I have been craving some potluck foods, and nothing is more potluck than 7 layer salad! While the ones I grew up eating after church on Sundays feature cubed ham, peas, iceberg lettuce, and a hefty helping of cheese, I am happy to give a 7 layer salad that is a lean, mean, protein machine!
Packed with flavor potluck friendly (can be served cold and stored in the fridge overnight), my Mediterranean and Greek inspired seven layer salad is inspired by swapping ranch dressing out for homemade tzatziki dressing (you won’t believe how it satisfies the craving!) and similar to the Middle Eastern fattoush salad thanks to the spicy red onion and crispy pita chip croutons.
The great thing about layered salads is that you can add any ingredients you want. So if you’re not feeling the Mediterranean, swap it out with some of your favorite salad ingredients!
You can make 7 layer salads in all types of dishes, too! Glass or clear dishes and bowls are best to show off the layers. Mason jars are also super cute for making a bunch of smaller salads!
Scroll down for the recipe and glimpses of layer by layer, or read along to see my tips and tricks for shortcuts you can take when you are in a jam!
Layer 1: Lettuce
Uh, duh! I love crispy, crunchy romaine lettuce like the gorgeous monster I found at the farmer’s market. You want this crispy nutritious base to lay down the flavor. Plus, it’s pretty.
Pro-Tip: We are aiming for bite-sized pieces of lettuce. After washing, line up your leaves and cut along the spine to split. In this case, my romaine lettuce was so huge that I quartered the luscious green leaves.
Layer 2: Red Onion
A fun fact about red onions is that they have the same nutritional profile as apples! Mind. Blown. Like in fattoush, red onion is critical to this salad, adding a slight spiciness while still being an incredibly refreshing crunch.
Pro-Tip: Make the amount of onion that YOU like. When faced with this large red onion, I only needed a little chunk before julienning very thinly. Texture and bites, y’all.
Ah, look at the colors already coming together.
Layer 3: Tomatoes
I have said it and will say it again: eat in season. This beauty came from the farmers market as well, and nothing, absolutely NOTHING, beats an in-season, crunchy tomato for me, which is extra hilarious since I wouldn’t eat raw tomatoes until the age of nine.
Take your self-care to the next level when you treat yourself like a chef in your kitchen. Chefs use great ingredients, and you can, too! (But also, no shade if you have a craving and head to Kroger. Carry on and enjoy feasting.)
Almost halfway through a seven-layer salad recipe with convenient pantry items.
Layer 4: Chicken (Shawarma, Rotisserie, or Leftover Grilled)
In the recipe below, I’ll list my yogurt-shawarma chicken recipe, but I honestly treat this salad as one of my leftover recipes. What chicken do I have?
If I am cooking from scratch, I go for chicken thighs. My mom prefers white meat, so whatever floats your boat.
The BEST way to use this recipe is to use half a rotisserie chicken. If you want to serve it warm, you can shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Are you feeling extra on theme? Add shawarma or sumac spices to the chicken when re-heating it to keep to the regional flavors.
Pictured above are the keys to my yogurt-shawarma chicken. If you have shawarma spices in your cupboard, please try making plain Greek yogurt part of your chicken marinating steps. Not only does it tenderize the chicken, it also locks in so much moisture for juicy chicken every time.
(I only had two chicken thighs leftover. Follow the recipe and go meaty or go home.)
Remember, we want this seven-layer salad to be bite-sized at all times, but make the cuts as you prefer. In my seven-layer salad, I like diced chicken instead of chicken strips. What will your seven-layer salad have?
Layer 5: Tzatziki (Yogurt-Cucumber-Dill Ranch)
If you have ever had a gyro with no substitutions and omissions, you know the creamy ranch-like sauce is DELISH. It is also straightforward to make at home.
Pro-Tip: Quarter your cucumber to get the right shape! So, you halve the cucumber longways before splitting again (like a pickle spear). Then, rotate your cucumbers, so you make nice bite-sized pieces.
What kind of cucumber should you use? For the Mediterranean, Greek, and Middle Eastern food, go for the Persian cucumbers (the little small ones) when you can. The English cucumber (giant monsters) don’t have the same crunch and have more water.
I think the fun swap of easy-to-make tzatziki makes this a special seven-layer salad your friends and neighbors will remember.
Layer 6: Feta!
My cheese layer is, of course, FETA! Move over shredded cheddar for a crumbly, salty cheese in this Mediterranean seven-layer salad because feta makes it betta.
Layer 7: Pita Chip Croutons
There are two ways to go about this: homemade or store-bought. Homemade pita chips require attentively toasting one small pita pocket in the oven. (Pita can burn quickly.) If you are someone who will not be eating pita bread ever at all, get Stacy’s Pita Chips and limit food waste. Both taste great with hummus, so it is up to your preference.
Voila! We did it!
Is this 7 layer salad really keto-friendly?
YES! This seven-layer salad is keto friendly! Greek yogurt is so high in protein, so it passes keto standards, but in small amounts. I like doing the chicken AND crunchy chickpeas for extra protein. Bulk up and get lean, friends.
BUT WAIT. How can I make this 7 layer salad vegetarian?
Simple – replace the chicken with chickpeas. I like to air fry the chickpeas and sprinkle the shawarma spices on them. Pro-Tip to the air fry step: pat the chickpeas as dry as possible.
Can this 7 layer salad be vegan?
My best friend is vegan, so I aim for vegan-friendly substitutions when possible. However, I use Greek yogurt for the tzatziki and enjoy the taste from the feta so that you could switch out the tzatziki for a different dressing, I guess? Friend to friend – make fattoush salad if you want something flavorful, vegan, and colorful for the potluck because you still got the pita chip croutons.Print
Seven Layer Salad Recipe
1 cup of plain Greek Yogurt
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped dill
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of salt (or salt to taste)
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 Persian cucumber quartered and diced
4 chicken thighs
1 cup of plain Greek Yogurt
3 tablespoons of shawarma seasoning
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped dill
1 head of romaine lettuce
⅛ red onion julienned
1 large tomato
½ cup of feta cheese
1 pita pocket or 1½ cups of pita chips
Mix the tzatziki ingredients in a bowl until all ingredients are incorporated. (Use the dill as a visual aid that the ingredients have been incorporated throughout.) Cover and set aside in the fridge.
In a ziplock baggy, combine all shawarma chicken ingredients. Allow chicken to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Note: this step can be done overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast pita bread for 2-3 minutes on each side. Set aside.
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil on the stovetop in a cast iron pan to medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the marinated chicken. Cook on both sides until browned and the chicken is cooked through (approximately 6 minutes per side). When you are finished cooking, let the chicken rest on a plate.
Chop romaine lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Layer at the bottom of a glass bowl, small glass cups, or a rectangular glass pyrex dish.
Julienne desired amount of red onion. Evenly add on top of the lettuce layer.
Chop the tomato into bite-sized pieces. Add the layer evenly on top of the salad.
After the chicken has rested, cube chicken thighs and evenly distribute the chicken on top of the salad.
Grab tzatziki from the fridge and use a spoon to form layer as evenly as possible on the salad.
Sprinkle on feta cheese.
Crumble pita chips on top.