Spice it Up: Salad Topping Ideas

Hi Friends!

Let’s talk about salad for a minute, ok?

Tired of the same old salad? Here are some ideas to spice it up with new toppings!

A few weeks ago, we went to one of my all-time favorite restaurants to celebrate my internship matching. The entire meal was fantastic, but what really stuck in my mind after this meal was the salad.

I had the Chop Chop. Minus the bacon, of course! When I got home, I started thinking about why I liked that salad so much…and I decided it was because the toppings were out of the ordinary for me. I tend to fall into a pattern with my salad toppings. I always add carrots, red peppers, red onion and tomato. In the summers, I tend to add more fruits- like strawberries and apples. If I’m feeling especially crazy, I add roasted sweet potatoes and some quinoa.

I can’t think of a single time I ever put asparagus on my salad, I don’t think i’ve ever added corn…and even though I love hard boiled eggs…I rarely put them on my salad.

I couldn’t get this salad out of my head…so of course I recreated it at home a few days later. I made a few substitutions- I used spinach, instead of mixed greens, goat cheese instead of gorgonzola and drizzled it with sesame ginger dressing. And I topped it off with a piece of salmon to make a complete meal.

Tired of the same old salad? Here are some ideas to spice it up with new toppings!


Since I enjoyed this salad so much, I started thinking about how other people might fall into a salad rut similar to mine.

SO, I made you guys a list of salad toppings…some traditional…and some you might not have thought of! Maybe it will inspire you to spice up your salad!

Spice It Up with Salad Toppings

Asparagus, Beets, Artichoke hearts, Cucumbers, Peppers, Carrots, Broccoli,
Peas, Red onion, Celery, Mushrooms, Sweet potato, Radishes, Olives, Corn
-Try your vegetables roasted, grilled, marinated, raw or pickled for variety-

Hard-boiled, Poached, Soft-boiled

Whole Grains
Couscous, Farro, Quinoa, Barley, Rice

Pepitas, Sunflower Seeds, Sesame Seeds

Dried Fruit
Cranberries, Cherries, Raisins, Mango, Blueberries

Vegetarian Protein
Kidney beans, Black beans, Garbanzo beans,
Great northern beans, Edamame, Tofu

Tuna, Salmon, Crab Cakes, Shrimp, Scallops

Chicken, Turkey, Steak, Ham, Bacon
-A great way to use up leftovers!-

Pears, Grapes, Mandarin oranges, Apples, Avocado,
Strawberries, Tomatoes, Pomegranate Arils
-Thinly sliced, segmented, or in dressings-

Almonds, Pecans, Walnuts, Pine nuts
-Try them toasted, raw or candied-

Goat cheese, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Gorgonzola
-Crumbled, grated, sliced-

Fresh Herbs
Basil, Mint, Chives, Dill, Parsley

Non-Traditional Dressings
Salsa, hummus, smashed avocado, pureed fruit

Croutons, Crispy noodles, Water chesnuts

So what do you think? See anything on here you want to try? This is by no means an exhaustive list, because really- you can put pretty much anything on a salad…it’s just meant to spark your creativity!

What are your favorite salad toppings?? Inspire me, my friends!


About Lindsay

Lindsay Livingston is a Registered Dietitian and new mom from Columbus, Ohio. On her blog, she shares simple, healthy recipes, nutrition tips, workouts and snapshots of her life. Follow her on Twitter @LeanGrnBeanBlog and Instagram @TheLeanGreenBean and be sure to subscribe via RSS or email so you never miss a post!


  1. What a list! I could make a different salad for the rest of my life! I think my first salad would be with some hard-boiled eggs, quinoa, sunflower seeds, tuna, mandarin oranges, pine nuts and homemade croutons. It’s a weird combo but I’m excited to try it!
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious recently posted..One Year Blogoversary, Muffin Monday AND a Fantastic Giveaway!

