Seven-Layer Salad

June 24, 2017
Seven Layer Salad - It's potluck food at it's finest and meant to be made ahead. The good news is you can use whatever you like and really can't go wrong

“You should try to relax about having people over. I have friends who are nervous hostesses, and it just contaminates the entire mood of the evening. They are always rushing from the room to check things and have a wild look in their eyes when they return from the kitchen”     ~ Nora Ephron

Spaghetti Saturdays - A new monthly tradition, on the 3rd Saturday of each month we'll be cooking Spaghetti & Meatballs, for ourselves & the people we love

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In one sentence, hosting a dinner party for 20+

“Where did the _ go?”

— —

Three times this morning .. “Huh, where did my grocery list go?  It has to be around here somewhere”

“Where's the bottle of bubbly I just bought?”

“Where did the puppies leashes go? (In the washer)  Why? (Didn't they look dirty to you too?)”

And most of all, the given, the one sure thing

“Where did the time go?”

— —

Nearly every month we host Spaghetti Saturday.

When the weather warms up, spaghetti and meatballs can seem a bit too heavy. So we debate; should we switch it up?  Maybe BLTs?  Grilled pizza?  Or even something a little bit fancy?  A true summer celebration?

— —

It's a sunny June day.  I preheat the oven and start to prep the meatballs.

“Were you planning on going to the pool today?”

“I should, but it seems like there's too much to do”

I wipe down wine glasses, find the candles, ready the silverware, and check the time.  He flashes a we're-going-to-be-just-fine smile and shoos me out of the kitchen

“Yes, yes.  Now where did my swimming suit go?”

Seven Layer Salad - It's potluck food at it's finest and meant to be made ahead. The good news is you can use whatever you like and really can't go wrong

The water-walking ladies fill me in on the highlights from their week.  Lunches with friends, what they made for dinner, and summer trips being planned.

How they make me smile

— —

Driving home I think of the garden.  “It's going to be 90+ degrees and I really should water.  I wonder if the green beans have poked their heads out of the dirt yet.  Hopefully, the wildflowers will make it”  

I know I should go.  There's still plenty of time for dinner party prep.  I picture my husband and the puppies settled in for a bit of an afternoon nap

“Where did my trusty red hoe go?”

— —

I pull into the drive, hot and dirty from battling the weeds.  A neighbor waves from across the way. “I'm sitting down for a glass of bubbly in the garden.  Care to join me?”

The afternoon is slipping away, but there's still enough time for prep.  Certainly, our friends won't mind a slight delay.  These moments, these casual afternoon invites don't come around every day.  I feel hints of anxiety coming on

“I'd love to, but I need to get going on dinner”

— —

The afternoon fades; everyone will be here soon.

My husband switches the station to jazz.  I reach for lip gloss and pour a Prosecco.  As I wipe the countertops and ready a cheese plate, I glance out the window and see her sitting in and amongst her pretty daisies reading a book.  How long has it been since I've had a daisy patch of my own?

Where did the time go?

— —

I realize I'll ask myself this again and again and again.  I'm learning that time passes far quicker than I realize. Sooner than I'd like it to.  I know the minutes in-between will slip by unnoticed and unmarked

unless, of course

Seven Layer Salad - It's potluck food at it's finest and meant to be made ahead. The good news is you can use whatever you like and really can't go wrong

I wash my hands, dry them on a flour sack, and head out the door

“Changed my mind,”  I say, taking a seat in the chair next to hers.  “How has your summer been going?  Are you coming over for dinner tonight?”

(she smiles)

— —

At seven sharp, guests begin to arrive with cheeks flushed from the heat.  The unmade cheese plate is finished and we graze on appetizers as everybody catches up.  Dinner is served and gone before we know it.  Conversations are interesting and fun, dotted with frequent interruptions from puppies.

“Have you noticed my super cool bone. Would you like to share?”

We finish our sentences, our dessert, our wine. Before I know it, our last guest is heading off into the night

Where did the time go? 

— —

I remember when the kids were little; when they couldn't find something. I'd ask

“Where did you see it last?”

— —

I help but wonder if that question isn't the answer.

To see .. to pay attention. To watch as time marches on, with or without our involvement, with or without our permission.  To notice when the plants need water, to remember the pool is open for only a short season.

To let the cheese plate go unmade, to acknowledge a neighbor's afternoon glass of wine invitation.  To say “Of course I'll be over. Can I bring you some fresh cookies?”

