layered salad in a cake pan

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I’m pretty sure most of you have encountered a layered salad, or two, in your lifetime. They’re popular for picnics and church basement potlucks. One thing that always amazes me is how silly it is to put a layered salad in a deep bowl. They’re ridiculously pretty, so I understand that part, but try to get some of every layer and you end up with an arm full of mayonnaise.

Sooooo…. I thought why not make it more simple? Everyone still loves how this salad looks, and it’s much easier to serve. Just layer, chill and cut into cake-like pieces. Voila!

serves 8 to 12

1 head iceberg lettuce

1/4 cup chopped purple onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 cup chopped, fresh mushrooms

12 oz. package frozen peas, thawed

2 cups real mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons sugar or honey

1/4 lb. grated cheddar cheese (I like extra sharp)

1 lb. lower-sodium bacon, fried, cooled and crumbled

Remove core from head of lettuce. Cut head into quarters. Carefully seperate the lettuce layers. Put half of them in the bottom of a 9 x 13, glass cake pan. Top with half of the onion, half of the celery, half of the green pepper, half of the mushrooms, and half of the frozen (thawed) peas. Combine the mayo with the sugar. Spread half of the mayo mixture over the salad. Top with half of the cheese and half of the bacon. Repeat with another salad layer, starting with lettuce and ending with bacon. Cover cake pan tightly with foil. Place in refrigerator and chill for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. Cut into 8 to 12 square pieces. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.



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  117 comments for “layered salad in a cake pan

  1. May 3, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Very nice with so many options for veggies and dressings.

    • Melissa
      May 3, 2014 at 10:42 pm

      Thanks, Tess! Enjoy :)

      • Nell
        July 26, 2014 at 11:59 am

        Sounds yummy. I plan to do this with the avocado dressing.

        • Melissa
          August 11, 2014 at 2:08 pm

          Enjoy, Nell! :)

      • Janet Butler
        September 21, 2014 at 7:46 pm

        Is there any way to make this without mayo and honey/sugar? Maybe with Greek yogurt?

        • Angie
          January 28, 2015 at 1:00 pm

          creme freche is a good alternative to mayonnaise

        • Winnie Jackson
          February 3, 2015 at 5:26 pm

          I have always made this with miracle whip & cool whip.. got the tip from someone with diabetes. May need to thin a bit with milk & sweetener to taste.

          • Nancy
            March 16, 2015 at 4:47 pm

            Do you have measurements for using miracle whip and cool whip?

          • Winnie Jackson
            March 17, 2015 at 12:23 pm

            I use about equal portions of each – 1 cup of miracle whip & about a cup of cool whip. It will be very thick so you need to thin with milk & add sweetener to your taste.

    May 8, 2014 at 8:39 am

    like your recipes

    • Melissa
      May 8, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      I’m so glad to hear that, Mary Lou! Thanks for stopping by and for commenting! :) Enjoy!

  3. May 8, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Sounds amazing. Great idea.

    • Melissa
      May 8, 2014 at 11:42 pm

      Thanks, Mercy! Enjoy :)

  4. crtsmrk
    May 21, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    I found that rinsing and crisping lettuce before assembling makes it extra crunchy – also I use 1/2 sour cream and 1/2 mayo and must add H2O chestnuts

    • Melissa
      May 22, 2014 at 8:39 am

      Thanks for the ideas and inspiration! I’ll have to try your renditions next time :)

      • Amazon 66
        June 5, 2014 at 9:37 pm

        Don’t use preserved bacon bits… à la Hormel. Way too salty. So much for my short cut.

        • Melissa
          June 6, 2014 at 4:08 pm

          thanks for the tip! I’ve never liked the preserved bacon bits :/ strange flavor, and you’re right… LOADS of sodium. XO ~M

        • Diane
          June 25, 2014 at 9:52 am

          The real bacon pieces (in a jar) work well, though. I agree that bacon bits are nasty.

          • Melissa
            June 30, 2014 at 7:56 am

            Good to know, Diane! Thanks :)

    • Kay Jones
      January 28, 2015 at 2:02 am

      When making the dressing I use 1/2 mayo and 1/2 sour cream then add packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Mix. It makes a ranch dressing.

  5. Clauda
    May 25, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Always thought those foods in deep bowls, etc. were pretty but oh so not practical!!! Thanks for confirming!!! Will try…also adding any fresh veggie would enhance.

