Greek Salad

Greek Salad makes the best side to any meal!  It’s easy, light, bright and healthy, with vibrant herbaceous Greek Salad Dressing!

This Greek Salad is guaranteed to become an instant favorite and weekly repeat! Not only is it a breeze to make, it pairs beautifully with practically everything from Greek cuisine, to Italian cuisine, to hot-off the grill proteins to comfort foods to cozy soups.  This Greek Salad recipe is made with juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, zippy red onions, crunchy bell peppers, salty Kalamata olives, tangy feta and nutty almonds all enveloped in a vibrant, tangy, Greek salad dressing.  To make, just whisk the dressing together and chop the veggies and you have the best Greek Salad on your table (and more importantly, in your mouth) in minutes!

This Greek Salad is a seriously tasty addition to our other favorite side salads including: Watermelon Feta Salad, Panzanella Salad, Cucumber Tomato Salad, Creamy Cucumber Salad, Greek Pasta Salad and Greek Orzo Salad.

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showing how to make Greek Salad recipe by mixing tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, red onions and feta together

What is Greek Salad?

Traditional Greek Salad or horiatiki salad (Greek: χωριάτικη σαλάτα or θερινή σαλάτα) is a celebration of fresh Greek flavors and ingredients all wrapped up in one light, bright, cooling salad.  It is made with tomatoes, cucumber, green bell peppers, Kalamata olives, thinly sliced red onion, and feta.  Common American additions include pepperoncini, radishes and capers.

Today, I am sharing with you an Americanized version of Greek Salad. To be a truly authentic version, it would need to follow these guidelines:

Authentic Greek Salad VS THIS RECIPE

  • No lettuce: You will never find any lettuce or leafy greens in Greek Salad to distract from the fresh ingredients (my kind of salad!). 
  • Block of feta:  You won’t find cubed or crumbled feta in traditional Greek Salad, but a large piece of Greek feta (square of triangle) made of sheep’s milk placed directly on top of the salad. In this recipe, I’ve chosen to cube the block of feta for easy eating, but you don’t have to!   
  • Large chunks:  You will find only whole, not sliced olives, the tomatoes are cut into large wedges and cucumbers cut into fairly large chunks, no small cubes.  You will only find green bell peppers sliced horizontally, no red or orange in sight.  
  • Drizzle of oil, not dressing: Authentic Greek Salads don’t have an actual dressing.  Rather, Greek Salads are simply drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, maybe a splash of red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of dried oregano and salt.  In the States, our Greek Salads typically include a dressing of extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice, dried oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. 
  • Eaten directly from a large serving dish:  Not sure how this has changed since 2020, but Greek Salad is traditionally consumed directly from the serving dish. Everyone chooses from the platter their perfect combination of tomato, feta, cucumber, pepper, olive etc.  Today, I’m thinking individual servings is the way to go. 

Why is it called Greek salad?  Where did it come from?

Greek Salad is the most popular salad served in Greece utilizing Greek’s fresh produce and sheep’s milk feta.  It became a popular staple in Greek cuisine dating back to the 1800s, after tomatoes were introduced from America in 1815.  

Authentic Greek salad is called ‘Horiatiki’ in Greek, which means village or peasant salad.  The simple, humble, yet delicious ingredients of a Greek salad resemble those that a Greek farmer would have on-hand.  It is believed that Greek Salad was originally served on the farm for breakfast or lunch, and its popularity grew from there. Today, Greek Salad is commonly served as a part of a traditional Greek meal because it’s a breeze to make, light, healthy, refreshing and DELICIOUS!

Greek Salad Recipe

I am always looking for easy side salad recipes, enter Greek Salad! This Greek Salad belongs in everyone’s side salad repertoire with its fresh, healthy, ingredients and minutes of prep. I love serving it with my favorite marinated proteins like Greek Chicken and Harissa Chicken but it’s also fantastic with Creamy Tuscan Chicken, Rigatoni and everything in between. This recipe is best served when when tomatoes are at their peak, from May to October, but it can be served year-round, so make it today!  Here’s why you’ll love this Greek Salad recipe:

