Olive Garden Italian Salad- CopyCat


There is an absolute reason why this salad is served family style at the restaurant, but i’m going to take it a step further than the OG does.

DITCH THE LARGE BOWL, and get a loonnngggg platter. This is a salad that needs a stage to stand on.  If you close your eyes during a concert, the singing will speak for itself. But, don’t the lights and costumes add a certain “je ne sais quoi”?

In this recipe, i’m going to give you both the salad AND the dressing. Because, you need to make both.

I repeat… you need to make BOTH!

I suggest either having a party (large amount of people) to prep this for and justify purchase of the toppings without wasting any. OR planning on making this several times throughout the week.  Plan accordingly (food cost, waste management).

Recipe adapted from Redhead Can Decorate

Olive Garden - Italian Salad Copycat

Olive Garden Italian Salad CopyCat

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 Head of Iceberg Lettuce
  • 1 Jar Italian or Green Pepperoncini Peppers
  • 1 small can pre-sliced black olives (go for whole black olives if you’re building a larger salad for a buffet)
  • 2 cups butter and garlic croutons (ALWAYS add a side of croutons for people to add more, southern girl rule)
  • Small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage (buy pre-sliced/shredded, much easier)
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 Cup Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Want to learn about ways to cut tomatoes (dos/donts)?  Great article from TheKitchn


  • 2 cups EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons Kraft-Mayo Avocado Oil 
  • 1/4 cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese (if you want to put dressing in squeeze bottle, leave this ingredient out… it will clog spout)
  • 1 large lemon – Squeezed for lemon juice (reserve this until last… add and taste, add and taste. get it to the perfect acidity to your liking)


Step 1:

Get yourself a platter (if not several).

I live by them, and you’ll see many throughout my recipes… shown in photo the platter is 19″ x 9″ and has a slight lip around the edge. I bought it at home goods. Very important to have a slight or large lip around the edge when using as a serving platter.

This is my next purchase… I love it Charlotte Platter – Pottery Barn

Step 2:

Cut and wash lettuce – set aside to fully dry or use your salad spinner. I live by OXO – Salad Spinner (Large)

Step 3:

Time to make the dressing.  Leave time for the oils and spices to set. Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a mason jar or a dressing bottle and shake vigorously for 1 minute at least. Put in fridge to let set.

I have a ton of these that I use for my condiments at BBQ’s and when I  make dressings JiUfmi Squeeze Bottles – pack of 6

Step 4:

Lay the lettuce evenly along the platter. Edge to Edge

Step 5:

Go topping crazy… Use all, some, or less than the above –  but spread it out evenly throughout the platter. Every scoop a guest gets should have every topping option on it.

Put additional toppings in small serving bowls on the side of the platter if you’re doing buffet style.

Step 6: