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Cobb Salad with Homemade Croutons and Herby Ranch

Cobb Salad is hearty and satisfying! It’s packed with lettuce, avocado, bacon, and eggs and smothered in my flavorful, homemade ranch dressing and croutons. This salad is completely customizable; serve it as a side or add protein to make it the main dish.

top view of assembled cobb salad surrounded by bowl of cheese, tomatoes, brown stick and striped cloth

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SALAD FOR DINNER

I love a salad for lunch or dinner, especially during the summer! It’s light, yet filling, and it doesn’t heat up the kitchen. Plus, salads are easy to make ahead.

I think sometimes we minimize salad to a punishment, rather than a pleasure. We consider it a “diet food.”

In reality, salads can be incredibly satisfying — a delightful symphony of flavors and textures. That’s definitely the case with my version of a delicious Cobb salad!

Serve my Cobb salad with my Instant Pot Chicken Legs from Fresh or Frozen4 Ingredient Instant Pot Country Style Ribs, or Air Fryer Steak. Or add some protein like Air Fryer Chicken Breasts and make it the main dish!

WHERE DID COBB SALAD GET ITS NAME?

I learned this salad is named after Bob Cobb. He was the owner of Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, California. One late night after work, he was hungry and ruffling through the kitchen for something to eat.

He pulled out various remaining ingredients, such as lettuce, hard boiled eggs, bacon, cheese, tomatoes, and avocado. He tossed all the ingredients together, and the Cobb Salad was born!

I have so much respect for Cobb salad after learning its origin story! Just like so many wonderful recipes, it was created out of honest hunger. I love that Bob Cobb used up the ingredients he had on hand. (I also love that his name rhymes!)

top view of cobb salad ingredients in separate white bowls

COBB SALAD INGREDIENTS

Here are the ingredients for my Cobb salad recipe! It’s the perfect blend of crunchy, creamy, and salty. It may not be super traditional, but this is my favorite way to make it.

  • Romaine lettuce hearts or mixed greens of your choice
  • Avocado
  • Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Thick-style shredded cheddar cheese
  • Hard boiled eggs, sliced or quartered
  • Croutons
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved or whole
  • English cucumber, sliced
  • Sunflower nuts, if desired
  • Herby ranch dressing 

Cobb salads are extremely versatile. Try adding chopped red peppers, mushrooms, peas, red onion, or pickled beets for variety.

COBB SALAD WITHOUT BLUE CHEESE

Classic Cobb salads are typically made with bleu — or blue — cheese. Bleu, blue; whether you use the traditional French spelling or the more Anglicized one, the cheese is the same. Bleu cheese is marbled with blue-ish veins of edible mold, or penicillium. It’s known for its strong smell and distinct flavor.

I make Cobb salad without bleu cheese. My recipe calls for thick-style shredded cheddar cheese, which I find most people prefer when serving to a group. If you like, you can replace or add bleu cheese to this salad, no problem.

Another option if you’d prefer Cobb salad without bleu cheese is to use a slightly milder cheese like feta.

Assembled cobb salad surrounded by tomatoes, whisk, and striped cloth

COBB SALAD WITH RANCH DRESSING

Traditional Cobb salad is often served with a red wine vinaigrette or bleu cheese dressing. But you can dress it however you like! I myself prefer ranch dressing over bleu cheese.

Just promise me you’ll try my creamy, homemade ranch dressing! This ranch dressing tastes similar to the herby ranch dressing served at Spaghetti Factory restaurants. 

It’s a simple recipe and I’ll teach you how to make it below.

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE CROUTONS

One component that can really level up your Cobb salad is homemade croutons!

I always freeze leftover bread instead of throwing it away. You can freeze odds and ends, or even whole loaves of bread before they go moldy.

Five air fryer bacon strips fully cooked in air fryer

I cut up the bread into cubes before freezing, then I can use it for bread pudding, baked french toast casserole, or freshly made homemade croutons.

For the croutons, I’ll actually use the bacon grease from the air fryer bacon. It adds such delicious flavor! Add the grease into a large pan, and let it melt. Add the thawed bread cubes, then season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste. 

Toast them in the pan until they’re toasty and dry on all sides. They’re an irresistible snack! Let them cool before adding to a salad. They store in a plastic bag or container for weeks. 

Bread is just one of the foods I freeze all the time! Watch this video for more ideas.

ARE COBB SALADS HEALTHY?

Speaking of dressing, in my opinion, whether or not a salad is healthy depends mainly on the dressing. Dressings often have less healthy fats or added sodium. Lightly drizzle salad dressing to ensure a healthy serving, or use your favorite healthier dressing.

Another way to help with portion control for dressing is to dip your fork into the dressing, then use it to pick up greens. You’ll use significantly less dressing vs. pouring it all over the salad.

Overall, Cobb salad is low carb! It has a variety of nutrients from the different vegetables. The eggs add protein and avocado is a healthy fat.

