The classic side salad, this simple-to-customize Easy Green Salad can be paired with so many meals perfect for family dinner. Try serving each ingredient separately for the best kid-friendly version, so each person can customize their own salad. It can be paired with everything from ranch dressing to the simple lemon dressing included in the recipe. Enjoy this salad alongside my Homemade Spaghetti Sauce tossed with pasta, or with my Garlic Butter Chicken Thighs sheet pan dinner.
Everyone needs a good basic green salad recipe, and this one has been a classic in our house for as long as I can remember. Both Tyler and I grew up with some variation of this salad on the table regularly. And it’s one of those recipes you never tire of because it’s easy to adapt.
For instance, in the winter months, try diced red bell pepper in place of cherry tomatoes. Or mix up the greens by using the crunchier romaine, or slightly spicy arugula. From there you can continue the variations by changing up the kind of dressing you use as well.
You find my list of fun dressings to try below, or buy your favorite brand of bottled dressing for a shortcut. Pictured here is a simple lemon vinaigrette that takes just a couple of minutes to whisk together.
And once you get started making your own dressings, you may never look back because they’re so much tastier than store-bought, (and cheaper too)!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Lettuce – I love using green leaf or red leaf lettuce in this salad for the perfect combination of soft and crunchy. Romaine also works well for more crunch, and butter lettuce for a softer texture. You can also use baby spinach, spring mix, or arugula and watercress for extra flavor as well.
- Green onions – add a lot of savory flavor without being overwhelming like raw onion. If you love a punch, try finely diced red onion.
- Cherry tomatoes – halved, quartered, or diced tomatoes all work here. You can omit them during the colder month, or add some diced red bell pepper instead.
- Cucumber – adds lots of juicy crunch, but you can also use sliced radishes or thinly sliced celery for crunch instead.
- Carrots – are readily available year-round and add natural sweetness to your salad. I like to grate mine for a better texture combination with the lettuce.
How to make this recipe step by step
Step 1: Start by chopping the lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Then use a salad spinner to wash and spin dry the greens.
Shortcut tip #1: Use a pre-washed mix like spring mix, baby spinach, or arugula.
Step 3: Pile the lettuce into a large serving bowl and top with the rest of the prepped veggies. Serve with your choice of dressing.
Shortcut tip #2: Use your favorite bottled dressing, or choose from my Lemon Vinaigrette or 2 Ingredient Balsamic Vinaigrette for the easiest homemade options.
Homemade dressing is the easiest way to make your salad really taste good. The second way to make an incredible salad is to buy your ingredients locally from the farmers market. Truly fresh produce tastes amazing! If you’re buying from the supermarket, buy what looks the best and is in season. For instance, skip the tomatoes in the winter and try diced red bell pepper, chopped apples, or pomegranate arils instead.
Get inspired by whatever is in season, and try to think about adding extras that make great texture. Toasted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds along with any kind of candied nuts are all good crunchy options. Try something sweet like fresh pineapple, cut-up apple, or mango in place of the tomatoes. You can find some more of my seasonal salads below for more options with exact measurements.
- To store – these salad ingredients will keep up to 4 days if they’re stored separately. Also, be sure to keep the dressing separate, or your leftovers will be very soggy.
Tips & Tricks
- Add crumbled feta cheese, parmesan cheese, or goat cheese, grated cheddar, or any cheese you’d like for a fun variation.
- Mix 2 different kinds of greens, try green leaf lettuce with arugula, or romaine with some baby spinach.
- Add something crunchy like toasted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, slivered/sliced almonds, etc.
- Add some protein like leftover roasted salmon or chicken.
Seasonal salad recipe inspiration
I really hope you enjoy this Easy Green Salad! If you do get a chance to make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Easy Green Salad
- 2 romaine hearts - or 1 head romaine lettuce, green leaf, or red leaf lettuce
- 2 carrots - grated, 1 cup
- 1 cucumber - quartered and sliced, 2 cups
- 1 1/2 cups tomatoes - chopped, 8 ounces
- 1/4 cup green onions - sliced
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice - balsamic vinegar, or white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic - minced
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Optional: 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup
- Tear or cut romaine hearts into bite sized pieces. Wash in salad spinner then place in a serving bowl.
- Peel 3-4 strips from the cucumber. Split the cucumber in half then into quarters lengthwise. Slice crosswise into small pieces.
- Top the salad greens with the grated carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, and green onions.
- For the vinaigrette, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, garlic and salt. While whisking, add the olive oil in a slow steady stream. Continue whisking until emulsified.
- Toss the salad with the vinaigrette, or serve the salad with the vinaigrette on the side.
This recipe was originally published in 2013, but has been updated with new photos, nutritional information, and lots more tips in 2022!