. Wash and chop the lettuce, slice the onion into strips and the tomatoes into medium-thin rounds. Thinly slice shred the red cabbage (it will come out in shreds) and shred the carrots. Toss with the dressing and top with crunchy croutons.
Olive Garden Salad Dressing
When I was a kid we always had a bottle of the famous Olive Garden Salad Dressing in our fridge for our daily dinner salads. While you can still purchase a bottle at the restaurant and even at the grocery store, it’s so easy and in my opinion much more delicious to make it fresh at home.
The dressing is pretty simple. There are just 5 ingredients you’ll need:
- Lemon juice
- Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
- Italian seasoning
I tested a few different recipes before being satisfied with the result. This one came the closest to that tangy, savory flavor that everyone loves.
Pulse the ingredients in a blender or simply shake them up in a jar with a tight fitting lid.
Make Ahead and Storage
How to store salad: Chop the lettuce and store in a container or plastic bag with a few paper towels to absorb moisture. Cut/slice other vegetables and store in containers. Make the dressing and store separately. Salad ingredients store separately will remain fresh for 2-3 days. Stored together, serve within 12 hours. For more tips, check out How to Store Fresh Produce and How to Wash and Store Lettuce.
How to store dressing: Dressing should also be kept in the refrigerator. Store in a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid and it should remain fresh for up to 2 weeks.
Expert Tips and FAQs
- Store the salad dressing in an airtight bottle or container in the fridge and it will last up to 2 weeks.
- Use fresh ingredients – the fresher the better.
- Add protein to make this salad a full meal.
- Add protein: This salad is a great meal starter, but you can also make it a complete meal by adding some Grilled Chicken Breast, Grilled Steak or Easy Baked Salmon.
- More cheese, please! Add grated, shredded or even chunks of fresh Parmesan, balls of mozzarella, or chunks of Feta.
- Veggies: Add any of your favorite veggies or beans to the salad, like artichokes, avocado or chickpeas, or feel free to omit or swap things you don’t like. For example, we often prefer cherry tomatoes to the Roma.
How to Serve
This classic Italian Olive Garden Salad recipe is great as a starter or side paired with some of our favorite classic Italian dishes. But it’s also a great no fuss salad recipe to make with any main entree you’re serving, especially casseroles and one pot meals.
- Spaghetti Pomodoro
- Homemade Fettuccine Alfredo
- Pasta Puttanesca
- Classic Baked Italian Sub Sandwiches
- Slow Cooker Lasagna
- Easy Chicken and Rice Bake
- Creamy Baked Feta Pasta
More Salads You’ll Love
- Crispy Chicken Asian Salad
- Herb & Citrus Vinaigrette
- Crunchy Ramen Noodle Salmon Salad
- How to Store Fresh Produce
- Wedge Salad with Thousand Island Dressing
- Grilled Salmon Salad
- Greek Chicken Salad
Olive Garden Salad Dressing Copycat
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 cups romaine lettuce roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1/2 cup shredded carrot
- 3 Roma tomatoes
- 3 ounces jumbo olives
- 1/2 cup sliced onion
- 1 cup croutons
- 6 whole pepperoncinis drained
- optional – fresh grated parmesan for topping
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a seal-able jar and shake until completely combined. Pour over salad.
- Toss salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve with salad dressing on the side and fresh grated parmesan for topping, if desired.