  2. I recently discovered green peas and baby corn make great salad toppings!

  3. salmon berries nutsnutsnuts :)
    Miz recently posted..No flipping time for fitness.

  4. My favorite topping is hummus…it just coats everything so nicely and makes for a creamy, delicious “dressing.” Avocado does the same thing. :)

    I’m pretty sure all of my salads are just random concoctions of whatever happened to be on sale that found its way into my fridge. The past few nights I’ve put sweet potato fries on ’em!
    Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen recently posted..Banana Pancake Granola

  5. I love hummus and avocado as non-traditional type dressings. I also enjoy pumpkin and sunflower seeds in my salad.
    Kierston recently posted..Time To Clean Up!

  6. I really like edamame in salads. And for dressing, I sometimes use a little lite ranch and a little BBQ sauce … like a BBQ chicken salad, minus the chicken! 😉
    Kristen @ notsodomesticated recently posted..A British Invasion.

  7. I love adding raw asparagus to salads! I’m also a big fan of fruit – blueberries, grapefruit segments, and mangos are all awesome toppers. Great post!
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted..PB&J Vodka + Chocolate PB Smoothie

  8. I love adding mango to my salad! It tastes great with some tomatoes, sweet pepper, avocado, cilantro, and black beans, salmon or chicken with a lime dressing!
    Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin recently posted..Asian quinoa and edamame salad

  9. Great post and kind of funny b/c in my post from last night, I mentioned that I typically use the same veggies for my grilled veg salads.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Running, Lifting and Grilled Tempeh & Veggie Salad

  10. Ooh looks good! I totally stick to my basics, too. I love when restaurants give me new ideas. Your list does look pretty good to me. I always love beets in salads at restaurants, especially when paired with goat cheese!
    Meredith @ DareYouTo recently posted..Pretend you’re PALEO

  11. Love pretty much ALL those toppings. Goat cheese, walnuts, fresh/dried fruit with a light vinaigrette or taco salads are my two all time faves.
    Tina @ Best Body Fitness recently posted..Healthier Versions of Not So Healthy Favorites

  12. These are some great ideas girl! I love roasted veggies on my salad. You barely even need any dressing when you have the olive oil from the veg!
    Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life recently posted..Beautiful Bride

  13. I started putting pickles on my salads about a year ago and my life has never been the same, I can’t have a salad without pickles now!
    Jen@FoodFamilyFitness recently posted..Weekly Recap and Saucony Scoot Capri Review

  14. I love pretty much everything on this list on my salads! One of my favorite toppers right now is shelled edamame. I love the flavor and the protein! Roasted vegetables add serious depth of flavor, and I like to use chia seeds for a little crunch. Fried eggs are also great on salads; I love it when the yolk breaks and makes its own dressing for the greens. :)
    natalie @ southern fit foodie recently posted..The run that DID actually happen

  15. feta or goat cheese, eggs, and nuts are some of my favorite salad toppings! they’re filling, healthy, and add SO much flavor to any salad. love your ideas! now i am craving a salad for lunch. :)
    Ashley @ My Food ‘N’ Fitness Diaries recently posted..Trainer Tuesday: Lower Body Pyramid Workout

  16. This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy a huge salad, and with variety, different flavor combos and textures!! Yummmmmm!
    jobo recently posted..What never gets old.

  17. So true – it’s easy to get into a rut with salads, I bet it would be fun to browse the aisles at WF with the specific goal of finding new things to add to a salad. They always have something new. :) My favorite toppings recently have been pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, avocado, and dates!
    Heather @ Better With Veggies recently posted..What to Serve When Vegans Come to Dinner

  18. I could eat a salad every day and be perfectly happy. I love butternut squash, goat cheese, dried cherries, shallots, and maple dijon vinegar.
    Cat @ Breakfast to Bed recently posted..Popcorn, Peanut M & Ms and Perky Prozac

