This easy Cobb Salad comes together in just minutes, using deli chicken - or a rotisserie chicken - for a quick and tasty main dish salad.
Obviously, it was top of my list when planning out main meal type salad options, when I went low carb.
The origins of the Cobb salad are said to be in the kitchen of the original Brown Derby Restaurant.
According to various accounts, the owner - Robert Cobb - was rifling through the fridge to find something for him and his friend Sid Grauman to eat, late one night.
He chopped up some leftovers - including leftover chicken and a hard boiled egg, and added them to his chef salad.
The next day, Sid asked Bob Cobb to make another original Cobb salad for him, and the rest is history.
My Easy Cobb Salad
My Cobb salad recipe diverges from the classic salad in a couple of ways.
First: while the traditional salad is usually assembled on a large platter or in a large salad bowl, mine is served in individual bowls, rather than on one large serving platter.
This is largely a matter of both accuracy for per-serving nutrition tracking, and also for the way I prep salads ahead of time - more on that in a minute.
Secondly, I tend to use deli cold cut chicken, rather than leftover cooked chicken breast.
Shortly after moving home to Ontario, I had the most fabulous Cobb salad in a local pub.
It used locally produced deli chicken slices - I’d never tasted deli sliced chicken THAT good.
It was one of the first instances we had of really everyday, basic foods here just being WAY better than back in Minnesota. The tomato slices as GARNISH at another restaurant blew my mind, right around the same time.
On the rare occasions when I do happen to have some leftover juicy chicken breast - or rotisserie chicken - I’ll swap that in. It’s all good.
After the fresh ingredients are prepared - and the individual ingredients lined up on top of my classic salad base - I top it all off with some homemade dressing.
It’s a simple vinaigrette, and the best dressing to tie all those flavours and textures together, IMHO.
Anyway, let’s get to it!
This hearty salad is a SUPER basic recipe, and you’ll definitely be able to find all the delicious ingredients in almost any grocery store.
I tend to look at this in 3 parts - the base salad, the toppings, and the dressing. Some notes for you:
While traditional Cobb salad tends to be served in a large bowl, family-style, I prefer to make individual salads.
I like to meal prep several days worth of salad base bowls on grocery day - some sort of a mix of greens, along with some fairly neutral fresh vegetables - Usually shredded broccoli stems, carrot, green onions, cucumber, and radish.
1 batch makes 10 salads, so we’ve got a few days worth of base salads to adorn all kinds of different ways. (They tend to last 6-7 days in the fridge.
It’s a pretty slick way to get a lot of vegetables into our diet, and feels like SO much less work than making full salads individually.
See my Salad Meal Prep post for full details on how I do it.
Want to make this salad as a standalone thing?
You can use a base of salad greens, spring mix, baby spinach, iceberg lettuce, and/or romaine lettuce. I’d add some cucumber and green onions in, for good measure.
First things first - Cobb salad is usually made with skinless chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken, but I’ve gone a different route: Deli chicken slices.
I had it this way in a local restaurant a few years ago, and loved the texture and simplicity of it. It’s also a really quick option, so it’s kind of become our default.
Rounding out the proteins, we need some salty bacon and hard-boiled eggs - more on that in a bit!
In terms of the vegetables, I add only two to my base salad - juicy tomatoes (grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or sliced medium tomatoes), and a medium ripe avocado.
If you’re not using a base salad, I recommend adding red onion and sliced cucumbers, at the very least.
Blue cheese crumbles - particularly Roquefort cheese - are traditional... but I can’t handle the smell of bleu cheese. So, I use shredded cheddar cheese instead.
How to Bake Crispy Bacon
I am a huge fan of cooking slices of bacon in the oven - it is SO low effort, and makes perfectly crisp bacon.
If I know I’ll be making more salads that need bacon over the next few days, I’ll bake it all at once and just chill the extra slices until I need them.
