Make this Overnight Layered Salad (also known as Seven-Layer Salad) for every holiday from now on for the rest of your life! Made with layers of delicious crunchy vegetables and topped with a to-die-for sauce (and BACON), this might just be the best salad in the world.
We have this traditional layered salad for every holiday. Thanksgiving. Easter. Mother’s Day. It’s one of my all-time favorite recipes and one of the best salads you will ever eat.
My husband loves it so much that he’ll even eat it for breakfast. Or a midnight snack. All I know is that when I wake up in the morning, it’s gone.
Let’s get started making this great recipe!
Ingredients for Overnight Layered Salad
You can vary the simple ingredients in traditional layered salads. Here’s what I use in mine:
- Iceberg lettuce
- Green pepper
- Red onion
- Water chestnuts
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Frozen peas
- Parmesan cheese
- Crumbled Bacon
If you want some suggestions on other ingredients, scroll to the bottom of this page for some ideas!
What to Make Overnight Salad In
Sorry for ending that heading with a preposition. Please forgive me.
ANYHOW, this amazing salad is usually made in any type of glass dish, like a large trifle bowl, or other large salad bowl. “Large” being the operative word.
How to Make Overnight Layered Salad
Wash and dry some iceberg lettuce. Cut it into bite-sized pieces and fill up your bowl about 2/3 to the top. For me, I used about 3/4 of a head of lettuce. You may need more or less, depending on how big and dense your head of lettuce is.
Sprinkle some chopped green peppers and red onions over the lettuce. The amount you use is up to you. I used about 1/2 cup green peppers and 1/4 cup red onion. (You could also use red peppers and/or green onions if desired).
Now possibly my favorite ingredient in the whole salad–water chestnuts! If you don’t like them or don’t have them, that’s o.k. You can just leave them out. But I love the extra crunch they give the salad.
Just drain a can and put all the water chestnuts on top.
Next is the layer of hard-boiled eggs. If you have an Instant Pot, I HIGHLY recommend you make hard boiled eggs in it! I have tried every method under the sun for hard boiling eggs, but my shells always stuck! With the Instant Pot, my shells come of perfectly every time! Here’s a tutorial for you.
I also highly recommend the Norpro Mushroom and Egg Slicer to slice your eggs. This thing is so great! Super well-built (with blades instead of wires). I use it all the time for strawberries, too!
Next you’re going to pour a bunch of frozen peas over the top. Again, the amount you use will depend on the size of your bowl. I would estimate about two cups. Just pour on enough to cover everything.
Now it’s time to spread the yummy dressing made of mayonnaise, a bit of sugar, and Parmesan cheese. Just mix the dressing together in a small bowl, and then spread that creamy dressing all over the top of the salad to the edge of the bowl. There should be a thin layer. It’s o.k. if some of the peas are peeking through.
Because the dressing is thick, you don’t have to worry about this becoming one of those soggy salads with a bunch of liquid at the bottom. That never happens with this salad!
Now all that’s left is the bacon! I cooked up two pieces of bacon strips and crumbled them on top. Really, I could have used twice as much bacon, because–BACON.
You can also use bacon bits if you prefer.
Cover the whole thing with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day when serving, use tongs and reach clear down to the bottom of the bowl so you can get all the layers.
Don’t stir the salad before serving. Everything is supposed to stay in layers. Once served, people can mix the dressing around in their individual servings if they wish.
I’m not sure what makes this salad so addicting, but man, is it ever addicting! Make this great salad for your next holiday and people will be begging for more! It will become your new family favorite!
For more amazing salad recipes, check out my Soups and Salads section!
Be sure to scroll past the recipe card for answers to common questions about 7-Layer Salad.
- 1 head iceberg lettuce, washed, dried, and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 1 (8 oz.) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- At least eight hours before serving, fill a large 9-10-inch glass bowl 2/3 to the top with the chopped lettuce.
- Add the chopped green pepper and chopped onion.
- Cover with the sliced water chestnuts.
- Add a layer of sliced hard-boiled eggs.
- Pour the frozen peas over the top and spread out.
- In a separate bowl, mix the mayonnaise, sugar, and Parmesan cheese. Then spread over the top of the peas, extending to the edge of the bowl.
- Sprinkle the bacon over the top. Do not mix.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least eight hours, or overnight.
- Use long tongs to serve.
Feel free to add or swap out ingredients and amounts.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 340Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 116mgSodium: 461mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 10g
Common Overnight Salad Questions
What is overnight salad?
Tough question. I am not sure there is exactly a definitive answer to this question — unless there is and you know why, please leave a comment down below!
My best guess is that it’s called an overnight salad because most people prepare the salad the day before and let it rest in the fridge overnight.
I’ve also heard people call this a seven layer salad or an overnight seven layer salad (you don’t mix this salad! Just leave it in nice distinct layers).
Overall, I think the name of the recipe is purely descriptive. You have seven layers, you put it in the fridge to chill overnight — voilà — overnight seven layer salad.
Why does it have to chill overnight?
The only reason I can think of is that you use frozen peas, and they need a chance to thaw. But one could easily solve this problem by using not-frozen peas. So if you don’t have all night to wait for this amazing salad, go ahead and use fresh peas.
What other ingredients can I use?
Now the funny thing about this salad recipe, is it can easily become a five layer salad or a ten layer salad. To be honest, just about any fresh vegetable works with this recipe. I’ve known people who add in cauliflower, zucchini or yellow bell peppers! I’ve seen this recipe used with more classic salad ingredients like cherry tomatoes, carrots, and onions.
You can even swap ingredients. Don’t like water chestnuts? Take those out and add celery. Prefer Swiss cheese or sharp cheddar cheese to Parmesan? Swap! Want to use spinach instead of iceberg lettuce? Go for it!
How far in advance should I make my overnight salad?
The name is kind of a guideline, but don’t take it too seriously. I say give it at least 4- 5 hours to chill in the fridge, after that I think you’re good to start dishing it out. Generally, you’ll just want to make it a day ahead of when you plan to serve it.
As I stated before, if you’re using frozen peas, you’ll probably want to leave it overnight. But, if you use fresh peas, a few hours in the fridge is fine.
Can I freeze an overnight salad?
Unfortunately, this recipe is not made to freeze. It will, however, last in the fridge for about a week! But if your family is anything like mine, it will be gone by then!
What do I Make In?
I highly suggest you make this in a large glass bowl. I have seen some layered salads made in 9×13 pans, but this causes at least two problems (in my book):
- The presentation is not as pretty.
- You have to use twice the amount of in order to cover the larger surface area.
I think my has the perfect amount of . The original calls for twice as much, but I think that is WAY too much for this . You don’t want people to say, “Hey, would you like some with your ?” There has to be the right to ratio. (It’s a thing, o.k.)
ANYHOW, this amazing salad is usually made in any type of glass dish, like a large trifle bowl, or other large serving bowl. “Large” being the operative word.