Yes, Salads Without Lettuce Exist—And Are Overflowing With Flavor

Skip the “L” in your BLT and try this colorful and satisfying salad instead.

Photo: Andy Lyons

These salads without lettuce eat like a meal. Including chunky chickpea and chicken salads, summery Caprese salads, potluck-perfect potato salads, and more, these salads without lettuce ditch the leaves, true, but deliver loads of flavor. One bite will be all you need to convince you that these salads without lettuce aren't missing a thing.

01 of 14

Zucchini, Summer Squash and Chicken Salad

Zucchini Summer Squash and Chicken Salad
Carson Downing

The salad without lettuce is also a salad without mayo; a rarity in the chicken salad space. But the finished product tastes like a pure taste of summer’s best, thanks to slices of poached chicken, ribbons of summer squash, slabs of fresh sweet corn, juicy cherry tomatoes, and a handful of fresh dill. “So yummy and fresh,” one BHG fan says, adding that this is a “great summer salad. We ate it as a main dish with bread and dipping oil.”

02 of 14

Cherry Caprese Salad

Cherry Caprese Salad
Blaine Moats

You’re just 5 ingredients away from adding this unexpected fruit salad to your menu. Cherry tomatoes and dark sweet cherries team up with sensationally summery results. Along with fresh, floral basil and syrupy balsamic reduction, that duo helps to add a major dose of freshness to cut through the rich burrata cheese. 

Related: 10 Healthy Cherry Recipes to Add Sweet-Tart Flavor to Your Meals

03 of 14

Farro Salad-Stuffed Avocados


Fresh avocados are good for so much more than guacamole and topping toast. In this plant-forward healthy lunch recipe, halved and pitted avocados act as the edible bowl for the whole grain salad that’s seasoned with spicy harissa and smoky paprika and spiked with more avocado, cucumber, tomato, and red onion. To add another layer of nutty decadence, drizzle each stuffed avocado with our easy creamy tahini dressing.

04 of 14

Horiatiki (Greek Village Salad)

Brie Passano

Nearly 13 million search results pop up when you ask Alexa, “Do Greek salads have lettuce?” While many American-style Greek salads do, a lot of the classic village-style tosses from the Mediterranean country skip the romaine or iceberg and instead stick to chunks of cucumber, tomato, feta, and bell pepper, which are all accented with briny olives and capers, thin slices of tangy red onion, and copious amounts of oregano. Pair with protein (we love this salad without lettuce topped with salmon kebabs) and a pita and dinner is done.

05 of 14

Sweet Potato, White Bean Hummus, and Israeli Salad

two plates of vegan sweet potato white bean hummus and israeli salad
Sweet Potato With Hummas and Israeli Salad R271217

Many meals in Israel come with some variation of the country’s signature chopped salad, which usually includes diced tomato, cucumber, onion, and peppers. We feature that colorful combo on top of a swoosh of hummus and a tender sweet potato. This main dish salad without lettuce will win over even the most meat-and-potatoes eaters, a BHG reader confirms. They noted that it was, “Super easy to put together. My husband, who is a big meat-eater, loved it too!”

06 of 14

Chickpea Salad with Tuna

Chickpea Salad with Tuna
Carson Downing

Described as “refreshing and delicious,” “perfect,” and “an excellent summer meal” by fans and editors alike, this salad without lettuce is a brilliant potluck addition or make-ahead lunch idea. Instead of all tuna or all chickpeas (garbanzos are often used in vegan “tuna” salad recipes), we combine both with salty crumbled feta, smoky roasted red pepper, and punchy green onions in this quick and easy dish. Scoop it up with crackers, stuff inside a split croissant, or serve inside a pita half for a fast and filling option.

07 of 14

Bacon-Corn-Tomato Salad

Andy Lyons

For a fit-for-the-season swap for the bread in your basic BLT, grill some corn. That starchy vegetable stands in for the toast in this tomato salad that only gets better when you add the bacon. With that colorful, flavor-packed team—plus red onion, a zippy dressing, and a handful of fresh herbs—you won’t even notice the “L” is missing.

