There’s something about the wedge salad that satisfies every time! This recipe breaks down all the elements of this classic side dish.
Classic is classic for a reason, and the classic wedge salad does not disappoint. Every time we serve it, people ooo and ahh. Because it really is perfection: the crunch of iceberg lettuce against the creamy, savory blue cheese dressing just makes sense. Not to mention it looks stunning! There’s a reason this salad has been impressing us all for 100 years. It’s our favorite to serve with a grilled dinner or sheet pan salmon and asparagus. How do we make it? Here are all the classic elements: and of course, we’ve put our spin on it.
What’s in a wedge salad?
The first recipe for an iceberg lettuce wedge salad was printed in 1916 in the book Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing Dish Recipes by Marion Harris Neil. It was called “Lettuce Salad with Roquefort Dressing” and calls for smothering lettuce hearts with a creamy blue cheese dressing and hard boiled egg whites cut into rings. Not quite what the salad looks like today!
In the 1950’s, the wedge salad took on the blue cheese crumbles and bacon bits that are traditional in today’s salad. By the 1970’s, it became popular at steakhouses where it still is today. Most restaurants and chefs these days like to put their own creative touches on wedge salads (which we’ll cover below). The basic elements of a classic wedge salad are:
Blue cheese dressing
Try smoky breadcrumbs in place of bacon!
For our spin on the classic wedge salad, we’ve created an innovation instead of the traditional bacon: smoky bread crumbs! You can use breadcrumbs to add the crunchy element that bacon provides, and season them to add a hint of the smokiness of bacon. It’s a fun way to get creative with your wedge salad (and makes it vegetarian). You’ll simply toast the breadcrumbs in a skillet with olive oil and spices until they’re golden, about 3 minutes. Here are the spices you’ll need:
Smoked paprika: Also labeled as pimentón at the grocery store, it’s a smoked version of sweet paprika and adds a hint of smoke to everything it touches. It’s worth seeking out here! (Use leftovers for all these smoked paprika recipes.)
A fresh spin on blue cheese dressing
This wedge salad uses our favorite blue cheese dressing recipe: classic with a modern spin! Here are a few of the features of this dressing that makes it a go-to:
Uses Greek yogurt! Combining the standard mayonnaise with Greek yogurt helps to reduce the calories but still keeps the deliciously creamy texture.
Easy to whisk up. This one takes just a few minutes to make! You’ll mash the blue cheese crumbles with a bit of vinegar, then mix it together with the yogurt, mayo and spices.
Don’t like blue cheese? A few options
Blue cheese is a strong flavor, and we know several people in our immediate circle who aren’t fans. You too? You can mix things up in the wedge salad and use a different salad dressing. Then top with feta cheese crumbles! Here are a few ideas for alternate dressings:
Ranch dressing: Try our best Ranch Dressing! It also uses Greek yogurt. You can even add a little smoked paprika to make Smoky Ranch.
Feta dressing: Simply make the blue cheese dressing below but use feta cheese instead of blue cheese.
Thousand island: Who doesn’t love Thousand Island? It’s not classic for a wedge salad, but still tasty!
Cutting the wedges in wedge salad
Last up: there are a few things to note when you cut an iceberg head for your wedge salad! Here are a few notes and things to look for:
Look for a small to medium iceberg head. Some iceberg lettuce heads you can find at the store are massive! Small to medium makes the best wedge.
Remove the outer leaves first. The outer leaves can be dirty and sometimes are damaged. Pull them all off first!
Cut into 4 for a small head or 6 for large. If all you can find is a very large iceberg head, you can cut it into 6 wedges. This will make it more manageable on a plate!
Mains to pair with wedge salad…it’s totally versatile!
The classic wedge salad is one of the most versatile salads we know. It goes with nearly anything. Here are some our favorite ways to pair it with a meal…that’s not steak:
More classic salads
Love the wedge? You’ll love these super classic salads too:
This wedge salad recipe is…
Vegetarian and gluten-free.
There’s something about that classic wedge salad recipe! Crisp iceberg and creamy blue cheese dressing is a match made in heaven.
For the salad
1 recipe Blue Cheese Dressing*
1 small head iceberg lettuce
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered (or 4 sundried tomatoes, chopped)
2 chives, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles
Smoky breadcrumbs, for the garnish (1 handful crushed potato chips or crumbled bacon)
For the smoky breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup panko (or homemade breadcrumbs)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspooneach onion powder and garlic powder
1/4 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
Make the Blue Cheese Dressing.
Make the smoky breadcrumbs, if using: Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. In a small bowl, mix the panko with the smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and kosher salt. Add them to the skillet and toast, stirring frequently, until golden and crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a bowl.
Remove the outer leaves of the iceberg head, then slice it into wedges (4 for a small head, 6 for a large head). Prep the chives and tomatoes.
To serve. place a wedge on a plate. Top with dressing, tomatoes, chives, blue cheese crumbles, and smoky breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.
*Not a blue cheese lover? Make our Ranch Dressing and add 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika for a smoky flair. Then top with crumbled feta cheese.