    • Melissa
      June 6, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      Hi there Clauda! Thanks for commenting :) You’re so right! Add your favorite veggies at will! XO ~M

  6. Zeenat
    June 5, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Love the recipes, always looking for something unusual! Looking forward!

    • Melissa
      June 6, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      Enjoy and thanks so much for stopping by! :)

  7. Leah Hamm
    June 18, 2014 at 10:38 am

    This is basically the same recipe my daughter-in-law served in a 9×13″ casserole, over 30 years ago. It wasn’t until later that magazine food editors needed to update their recipes and started photographing the salad in clear glass trifle bowls. The next generation assumed that was the only it was meant to be served. :)
    From the first time I made the recipe, I have been amused because the list of ingredients always reads, “frozen peas, thawed”. I add them straight from the freezer – they have 12-24 hours to thaw before the salad is served, don’t they?

    • Carol
      June 20, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      I was thinking the same thing! They don’t really get watery when they thaw, do they?

      • Melissa
        June 22, 2014 at 8:09 am

        Hi Carol :)

        LOL… it just never occurred to me. Thanks for pointing this out, Ladies! XO ~M

        • Pam
          October 2, 2014 at 7:06 pm

          I’m thinking the reason for thawing the peas first is so they don’t release any of their “freezer moisture” into the salad…possibly making it soggy or affecting the taste. Just a thought…
          Pam. :)

      • Diana
        December 19, 2014 at 6:58 pm

        I thaw my pease out the night befor im fixing the salad and let them drain in a draing bowl cover an set in freg…..shake good nexdt day an they shouldn’t be watery

    • Melissa
      June 22, 2014 at 8:07 am

      Hee hee, Leah :) Oh my gosh! You’re right! I never even thought about the peas thawing during the 24 hours that the salad in in the fridge. Too funny! Well, thanks for helping me eliminate a step when making this. XO ~M

    • Mildred Atchley
      June 24, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      Also the longer it sets in fridge the more flavor it has. I used other veggies though because we don’t like celery. I have always known it as a 7 layer salad.

      • Melissa
        June 30, 2014 at 7:58 am

        Hi Mildred! Yes, there are sooooo many ways to make thsi yummy salad! Thanks for sharing how you make it :)

      • Margie Walker
        March 13, 2015 at 11:40 am

        My mother made a 7layer salad years ago, about 45yrs. ago to be exact, she used radish, cucumbers, onions, bacon,1/4c. sugar, 1/2c. mayo dressing, and other veggies, but I always mixed my sugar with the mayo, then I poured ranch, cucumber dressing on it, I have fixed for many parties, and there was never any left over, everyone enjoyed it!

  8. Patricia l
    June 22, 2014 at 8:09 am

    I occasionally use frozen corn kernels instead of the frozen peas. Nice color and great crunch. There doesn’t seem to be any water issues using frozen veg directly in the dish. A family fav for many years.

    • Melissa
      July 11, 2014 at 6:24 am

      OOh! never tried corn in this! Thanks for the idea, Patricia! :)

    • Lindy
      October 15, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      What do you do with the frozen corn? Do you put it in frozen out of the bag or cook it & then put it in. I can’t stand peas. This would be a great option. Thanks a bunch.

      • Sheryl
        March 9, 2015 at 6:27 pm

        Hi , Just a thought to all you lovelly ladies . I have never tried this recipe but I can’t wait too .Just putting it out there . Have you ever tried using peas & corn out of a can & just draining them ??

        • Cyndie
          March 13, 2015 at 7:12 am

          I’ve always just drained a can of peas & used in mine. I hadn’t thought of corn before, but plan on trying it. I’ll be draining a can of corn as well.

    • roxie
      March 11, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      i want to suybegest califlower crumbled up.insted of mushrooms maybe…

  9. Trish
    June 23, 2014 at 6:24 am

    I was wondering, doesn’t the lettuce get soggy (wilted) with putting the mayo on it ahead of time? I’ve never made it but I would think it would wilt… thanks!

    • Melissa
      June 30, 2014 at 8:14 am

      It doesn’t get soggy, Trish :)

  10. Leah
    June 23, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Trish, You carefully seal the mayonnaise to the edges of the dish, so that no air reaches the lettuce,, and the lettuce stays fresh and crisp.