To be able to answer the simplest question, “Where did you see it last?”  With the simplest answer:

Right here

— —

Seven Layer Salad - It's potluck food at it's finest and meant to be made ahead. The good news is you can use whatever you like and really can't go wrong

The Seven Layer Salad has made a couple of appearance at Spaghetti Saturday, and rarely are there left-overs

If you’ve spent time in the midwest, particularly in rural farm country, you may have thumbed through a church cookbook and wondered why there are no vegetables in the salads

Salads in this part of the world often contain Jell-O and mayo (Miracle Whip if you ask the water-walking ladies), and all sorts of sweets (whatever, yes, grapes).  Unless you specify a salad with veggies, there’s a very good chance that asking a true Midwesterner to bring a salad to a potluck will mean making

more room for dessert

The salad chapters in the church cookbooks on my desk are my some of my favorites.  They’re where you’d expect a salad chapter to be; right after the appetizers and before the mains.  Although oddly enough, ingredients like mini marshmallows, cool whip, and cream cheese make regular appearances.

The good news?  The classic Seven Layer salad is tucked in and amongst and is truly a sight to behold.

Generally, they're served in trifle dishes or glass bowls.  Mostly so kids at the potluck can all say “There really are seven layers” .. as they count up from the bottom: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, bacon, cheese, onions, and boiled eggs (sometimes celery or frozen peas make it in there as well). It's then topped with a thick layer of mayo that seals everything in like sparkle over drywall

When you're ready to serve, one will fold the heavy layer of mayo into the mix and scoop it all out

It's potluck food at it's finest; offering a serious advantage to the harried home cook.  It's meant to be made ahead.  The layer of mayo seals everything airtight

The good news with the Seven Layer Salad is you can use whatever you like and you really can't go wrong



ps: More fun recipes and stories from Spaghetti Saturdays

— — —

Adapted from Betty Crocker

Seven-Layer Salad


  • 1 bag ready-to-eat mixed salad greens (~ 6 cups)
  • 8 medium radishes, sliced thin
  • 5-6 green onions, sliced thin
  • 2 medium celery stalks, sliced thin
  • 12 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
  • 1 10 oz package frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 ½ cups mayo, Miracle Whip, or salad dressing
  • ½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese (~ 2 ounces)


  • In a large salad bowl, add the greens.
  • Layer the radishes, onions, celery, bacon, and peas on top
  • Spread mayonnaise over peas, covering top completely and sealing to edge of the bowl.
  • Sprinkle with cheese
  • Store covered in refrigerator until ready to serve
Serves: 6
Nutrition + Show
Calories 263
Total Fat 15.1g
Saturated Fat 4.8g
Carbohydrates 21.1g
Fiber 6.2g
Sugars 8.7g
Protein 11.7g
Print This Recipe

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  • Reply Sarah Ann June 24, 2017 at 7:45 am

    I’ve always made my salads pretty regular and boring if I’m honest. This has really inspired me to be more creative. I love crispy bacon but had never thought of adding it to my salad.

  • Reply Lori Bosworth June 25, 2017 at 9:35 am

    That Seven Layer Salad looks yummy.! I’m not surprised that it disappears once served. Haha…too funny about midwestern “salads” containing marshmallows, cool whip or jello. That kind of reminds me of some salads that my relatives and neighbours made in the 70s!!

  • Reply Marysa June 25, 2017 at 10:30 am

    I don’t know why I hadn’t thought to put fresh peas in salad. It looks really good, and it is nice to serve fresh, healthy options. You are right about entertaining too, it can be so stressful, and it shouldn’t overwhelm the mood of the party.

  • Reply Kim June 25, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    This looks yummy and I love the colors. Such a great idea to layers the different items because it makes such a great visual.

  • Reply Jennifer Van Huss June 25, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    5 stars
    That looks fabulous! I love the burst of colour and all of the ingredients! Normally I see refried beans in a 7 layer and those make me gag! This is one I’d definitely eat!

  • Reply Val June 25, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    As a parent of two boys I frequently wonder where the time went, and tell new mothers not to blink. The salad looks great, I love all of the color.

  • Reply ricci June 25, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    I love a good seven layer salad and this one looks delicious!! I need to make this soon!!

  • Reply Sharon June 26, 2017 at 1:35 am

    5 stars
    This looks like an amazing recipe. I’ve never been huge on eating salads, and feel guilty about it. I am tempted to make this salad, especially since it’s Summer and I need something healthy and refreshing for those hot days. Thanks for this recipe and keep up the good work! 🙂

  • Reply Margarette June 26, 2017 at 1:40 am

    That Seven Layer Salad looks very delicious. I haven’t eaten any veggie salad for a long time. Maybe when my mom comes back home, I would ask her to do one.

