7 Layer Salad

This is THE recipe for the original 7 Layer Salad! It has seven layers of veggies, hard boiled eggs, and bacon, plus a creamy mayonnaise dressing. It’s a timeless recipe that never fails to delight.

7 layer salad in a glass trifle dish.

Who remembers this blast from the past? This original 7 Layer Salad recipe is not only visually gorgeous, but it has a satisfying variety of textures and flavors that everyone loves.

The ingredients and even the dressing has changed greatly over the years. But by comparing a variety of vintage cookbooks, I think I’ve nailed down THE original 7 Layer Salad recipe.

7 Layer Salad: a closer look

What makes a 7 Layer salad so special? It’s all about the layers.

From researching a variety of cookbooks, the most common ingredients seem to be: iceberg lettuce, red onions, tomatoes, water chestnuts, green peas, hard boiled eggs, crisp bacon, and a creamy mayonnaise dressing.

Of course, the beauty of this recipe is that it’s easily customizable. You can mix and match ingredients according to your taste and dietary needs.

The 7 Layer Salad is traditionally served in a clear glass bowl or dish. This allows the colors and textures to be beautifully displayed. I used a trifle dish.

But don’t let the lack of a trifle dish stop you from making this recipe! I used this trifle dish (affiliate link) from Amazon, but a 13×9 inch dish (affiliate link) or a large glass bowl works, too.

This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links support Gift of Hospitality at no additional cost to you. I receive a commission if you choose to make a purchase through these link.

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Ingredients for the best 7 Layer Salad

lettuce, eggs, peas, red onion, and other ingredients on a white table.

The 7 layers include:

  • iceberg lettuce (or substitute romaine)
  • red onions
  • water chestnuts
  • frozen peas (defrosted)
  • cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes)
  • hard boiled eggs
  • crumbled bacon

See “Variations” below for more ideas on layers for your salad. Shredded cheese (such as cheddar) is a popular addition!

The layers are topped with a homemade mayonnaise dressing, made with full-fat mayo (Hellmann’s mayonnaise is most often mentioned in cookbooks), seasoned salt, garlic powder, and a little sugar.

How to make the original 7 Layer Salad

The key to this salad is prepping all of the ingredients ahead of time.

Start by cooking a half pound of bacon. I like using a sheet pan (affiliate link) for this—lay the strips in a single layer and bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes.

cooked bacon on a sheet pan.

Place the cooked bacon on a paper towel lined plate to drain, then crumble it.

While the bacon is cooking, make the hard boiled eggs. There are numerous methods for this. I start the eggs in a pan of cold water, then bring the water to a boil, shut off the heat, cover, and let sit for 12 minutes. Here are some tips on making/peeling hard boiled eggs, if you’d like!

While the eggs are cooking, prepare the veggies:

  • Tear or chop the lettuce into bite-size pieces
  • Finely chop the red onion
  • Halve the cherry tomatoes
  • Drain the can of water chestnuts
  • Defrost the green peas

Then, make the mayonnaise dressing by stirring the mayo together with the sugar, seasoned salt, and garlic powder.

hand stirring mayonnaise dressing with a spatula.

Then, it’s time to assemble the 7 Layer Salad!

I used a trifle dish (affiliate link) for this recipe. You can also use a 13×9 inch pan or a glass bowl.

Layer the lettuce, red onion, and tomatoes in the dish.

lettuce, red onion, and tomatoes in a glass trifle dish.

Follow with the water chestnuts, green peas, mayonnaise dressing, hard boiled eggs, and crumbled bacon.

Note: if you’re making this ahead, leave off the eggs and bacon, and add those right before serving.

7 layer salad in a glass dish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make 7 Layer Salad in a 9×13 inch pan?

Yes! This recipe works perfectly for a 9×13 inch pan. If you can, use a glass pan so you can see the layers. This recipe also works in a glass bowl.

How long does 7 Layer Salad need to sit before serving?

The salad can be served right away, or you can make it up to 24 hours in advance. If making it in advance, omit the egg and bacon, cover and refrigerate. Add the eggs and bacon right before serving.

How do I keep 7 Layer Salad from getting soggy?

