The Best Salad Toppings

Watermelon, Feta, + Arugula in shallow bowl

I’ve been on a salad with dinner kick recently. Trying to add more fruits and veggies to our evening meals, salads are an obvious choice. I’ve learned in life there are salads and there are salads. Besides the lettuce, it all comes down to having the best salad topping combinations…

Watermelon Arugula Salad

Iceberg lettuce with dried shreds of carrot and cabbage smothered in some dressing is not appealing in my book – more crunch and calories than anything healthy or tasty.

Then there are salads that are fork-licking good and you think about for days. And it really all comes down to the salad fixings that make it memorable or forgettable.

Chicken Sausage Salad Recipe

Fall Salad with Chicken Sausage

I realize I get a bit more excited about a good salad than some (most?) people, but I really think we can all enjoy a healthy salad if it looks appealing.

Getting a good color combination sounds somewhat silly when talking about food, but you eat with your eyes first. Then again getting the best salad topping combinations really does take your dish from a mix of ingredients to a presentation. 

Cumin Roasted Veggie Salad

Salad Topping Ideas

The first step is visual – so get colorful. To top your lettuce, you want a combination of colors – lighter, darker, and bolder. 

Since lettuces are green, you’ll want to brighten your dish by adding something red, something white/pale, and something orange/yellow. Here are a few tasty options for each…

Red Salad Toppings

  • tomatoes
  • red bell peppers
  • kidney beans
  • beets
  • strawberries/cherries
  • dried cranberries
  • pomegranate seeds
  • fresh figs (cut open)

White Salad Toppings

  • goat/burrata/feta cheese
  • sesame seeds
  • quinoa
  • croutons
  • cucumbers
  • roasted potatoes
  • sliced apples
  • toasted/roasted nuts

Orange & Yellow Salad Toppings

Fresh Orange Salad Dressing Recipe

Orange Salad Dressing

Mixing Consistencies

After you get the colors figured out, you’ll want to get the right consistency mix. If we all had to pick a favorite salad topping, most of us would probably pick something crunchy – croutons or nuts.

That crunch provides such a great contrast to the lettuce leaves that it makes the whole vegetable situation worthwhile, right?

And make sure you’re storing your lettuce correctly to preserve freshness!

The key to really taking your salad to the next level, however, is getting a combination of consistencies. Besides something crunchy (usually nuts or seeds for us), I add one or two things that are softer and don’t require much chewing – my favorites are roasted squash and sweet potato.

Your salad will be over the top delicious adding in cheese and fresh/dried fruit since they each add their own level of consistency to the whole situation.

Crunchy Salad Toppings

  • toasted/roasted nuts
  • salted pumpkin seeds
  • salted pistachios
  • sesame seeds
  • pomegranate seeds
  • croutons
  • fried garlic slices
  • raw veggies – finely chopped
  • crumbled tortilla chips

Soft Salad Toppings

  • roasted butternut squash
  • artichoke hearts
  • chickpeas
  • kidney beans
  • roasted sweet potatoes
  • roasted potatoes
  • quinoa/farro/orzo
  • hard boiled egg
  • peas

Salad Topping Ideas

  • fresh berries
  • halved grapes (roasted or raw)
  • fresh peach slices
  • anjou pears/apples
  • dried cranberries
  • sun dried tomatoes
  • goat/burrata/feta cheese
  • avocado
  • fresh herbs
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad - Close Up in ServingBowl

Protein Toppings

Looking to add protein. Hard-boiled eggs, chicken sausage (fully-cooked), and chicken bites are great for easy protein!!

I’m also a big fan of making something like this kidney bean salad recipe and then just enjoying it atop lettuce!

What’s In Season?

One of the best ways to enjoy a salad is to add a ripe, seasonal fruit or vegetable to your salad. Check out these comprehensive lists of what’s in season year round!

What’s in Season in Spring?

What’s in Season in Summer?

What’s in Season in Fall?

What’s in Season in Winter?

Try more of my complete salad recipes and summer salad ideas or save some from my salad Pinterest board here!

Wondering if you should buy organic or conventional lettuce? This article breaks down what you actually need to buy organic!

Watermelon Arugula Salad
Print Recipe
5 from 14 votes

BEST SALAD TOPPINGS

Trying to eat healthy but salads are boring? These best salad topping combinations will make your plate of leafy greens an enjoyable experience. Get the right combination of color and ingredients with this handy list!
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Salad, Salad/ Side Dish
Cuisine: American, New American
Keyword: salad
Servings: 1
Calories: 11kcal
Author: Luci Petlack

Ingredients

RED

  • tomatoes
  • red bell peppers
  • kidney beans
  • beets
  • strawberries/cherries
  • dried cranberries
  • pomegranate seeds
  • fresh figs cut open

WHITE/PALE

  • goat/burrata/feta cheese
  • sesame seeds
  • quinoa
  • croutons
  • cucumbers
  • roasted potatoes
  • sliced apples
  • toasted/roasted nuts

ORANGE/YELLOW

  • orange/yellow bell peppers
  • roasted butternut squash
  • roasted sweet potatoes
  • carrots
  • heirloom tomatoes
  • mango
  • fresh corn
  • citrus e.g. oranges

CRUNCHY

  • toasted/roasted nuts
  • salted pumpkin seeds
  • salted pistachios
  • sesame seeds
  • pomegranate seeds
  • croutons
  • fried garlic slices
  • raw veggies – finely chopped
  • crumbled tortilla chips

SOFT/SQUISHY

  • roasted butternut squash
  • roasted sweet potatoes
  • roasted potatoes
  • artichoke hearts
  • chickpeas
  • kidney beans
  • quinoa/farro/orzo
  • hard boiled egg
  • peas

FINAL TOUCHES

  • fresh berries
  • halved grapes roasted or raw
  • fresh peach slices
  • anjou pears/apples
  • dried cranberries
  • sun dried tomatoes
  • goat/burrata/feta cheese
  • avocado
  • fresh herbs

Instructions

  • Get colorful. Since lettuces are green, you'll want to brighten your dish by adding something red, something white/pale, and something orange/yellow. Pick one from each category.
  • The key to really taking your salad to the next level is getting a combination of consistencies. Besides something crunchy, add 1 or 2 things that are softer and don’t require much chewing. 

Notes

Save this recipe on Pinterest!
Make this recipe? I’d love to see how it turned out…
PINTEREST: Upload a photo and your review to this Pin!
INSTAGRAM:  Tag me @lucismorsels and use #LMrecipes

Nutrition

Calories: 11kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.04g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 17mg | Potassium: 166mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 2527IU | Vitamin C: 40mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 2mg

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9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    So useful, I did download your imagine to follow, I have ever take much time to thank about what to eat. OMG, thank you much!

  2. 5 stars
    This post is so useful. I love salads but then get bored of eating the same things sometimes. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. 5 stars
    LOVE this post! what a great way of organising ideas for salads, they look fabulous! I’m always running out of ideas for my salads.

  4. 5 stars
    I love different salad toppings! They are the most important ingredient in the salad, so thank you for sharing all these yummy ideas.

  5. 5 stars
    OMG! I would never imagine finding such a great and useful post! This is what I need to create my own salads! Pinning!

  6. 5 stars
    This post is so useful. I love salads but then get bored of eating the same things sometimes. Thanks for sharing this!

  7. 5 stars
    We’ve been involving our children in the kitchen so much more during this time since we are all home. They have helped pick our recipes, make then and of course taste them. They loved your salad topping ideas! We made a salad bar for game tonight, who knew it would get them excited for salad! Love it

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