Quick Salad Recipes That Make Excellent Dinners on Busy Weeknights


These main-course salads are ready in a flash and reliably delicious, which makes them the perfect for those hectic nights when you need a speedy supper.

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Stephen Kent Johnson

Whether you like steak in your salad, salmon is your favorite, or prefer a vegetarian meal, we've got you covered here with our best dinner salad recipes. These quick weeknight-ready meals star all kinds of protein, many different types of salad leaves, a variety of other vegetables, and all kinds of tasty add-ins, from fresh herbs to tortilla chips to hard-boiled eggs. Simply put, we have a variety of delicious dinner salad recipes that come together in a flash, which means there's always one you can make for on a weeknight.

How about the colorful Poached Salmon, Spinach, and Potato Salad pictured here? It's filling and healthy and just a little fancy thanks to a brown butter vinaigrette. We adore other types of fish—both fresh and canned—for salad too. And when it comes to a meaty salad, we think beef can't be beaten. Our recipes make good use of cheaper cuts of steak, like flank, so you can have steak salad on a weeknight. Chicken is a favorite of families everywhere, and it's plain to see why: It's an easy-going protein that works so well in so many different salad recipes, including a straightforward grilled chicken salad to a many-layered taco salad. But think beyond the basics, too. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options in our entrée salad recipes, including hearty mains that are bulked up with mushrooms, beans, and quinoa.

Romaine, baby spinach, arugula, and butter lettuce are just a few of the many greens available all year round, which means you can have a fresh, satisfying salad for dinner during any season. We do have salad recipes specifically for winter, though. One test-kitchen tip is to use roasted vegetables—they are a really good addition to salad when the weather is cold and your favorite tomatoes aren't as tasty as they are in the peak of summer.

Some say the dressing makes the salad. We're not entirely sure we agree with that, but we do agree that dressing can take a salad from good to great. And the options are endless; creamy buttermilk, warm tomato vinaigrette, tropical dressings with pineapple, and Asian-accented dressings made with fish sauce and lime juice—they're all here, paired with the right combination of vegetables, leaves, and proteins to make your dinnertime salad routine a snap.

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Gingery Shrimp Salad with Crispies

Gingery Shrimp Salad with Crispies
Paola + Murray

This 30-minute dinner salad is a sublime mix of textures and flavors. The shrimp are coated in a tasty mix of pepper jelly, fresh ginger and oil and cook quickly. Then they're paired with crispy tortilla strips, mild soft edamame, crunchy romaine and coleslaw mix plus fragrant fresh herbs. It's sure to be a recipe you add to your regular dinner rotation.

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Chicken Paillard with Caprese Panzanella

Chicken Paillard With Caprese Panzanella
Con Poulos

This dinner salad is like summer on a plate. We turned the classic Italian salad panzanella, with bread and ripe in-season tomatoes, into a hearty main meal by adding creamy mozzarella and quick-cooking chicken cutlets to the mix.

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Taco Salad with Sweet-Potatoes

sweet potato taco salad served in pink bowl
Lennart Weibull

Here's a hearty vegetarian main-dish salad bursting with black beans, jalapeños, radishes, and romaine. To make it even more delicious, we added roasted sweet potato chunks to the mix, and the result is so good we think they should be in every taco salad.

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Steakhouse Wedge with Warm Tomato Vinaigrette

Bryan Gardner

The fanciest salad in our collection, this riff on the classic that's served at steakhouses everywhere uses hangar steak to make the dish more affordable. It also subs a sweet tomato vinaigrette for the usual blue cheese dressing, making our version a little bit healthier.

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Greek Mezze Salad

Greek mezze salad
Armando Rafael

No leafy greens here, but this tasty take on mezze has all of our Mediterranean favorites. Using store-bought grape leaves and canned chickpeas means it's a dish that's quick to put together.

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Chef's Salad with Turkey, Avocado, and Jack Cheese


It's easy to love a salad packed with such familiar ingredients as turkey breast, avocado, and Monterey Jack cheese, but it's even easier still when the mix is topped with no-fuss buttermilk dressing.

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Spicy Pork, Peanut, and Cabbage Salad


A combination of half charred and half raw cabbage leaves gives this salad great texture. Thinly sliced pork, cucumbers, mint, peanuts, and a dressing made of red onion, fresh lime juice, fish sauce, and serrano chile take this Thai-inspired dish to the next level.

