A recipe for the classic Southern Easy 7 Layer Salad that’s perfect for family gatherings. Delicious layers of lettuce, sweet onion, green peas, hard boiled eggs, and topped with a homemade dressing, cheddar cheese, and crispy bacon!
Need a delicious salad/side dish for a Fourth of July cookout this coming weekend? Try this recipe for an Easy 7 Layer Salad. I made this Southern classic recently to celebrate the end of my sugar detox. The salad is made up of multiple layers of fresh, raw veggies all slathered in a dressing made of just white sugar and mayonnaise. Yes, I just said white sugar and mayonnaise. Two ingredients that should never be mixed together in the same bowl and poured over perfectly fine, completely edible, raw vegetables.
I’m pretty sure I just lost a few of you by admitting what the dressing is all about by the fourth sentence of this post; however, I want you to know that this salad totally works (and no, I’m not having some kind of sugar deprived insane phase where I believe white sugar needs to be in/on everything). The truth lies within the creamy sweet mayonnaise dressing that pairs perfectly with the crispness of the iceberg lettuce, the starchy pop of the green peas, the crunch of the raw onions, and the tasty toppings of salty bacon and sharp cheddar cheese. Pure heaven.
I remember the first time I spied a 7 layer salad on a dinner table. It was made by a southern friend of mine during my college years in Eastern Tennessee. My first thought was “Well, that looks like mayonnaise or some sort of weird Marshmallow Fluff on top of this salad”.
Neither of these ingredients sounded the least bit appealing to me, but I still ate it because that’s what I do. I eat everything. Or I always try a little bit to see if I like it enough to full-on eat it. I’ll admit, I loved the 7 layer salad from the moment it landed on my lips.
It is a taste of the South. True comfort food. I can just imagine, many years ago, how a Southern Grandmother was making a salad and thought “I’m just going to put some sugar in some mayo and use it as a dressing”. A little strange, yet so brilliant. And I’m sure back then, no one even questioned it, because simple was always best.
7 Layer Salads are excellent at feeding a lot of people so it’s commonly served at large gatherings. Many times I’ve made one for a barbeque party (either at our home or when we are guests elsewhere) and I always make one for Easter dinner.
The salad can conveniently and easily be made the day before and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. When made in a glass dish, the pretty layers make for an impressive looking addition to a buffet table, as well as a great conversation piece, as people will ask you, “What the heck kind of salad is that??” (especially if you live in the Northeast, like I do now).
One of the things I love about a 7 layer salad is it’s versatility. The ingredients can vary depending on what veggies are in season or whatever types you prefer the most. Feel free to add or take away from the seven layers too. I think as long as you have at least four of what I consider the classic ingredients (lettuce, peas, hard-boiled eggs, and the sugar-mayo dressing), then anything else in a 7 layer salad can be personalized.
My seven layers are (and in order):
- sweet Vidalia onion
- frozen green peas (no need to thaw first)
- shredded white sharp cheddar cheese
- lots of crumbled crispy cooked bacon.
Seven gorgeous layers of yummy! The salad stays fresh for a few days because the dressing acts as a cover, helping to keep the whole thing wonderfully crisp. I like making it in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish (I used a trifle bowl in these photos to show more of the layers), as the long rectangular shape is better at spreading out the ingredients to be equally proportionate to one another.
Try this Easy 7 Layer Salad for your upcoming Fourth of July holiday cookout, summer picnic/barbecue, or any other special occasion. And don’t tell anyone what the dressing is made of until after they eat it (unless, of course, they are on a sugar detox)
- 2 cups of a good quality mayonnaise
- 2 Tb white sugar
- 1 large head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
- 1 medium Vidalia or red onion, diced
- 1 (12oz) bag of frozen peas, keep frozen and do not thaw
- 5 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
- 3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 pound bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
- In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and sugar to make the dressing. Set aside.
- Using a 9x13 glass baking dish, layer the salad in the following order: lettuce, onion, frozen peas, and sliced eggs. Completely cover top of salad with the dressing. Sprinkle top with the cheese and bacon. Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for at least 8 hours, or overnight.