  11. Marilyn
    June 23, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Next time I’m told to bring the salad… I’m taking this one.. As well as my Texas Caviar salad…. Simple but yet nutritional.. Although I will probably substatute the peas with Avocado.. Not many of them like peas… I notice a comment about the dressing wilting the salad.. I make my own cream dressing and have it on the side.. My preference.. It’s one of those salads that any vegi is good… Thanks for posting…..

    • Melissa
      June 30, 2014 at 8:10 am

      So glad you like the recipe, Marilyn! I make the “caviar” salad too :) We call it “cowboy caviar.” ;) Thanks for visiting! XO ~M

      • JoAnn Wilkerson
        October 3, 2014 at 7:11 am

        Here in Alabama we call it “Redneck Caviar”

  12. wilma haas
    June 24, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Ive made this so many times. I never use a recipe. I just make it with anything and everything in refrigerator. I use spinach, all different kinds of lettuce, sometimes iceberg makes me sick. I have even bought the mixed bags of lettuce when would be in a hurry. I usually put it in 9×13 glass dish, because its easier for everyone to get what they want. and I put peas on top of veggies, then seal it off with the mayonnaise{which I put in bowl with sour cream, ranch dressing and vinegar salt and pepper} mix good and pour on salad and spead and seal good like your putting icing on cake.then bacon bits and cheese, cover good and refrigerate..

    • Melissa
      June 30, 2014 at 8:06 am

      Sounds wonderful, Wilma! Thanks for visiting :)

  13. Kaye
    June 24, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Like your idea of the salad in a cake pan but wish I didn’t need 3 pages to print the recipe.

    • Melissa
      June 30, 2014 at 8:05 am

      Glad you like the recipe, Kaye! :) Enjoy!

    • Ellen
      August 6, 2014 at 11:43 am

      Just Right click and copy and paste into a word document. I do it that way all the time. Saves a lot of paper. Hope that’s helpful.

      • Melissa
        August 11, 2014 at 2:10 pm

        Thanks, Ellen :)

    • Cathy
      March 16, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      Kaye click the box that says print without images. It should only use 1 page of paper then!!

  14. Laura
    June 24, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Is it better to leave the lettuce in full leaves rather than chop it up? The recipe I have calls for chopping it.

    • Melissa
      June 30, 2014 at 8:04 am

      Which ever way you prefer, Laura :)

  15. Gwynne
    June 24, 2014 at 9:05 am

    I have made the traditional for years, but I always use a cake or pie taker in Tupperware. Depending on how many I plan to serve, I may even use a lunchbox type of Tupperware . Never tried adding red onions (I always use green) and mushrooms, but they would add a terrific flavor.

    • Melissa
      June 30, 2014 at 8:04 am

      Enjoy, and thanks so much for stopping by, Gwynne! :)

      • Sherri
        June 30, 2014 at 6:15 pm

        I love this 7 layered salad! But i thought i would tell you also, that its great with dried fruit in it too..i use dried cranberries and raisins… and throw in some chopped walnuts or be daring and use Pine nuts! yummm! :)

        • Sherri
          June 30, 2014 at 6:16 pm

          oh! and i forgot…sometimes broccoli! :)

          • Melissa
            July 11, 2014 at 6:26 am

            Thanks for the ideas! I look forward to trying everyone’s additions and variations on this recipe :)

    June 24, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    I add romaine lettuce and yellow pepper. Iceberg not that nutritious. Not so much bacon.

    • Melissa
      June 30, 2014 at 7:57 am

      Sounds like a great version of this recipe! There are so many different interpretations of this classic salad. I love hearing all the different ways that people make it :) Thanks for sharing!

  17. Jo
    June 25, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    I have always put this salad in a 9×13 pan. When we have gathering I have been asked to make this salad. This is when I make salad in the foil turkey pan and salad is gone by the end of the meal. I do not use mayonnaise. I mix 8 ounce of cream cheese, 8 ounces of sour cream and a dry packet of ranch dressing.

    • Melissa
      June 30, 2014 at 7:53 am

      Sounds like an awesome version of this salad, Jo! thanks for sharing :)

  18. Patty
    June 27, 2014 at 5:39 am

    How about adding a layer of chopped cooked chicken and omitting a layer of bacon for a complete meal?