  • Delicious!   This salad is a vibrant, beautiful and extraordinarily delicious explosion of flavor and texture in every bite. 
  • No soggy lettuce!  This recipe doesn’t have lettuce so not only does it not become soggy, but the fresh seasonal ingredients really shine.
  • Always a crowd pleaser.    It’s the answer to all your potluck needs or serve it up as a light lunch or dinner. 
  • Quick and easy.  Chopping the veggies and whisking the dressing together is all it takes to make this recipe. 
  • Make-ahead.  Layer the salad ingredients in a bowl then just add the dressing before serving.
  • Versatile.  While there are specifications for authentic Greek Salad, we are not in Greece, so add whatever you want!  Keep it traditional or I’ve included all types of variations below.
showing how to make Greek Salad by adding tomatoes, Kalamata olives, bell peppers, and feta to a bowl

Greek Salad Ingredients

From the crisp cucumbers, to the juicy, tangy-sweet tomatoes, to the fruity, salty olives, zippy red onions and creamy feta, Greek Salad is the epitome of simple and fresh ingredients coming together to make a huge splash.  With so few ingredients, it’s important to use quality in this recipe.  Here’s what you’ll need (full measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Tomatoes:  ripe, juicy, sweet tomatoes are a must!  You can’t make a great Greek Salad without great tomatoes.  Authentic Greek Salad is made with chunks of large tomatoes, although I prefer cherry tomatoes because they are flavorful and juicy yet firm, which means they release less water into the salad and don’t dilute the dressing as much.   Still, pick whichever type of tomatoes you prefer.
  • Cucumbers:  use an English cucumber because it tends to be sweeter, plus you don’t have to peel it!   Quarter the cucumber and cut it into thick slices, about ½-inch thick.  If you use a standard cucumber, scoop out the seeds after you cut it in half if it’s extra seedy or the juices will dilute the flavor of the salad and make it wet.
  • Red onion:  brings the zippy punch.  Use more or less to taste.
  • Kalamata olives: gems of dark, rich intensely fruity, salty flavor that are delectable with the crisp veggies.  I like to serve them whole but you can halve them if you wish.  Make sure to use pitted Kalamata olives so you don’t break a tooth!
  • Greek feta:  is a rich, creamy, sharp, salty, tangy, and lemony white cheese made of at least 70% sheep’s milk (production standard’s) with goat’s milk usually making up the other 30%. Look for feta with the highest percentage of sheep’s milk, these will be the creamiest and least crumbly.  The higher the percentage of goat’s milk, the crumblier the feta will be. Look for blocks of feta (vs. the crumbled) with the specialty cheeses at your grocery store.  You may also substitute with crumbles but blocked feta tends to be more flavorful.
  • Almonds: are not authentic but I love the nutty crunch!  Feel free to take or leave them.

What is Greek salad dressing made of?

Authentic Greek Salad does not have whisked dressing, just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on the salad, a bit of vinegar and a sprinkling of oregano.  So, you can take or leave the dressing, but I for one, think coating the salad in a sensational dressing makes it that much better. 

This Greek Salad Dressing is a tangy, robust herbaceous dressing that marries all of the ingredients together.  It’s super simple to whip up, here’s what you need:   

  • Olive oil:  use extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
  • Red wine vinegar: for its fruity tanginess.  Please don’t substitute with another vinegar here, especially white vinegar because it’s too strong. 
  • Lemon juice: fresh is best but you may use bottled.  If you don’t have any handy, you may substitute with red wine vinegar.  TIP:  For fresh lemon juice at your fingertips, freeze leftover lemon juice by the tablespoon in ice cube trays.
  • Garlic:  adds pungent garlic goodness.  You may substitute with ½ teaspoon ground if you don’t have fresh on hand.
  • Sugar:  just a teaspoon adds sweetness and balances the tanginess of the vinegar and lemon juice.  Use more or less depending on how tangy you would like your dressing.
  • Dijon mustard: helps balance the sweetness and adds a layer of subtle spicy flavor. It also acts as an emulsifying agent to prevent the dressing from separating right away.
  • Herbs:  an adept blend of herbs really brings the flavor.  You’ll add 1 tablespoon each of fresh dill, parsley and oregano.  You may also substitute with 1 teaspoon each dried.