  • Reply Rylee June 26, 2017 at 2:56 am

    The foods looks yummy. Maybe then I will try doing this with my friends.

  • Reply Stephanie Merry June 26, 2017 at 3:50 am

    I seem to find that time seems to be passing by so quickly at the moment, I really need to take the time out to focus on the now x

  • Reply Lyla June 26, 2017 at 4:14 am

    I love having people over, good food, people and great wine are all you need, plus you get to share this fab layered salad with them also. Sounds like the perfect recipe for the perfect get together.

  • Reply Danik June 26, 2017 at 4:19 am

    3 stars
    Now that is what I call a huge salad and a filler of a meal as well.

    • Reply Sarah Bailey June 26, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      It is most definitely one amazing salad, it could really make for a huge part of a meal.

  • Reply Heather Kraus June 26, 2017 at 5:41 am

    I constantly lose things, all day, every day. I don’t know how I get anything done. My son keeps asking me to make more salads. I love eating them, but man do I hate making them. I love the idea of layering the ingredients.

  • Reply Madison June 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

    I do like to make my salads different and this one looks lovely. As for where does time go, well it does seem we are all far too busy in our own lives and have so much to do, we do miss the important things x

  • Reply Robin June 26, 2017 at 6:11 am

    I was tasked with bringing a salad to a cookout I was invited to later this week. I am sure this 7 layer salad will be a hit.

  • Reply TIm B June 26, 2017 at 7:20 am

    This looks like a hearty salad that will fill up your tummy without a lot of effort to put it together. I hadn’t thought of using mayo for a topping on salads but that does seem like it would go well with this. Of course you had me at BACON! Nice recipe!

  • Reply Alli Smith June 26, 2017 at 7:34 am

    This is a delicious recipe that I made all the time way back in the day. I haven’t had it in years and now I’m wanting to make it again. Whenever I’m hosting a dinner party, I try to create a fun, relaxing atomosphere.

  • Reply Eileen June 26, 2017 at 8:23 am

    I almost never host and would be a nervous wreck if I had to host a dinner. This salad looks amazing!

  • Reply Sarah Bailey June 26, 2017 at 8:44 am

    Now this sounds like the perfect salad, loving all the ingredients.

    I have to admit I lose everything all the time, so doing a dinner party for 20+ I would definitely be in trouble 😉

  • Reply Stephanie Usher June 26, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Time moves so fast, I really don’t know where it’s going! I’m too trying to benchmark my life and make time for the unimportant stuff! xx

  • Reply Sally Akins June 26, 2017 at 11:54 am

    5 stars
    I find that I’m always asking where the time has gone these days. My youngest son will be 18 and leaving school in four years time, and I’m starting to get nervous about having an empty nest after all this time.

    Gorgeous salad, by the way, I always think they look stunning layered up in a glass bowl.

  • Reply Ana De- Jesus June 26, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    When it comes to life it really does feel like it runs away with you sometimes so having something like a salad can help take the stress out of hosting dinner. I like that it has seven layers of deliciousness yum! x

  • Reply Terri Beavers June 26, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    5 stars
    We make a lot of spaghetti because it’s one of the kid’s favorites. I’ve never thought to make a layered salad with it. I’ll have to change that because it looks divine.

  • Reply Anosa June 26, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    I was sat in my hotel room in Switzerland yesterday asking myself where the time went, I felt like I just woke up and it was already time for bed again. Great post and lovely salad

  • Reply Christy Maurer June 26, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    5 stars
    Time goes too quickly to not spend it doing the things you love with the people you love! You sound like you have such a great community. And seven-layer-salad is the bomb. I haven’t had any in almost a year, so I’ll probably have it next month at the reunion I had it at last year 🙂

  • Reply Nikki June 26, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    Hosting a dinner party for 20 people sounds crazy stressful! We’ve thrown family parties for at least that many people, but usually it’s more of a pot luck/serve yourself deal. You’re very brave! That salad is so beautiful, the perfect centerpiece and start to a dinner!

  • Reply Alexandria June 26, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    I love the idea of Spaghetti Saturday, and the idea of ignoring the chores for a while to bake cookies as a nice gift for someone.

  • Reply David Elliott June 26, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    I think I have seen some of the same hosts that Nora Ephron has. Scary, wild eyed people running around wanting to make me run out of the building screaming, or pinching myself to see if I am in a nightmare. As for the rest of the post, I really do love your view of time here and the sudden realization of how quickly things move. I think it’s really hard to stay present sometimes. And I think the world encourages us not to be present in our lives far too often, distracting us with every shiny toy that there is. I do think that dinners like your Spaghetti Saturday with friends do help us to slow down. And they do allow us to appreciate the things in our lives, even if they go by more quickly than I would like. As for the salad, it looks absolutely delicious. It looks like a perfect summer compliment to a meal. Right now it’s so hot and cooking anything doesn’t feel very appealing but this looks wonderful.

