Make-Ahead Layered Salad {For a Crowd}

March 30, 2023
When feeding a crowd, we all love to have a few tricks up our sleeve to make preparation easier, right?  Make-Ahead Layered Salad is one of my favorite feed-a-crowd tricks! With make-ahead convenience and fabulous flavor, it's perfect for all those spring and summer cookouts and get-togethers.

Make-Ahead Layered Salad in Glass Trifle Bowl Image

We're coming into the spring and summer seasons! And along with that comes tons of cookouts and get-togethers, for sure.

Thinking back to my childhood, I have very fond memories of cookouts at our house. And it seemed that our house was one of those houses that always unexpectedly picked up an extra friend or two for dinner.

But when we had these unexpected extra guests or hosted a family get-together, my Mom always made it look effortless to feed a crowd. Looking back, I'm in awe of Mom's grace and ease with which she cooked for and fed a big group of people.

Because for me? Feeding a crowd is certainly not effortless! Nope. For me, cooking for and feeding a crowd is hard.

What makes this layered salad a perfect "trick" for feeding a crowd? It can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until serving.

Which is why I'm always on the lookout for dishes that make feeding a crowd easier. Like this Make-Ahead Layered Salad. Which is not only super tasty, it's gorgeous, too.

So what makes this layered salad a perfect "trick" for feeding a feeding a crowd?

First, it makes a size-able salad so there will certainly be enough to go around.

Second, it can be prepared ahead of time -- as early as the morning of the day before serving -- and refrigerated until needed. When feeding a crowd, you've just got to love make-ahead convenience, right?

Finally, it packs great flavor from a wonderful mix of ingredients and an herb-packed Ranch-type dressing that everyone loves. Oh and not to mention? -- This layered salad's just plain beautiful, too.

What's to Love About This Recipe?

  • Easy to make - Chopping, a little stirring, and layering of ingredients in a bowl is all it takes to pull together this classic layered salad. While it certainly looks fancy, there's nothing difficult here!
  • Size-able to feed a crowd - This Make-Ahead Layered Salad recipe makes a big bowl, so there's certainly enough to go around. It's perfect for potlucks, family cookouts, and pretty much any get-together event.
  • Make-ahead convenience - Make this tasty salad as early as the morning of the day before serving and refrigerate it until needed. You just got to love that make-ahead convenience. 
  • Fabulous flavor - Make-Ahead Layered Salad packs fabulous flavor from a wonderful mix of ingredients and a homemade herb-packed Ranch-type dressing.
  • Beautiful - Those beautifully eye-catching layers are a pretty sight to see!

Close-Up of Make-Ahead Layered Salad Layers in Bowl Image

How to Make Make-Ahead Layered Salad:

Make-Ahead Layered Salad is truly easy to prepare. It may look fancy, but there's nothing difficult to pulling it together!

To get started, mix up the salad's dressing by whisking together some mayonnaise, milk, parsley, chives, dill weed, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Then set this aside while you prepare the other ingredient layers. 

Then in a  pretty glass trifle or other large glass bowl, layer chopped iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, chopped celery, red onion, and thawed frozen peas. Spread the prepared dressing over the layer of peas.

Spreading Dressing Over Make-Ahead Layered Salad Layers Image

Top the dressing layer with a generous sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese and and then crispy crumbled bacon.

Sprinkling Shredded Cheese on Top of Make-Ahead Layered Salad Image

Without tossing everything together, cover and refrigerate the layered salad until serving time. And then you've got one beautiful and tasty salad prepared with make-ahead convenience that's just perfect for a cookout or get-together crowd.

Now, maybe Mom didn't actually have her feed-a-crowd act together as much as I perceived. -- Rerhaps it was all a clever facade. But even still, she sure made it look easy!

As for me, I'll still be relying on "tricks" like this Make-Ahead Layered Salad when it's my turn to feed a crowd.