Greek Salad RECIPE VARIATIONS

You can mix up this Greek Salad recipe in countless ways but please don’t skip the essential tomatoes, cucumbers, feta or olives.  Other than that, feel free to omit or add additional ingredients.  Here are some recipe variation ideas:

  • Add greens:   bulk up the salad by adding greens such as spring salad mix, baby arugula, chopped Romaine lettuce, etc.
  • Swap the onions: use bright, tangy, punchy pickled red onions recipe instead of raw.  They’re ready in 30 minutes!
  • Add pepperoncini: a type of mild, yellow-green chili pepper that belong to the same family as bell peppers.  They boast a mild, tangy zing when pickled.  Pepperoncini typically come in a glass jar and are shelved next to the sandwich condiments such as pickles, banana peppers and jarred roasted red bell peppers.
  • Add capers:  a common addition in Dodecanese islands. Capers are actually flower buds that have been brined to mellow their bitterness.  The resulting brined capers are tangy, salty, lemony doses of flavOR. 
  • Add radishes: thinly slice radishes for a spicy, crispy, zesty kick.
  • Add vegetables: add any vegetables your heart desires!  Asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, snap peas, etc. would all be tasty. 
  • Add avocados:  slice or chop a large avocado for satisfying creamy bursts to complement the crunchy textures.  Make sure you use a ripe avocado but not overly ripe or it will turn to mush.  Add the avocados just before serving.  
  • Add artichokes hearts:  tender, slightly sweet and nutty additions.
  • Add roasted red bell peppers: for a complex roasted sweetness.  You can roast bell peppers yourself or pick up a jar at the grocery store located near the jarred sandwich fixings such as pepperoncini. Make sure to drain the jar of bell peppers very well before using.
  • Add prosciutto:  silky and salty fabulous.
  • Add sunflower seeds:  can be added in addition to the almonds or instead of.  Make sure to purchase roasted and salted sunflower seeds for the best flavor.
  • Make it vegan and dairy free:  omit the cheese and add ¾ cup cooked chickpeas and 1 tablespoon capers in its place.

How to Make Greek Salad

Ready for how easy this Greek Salad is to make?  Here’s how:

  • Step 1: Make the dressing. Whisk all the vinaigrette ingredients together in a bowl or shake in a jar. 
  • 2:  Chop salad ingredients.  Chop the cucumbers, tomatoes and feta and slice the red onions.  Add them to a medium salad bowl or platter along with the olives and almonds if using. 
  • Step 3:  Drizzle with Greek Salad Dressing.  Just before serving, drizzle the desired amount of dressing over the salad.
  • Step 4:  Gently toss.   No need to over-mix, just give the salad a light toss.
  • Step 5:  Serve! Season with additional freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste and dig in!
showing how to make Greek Salad by adding Greek Salad ingredients to a bowl: tomatoes, bell peppers, feta, cucumbers, red onions and Kalamata olives

TIPS FOR THE BEST GREEK SALAD

  • Purchase brined feta.  Blocks of feta can be packaged with or without a brine.  Vacuum-packaged feta without a brine isn’t as moist whereas brined feta is packaged in salt water (a little or a lot), and doesn’t dry out.
  • Use ripe tomatoes.  The riper the tomatoes, the sweeter, richer, the better the Greek Salad! 
  • Tame your onions.  If you’re not a huge fan of raw onions, tame them by submerging them in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes.
  • Don’t chop the ingredients small.  The tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers should be cut into large wedges or slices and the olives are typically left bowl. I like to cut the feta into about ½-inch cubes so it doesn’t easily crumble in the salad but you can still get a forkful in every bite
  • Don’t use all of the dressing right away.  I like to toss half of the dressing in the salad and let the veggies work their magic by releasing juices and mixing with the dressing, and then adding more dressing as needed.  You can also serve half of the dressing on the side so individuals can add more to their liking.
  • Customize the salad.   The Greek Salad recipe ingredients are simply suggestions.  You can add/swap any ingredients for your favorites or omit ingredients altogether. Like more olives – add more olives!  Don’t like onions?  Use less or tame them.  Want a tangier salad?  Add pepperoncini or pickled red onions.  The possibilities are endless! 
  • Customize the dressing.  Don’t be afraid to make the dressing your own.  Make it tangier by adding additional vinegar one teaspoon at a time, add additional herbs, etc.
  • Scale the recipe.  This recipe is easy to scale up for large crowds/potlucks or down in half for lunches by using the up and down arrow in the recipe card next to the servings.

How to store Greek cucumber Salad

Greek Salad is best served fresh, within 20 minutes after being tossed with the dressing, but you may store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The tomatoes will continue to release juices which will make the salad more watery.