Test Kitchen Tip: If you'd rather keep the bread as part of your L-free BLT, toss in some toasted sourdough croutons for a twist on panzanella.

08 of 14

Shaved Fennel and Fingerling Potato Salad

Shaved Fennel and Fingerling Potato Salad
Carson Downing

Perhaps you’ve roasted fingerling potatoes as part of a sheet pan supper or or sizzled them up in a skillet for a smashed spud side dish. But have you tried the buttery, quick-cooking tubers in a vegetable salad? In this surprisingly light and speedy (it’s yours in 25 minutes flat!) potato salad, mustard vinaigrette-dressed boiled fingerlings play nicely with shaved fennel, bell pepper, green onions, and parsley. 

09 of 14

Orzo Chicken Salad with Avocado-Lime Dressing

Orzo Chicken Salad with Avocado-Lime Dressing
Karla Conrad

Pasta salad is usually reserved for a side. But in this orzo entrée, the potluck staple steps into the main dish spotlight with a boost from vegetables (corn), fruit (avocados, tomatoes), and protein (chicken). It’s ready in just 30 minutes and only gets better as it chills; making this a superb choice for a meal prep lunch.

Test Kitchen Tip: If chicken isn’t your top choice, try this same set-up with shrimp or drained and rinsed white beans.

10 of 14

Peach and Tomato Salad

Peach-Tomato Salad
Buff Strickland

Summer tastes like this big-batch fruit salad. “The sweetness of the peaches, the tang of the vinegar and feta, coupled with the freshness of the tomatoes all combined with the crunch of the onions and pecans? Goodness! This is a keeper,” one BHG home cook says, taking the words right out of our mouths. Even though it serves 12, we never have leftovers of this fresh and fantastic fresh peach recipe.

11 of 14

Mediterranean Three-Bean Salad

Mediterranean Three-Bean Salad
Carson Downing

If you’re in the camp that believes bean salads often err on the basic side, this Mediterranean-inspired option will likely inspire you to revise your perceived reputation. The combo of creamy shelling beans and al dente blanched green beans act as the foundation, then fresh mint and parsley punch things up. After 4+ hours of marination time coated in a mustard-based dressing, the springy flavors sing.

Related: Yes, You Should Rinse and Drain Canned Beans—Here's Why

12 of 14

Grilled Fruit Couscous Salad

Grilled Fruit Couscous Salad
Andy Lyons

Celebrate stone fruit season with this sweet-and-savory take on pasta salad. (Yes, couscous is a tiny cut of pasta!) Grilling plums and nectarines not only lends a lovely smoky flavor, but also brings out and caramelizes the natural sugars hiding inside. Don’t skip the pepita garnish; those roasted and salted seeds offer a satisfying crunchy finish.

13 of 14

Cilantro-Lime Pasta Salad

Cilantro-Lime Pasta Salad
Kritsada Panichgul

This healthy pasta salad is so crowd-pleasing that the most common tip we get from readers who have made it themselves is, “Make a double batch!” True, creamy avocado, sweet mango, spicy jalapeño, and savory grilled chicken might sound like unexpected teammates, but trust the process. The finished product is “aesthetically beautiful and the taste is the,” one fan declares. “This is one of those recipes that delivers on every point. My guests were very happy with it, and with the first forkful, the ‘yums’ began.”

14 of 14

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Scott Little

Those who grew up outside of the Midwest might consider calling this pretzel-crusted layered casserole a “salad” a bit of a stretch. But since it can be made ahead and is sweet, salty, crunchy, and creamy all at once, the pretty layered recipe has been one of the most beloved lettuce-free salad recipes in the region for decades. Even though they might be skeptical at first, we’ve found that our guests pretty much almost always go back for seconds of the pretzel, cream cheese whipped topping, and strawberry dessert.

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