It’s the quintessential potluck food: seven-layer salad. With its layers of iceberg lettuce, peas, tomatoes, onions, Cheddar cheese, bacon and mayonnaise, it’s colorful, crunchy and creamy all in one bite.

Food legend has it that it was born out of the South and originally called “seven-layer pea salad.”

Although many recipes include hard-cooked eggs and cucumbers (which actually makes the seven-layer salad nine layers), this dish has pretty much remained the same for decades. Until now.

We’ve decided it’s about time for a makeover.

Whether it’s different greens, new types of vegetables or a sweet addition, layered salads just got a lot more fun.


Serves 8.

Note: This recipe came courtesy of James Schend, food editor at Taste of Home. The addition of pasta and Parmesan dressing gives an unexpected twist to a traditional seven-layer salad.

• 1 (16 oz.) pkg. frozen cheese tortellini

• 2 c. broccoli florets

• 2 c. cherry tomatoes

• 2 celery ribs, finely chopped

• 1 (2 1/4 oz.) can sliced black olives, drained

• 1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese

• 3/4 c. mayonnaise

• 3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

• 2 tbsp. lemon juice

• 2 tbsp. heavy whipping cream

• 1 tsp. dried thyme


Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water.

In a 2 1/2-quart glass bowl, layer the tortellini, broccoli, tomatoes, celery, olives and Cheddar cheese.

To prepare dressing, whisk together the mayo, Parmesan, lemon juice, cream and thyme. Spoon over salad. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 350 Fat 28 g Sodium 720 mg

Carbs 16 g Sat fat 9 g Calcium 190 mg

Protein 10 g Chol 80 mg D fiber 2 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 bread/starch, 1 high-fat meat, 4 fat.


Serves 6.

Note: Watermelon isn’t a salad ingredient you typically think of outside of fruit salad, but it pairs deliciously with fresh garden tomatoes, arugula and feta cheese. This recipe came courtesy of Rebecca Guralnick, a personal chef, cooking instructor and caterer in Milwaukee. “You can really get creative with this salad,” she said. “Optional add-ins might include diced, roasted beets, orange segments, shredded carrot, diced avocado or even crumbled bacon. The rule of thumb to maintain a beautiful presentation is to layer from heaviest at the bottom to lightest at the top, but in this case I put the watermelon beneath the tomatoes because it will release the most juice as the salad sits on the table.”

• 5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 1/2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

• 8 c. seedless watermelon, diced into 1 1/4-in. chunks

• 3 tbsp. chopped assorted fresh herbs (such as dill, basil and mint), divided

• 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt, or to taste, divided

• About 3 lb. ripe tomatoes (preferably heirloom), cored and cut into 1 1/4-in. chunks (about 6 cups)

• 5 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

• 1 c. sprouts (such as sunflower or alfalfa)

• 5 c. arugula

• 1/2 c. sunflower seeds, lightly toasted


In a 1-cup glass measure, whisk together oil and vinegar.

In a large bowl, toss the watermelon with half the oil-vinegar mixture, 1 1/2 tablespoons assorted herbs and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

In another bowl, toss the tomatoes with remaining oil-vinegar mixture, 1 1/2 tablespoons herbs and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

In a clear glass bowl, layer watermelon, tomatoes, feta cheese, sprouts, arugula and sunflower seeds.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 335 Fat 23 g Sodium 430 mg

Carbs 27 g Sat fat 6 g Calcium 190 mg

Protein 10 g Chol 21 mg Dietary fiber 5 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 1 fruit, 1 high-fat meat, 3 fat.


Serves 4.

Note: This recipe is from

• 3/4 lb. spinach

• 1 medium-sized cucumber, thinly sliced

• 1/2 c. thinly sliced radishes

• 1/4 c. thinly sliced green onions

• 1/2 c. prepared ranch dressing

• 5 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled

• 1/2 c. peanuts


Remove and discard spinach stems. Rinse leaves well; drain and pat dry. Tear spinach into bite-size pieces and arrange evenly in a large bowl.

Evenly layer cucumber slices, radishes and green onions. Spread dressing over top.

Cover and chill up to 24 hours. Just before serving, sprinkle with bacon and peanuts.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 330 Fat 29 g Sodium 760 mg

Carbs 11 g Sat fat 5 g Calcium 100 mg

Protein 11 g Chol 21 mg Dietary fiber 4 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 1 high-fat meat, 4 fat.


Serves 8.