Can I make Greek salad the day before?

Greek Salad tastes fabulous if made ahead of time so the dressing and vegetables have time to chill (separately).  Wait to dress the salad until ready to serve for the best texture and so the tomatoes and cucumbers don’t release extra juices.  Here’s how to make ahead:

  • Prepare salad ingredients:  chop all of the salad ingredients and layer in a large serving bowl in this order:  tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, feta.  Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator until ready serve.  Drain any excess juices before adding the dressing.
  • Dressing:  can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 
  • Serve:  combine and dig in!
showing how to make Greek Salad by drizzling with Greek Salad Dressing

What do you serve with Greek Salad?

Greek Salad is delicious served alongside your favorite Greek inspired dishes but is equally delicious alongside any grilled proteins, and more cozy dishes like soup or stews, creamy pastas, or cheesy sandwiches. Here are some of my favorite Mediterranean dishes to serve alongside Greek Salad, but don’t let this limit your imagination!

Mediterranean Favorites

  • Marinated Greek Chicken: an all-time reader’s favorite recipe!  This Greek chicken is juicy, tender and flavorful from a lemon, oregano, garlic laced marinade.  Serve it alongside Greek Salad and Lemon Greek Rice for a complete meal.  
  • Greek Burgers: burgers infused with feta, garlic, dill, mint, cumin and oregano, grilled to succulent juicy perfection. Serve them up with Greek Cucumber Salad and sweet potato fries to really hit the spot.  
  • Greek Meatballs: juicy, fragrant, herbaceous Greek Meatballs are utterly addicting, dripping with lemon, garlic, dill and oregano flavors. They are easy to whip up and can be cooked in the oven while you whip up your Greek Salad.
  • Greek Chicken Gyros: are easy, flavorful, make ahead and healthy – winning!  The combination of juicy Greek lemon chicken, creamy tzatziki, fresh crisp veggies, and tangy feta wrapped in warm pita bread is out of this world.  All it needs is a side salad!
  • Greek Salmon in Dill Sauce:  is a delightful symphony of Greek flavors you will have to taste to believe.  The whole meal comes together very quickly for a simple salmon recipe that never disappoints!
  • Lemon Basil Chicken: is crazy juicy from an easy marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, basil, oregano, garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes.  It’s super easy and super flavorful and perfect alongside Greek Cucumber Salad.
  • Chicken and Beef Souvlaki:  chunks of marinated chicken or beef grilled or baked to juicy perfection.  Serve with Greek Salad and your choice of Tzatziki  curried cauliflower, lemon rice, hummus and/or pita bread for a complete feast!  
  • Lemon Chicken Tortellini Soup:  is hearty, warm and savory, yet light, fresh and soothing bursting with pillows of cheesy tortellini, tender chicken, and vegetables kissed with bright, refreshing lemon juice all made in ONE POT.  Add a side of Greek Salad to make it a tasty soup and salad combo.
  • Mahi Mahi in Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce:  the fish is spice rubbed then pan seared until golden then bathed in an intoxicating, creamy lemon, garlic sauce. It looks and tastes fancy but is super quick and easy to make and is begging to be served with a vibrant fresh side like Greek Cucumber Salad.
  • One Pan Greek Chicken:  Greek chicken baked with sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, roasted red bell peppers and artichokes all in one dish (AKA only one dish to clean).  All it needs is a fresh side salad!
  • Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup:  is an easy, healthy, cozy soup laced with bright, fresh, lemony goodness.  It’s refreshing, comforting, simple to make, nutritious and extremely versatile. All it needs is Greek Salad to complete the meal.  
  • Tiktok Feta Pasta:  made by literally baking a block of feta along with tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and olive oil to create an irresistible, cheesy, creamy, tangy, tomato sauce. Stir in some garlic, basil and cooked pasta and you have a super easy, gourmet tasting dinner that took less than 10 minutes of hands-on prep.  Add a side of Greek Salad and you have a winning dinner!