The order of the layers is key to not having a soggy salad! In this recipe, the dressing sits on top of the green peas, which will not become soggy. As a result, the salad can sit (refrigerated) for 24 hours before serving.

How long will the salad last?

7 Layer Salad will keep in the refrigerator for at least 48 hours after serving.

Can I make the salad vegetarian?

To make this salad vegetarian, omit the bacon and hard boiled eggs. Substitute faux bacon bits, if you’d like, and swap out the mayo for an egg-free mayo.

green peas in a trifle dish.

Make ahead and storage tips

The secret to making this salad ahead of time is the green peas! The mayonnaise dressing sits on top of the green peas, which will not get soggy as it sits.

To make 7 Layer Salad ahead of time, prepare all of the ingredients and assemble the salad through adding the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Right before serving, add the eggs and bacon.

Store any leftover salad tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. It will keep for at least 48 hours.

7 layer salad in a glass trifle dish.


There are a variety of other vegetables that can be substituted in this recipe. Here’s a list that I’ve come up with from consulting a variety of cookbooks. Let me know in the comments if I’ve missed one!

  • romaine lettuce
  • shredded carrots
  • chopped broccoli florets
  • chopped cauliflower florets
  • diced or sliced cucumbers
  • diced celery
  • cheddar cheese (usually sprinkled on top; provolone would be good, too)
  • replace the bacon with turkey bacon
  • add sliced grilled chicken for a protein boost
  • substitute low fat mayo for regular mayo
  • add a dollop of sour cream to the mayonnaise dressing for a little tanginess
  • add a few tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese to the dressing
original 7 layer salad layered in a glass trifle dish.

What to serve with 7 layer salad

7 Layer Salad is a show-stopper for your dinner table! It’s a beautiful salad for a holiday dinner, alongside a beef roast, ham, or lamb.

It’s also a fun dish for a potluck (in which case, I’d make it in a 13×9 inch glass dish (affiliate link) so people can scoop it easier without messing it up).

Here are a few entrées that 7 layer salad pairs well with:

  • Fried chicken
  • Beef burgers
  • Turkey or salmon burgers
  • Grilled salmon
  • Pasta dishes

If you’re loving all the veggies, don’t miss my Marinated Vegetable Salad. And my Asian Cabbage Salad is another favorite.

Happy salad making!

Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!

📖 Recipe

7 layer salad in a glass trifle dish.

Original 7 Layer Salad

Published by Kate
This old fashioned salad has had lots of variations over the years. Here's the original version, complete with a creamy mayonnaise dressing.
4.25 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 336 kcal


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 small head iceberg lettuce, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 (8 oz) can water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 (16 oz) package frozen green peas, defrosted
  • cups mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ lb bacon, cooked and crumbled


  • Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Place on the stovetop and bring to a boil.
  • Cover the saucepan, remove from the heat, and let sit (covered) for 12 minutes.
  • While the eggs are cooking, place several cups of ice into a medium sized bowl.
  • Add the eggs once they are done cooking, fill with water, and let the eggs cool. Peel and chop the eggs.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, seasoned salt, and garlic powder.
  • In a trifle dish or 9×13 inch dish, layer the lettuce, red onion, tomatoes, water chestnuts, and peas.
  • Top with the mayonnaise mixture, then the hard boiled eggs and bacon. Serve.



Make it ahead: assemble the salad through the step of adding the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Right before serving, add the chopped eggs and bacon. 
Substitute any of these veggies for the ones list above: romaine lettuce, celery, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, chopped cucumbers, or shredded carrots. You can also add shredded cheddar to the top!
Leftovers: the salad will keep for at least 48 hours in the refrigerator. Keep it tightly covered with plastic wrap. The peas prevent the other ingredients from becoming soggy from the dressing.


Calories: 336kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 11gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 870mgPotassium: 409mgFiber: 5gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 887IUVitamin C: 30mgCalcium: 45mgIron: 2mg
Keyword 7 layer salad
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One Comment

  1. 4 stars
    I would’ve given this 5 stars, but it was VERY salty with a Tsp of seasoned salt. Thankfully, I tasted the dressing before putting it on the salad. I took half of what I had made and threw it out. Then, I added half the full amount of plain mayo and mixed it together. MUCH BETTER! My guests devoured it!

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