HEALTHY COBB SALAD

If you’d like an even healthier Cobb salad, watch the dressing and use a vinaigrette, reduce or omit the bacon, avoid nuts and avocado (if watching fat), and omit croutons.

I find that “healthy” means different things to different people. Make the best decisions for yourself based on your dietary needs.

KETO COBB SALAD

For a gluten-free and keto Cobb salad, simply omit the croutons. 

HOW TO MAKE COBB SALAD

Cobb salad is basically just tossing all the ingredients together! I like this recipe because you can prepare many ingredients ahead, making it easy to assemble just before serving.

Probably the most difficult parts of this recipe are boiling the eggs and frying the bacon. But I have recipes to make even those easier and more convenient!

top view of assembled cobb salad surrounded by bowl of cheese, tomatoes, and white cloth

Try my Air Fryer Bacon recipe for your bacon crumbles. Air fryer bacon is life changing! It’s perfectly crispy and evenly cooked in less than 10 minutes. The best part is the easy cleanup.

If you haven’t tried my Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs, use it for this recipe! My method makes the perfect hard boiled egg every time. Plus, the eggshell comes right off without a fuss!

Don’t waste time slicing eggs by hand. I use this slicer for my hard boiled eggs. 

Cobb salads are completely customizable! Add anything you like, and raid your fridge to use up leftover ingredients. Cobb salad never gets boring if you mix it up a little. 

I sometimes add chopped red peppers, mushrooms, peas, red onion, or pickled beets for variety. Honestly, I haven’t met a Cobb salad I didn’t like 😉

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE RANCH DRESSING

Ingredients for cobb salad in bowl and cups

There aren’t a lot of pre-made ranch dressings that I like! I prefer to make it fresh from scratch whenever possible. It’s incredibly delicious, healthier, and you can adjust it to your taste easily. Here are the ingredients for my ranch recipe: 

  • 1/2 cup full-fat mayonnaise (I used avocado mayo)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mix ingredients together and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. It’s that easy!

This ranch dressing tastes similar to the herby ranch dressing served at Spaghetti Factory restaurants. If you prefer less herb flavor, omit the basil.

For store-bought salad dressing, my favorite is the Homestyle Hidden Valley Ranch packet. Just add mayonnaise and buttermilk, then let it sit before serving. I find this to have the best flavor. There’s also a “restaurant style” packet that I love.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH COBB SALAD

Like I said, I love a hearty salad for dinner! Add about one and a half pounds grilled or cooked chicken, steak, diced ham, shrimp, or other meat for extra protein. This makes it a great main dish.

If you’d like to serve it as a side dish, try it with my 4 Ingredient Instant Pot Country Style Ribs, Air Fryer Steak, or Easy Instant Pot Chicken Alfredo.

MORE SALAD INSPIRATION

About Lisa

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Lisa Childs is the food blogger behind Tried, Tested, and True. Join the hundreds of thousands of people each month that learn from Lisa-

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Graphic of Cobb Salad with Homemade Ranch with two pictures of a platter of cobb salad.
top view of assembled cobb salad surrounded by bowl of cheese, tomatoes, and white cloth

Cobb Salad with Homemade Croutons and Herby Ranch

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Cobb Salad is hearty and satisfying! It's packed with lettuce, avocado, bacon, and eggs and smothered in my homemade croutons and creamy ranch dressing. This salad is completely customizable; serve it as a side or add protein to make it the main dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 small head romaine lettuce hearts (or a bag of mixed greens of your choice)
  • 1 large avocado, sliced
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup thick-style shredded cheddar cheese
  • 5 hard boiled eggs, sliced or quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or whole
  • 1/4 english cucumber, sliced
  • Sunflower nuts, if desired

Homemade Croutons

  • 2 cups bread, cut into 1/2-1 inch cubes (I like using white bread or sourdough bread)
  • 1/4 cup bacon grease, butter, or extra virgin olive oil (or a combination)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Homemade Herby Ranch Dressing

  • 1/2 cup full-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

Ranch Dressing:

Mix ingredients together and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. If you prefer less herby flavor, omit the basil.

Homemade Croutons:

Add the grease into a large pan, and let it melt over medium-high heat. Add bread cubes, then season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper (to taste). 

Toast them in the pan until they’re toasty and dry on all sides, about 8 minutes. Continually toss to prevent burning. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate or cooling rack and let cool before adding to a salad. They store in a plastic bag or container for weeks. 

Salad

Assemble the salad right before serving by layering the lettuce in a large bowl or serving platter. Arrange all the toppings however you like, then serve with dressing on the side.

Notes

  • To make this salad low carb/keto friendly, omit the croutons.
  • Add 1 1/2 pounds grilled or cooked chicken, steak, diced ham, shrimp, or other meat for extra protein. I like air fryer chicken breasts.
  • Cobb salads are so versatile. Try adding chopped red peppers, mushrooms, peas, red onion, or pickled beets for variety.
  • Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 878Total Fat: 73gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 46gCholesterol: 273mgSodium: 1999mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 4gSugar: 5gProtein: 38g

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