Copycat Olive Garden Salad

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Make your own Olive Garden Salad at home with crisp lettuce, pepperoncini peppers, red onions, croutons and homemade Olive Garden salad dressing. It’s a delicious side dish or make it an entree topped with chicken or shrimp.

A bowl of salad with croutons on top and a dish of dressing next to it.

Way back in high school my bestie and I used to love going to Olive Garden.  We would always go for lunch and have the endless soup, salad, and breadsticks.   Back then it cost like $5.95 and it would be the only meal we would eat all day.

Fast forward way too many years and we live in different states but we still occasionally meet up for a meal at the Olive Garden.  I always look forward to the fresh salad and the amazing dressing.

What is in Olive Garden’s Salad?

Olive Garden’s salad is a simple but delicious combination of ingredients.  It starts with crisp lettuce and on top of that sits black olives, pepperonici peppers, onions, tomatoes, and croutons.  It’s then tossed with Olive Garden’s signature Italian dressing which is a tangy and slightly sweet vinaigrette. The dressing includes vinegar, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and various herbs and spices.

A bowl of salad with croutons, tomatoes, and pepperoncinis on top.

However, I don’t live near an Olive Garden so I don’t get to enjoy their salads very often.  I like how simple they are yet they croutons and dressing really make the salad one of my favorites.

I have made many salads over the years that have been pretty tasty.  The Italian Chopped Salad is always a favorite and while it’s similar to Olive Garden’s salad it isn’t the same.  When I want an entree salad my favorite is a Steakhouse Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing.   For a side salad you can’t go wrong with Winter Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

So I was craving an Olive Garden salad last weekend and I wasn’t driving to the restaurant so I started looking for copycat recipes.  To my surprise both the salad and the dressing are super simple to make and I had all the ingredients in my kitchen.

Why you will love Olive Garden Salad:

You will love making this salad again and again because of the simple ingredients.  The dressing has just a handful of common ingredients and took minutes to make. It is slightly creamy and tangy with just a hint of sweetness.   It tastes so much like the original version from the restaurant! 

I prepped all of the toppings for the salad and just put them in little containers.  Then I made one giant salad for my family to eat from and left the extra toppings in the containers.  That way we could make our own smaller salads whenever we wanted. 

Ingredients for making Olive Garden Salad.


  • lettuce (I used a combination of red and green leaf but use your favorite type)
  • whole pepperoncini peppers
  • tomato
  • red onion
  • black olives
  • croutons
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil (good quality for the dressing)
  • red wine vinegar (or white wine if you prefer)
  • lemon juice (fresh is best)
  • mayonnaise
  • garlic powder
  • Italian seasonings

When making this salad I like to start by making the dressing so it can sit for a few minutes.  This helps all of the flavors to combine and infuse.

To make the dressing combine the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mayonnaise, garlic, Italian seasonings, and Parmesan cheese to a blender.   Blend until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper if desired. Place in a container and refrigerate while making the salad.

Ingredients to make Olive Garden salad dressing.

To make the salad place the lettuce in a large bowl.  Slice the tomatoes, cut in half, and scatter over top of the lettuce.  Thinly slice the red onions and scatter over top of lettuce.  Slice the black olives and scatter over top of the lettuce.

Place the croutons around the outer edge of the salad in the bowl.  Place the pepperoncini peppers in the center.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

Serve the salad with the dressing on the side or pour over top and toss to combine all of the salad ingredients.

This salad was delicious!   Both my husband and I devoured it and agreed it tasted very similar to the salads we enjoy at Olive Garden. 

I especially liked the dressing.  It’s tangy, cheesy, and very bright.  The longer it sits the better it tastes.

A container of Olive Garden Salad dressing.

How do I store the dressing?

I stored the dressing in an air tight container in the refrigerator.  You can store it for up to 5 days.  Before using shake the dressing vigorously in the container and then serve. 

This is a great side salad for a pasta dinner or to serve with soup.  To make it an entree salad simply top with grilled chicken or shrimp.

Pin Image: Text title, a big bowl of salad with toppings and a glass container of dressing.

If you’ve tried my Copycat Olive Garden Salad or any other recipe on Hezzi-D’s Recipe Box please take a minute to rate the recipe and leave a comment letting me know how you liked it. I love hearing from you! You can FOLLOW ME on:





A bowl of salad with croutons on top and a dish of dressing next to it.

Olive Garden Salad

A copycat version of the popular Olive Garden Salad with their homemade Italian Dressing.
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Hezzi-D



For the Salad:

  • 8 cups lettuce chopped
  • 1 tomato sliced
  • 12 black olives thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
  • 6 whole pepperoncini peppers
  • 1 cup croutons
  • 1 Tablespoon Parmesan cheese grated

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoon Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasonings


  • To make the dressing combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a container and refrigerate until ready to serve the salad.
  • To make the salad wash and pat dry the lettuce. Place in a large bowl.
  • Scatter the tomatoes, onions, and black olives over top of the lettuce.
  • Place the croutons around the outer edge of the lettuce.
  • Put the pepperoncini peppers on top of the lettuce in the middle of the bowl.
  • Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese.
  • Either serve with the dressing on the side or pour the dressing over the top of the lettuce and toss to combine.
  • Serve immediately.


Recipe adapted from Midget Momma
A bowl of salad with croutons and onions on top with a glass container of dressing beside.

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