  • Reply Rebecca Swenor June 26, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    5 stars
    May I am not reading this right or something. But I am going to say this” Time fly by so fast and before you know it is gone. Enjoy every moment of every day no matter is it is good or bad. ” Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the ideas.

  • Reply Melissa June 26, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    I have never thought of making a layered salad like this but wow it looks devious! salads are perfect summer food

  • Reply Aileen Adalid June 26, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    5 stars
    That Seven Layer Salad looks yummy.! loving all the ingredients. Maybe then I will try doing this with my friends.

  • Reply Rochelle June 26, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    4 stars
    My mom’s like that, asking where did _ go. Usually it’s her eyeglasses she’s looking for and some groceries she has just bought in the same day. We don’t usually have salads at home but when we do, we like it without a heavy layer of mayo. We prefer plain and simple greens and just light dressing to go with it. Adding bacon will be nice, too.

  • Reply Melanie June 26, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    I like that this uses a spring mix blend. That is one of my favorite blends to use for salads such as these. I am not a big pea fan, though, so I may have to substitute that ingredient for something else. Other than that, this looks like a good recipe to take to an upcoming potluck that I have to attend,

  • Reply Jenn June 26, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    I love this blog post. I love summer, and enjoy company during summer nights. Times sure goes by too fast. I’ll have to try a seven layer salad sometime. I think I’d used avocados in ours. They are delicious with lettuce while ripe.

  • Reply Amanda June 26, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    That seven layer salad looks delicious. I am a sucker for anything with bacon! I’m all about summer salads, too.

  • Reply Bella June 26, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    I am not sure I have ever had a seven layer dip or salad. Maybe it isn’t a thing in Canada? Regardless, I am all over any food with bacon in it. Yumma!

  • Reply Debra Hawkins June 26, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    I love your writing style! I always feel like I am getting a story or inspiration with my recipe of the day!

  • Reply Rika June 26, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    Absolutely love the idea! I love salad, always make my own salad every day, can’t get enough of it!

  • Reply Val June 26, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    There’s never enough time and then when we realize that time has passed we wonder where the time went. It doesn’t feel like my boys are the age they are, it doesn’t feel like that much time has passed.

  • Reply Donna June 27, 2017 at 3:26 am

    Ha, I love hosting but do tend to get quite stressed even though my husband does the cooking!!!

  • Reply Neha Saini June 27, 2017 at 3:47 am

    5 stars
    Well seriously telling, I was also not much into cooking. But since I started reading the blogs and watching different recipes made me excited. Now, I’ve started cooking and I just love trying new recipes from your blog. My inspiration was you 

  • Reply Elodie June 27, 2017 at 4:38 am

    That looks so good! And salads are just so easy and refreshing in the summer – Perfect if you don’t have time to go around and do anything more elaborate.

  • Reply Tiffany Haywood June 27, 2017 at 7:32 am

    3 stars
    The best salad for me is always one with variety. Different textures – crunches, pop, snaps, crisp. This salad seems to have all of that plus be delicious to boot! Thanks so much for sharing – I need to try this one out soon!

  • Reply Madi June 27, 2017 at 8:02 am

    5 stars
    This looks like such an amazing salad! I love seven layer dip but a seven layer salad sounds even better! I definitely will have to make this for the next picnic or potluck I go to, it would be such a huge hit!

  • Reply Natasha Mairs June 27, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Time! I always seem to be in a rush with not enough time in the day to do everything that I need to do. But I am trying to practice mindfulness and really be in the moment. That salad looks pretty nice too!

  • Reply Liz June 27, 2017 at 9:50 am

    This salad looks divine. I’m always on the hunt for a good dish to take to my chica brunches once a month. I may have to add this to my next event. Looks easy and very colorful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Joanna June 27, 2017 at 11:35 am

    You are very brave to have managed to host a dinner party for 20 people! Wow, I could not even imagine how stressful it must have been, even if the food was quite simple (but delicious). It’s nice to hear you’ve made your own meatballs 🙂 I remember when I hosted an Easter dinner for about 5 friends and I decided to cook the traditional Romanian sweet…. that was stressful! And it costed me about 10 times as much than buying it from the store and about 3 hours to make. But hey, I’ve made it with my own hands!

  • Reply Kita Bryant June 27, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    5 stars
    Time is such a cruel yet uncontrollable aspect of life. Yes, let the cheese plate go unfinished because nobody will care or notice anyways.