  19. Cold, leftover roast veggies.
    On Sunday evenings, I usually roast a whole whack of veggies; sweet potato, asparagus, peppers, onions, whole heads of garlic. Whatever needs to be cleaned up! I add olive oil and salt, or a bit of pesto and sun dried tomato.
    For the next few days I have marinated roast veggies to top my greens! No need for salad dressing.
    Love your list and everybody’s responses. Thanks!
    Tamara recently posted..Rediscover your abs with clean eating and Tuesday Trainer

  20. I’m totally with you… I stick with the same toppings and salads that appeal to me most when I’m out are salads that have toppings that I don’t usually use for my own creations!
    Linz @ Itz Linz recently posted..Rainbow Chard

  21. I LOVE putting fun ingredients in my salads. Lately I’ve been obsessed with fruit in my salad with goat cheese or beans (or both) for protein. Or avocado as the protein source. YUMMMY. Even better as the fruits get more seasonal around here!
    Jess recently posted..26.2: recommitted

  22. Love this post! I need salad inspiration as we all get stuck in “food ruts”. I put asparagus on nearly every salad I make, but I never have thought about sweet potatoes. I will now! :)

  23. I love so many random toppings on my salads! The toppings make the salad for sure. :)
    Stefanie @TheNewHealthy recently posted..5 tips to squeeze in extra movement

  24. Mmm, I love pretty much any combination of fruits, nuts, and cheese!

  25. I’m obsessed with salad! It’s so versatile and you have a great list. My favorite it one with goat cheese and fruit! So yummy
    Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile recently posted..Recent Breakfast and Live Fit

  26. I love topping salads with tons of veggies (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, peas, garbanzo beans), but to get more of a meaty meal out of it, I like adding a black bean burger patty or boca patty, cutting it up and adding it on top! My dressing is always something light: mustard and hot sauce, or hot sauce straight up, or cottage cheese, pepper and hot sauce. ..can you tell I like hot sauce? 😉
    Aparna B. @ Not A Leaf recently posted..Women in My Family

  27. Alysia @ Slim Sanity says:

    Toasted pine nuts, black olive and avocado are my favs!
    Alysia @ Slim Sanity recently posted..single leg moves are killer

  28. That is one awesome list! I will be printing it and making some salad creations :)
    I LOVE salad with roasted veggies – asparagus, broccoli, sweet potato, brussels sprouts, etc.
    The options are endless!
    Lindsay recently posted..My Journey Through Food and Fitness and Some Awesome Inspiration

  29. I need to mix up my salads asap! I have gotten so bored with them because I always put the same things on them haha. I also learned on pinterest that you can make hardboiled eggs in the oven! I’m definitely going to try some of these new toppings :). I also enjoy adding feta cheese to my salads!
    Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health recently posted..Boston Marathon

  30. These are some great ideas! I’m all about making sure there’s protein and healthy fat to make a salad a legitimate meal.
    Claire @ Live and Love to Eat recently posted..Spinach and Cheddar Baked Quinoa

  31. Edamame and Quinoa are my favorite salad toppings…so many great ideas in this post!
    Danica @ It’s Progression recently posted..the Enjoy Your Food challenge

  32. Cottage cheese and pineapple on top of my salad with a little bit of red wine vinegar!

    I also like to add a veggie burger or fresh salsa with jalapenos on top sometimes. :)
    Rachelle recently posted..Time to Take Off Anxiety!

  33. Great list! I always have to change up the flavours and topping of my salad or else I’ll get bored. I love salads though because they are so versatile, you can have sweet/savoury, anything really. Have a great Tuesday!

