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Classic Chef Salad

This easy Classic Chef Salad has it all: crisp lettuce, ham, turkey, cucumber, tomato, hard-boiled egg, and cheddar cheese. Top it with your favorite dressing for a delicious and satisfying lunch or light dinner!

When the warm weather finally hits, I start to really crave salads, and I just love one that’s substantial enough to be a meal in and of itself. This chef salad is one of my all-time favorite main dish salads!

Chef salad – or chef’s salad – is definitely a classic retro recipe. Although the exact origin is up for debate, it’s been around since at least the 1930’s (and probably even earlier than that).

And for good reason. It’s awesome!

There’s really no exact recipe for a chef salad – every chef probably has their own version – but it’s generally lettuce topped with some combination of cold meats (usually ham and turkey), vegetables, cheese, and hard-boiled egg.

Years ago, chef salad seemed to be on just about every menu, especially diner menus. I don’t see it on quite as many these days, and I think it’s totally deserving of a comeback!

There’s just something about the combination of the fresh, crunchy lettuce and veggies, the sharp cheddar cheese, and the salty-smoky ham and oven-roasted turkey that is just so good, and it’ll never be off of my menu. Ever!

Not only is this salad delicious, it’s also super easy to make. Just a few minutes of slicing and chopping, and you’ll be ready to dig right in!

classic chef salad in a white bowl with a fork and a pitcher of ranch dressing on the side

Ingredients you need:

  • Romaine lettuce (or iceberg)
  • Sliced deli ham (I like Black Forest ham)
  • Sliced deli oven-roasted turkey
  • Cucumber
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Here’s a look at how to make a Classic Chef Salad:

romaine lettuce in a bowl

Place the chopped lettuce in a large serving bowl.

bowl of lettuce topped with shredded cheese, rolled and sliced deli ham and turkey, quartered cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, and hard-boiled egg quarters

Top the lettuce with the ham, turkey, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, and cheese.

Note: You don’t have to arrange the salad as I did for some of the photos (although it sure does make a pretty presentation if you’re serving guests). You can just simply toss everything together in the bowl instead.

classic chef salad tossed in a bowl with ranch dressing drizzled on top

Serve with your favorite salad dressing and enjoy!

Tips & Tidbits:

  • Any type of lettuce will do. Iceberg lettuce is used most often for Chef Salad, but I like to use romaine because it has a few more nutritional benefits. Sometimes I use a combination of the two because I really love the extra crunch you get with iceberg lettuce.
  • A salad spinner makes super quick work of drying your chopped lettuce after you’ve washed it.
  • Get the best quality deli ham and turkey that you can. It really makes a difference.
  • If you’ve got some leftover ham and turkey – like from a holiday dinner – this is a great way to use some of it.
  • If you need instructions on how to make hard-boiled eggs, check out my post on Instant Pot Hard-Boiled Eggs, which has instructions for cooking them in the Instant Pot or on the stove top (stove top instructions are in the Common Questions section).
  • Yes, you can absolutely customize your chef salad (you are the chef, after all!). It can be a great way to clean out the fridge and use up what you have on hand. Use any combination of meats, veggies, and cheese that you like or top with some croutons if you want.
  • Want to meal prep it? Put the salad it in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 to 4 days. Keep your dressing in a separate container so the salad doesn’t get soggy.
  • This recipe is for one generous serving, but you can easily scale it up to make as many servings as you need!
closeup of a forkful of classic chef salad being lifted from the bowl

My favorite dressing for this salad? Hands down, it’s my Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (the recipe for that is coming up next!), but my Homemade Catalina Dressing is a very, very close second!

I hope you try this Classic Chef Salad Recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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Classic Chef Salad

This easy Classic Chef Salad has it all: crisp lettuce, ham, turkey, cucumber, tomato, hard-boiled egg, and cheddar cheese. Top it with your favorite dressing for a delicious and satisfying lunch or light dinner!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1
Estimated Calories: 274

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce, washed and dried (or iceberg lettuce)
  • 1 slice deli ham, about 1 ounce, rolled up and sliced into 8 pieces (I use Black Forest ham)
  • 1 slice deli oven roasted turkey breast, about 1 ounce, rolled up and sliced into 8 pieces
  • 6 slices cucumber
  • 2 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, quartered
  • ¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • Place the lettuce in a serving bowl.
  • Top with the ham, turkey, cucumber, tomatoes, egg, and cheese.
  • Enjoy with your favorite salad dressing.

Notes

  • Get the best quality deli ham and turkey that you can. It really makes a difference.
  • If you need instructions on how to make hard-boiled eggs, check out my post on Instant Pot Hard-Boiled Eggs, which has instructions for cooking them in the Instant Pot or on the stove top (stove top instructions are in the Common Questions section).
  • Estimated calories shown are for the salad only and do not include any dressing.
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