Here’s how I do it:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange bacon slices on the prepared baking sheet, so that they are very close, but not really touching.
Bake for 21-22 minutes or so, until the bacon is cooked down and crispy.
Carefully transfer the bacon out of the rendered fat, and onto a plate lined with paper towels.
Blot with additional paper towels, and chop up into large bacon bits for use.
We like to hard boil the eggs ahead of time, and chill them until we’re ready to use them.
We get a pot of water boiling, then use a spoon to gently add place eggs in the water.
Set the timer for 13 minutes (if it’s not boiling hard, we’ll do 14 minutes), and let it boil til the timer goes off.
Drain the water off, then run cold water into the pot until the water and the sides of the pot are cool.
We find that the eggs are easier to peel if you do them right away, and if they’re not SUPER fresh.
Peel the eggs, run them under cold water to clear off any bits of shell.
Transfer to an airtight container and chill for up to 2 days.
Lemon Ranch Vinaigrette Dressing
I whip up a quick vinaigrette dressing as my default Cobb salad dressing. The ingredients you need for it are:
Fresh Lemon Juice
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Ground Black Pepper
I recommend using an Immersion Blender or Milk Frother to blend this dressing to a thick consistency.
Want to use a premade or creamy dressing?
French dressing, a homemade ranch dressing, red wine vinaigrette, or a creamy blue cheese dressing are all good options, depending on your tastes.
How to Make Quick Cobb Salad
The full recipe is in the recipe card at the end of this post. Here is the pictorial walk through, with some more detailed information where necessary.
Lemon Ranch Vinaigrette
Add the lemon juice olive oil, dill, mustard, seasonings, and garlic to a measuring vessel, whisk or blend until emulsified.
Season with salt, to taste.
Cover and chill until ready to use.
Note: May need to be re-whisked before serving.
Also: this makes more dressing than you’ll need for 2 servings, but the nutrition info reflects the entire amount called for.
Uncover and fluff 2 base salads, or divide salad greens between 2 bowls.
Tightly roll each slice of deli chicken, then slice into pieces.
Arrange all salad topping ingredients in a single layer on top of the lettuce / base salads.
Serve immediately with the dressing.
More Main Dish Salad Recipes
Looking for more healthy salad recipes that are substantial enough to serve as a meal? Look no further!
Buffalo Chicken Salad
Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad
Chicken Satay Salad
Curried Chicken Vietnamese Noodle Salad
Grilled Halloumi & Peach Salad
Hazelnut Crusted Chicken Salad
Honey Ginger Shrimp Salad
Italian Sub Salad
Keto Taco Salad
Mediterranean Chicken Salad
Salad Meal Prep
Seafood Cobb Salad
Seared Tuna Salad
Sesame Ginger Chicken Salad
Shawarma Chicken Salad
Steak Salad with Creamy Wasabi Dressing
Teriyaki Chicken Salad
Thai Pesto Salmon Salad
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Lemon Ranch Vinaigrette Dressing
- 3 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
- ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 ½ teaspoon Dill Weed
- 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 teaspoon Dried Parsley
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- Salt to taste
- 8 Slices Deli Chicken
- 2 Hard boiled Eggs peeled and quartered
- 4 Slices Bacon Cooked till crisp and crumbled
- 2 Base Salads or 4 cups Salad greens
- ⅓ cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- ½ Ripe Avocado Sliced
- Cherry Tomatoes halved
Lemon Ranch Vinaigrette
- Add the lemon juice olive oil, dill, mustard, seasonings, and garlic to a measuring vessel, whisk or blend until emulsified.
- Season with salt, to taste.
- Cover and chill until ready to use.
- Note: May need to be re-whisked before serving.
- Uncover and fluff 2 base salads, or divide salad greens between 2 bowls.
- Roll each slice of deli chicken, then slice into pieces.
- Arrange all salad topping ingredients over the base salads, serve immediately with the dressing.
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