Check out these other tasty salads:

Glass Serving Bowl of Make-Ahead Layered Salad Image
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layered salad, make ahead salad, salad for a crowd, make ahead layered salad, salad you can make ahead
Yield: about 18-20 servings
Make-Ahead Layered Salad {For a Crowd}

Make-Ahead Layered Salad {For a Crowd}

When feeding a crowd, we all love to have a few tricks up our sleeve to make preparation easier, right? Make-Ahead Layered Salad is one of my favorite feed-a-crowd tricks! With make-ahead convenience and fabulous flavor, it's perfect for all those spring and summer cookouts and get-togethers.
Prep time: 40 MinInactive time: 4 HourTotal time: 4 H & 40 M


For the dressing:
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. whole milk
  • 1/4 c. chopped parsley
  • 1 T. chopped fresh chives
  • 1 ½ tsp. dried dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
For the salad:
  • 6 c. chopped iceberg lettuce
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 c. chopped red onion
  • 1 medium cucumber, unpeeled & thinly sliced
  • 1 (10 oz.) package frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 ½ c. (about 6 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8 strips bacon, cooked & crumbled


Prepare the dressing:
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, milk, parsley, chives, dill weed, salt, and pepper.
  2. Set aside.
Prepare the salad:
  1. In a glass serving bowl, layer the lettuce, carrots, cucumber, onion, and peas in that order. (Do not toss together.)
  2. Pour dressing mixture evenly over the peas. Sprinkle cheese and then bacon on top.
  3. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
  4. At serving time, serve as-is (leaving it layered) OR toss together just before serving, if desired.
  1. You'll need about 1 small head of iceberg lettuce for the salad. Or, Romaine works too, if you'd prefer.
  2. We recommend shredding your own cheese instead of using packaged pre-shredded. -- We think self-shredded has better flavor.
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @kitchenplaygrnd on instagram and hashtag it # thekitchenismyplaygroundblog

Make-Ahead Layered Salad ~ Wonderfully delicious, easy to make, and with make-ahead convenience, this classic layered salad is perfect for potlucks, cookouts, and any other type of get-together. It's one deliciously beautiful dish that's sure to please!

This post is linked with Weekend Potluck.


  1. This is a great idea for the weekend BBQ's. I am always looking for easy recipes to make.

    1. I agree, Leslie! Don't you just love dishes that make our life a little easier? :-)

  2. Tracey, this salad looks fantastic and looks like it tastes fantastic too. I love all of the ingredients and that it can be made a little ahead of time. It's funny how you said that your mom made it look so easy to feed a crowd, but that you don't think it is so easy. I feel the same way. I wonder how my mom was so nonchalant about making sure that there was food for everyone when a crowd showed up. I'm pinning and sharing this salad. Thank you for sharing on the Pin Junkie Link Party.

  3. Love your layered salad. It makes a great presentation and very appealing for a party.

  4. This is a delicious salad! Thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with us at Full Plate Thursday! Hope you are having a great week and come back to see us real soon.
    Miz Helen

  5. Hi Tracey: Thanks SO MUCH for posting the recipe for Make Ahead Layered Salad. I've been looking for this recipe for quite some time, ever since I misplaced mine. Yours is the recipe which I remember from way back, so thanks again. Your other picnic salads also look and sound amazing.... so I'll try several of them. The Pea Salad will be next, followed by the Picnic Salad (among others).

  6. I'm always on the hunt for large yield recipes and I don't know why I've never made this. Pinned so I don't lose it. Thank you for sharing with us at Celebrate Your Story, and have a great weekend.

  7. My daddy loves this salad -- but, I've never made it! This reminds me of the Sunday afternoons spent at Piccadilly Cafeteria, where he would order it. Thanks for sharing! Happy Thursday!

  8. What a lovely and delicious looking salad!

  9. Gorgeous! Thanks so much for joining us on Friday Frenzy! P~

  10. Do you think Incould make this Friday morning and keep in the fridge and serve Saturday evening?

  11. Oh, I love this. Pinned so I can try later.
    Visiting today from Hearth and Soul #12

  12. The salad looks sumptuous. It's beautifully presented. Love it!


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