    • Melissa
      June 30, 2014 at 7:48 am

      Great idea, Patty! I’m going to try that! :) thanks for visiting, and for the inspiration.

    • Jerry Piotrowski
      December 20, 2014 at 11:47 am

      Great idea I love the seven layer it costs at the store, but making it now at home it will be better

  19. Jeanine
    June 30, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing …. looks delicious!
    I’m making this tomorrow.

    • Melissa
      July 11, 2014 at 6:27 am

      Hope you love it, Jeanine! :) thanks for visiting!

  20. July 4, 2014 at 5:37 am

    I needed a salad recipe for a picnic this weekend and this is going to be the one. I havent had this for a while, but remember that its always delicious.Thanks to everyone for sharing your versions. They all sound great!

    • Melissa
      July 11, 2014 at 6:28 am

      Thanks for stopping by to comment, Kristina! :) Hope you enjoy the recipe! XO ~M

  21. Judy Murray
    July 12, 2014 at 12:04 am

    Thank you, we have made this salad a number of times now and it’s wonderful. We use put our own touch by adding more of the ingredients. We change the meat to sausage, hamburger, or a mixer with bacon. We used stevia instead of sugar. Added a 1/4 cup of sour cream to each of the cups of mayonnaise. We can fix this dish so quickly now. We love your creative spirit and feel it will be a dish we prepare for a long time. Thank you you so much for sharing it.

    • Melissa
      July 12, 2014 at 8:25 pm

      Hi Judy! :)

      My pleasure! Thanks for sharing your renditions. I love seeing all the different ways this yummy salad can be prepared! XO ~M

  22. Karen Woods
    July 21, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I love this, too, and always served it as is, but a friend had us to dinner one time and she stirred this up right before setting it on the table, so you got all the layers and that’s the only way I do mine, these days.

    • Melissa
      July 26, 2014 at 10:11 am

      Thanks for the tip, Karen! :)

  23. jackie gene
    July 25, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Not a big mayo fan, and my daughter hates anything made with it, my question is, does it taste like mayo after being in the fridge overnight, some recipes call for mayo and once they are all mixed in you can not tell its mayo, it looks like an excellent recipe thank you,

    • Melissa
      July 26, 2014 at 10:16 am

      Hi there, Jackie!

      Well, the mayo is mixed with sugar, so it turns into a type of salad dressing. With all of the flavors going on I don’t really notice the mayo flavor, just the creamy texture.

      If you don’t like the “eggy” flavor of mayonnaise, maybe you could try a yummy guacamole dressing instead? Here’s a link to a recipe I just love, and it would make this recipe a bit more healthy too…

      OR… have you ever tried Vegenaise? It’s a vegan mayo that I recently fell in LOVE with, and I think it tastes better than mayonnaise! :)

      Hope these suggestions help!


  24. Sandy
    July 26, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Help…when I made this the lettuce was wilted and very wet what am I doing wrong?

    • Melissa
      August 11, 2014 at 2:12 pm

      I’m not sure, Sandy… that’s never happened to me… Did you wash the lettuce leaves and possibly leave them too wet when making the salad? That’s the only explanation I can come up with. Sorry that happened to you.

  25. Ant D^j^
    July 26, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    I was looking for a salad that not only looked good, but tasted good also! I think I have found it! I read everyone’s comments and they all sounded great! I will let you know how it turns out! Thank you for having such a wonderful site and I for one am happy I came across
    it! Keep up the great work! I know I appreciate it! Thanks again!

    • Melissa
      August 11, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      My pleasure, Ant D :) I’m so happy you like it. Thanks for stopping by and letting me know!

  26. Jennifer
    July 27, 2014 at 11:13 am


  27. Deanna
    July 28, 2014 at 8:16 am

    What about using tomatoes – do they work or do they make it too juicy. Don’t really like celery and was going to use tomatoes and eggs instead

    • Melissa
      August 11, 2014 at 2:16 pm

      Hi Deanna! :)

      If you use tomatoes, take the juice and seeds out prior to chopping them up and adding them to the salad… otherwise your salad will be too wet.

      Hope that helps! ~M

    • Margie Walker
      March 13, 2015 at 11:58 am

      I use a layer of eggs, a layer of bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cucumbers, but I always put my sugar in with my ranch and cucumber dressing, to me it makes a real tasty salad!

