Growing up, I had a hate-hate relationship with salad. Soggy lettuce filling most of the plate, topped with pale chunks of tomato, cucumber, and (if you were lucky) a few small sprinklings of feta cheese. No thank you.
It was only years later that I discovered that salad didn’t have to look like that. It can be filled with fresh, raw veggies, loads of cheese, and even different kinds of meats.
It doesn’t even have to contain lettuce.
What makes a salad, a salad?
A salad is generally a cold dish, made up of raw leafy greens, vegetables (either raw, or cooked and chilled), and a variety of toppings (some combination of vegetables, fruit, dairy, and meats). The ingredients are generally chopped up into bite-sized pieces. (And if it contains marshmallows or jello – no, that is not a salad.)
So, what makes a salad a ‘keto salad’ specifically?
The same things that make any meal a ‘keto meal’ – the right combination of fats, proteins, and carbs. Green salads are often quite low in carbs already (if you skip the dressing, which often is loaded with sugar).
But these salads tend to be too low in fats to be considered keto even if they have enough protein from, for example, adding grilled chicken.
Basic guidelines for a keto salad
Use low-carb vegetables. An easy rule of thumb to follow is to choose vegetables that grow above-ground as they are generally lower in carbs.
Add some protein. Your protein can be in the form of eggs, meat, poultry, fish, seafood, or cheese. Or any combination of these. Try to go for the higher-fat protein options to make it easier to get the right macros.
Add some fat (but make sure it is healthy fat). You can add healthy fats by using olive oil, mayonnaise, or your own homemade keto-friendly salad dressing.
Avoid commercial dressing, especially low-fat or fat-free salad dressings. These are usually quite high in carbs and often contain all sorts of unhealthy additives. Rather use a splash of olive oil and vinegar, or make your own creamy dressing.
Keto Salad Recipes
Here is a collection of keto salad recipes that will get you excited to eat salad again!
Keto Mixed Green Spring Salad
Skip the watery iceberg lettuce and rather make up your green salad with flavorful mixed greens like arugula and rocket. You can use any combination of mixed greens for this Keto Mixed Green Spring Salad.
The majority of fats come from the pine nuts – more than twice as much as from the bacon (I didn’t know pine nuts were so high in fat!)
- Calories: 393
- Fats: 36.11g
- Proteins: 13.87g
- Net Carbs: 4.27g
View this recipe on ruled.me: Keto Mixed Green Spring Salad
Keto Cobb Salad (with feta)
Image credit goes to Diabetes Strong
Traditionally, Cobb salads are made with blue cheese. Blue cheese has quite a strong flavor though, so this Keto Cobb Salad rather uses feta for a milder flavor.
To increase the fat content, you can add a ranch-style dressing (just be sure to check the ingredients and carb count if you purchase one) or a vinaigrette.
- Calories: 412
- Fats: 23.6g
- Proteins: 38.4g
- Net Carbs: 6g
View this recipe on Diabetes Strong: Keto Cobb Salad (with feta)
Keto chicken BLT salad
Image credit goes to Diet Doctor
BLT’s are a popular sandwich because the flavor combination of bacon, lettuce, and tomato works really well together. And if you think about it, it has the basics of a good salad – just eliminate the bread!
The Keto chicken BLT salad adds a couple more tasty ingredients to make the salad more filling and keto-friendly.
If you’re not keen on using mayonnaise, then you can also use the bacon fat to make a vinaigrette (just add vinegar and some salt and pepper).
- Calories: 837
- Fats: 78g
- Proteins: 28g
- Net Carbs: 4g
View this recipe on Keto chicken BLT salad: Diet Doctor
Keto Taco Salad
Image credit goes to Fat For Weight Loss
The best part of tacos is the filling. I could skip the crumbly taco that makes a mess every time I try to eat (unless it happens to be a cheese-based, keto-friendly taco).
This Keto Taco Salad takes all the ingredients normally put into a taco, and serves it salad-style.
Sour cream is the ingredient that ‘makes’ this recipe. It adds a delicious, fresh flavor, while also binding the other ingredients together.
Remember to go with the full-fat ground beef, and not the lean version.
- Calories: 560
- Fats: 41g
- Proteins: 42g
- Net Carbs: 6g
View this recipe on Fat For Weight Loss: Keto Taco Salad
5 Ingredient Keto Chicken Salad
Image credit goes to Keto Diet App
When time is tight, then a simple salad is an excellent option for lunch or a light dinner. This 5 Ingredient Keto Chicken Salad uses – as the name suggests – only 5 main ingredients.
Meals don’t have to be complicated – especially on the ketogenic diet – and a meal with just 5 ingredients can be very satisfying and tasty.
For the ranch dressing – you can make your own, or buy a keto-friendly version (the ones marketed as paleo will work).
- Calories: 581
- Fats: 43.8g
- Proteins: 38.7g
- Net Carbs: 3.1g
View this recipe on Keto Diet App: 5 Ingredient Keto Chicken Salad
Ultra Fresh Strawberry Spinach Summer Salad
Image credit goes to gnom-gnom
If you thought following a keto-friendly diet means no more fruit, then I have some good news for you! You can still have some fruit – and berries are ideal because they are lower in carbs than other fruits.
Now personally, I am not a fan of the sweet/savory combination of adding fruit to a salad (and don’t’ get me started on fruit and pizza) – but I know many people enjoy the combination.
You can serve this Ultra Fresh Strawberry Spinach Summer Salad as a main dish, or as a side at a summer barbecue.
- Calories: 267
- Fats: 26g
- Proteins: 3g
- Net Carbs: 5g
View this recipe on gnom-gnom: Ultra Fresh Strawberry Spinach Summer Salad
Greek Keto Salad
Image credit goes to Ketovale
This salad has no leaves at all. But, it does keep all of the delicious Greek flavors.
This Greek Keto Salad is fresh and colorful – and very quick to make.
You can also add some capers if you prefer. Capers are very low carb but have a strong, rich flavor.
- Calories: 266
- Fats: 22.89g
- Proteins: 6.76g
- Net Carbs: 8.09g
View this recipe on Ketovale: Greek Keto Salad
Italian Cauliflower Salad
Image credit goes to That Low Carb Life
Make sure to use fresh cauliflower for this salad, not frozen, so you will not be cooking it fully. You don’t even have to cook it at all, and can make the Italian Cauliflower Salad with raw cauliflower.
You can play around with the additional ingredients, keeping in mind that the homemade dressing is an Italian-style one. The dressing is super simple to whip up and will be worth the small amount of effort required rather than using a store-bought brand.
- Calories: 333
- Fats: 30g
- Proteins: 12g
- Net Carbs: 3g
View this recipe on That Low Carb Life: Italian Cauliflower Salad
Image credit goes to Grumpy’s Honeybunch
Broccoli salads are a great recipe to make for potlucks and picnics. They are sturdy and travel well (as long as the broccoli is uncooked).
This Broccoli Salad also happens to be quick to prepare – perfect for those last minute summer barbecue invites.
While broccoli salad traditionally has dried cranberries and sugar, this keto-friendly version replaces both with a little Swerve. Of course – you can eliminate the sweet element entirely and still end up with a tasty salad.
- Calories: 330
- Fats: 33g
- Proteins: 7g
- Net Carbs: 2g
View this recipe on Grumpy’s Honeybunch: Broccoli Salad