  34. Nice looking salad! I love mandarin oranges, strawberries, pineapple and whole grain pasta on my salad :)
    Becky recently posted..The Dirty Food Revolution

  35. Salad is awesome. I like spinach as the base with apples, walnuts, dried cranberries, tomato, and salmon or eggs for protein. I had one for lunch today!
    Matt @ The Athlete’s Plate recently posted..Don’t Fear The {Healthy} Fats

  36. great ideas! i’ve been in a salad-hate season of late, but i think i’ve just been bored. i just posted a recipe for cilantro chutney here http://thepajamachef.com/2012/04/11/best-burrito-bowls-ever/ that is fabulous on burrito bowls, and i bet it would be excellent as a nontraditional dressing too!
    Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef recently posted..Menu Plan

  37. WHAT AN AMAZING POST! Salads are limitless 😀 So many creations to make 😀 I am sharing one tomorrow for WIAW 😉

    I love how you started off this post 😀 We can ALWAYS talk salad talk 😉

    My favourite topping is avocado HANDS DOWN
    Meg recently posted..Let’s Talk: Protein Powder

  38. I find the best salads are made up of the most random toppings sometimes. I find I eat more of the salad when they’re topped with some sort of fruit, nut and crumbled cheese though! Love these topping ideas. :)
    Elle @ nutritionella recently posted..dumpling debacle.

  39. I love salads – so versatile. I turn a lot of my lunch/dinners into some type of salad. Best way to get your half plate of veggies. Lately I started getting into a scoop of cottage cheese and I like it with radish, cucumber and either edamame or salmon. I also really like hemp seeds or sunflower seeds on top of my salads. And making dressings out of hummus or salsa.
    Ashley @ Freckles & Spice recently posted..Tuesday Musings and Homemade Cashew Cookie Bar

  40. I love loading up my salads too. Today I had spinach/cucumber/carrots with sliced hard boiled egg and some spiced walnuts that I just made (http://lightlycrunchy.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/salad-days-cajun-spiced-walnuts/). Then I used just a simple balsamic dressing I made at home, packed it all up and brought it to work.

  41. Tt in nyc says:

    My favorite salad ever is marinated kale (overnight w evoo, splash of basalmic vinegar, pinch of kosher salt massaged together), then finely chopped raw fennel, chopped half an apple, broccoli, shredded carrots, salty sunflower seeds, cucumber, grape tomatoes, and blueberries with a hybrid half greek yogurt half salsa or avocado/salsa mixed dressing- and fresh cilantro. I make a huge batch, keep dressing seperate and its good for three days!

  42. I love the combination of dried fruits and stinky cheeses on my salad. Another current favorite is a spoonful of my spicy nut and seed mix for just a little bit of crunch and flavor without using dressing.
    Lena H. recently posted..Coming “Clean” — But Why?

  43. i LOVE this post. i always get in salad ruts so then i never eat them. that salad u made looks awesome! i need to branch out toppings-wise…great post!
    amy@healthyhungryhappy.com recently posted..Boston Marathon Trip

  44. Great ideas! :) Corn on salads is so, so good in the summer! I made the best salad yesterday for work with roasted asparagus, roasted cold sweet potatoes, roasted mushrooms, chicken, spinach, and a little bit of jalapeno hummus! Mmm.
    Abby @ Abz ‘n’ Oats recently posted..thursday things

  45. A salad that I seriously need to recreate is from Cafe Valencia in Norwalk, CT. I go there on EVERY business trip bc I love their “Bonita Salad” SO much! It’s got avocado, mango, and roasted red pepper on spinach with balsamic. Heavenly!
    Diana @ VeggieNextDoor recently posted..Wellness Weekend (& a Blogger Meet-up)

  46. Palm hearts, small fresh mozzarella balls and fresh basil are some of my favorite things to have on my salads.

    I also make a great crab, grapefruit, avocado, lettuce stack with a grapefruit vinaigrette. Amazing!

  47. I love chopped up pepperoni in my green salad. Adds so much flavor!
    Mindy recently posted..Spring Word Cloud (Sort)

  48. I seem to be very adventurous with my salads! My latest turns the whole thing pink, beets or their sprouts, with some cranberries. I never realized just how sweet beets can be!


  1. […] we go wayyyy back to that dinner I mentioned yesterday where I had that fantastic salad, I can show you what we ate for dinner that […]

  2. […] out Lindsay’s post from yesterday for even MORE […]

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