Olive Garden Salad with Copycat Dressing

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!

Olive Garden salad served in a white bowl with dressing on the side

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.

salad served on a white plate

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:

  • Mayonnaise
  • 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.

olive garden Salad dressing pouring over a salad

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.

Salad Variations

  • 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.

A close up of a salad with tomatoes, olive, onions and croutons

More Salads You’ll Love

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Olive Garden salad served in a white bowl with dressing on the side

Olive Garden Salad Dressing Copycat

Olive Garden Salad Dressing is a simple 5-ingredient recipe that's ready in 10 minutes so you can make the famous Olive Garden Salad at home!
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 280kcal

Ingredients
  

Salad dressing

  • 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

Salad

  • 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

Instructions
 

Salad dressing

  • Combine all dressing ingredients in a seal-able jar and shake until completely combined. Pour over salad.

Salad

  • Toss salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve with salad dressing on the side and fresh grated parmesan for topping, if desired.

Notes

The salad dressing recipe makes a little over 1 cup of dressing, which will dress the salad as written. . You can easily double or triple the recipe to make more. 

Nutrition

Calories: 280kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 3gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 730mgPotassium: 344mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 7693IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 78mgIron: 1mg
Keyword olive garden salad, Olive Garden Salad Dressing

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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Comments

  1. When you say “The Parmesan cheese is what really makes the dressing”, are you using Kraft grated parmesan in a jar (the dry crumbly kind), or freshly grated real stuff? I’m really looking forward to trying it, and don’t want to mess up the star ingredient.

    1. I have used both. You can find fresh grated in the deli section. But in a pinch I’ve used KRAFT and it’s still delicious.

  2. I have been making Olive Garden’s Copy Cat salad since it appeared in our local paper back in the late 80’s, way before the internet. However, that recipe did not include the dressing. We had company for dinner last week &I made this salad including the dressing. I a man here to testify the dressing takes this salad to a whole new level of awesomeness. Now I am someone who hates raw onion but have found if you let the salad marinate in the dressing about an hour before serving it cuts the onion taste.