What to pair with Greek Salad

showing how to make Greek pizza recipe by adding arugula, tomatoes, cucumbers and tzatziki to the top of the baked pizza
showing toppings for lamb burger Greek style by topping buns with arugula, lamb patties, tomatoes, cucumbers, tzatziki and red onions
Greek Meatball recipe (Keftedes) with lamb meatballs on a platter with cucumbers and hummus
top view of Greek chicken garnished with feta and parsley

A few Middle Eastern Favorites:

This Greek Salad recipe also pairs beautifully with Middle Eastern favorites such as:

  • Harissa Chicken: an easy, health, juicy explosion of exotic, spicy flavors begging to be served with refreshing Greek Salad.
  • Doner Kebabs: are healthy, juicy chicken with irresistible caramelized edges layered with fragrant spices. One of my most popular recipes! 
  • Chicken Shawarma:  marinated in lemon juice, a plethora of hand-picked spices and my secret ingredient which all work together to create the most dynamic chicken you ever tasted. Add Greek Cucumber Salad and dinner is served.
  • Cumin Spice Rubbed NY Strip Steaks with Harissa Butter:  one of my all-time favorite steak recipes! Buttery tender steak ripping with flavor in every caramelized, charred crust bite.  All it’s missing is a fresh side salad!
  • Tandoori Chicken: bursting with bold, smoky, and as-spicy-as-you-want-it flavors, super juicy, and is going straight to the “favorite” file.

Recipe Leftover Ideas

This Greek Salad is begging to be added to wraps, bowls or sandwiches.  Here are just a few ideas for leftovers:

  • Gyros or wraps: stuff the salad into pitas or wraps along with Greek Chicken and serve with plenty of tzatziki.
  • Grain Bowls: add Greek Lemon Rice quinoa or cauliflower rice to a large bowl, top with Greek Salad,  roasted veggies and protein of choice such as Greek chicken, chicken shawarma, harissa chicken or doner kebabs, and top with desired toppings such as tzatziki, hummus  pickled red onions and sliced almonds. 
  • Greek Pasta Salad:  combine the salad with your short pasta of choice to make a pasta salad.
  • Pizza or Flatbread: use my Gyro Pizza for a guide and top store-bought pizza dough, homemade pizza dough, flatbread or sliced French bread with a layer of sundried tomato basil humus mixed with a couple tablespoons Greek yogurt, then top with Greek chicken, shredded mozzarella cheese, then bake until the cheese is melted. Top with Greek Salad and drizzle with tzatziki.
  • Sandwiches:  slather toasted bread or buns with sun-dried tomato hummus and top with Greek chicken and Greek Salad.
  • Paninis: spread tzatziki or Greek yogurt mixed with a little mayo on each side of sliced ciabatta bread then layer the bottom slice with mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, Greek chicken and Greek Salad. Top with bread and grill in a greased grill pan, placing a heavy pan on top of the sandwich. Grill panini for 3 minutes per side or until cheese is melted.
top view of showing how to make Greek Salad recipe by mixing tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, red onions and feta together

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top view of showing how to make Greek Salad recipe by mixing tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, red onions and feta together

Greek Salad

This Greek Salad is guaranteed to become an instant favorite and weekly repeat! Not only is it a breeze to make, it pairs beautifully with practically everything from Greek cuisine, to Italian cuisine, to hot-off the grill proteins to comfort foods to cozy soups.  This Greek Salad recipe is made with juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, zippy red onions, crunchy bell peppers, salty Kalamata olives, tangy feta and nutty almonds all enveloped in a vibrant, tangy, Greek salad dressing.  To make, just whisk the dressing together and chop the veggies and you have the best Greek Salad on your table (and more importantly, in your mouth) in minutes!
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

SALAD

  • 2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or 4 medium-sized tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 English cucumber, quartered, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced horizontally or chopped into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 5 ounces feta cheese cut into ½ inch cubes (may sub ⅓ cup crumbled feta)
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds (optional)

DRESSING

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TBS EACH minced fresh dill, parsley, oregano OR 1 tsp EACH dried
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  • Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Chill in the refrigerator while you prep the salad. Whisk again before adding to the salad.
  • Add all of the salad ingredients to a medium salad bowl or platter.
  • Just before serving, drizzle the desired amount of chilled dressing over the salad and gently toss to coat. Season with additional freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

How to store 

Greek Salad is best served fresh but you may store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The tomatoes will continue to release juices which will make the salad more watery.

Prep ahead

  • Prepare salad ingredients:  chop all of the salad ingredients and layer in a large serving bowl in this order:  tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, feta.  Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator until ready serve.  Drain any excess juices before adding the dressing.
  • Dressing:  can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 
  • Serve:  combine and dig in!

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