Note: Food blogger Inger Wilkerson (from thinks sweet when it comes to seven-layered ingredients. She came up with this dish based on a fruit salad she learned to make while studying in Ireland and living with a Le Cordon Bleu cook. “The fruits are pretty interchangeable as long as you use things that are juicy,” she said. “With so many colors, it almost can’t help but be pretty.”

• 3 c. diced watermelon

• 7 tsp. sugar, divided

• 2 c. green grapes, halved

• 1 1/2 c. cherries, pitted and halved

• 2 peaches, diced

• 2 c. blueberries

• 2 c. diced honeydew melon

• 2 c. diced strawberries


Place the watermelon on the bottom of a large clear bowl or trifle dish; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar.

Layer grapes on top and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar.

Repeat this process of sprinkling the sugar as you layer the cherries, peaches, blueberries, melon and strawberries. Refrigerate several hours before serving.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 140 Fat 1 g Sodium 10 mg

Carbs 35 g Sat fat 0 g Calcium 25 mg

Protein 2 g Chol 0 mg Dietary fiber 4 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2½ fruit.


Serves 6.

Note: Seven-layer salad can get a bad nutritional rap. This recipe, adapted from, removes any of the guilt without sacrificing flavor.

• 1 (10-oz.) pkg. spring lettuce mix

• 1 (15-oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

• 2 medium red bell peppers, diced

• 1 c. halved cherry tomatoes

• 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

• 6 slices turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled

• 1 avocado

• 1 c. plain Greek yogurt

• 2 tbsp. lemon juice

• 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 2 tsp. honey


In a large glass bowl or trifle dish, layer lettuce, beans, peppers and tomatoes. Refrigerate several hours.

Before serving, add layers of cheese and bacon.

To make dressing, blend together avocado, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, salt and honey until smooth. Spoon over salad.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 280 Fat 14 g Sodium 695 mg

Carbs 23 g Sat fat 4 g Calcium 240 mg

Protein 18 g Chol 27 mg Dietary fiber 7 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1 bread/starch, 2 medium-fat meat, 1 fat.


Serves 6.

Note: The seven-layer salad instantly becomes more fun when it’s in individual servings. When looking for a container, Mason jars aren’t only cute, they’re practical. Just pop on a lid, secure the ring and travel anywhere. This recipe is slightly adapted from the blog Oh She Glows. You will have some wheat berries and quinoa left over.

• 1 c. uncooked wheat berries, rinsed

• Pinch of salt

• 1 c. uncooked quinoa, rinsed

• 1 1/2 c. diced green bell pepper, divided

• 1 1/2 c. diced red bell pepper, divided

• 1 1/2 c. shredded carrots, divided

• 1 (12 oz.) pkg. edamame, divided

• 2/3 c. freshly squeezed orange juice

• 1/3 c. apple juice

• 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

• 1 tbsp. minced ginger

• 1 tbsp. lime juice

• 1/4 tsp. kosher salt


In a medium pot, combine rinsed wheat berries, 3 1/2 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer about 1 hour, or until tender.

In another medium pot, add quinoa and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until fluffy, about 20 minutes.

When the grains have cooked, grab your Mason jars, and add into each: 1/2 cup cooked wheat berries, 1/4 cup green pepper, 1/4 cup red pepper, 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/4 cup carrots and 1/2 cup edamame. Push the ingredients down in the jar after you add the quinoa and edamame. Repeat with the remaining jars.

To prepare the dressing, whisk together orange juice, apple juice, vinegar, ginger, lime juice and salt. Spoon over the top of the salads.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 330 Fat 15 g Sodium 130 mg

Carbs 58 g Sat fat 1 g Calcium 86 mg

Protein 15 g Chol 0 mg Dietary fiber 10 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, ½ fruit, 3 bread/starch, ½ medium-fat meat, 2½ fat.


Serves 8.

• 4 c. chopped lettuce

• 1 c. chopped tomato

• 1/2 c. chopped green onion

• 1 (15 1/2-oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained

• 1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese

• 1 c. salsa

• 1 c. crushed tortilla chips


Layer lettuce, tomato, green onion, beans, cheese and salsa in a large bowl or trifle dish. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving, top with crushed tortilla chips.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 176 Fat 7 g Sodium 460 mg

Carbs 20 g Sat fat 3 g Calcium 120 mg

Protein 8 g Chol 15 mg Dietary fiber 6 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1 bread/starch, ½ medium-fat meat.