How to Make a Perfect Wedge Salad
All you need are a few basic ingredients, our ace recipe, and expert tips.
The beauty of a wedge salad is in its simplicity: This recipe feature just crisp lettuce, sweet tomatoes, savory bacon, and blue-cheese dressing. However, all renditions are not created equal. Try our approach to amplify each element of the steakhouse starter to cool, crunchy, super-satisfying effect, then make our streamlined Wedge Salad recipe or it's cool sibling, the chopped salad (more on that below).
What's in a Wedge?
There's a clue in the name! A crisp wedge of iceberg lettuce is the foundation of this classic steakhouse salad. Because the wedge is all about cool crunch, Sarah Carey, our editorial director of food, says, "I refrigerate the lettuce until just before serving, so I get cold, crisp greens in every bite." She adds that iceberg's subtle sweetness stands up well to creamy blue cheese dressing that further defines the wedge salad. For the dressing, store-bought mayo is mellowed by sour cream, and buttermilk brings fresh tang. If you don't have any buttermilk, fake it to make it: Thin out plain unsweetened yogurt (not strained or Greek) with a splash of milk or water (start with 1 tablespoon per 1/3 cup). Add a touch of lemon juice to balance the rich creamy dressing and mix in the crumbled blue cheese. If you're buying store-bought, we prefer the readily available Castello Danish Blue ($4.99, instacart.com), which has a nice balance of creamy and sharp notes.
Bacon is essential, too: Cut it into 1/2-inch thick pieces and crisp it in a pan (this can be done ahead). Also non negotiable: tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are the usual pick but we veer from tradition and say that a beefsteak cut into bite-sized pieces works just as well. Just be sure whichever type of tomato you go with, it's sweet and flavorful. And don't skimp on the chives, as they add petit punches of allium flavor and bursts of bright green to the pale wedge.
The Chopped Salad
Culinary legend has it that the chopped salad evolved in L.A. where celebs in their fancy gowns wanted a salad that was easier to eat than messy whole leaves. There are about as many versions of the chopped salad as there are designer frocks. This new spin from our test kitchen is a deconstructed take on the wedge salad. For our Chopped Salad with Blue-Cheese Vinaigrette, we swap the iceberg for romaine, as Sarah explains. "It's bold crunch is my go-to with the tangy vinaigrette." That vinaigrette replaces the creamy dressing but the blue cheese remains, it's crumbled throughout the salad along with the bacon, cherry tomatoes, and chives.
Food styling by Greg Lofts; Prop styling by Suzie Myers; Illustration by Brown Bird Design.