Olive Garden Salad Hack

Best Home Hacks in Blog Land!

My Italian father in-law eats the salad after the meal.  Even when out at a restaurant.  Yep, I’m not kidding you.  He asks the server to bring the salad after we eat.

My husband does it, too, but only at home, lol.

Now my daughter does it.  I’ve never gotten use to that because I can’t wait that long.

Especially when we eat out.
How to make your own Olive Garden Salad, just like there's but way better for you! This version is made with olive oil.

Our girls love going to the Olive Garden, and I admit that I do, too.  It’s the endless salad that brings me back, oh and the endless bread sticks.  Did you know you can ask for bread sticks to go at the end of your meal?  I do all the time.  They put them in a foil bag and I pop that in the freezer when I get home and then in the oven for 5 when we want them.  Just be careful, I burned the bag once.

Lets talk about their salad for a second.  I’ve studied it.  I know it by heart.

The size of the tomato slices, the 1-2 pepperoncini’s, and our favorite…the black olives.

What makes it one of the best salads I’ve ever had, is the dressing.  I was buying it for a while (yes they sell it at the restaurant)  until I found out how bad it is for us.

It’s made from soybean oil.  Soybean oil is big no no.
Olive Garden Salad Recipe

So, of course I got to thinking about how I could make the salad and dressing at home…with olive oil.  Time for an “Olive Garden Salad Hack”.

My husband and I turned our kitchen into a salad dressing taste testing lab one Saturday.  That was fun.  The hard part was photographing the salad with out eating it.  I took these pics quick and we all sat down and had salad for lunch.  The girls loved it.

Here’s the printable recipe…or you can always pin this for later.


Olive Garden Salad

Rating: 51

Yield: 5-6 servings

Olive Garden Salad


  • Salad:
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce washed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup radicchio washed and shredded (purple cabbage)
  • sliced red onion (use as much as you prefer)
  • 3-4 pepperoncini (mild)
  • 1 medium tomato washed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • black olives
  • croutons
  • grated cheese if desired (we usually don't because it's in the dressing)
  • Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Hellmans Canola Mayo
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons grated pecorino romano cheese (or parmesan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash of pepper


For salad, combine ingredients in order in large bowl. For dressing, combine ingredients in a medium sized jar, or bowl with a lid. Shake well and poor over salad right before serving. Mix salad up gently. We eat this with a side of crusty bread. Yum!!


Homemade Version of Olive Garden's Yummy Salad

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27 Responses

  1. […] Olive Garden Salad Hack by Redhead Can Decorate […]

  2. […] Olive Garden Salad Hack by Redhead Can Decorate […]

  3. I love their salad, too…so I am definitely grabbing this recipe! Thanks so much, Julie!…hugs…Debbie

  4. Vanessa says:

    Totally making this ASAP and so glad its a healthier version!!

  5. Gee says:

    Having it on my salad right now!!!! Had it , lost it. Now thanks to you , I have it again!!

  6. kristin says:

    oh my this looks amazing! That is funny he eats it after dinner 🙂 Pinned.

  7. Oh that looks so good Julie! I need to remember about the breadsticks to go – great tip!

  8. Lois says:

    Would another oil work? Olive oil adds too much of its own taste.

  9. Dawn says:

    You don’t have olives listed on the ingredients.

  10. Jackie says:

    Please clarify for me, do you user radicchio or red cabbage? They aren’t the same thing in my understanding. Since I have never been to Olive Garden, I am anxious to try your version!

    • Julie says:

      Hmmmm…I thought they were the same. I just read where purple cabbage (or red) is cheaper and not bitter. Go with that. I have no idea what I used, but I’ll always go with cheaper. Not sure what they use in restaurant either. Thanks for pointing this out!

  11. Tiffany says:

    How long can the dressing last after its made?

    • Julie Fiato says:

      I would say at least 2 weeks Tiffany. Just refrigerate it.

      • Tiffany says:

        OK thanks. One more question…I’m making it for tomorrow. Do you think the salad would turn if I made it night before??

        • Julie Fiato says:

          I would prep the lettuce and other veggies the day of and put in fridge until time to eat covered with saran wrap. The dressing can be made ahead though. Mix everything in a big bowl right before you eat. Not too much dressing…just leave out extra incase people want more dressing.

  12. […] Olive Garden Salad/Dressing Hack […]

  13. Laura Lou says:

    I’m 21 weeks pregnant and eating as healthy as possible, but got a major craving for Olive Garden’s salad. Your recipe NAILED it, and I don’t feel as guilty for eating my weight in it 😜 I will definitely be making it regularly, thank you!!

  14. Bonnie says:

    If soybean oil is a no no on your list you may want to look at healthier options for your mayo as I’m pretty sure the first ingredient in the hellman’s light mayo is soybean oil….

  15. […] Dipping Sauce (Adapted from Redhead Can Decorate): […]

  16. Sheri Bryant says:

    Hi Julie,
    i just wanted to say thank you to you and your husband for trimming down this salad dressing. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate what you both have done.
    Sheri B.

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