Better Than Olive Garden Salad Recipe

Close up of copycat Olive Garden Salad.

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Our copycat Olive Garden salad is not only delicious, but also a bit healthier and skips all the added preservatives and sugar. Plus, it's easier on the wallet than unlimited soup and breadsticks at the restaurant.



For the dressing:

3 tablespoons white distilled vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

¼ cup Romano cheese

¼ cup canola oil

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon granulated garlic

¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning

¼ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon honey

For the croutons:

6 slices Italian bread, cut in 1-inch squares

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons Romano cheese, finely grated

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

½ teaspoon granulated garlic

½ teaspoon salt

For the salad:

1 head of iceberg lettuce

½ cup red cabbage, shredded

½ cup carrot, shredded

¼ red onion, thinly sliced

3 Roma tomatoes, sliced

1 cup black olives, pitted

8 pepperoncini peppers, whole

Romano cheese to taste, finely grated


To make the dressing:

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until ingredients are fully incorporated. You can also use a mason jar with a lid, and simply shake the ingredients together. Alternatively, use a bowl and a whisk to mix the ingredients together.

Dressing storage:

Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

To make the croutons:

Preheat your oven to 325 F (165 C).

Cut 6 slices of Italian bread into 1-inch squares. Ideally, leave the bread cubes out overnight to slightly dry out, or toast them in the preheated oven for about 3-5 minutes until they are just starting to crisp up.

In a medium bowl, combine 4 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of finely grated Romano cheese, 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon of granulated garlic, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix well until everything is thoroughly combined.

Pour the bread cubes into the bowl with the seasoned oil mixture. Gently toss until all the bread cubes are evenly coated.

Spread the seasoned bread cubes in a single layer on a lined baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the croutons are golden brown and crispy. Stir or toss them halfway through baking to ensure even crisping.

Remove from the oven and let the croutons cool completely on the baking sheet. 

Crouton storage: 

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

To build the salad:

Wash and dry one head of iceberg lettuce. Cut or tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and place them in a large salad bowl. Add ½ cup of shredded red cabbage and ½ cup of shredded carrots to the bowl with the lettuce and toss until evenly distributed.

Scatter thinly sliced ¼ red onion over the lettuce, cabbage, and carrots mixture.

Arrange 3 sliced Roma tomatoes on top of the salad.

Distribute 1 cup of pitted black olives and 8 whole pepperoncini peppers evenly around the salad.

Sprinkle the prepared homemade croutons generously over the top of the salad. 


Finely grate Romano cheese to taste over the top of the salad.


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