  • Reply Steph June 27, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    I’ve never heard of a seven layers of salad before. Looks very tasty. I also really want a cheese platter as well now

  • Reply Karlyn Cruz June 27, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    For me, a salad has to be good in order for me to really get into it. I don’t like salad but if it’s got all the great trimmings like this, I would definitely go for it.

    Summer can certainly be tricky when it comes to healthy food because it’s so hot.

  • Reply Melanie June 27, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Time does seem to fly past fast when you are preparing a meal and have guests coming over. I’m normally quite relaxed as I try to get as much prep done before they get to mine and hubby keeps the kids out of the way. Bacon really does work well in salads.

  • Reply Censie Sawyer June 27, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    We make a similar salad for some of our family birthday celebrations. So easy to make and they always make the table setting look great too. Almost too pretty to eat….almost. 😉 Thanks for your great recipe. Will need to try it soon.

  • Reply Chubskulit Rose June 27, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Oh my gosh, that would be my kind of feast. I so love this, I think my daughter would give me a million kisses if I prepare this one day.

  • Reply Jenni June 28, 2017 at 3:44 am

    4 stars
    I’m always a a lookout on how to make salads seem more appealing. I’m on slimming world so salad is a must really but I usually find it so boring. This however looks so tasty and inviting! I like that the bacon is crispy too, why have I not thought about that before? Everything in this recipe I can eat no problem on my slimming world plan 😀 I would just use lighter than light mayo instead

  • Reply Stephanie Pass June 28, 2017 at 3:59 am

    Spaghetti Saturday sounds awesome. I am a nervous hostess as everyone arrives, but soon after, I feel much more relaxed and confident. I do love a good layered salad. This one would definitely be perfect for a get together.

  • Reply Dannii June 28, 2017 at 5:13 am

    I don’t think that this would last long in our house either. Anything with bacon on the top is good with me.

  • Reply Samantha June 28, 2017 at 5:47 am

    Absolutely agree about paying attention. Life is about the journey, not the destination. Lovely sentiment accompanying a delicious looking recipe.

  • Reply amit June 28, 2017 at 6:55 am

    I’ve never hosted a dinner party myself but a friend of mine does and she always puts on a great dinner with great entertainment. Whenever I’m back in England it’s one of the things I look forward to. She is also a nervous hostess, I and other friends always tell her to relax because she always does a great job but I guess that’s easily said than done. I suppose being just a guest you never see just how much work and prep goes into the day.

  • Reply Nayna Kanabar June 28, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    I enjoy layered salads as they give great texture to them and you can alternate the ingredients with different colours to make hem colourful.

  • Reply Shawna June 29, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    I’m still newly venturing out into the ‘salad-world’ and have tried to find different combos that work for me. I like the sound of this recipe. I may need to try it out.

  • Reply Laurie June 29, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Now this looks like a great salad but more of a complete meal than a side, unlike so many other salads I see. I’d definitely like to make this for my lunch now that I’m working from home full time xxx

  • Reply Sadie June 30, 2017 at 5:19 am

    Well I am a firm believer that time flies! Especially if you are cooking for 20+ (!!!!!) And I am that kind of hostess, you should’ve seen me a few days back in my daughters first year party, which was held in the park!!!! Crazy!

  • Reply Laura H July 1, 2017 at 7:38 am

    I love tht there are so many different things thrown into this salad as I’m always at a loss as to how to make a salad at home more interesting. I have most of these ingredients around at home so I must give this a try on a hot day!

  • Reply Blair July 1, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    5 stars
    Salad galore, i love this seven layer salad. My friends will love it too and paired with wine .

  • Reply Lisa Lisa July 2, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Hosting a party for my guest always makes me nervous everytime. I have a big party next weekend and I’m preparing a seven -layer salad too, it’s always a hit with my guest. With many of them vegans, this salad will definitely be a great addition to my menu.

  • Reply Aileen July 5, 2017 at 12:42 am

    I’ve actually never tried my hands on a 7-layered salad, but this one looks superb! I’ve been on a diet lately and I want to take more greens but most of the time, salads are a bit boring. But this? This is a salad I can have! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Censie Sawyer August 14, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    We make a similar salad for big family gatherings. It is a great salad to feed a crew and super easy to make. There is something great about finding time to enjoy family over great food. I love hosting too!

  • Reply Madison February 22, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    5 stars
    One thing I enjoy but never get the chance to do is have friends over. Living in a one bedroom apartment doesnt permit. Cant wait to have a bigger place so I can host. Love it!

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