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Butter-Lettuce Salad with Egg and Potatoes

Alpha Smoot

We like to top this salad with a fried egg, but you could swap in a poached egg or a soft-boiled egg, or even an omelet, if you prefer.

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Seared-Chicken Salad with Green Beans, Almonds, and Dried Cherries


When chicken cutlets are served next to crunchy blanched green beans over mixed greens, you've got a dinner salad that holds its own against any meat-and-veg meal.

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Grilled Skirt-Steak Salad

grilled skirt-steak salad topped with feta
Con Poulos

This hearty salad is absolutely mouthwatering. With crunchy romaine, soft feta, and an array of fresh vegetables, it's a dinner that's guaranteed to be a hit with your entire family.

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Buttermilk Chicken Caesar Salad


We've given the classic Caesar a down-home spin with homemade multigrain croutons and a buttermilk dressing used twice: once to marinate chicken breasts, then again to toss with the salad.

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Scandinavian Shrimp Salad

scandinavian shrimp salad served on a pink plate
Lennart Weibull

Shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, and potatoes make this a hearty salad while the cornichons and fennel make it just a little different. It comes together in only 35 minutes and cooking is minimal since the potatoes and the shrimp can be prepared in the same pan.

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Chopped Salad with Spicy Pork and Buttermilk Dressing


There's always something yummy on your fork in a good chopped salad like this one, which combines chile-rubbed pork, romaine lettuce, juicy tomatoes, corn, cheese, and a garlicky buttermilk dressing.

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Salmon Salad with Parsley and Capers


Once you've used our method to poach fillets of salmon, you'll never use another. The end result is creamy and supple, perfect for pairing with bold ingredients like the capers, parsley, and red onion in this salad.

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Lighter Cobb Salad


We use light mayonnaise and low-fat buttermilk in our blue cheese dressing, omitting the egg yolks to cut down on fat and calories in our version of this diner classic.

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Tuna Salad Nicoise


Amp up canned tuna in our version of the classic French salad. It's so elegantly dressed that you won't recognize the supermarket staple.

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Flank Steak and Arugula Salad


The classic steak salad comes alive with a few easy twists, including a fiery spice rub for the meat and a super simple dressing of vinegar and store-bought salsa.

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Chicken Club Salad


Crumbled bacon stretches the smoky flavor further than whole slices might, while light mayonnaise and crisp vegetables add fiber in this satisfying salad.

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Spinach Salad with Ham and Egg


There's a secret ingredient in this salad of leafy spinach, thick ham, and hard-boiled eggs: thinly sliced radishes, which add a peppery crunch to every bite.

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Seared-Chicken Salad with Cherries and Goat Cheese Dressing


Cherries aren't only for jams and pies—the juicy, ruby-red summer beauties are ripe for the picking in this refreshing salad of Boston lettuce, goat cheese, walnuts, and sliced chicken.

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Thai-Style Steak Salad


This salad is so much better than takeout, we promise! Thin slices of medium-rare rib-eye steak makes this refreshing salad feel downright luxurious.

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Spinach Salad with Turkey Bacon and Blue Cheese


We've pared down the traditional Cobb salad to what are arguably its main components—greens, egg, bacon, poultry, and blue cheese—and then taken it one step further, using turkey bacon to cover two of those requirements.

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Mediterranean Salad with Green Beans and Feta


Feta and white beans provide plenty of protein in this main-course salad. If you don't have white-wine vinegar, you can substitute red-wine or balsamic vinegar.

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Citrus Steak Salad


Not every steak entrée can boast as much vitamin C as this one can, and that's thanks to the orange segments mingling with strip steak, red onions, and romaine lettuce. It's all tossed together in an orange juice-based vinaigrette for bright flavor.

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Arugula Salad with Grilled Chicken, Corn, Tomatoes, and Blue Cheese


Grill the corn alongside the chicken to cut down on the prep time for this vibrant arugula salad.

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Chicken with Watercress Salad


Pound chicken breast into a thin cutlet, then top with a light, peppery watercress salad for a healthy supper.

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Roasted Carrot Nicoise

Roasted Carrot Nicoise
Chris Simpson

Here's a vegetarian take on the classic Niçoise salad. Roasted carrots substitute the signature meats in this tasty dish.

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