  28. April
    August 3, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Has anyone ever added cucumbers and tomatoes to the layers?

    • Melissa
      August 11, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      Hi April! :)

      I have. Just make sure to remove the juice and seeds from the tomatoes, and the seeds from the cucumbers before chopping them up and adding them to the salad.


  29. Christine
    August 4, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    What’s a purple onion? In my grocery stores (Southern California) we have white, yellow, and red.

    • Melissa
      August 11, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      Red and purple onions are the same thing, Christine. :)

  30. Gail O.
    August 17, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    This would be fabulously vegetarian if instead of bacon, chopped sun-dried tomatoes were added for that smoky, bacon flavor. Thanks for sharing.

    • Melissa
      September 6, 2014 at 10:03 am

      Love that idea, Gail! Thanks for sharing :)

  31. Criss
    August 31, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Pinned it for the next potluck or picnic.

    • Melissa
      September 6, 2014 at 10:04 am

      Hi Criss! I’m so glad you like the recipe! enjoy :)

  32. Janet
    September 4, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Making this for a company pot luck next week. Thanks for sharing!

    • Melissa
      September 6, 2014 at 10:04 am

      My pleasure, Janet :) Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy the recipe! xoxo ~M

      • Janet
        September 9, 2014 at 10:14 pm

        I read on another website (That “Pioneer Woman” I think she is called) to add some hard boiled eggs before the bacon in the middle. I’m doing that-sounds like a good add!

  33. Barbara Haulbosky
    October 1, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Wow Melissa! I can’t wait to make that recipe. Thanks so much for sharing. I look forward to more great and healthy recipes! ~Barbara

    • Melissa
      October 4, 2014 at 9:12 am

      My pleasure, Barbara! Enjoy, and thanks so much for visiting! XO ~M :)

  34. October 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Love the looks of this dish, Neat that you can cut squares as serving as with the layered salad in the bowl, you sort of dig in and get a mixed bag of stuff! Surprised the salad doesn’t get soggy with the mayo, cheese and bacon in the middle and on the top! The Canadian Thanksgiving is around the corner and this layered salad with the beauty of being able to make it 12 to 24 hours ago is a real plus! Now what is Caviar cowboy salad?

    • Melissa
      October 4, 2014 at 9:14 am

      Hi there Kennedy :)

      I’m so happy you like my salad recipe :) I hope you love it as much as we do!

      Here’s a link to the Cowboy Caviar recipe…. enjoy, and thanks so much for visiting!

  35. Clara
    October 22, 2014 at 11:10 am

    I have found a way to solve both problems: I agree that putting it in the bowl: yes you lose your layers. Putting in a cake pan you don’t get to see those beautiful layers. So I tried the way you are doing it but in a clear cake pan and then everyone can see the layers + they can get to the layers and all the problems are solved! So thanks for sharing the recipe: it’s great

    • Melissa
      October 24, 2014 at 7:23 am

      I love your idea, Clara! :) Thanks so much for sharing. I just put a clear cake pan on my shopping list. Genius! XOXO ~M

  36. Brent
    December 22, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    I have always used spinach in place of iceberg lettuce. It doesn’t wilt as easy, or leave a puddle water in the bottom and it’s higher in nutrition.

  37. Coonnie
    December 23, 2014 at 10:45 am

    When I first started making layered salad (probably close to 40 years ago) it was made in a cake pan. Now, sometimes I use a bowl, but cake pan always seemed to work best – easier to serve that way.

  38. Rachael
    January 7, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    For everyone worried about tomatoes/cucumbers/olives adding too much moisture and making everything wilt, put them on the bottom only. That way your crunchy layers stay dry. I love to fix this salad in small containers to take to work. I don’t have to worry with a separate salad dressing container!

  39. Cindy
    January 9, 2015 at 9:14 am

    I use half ice berg and half romaine. I like my lettuce chopped up fine. Veggies diced small and use the small pickling cucumbers. A little cayenne red pepper sprinkled on gives it a nice flavor and I also sprinkle the veggies with some ground sea salt and some pepper. I spread the dressing over the peas and add the real bacon pieces and Mexican cheese on top. Put it in fridge overnight. Yummy!

  40. Holly
    January 26, 2015 at 11:51 am

    My mother made this years ago but used Miracle Whip instead of the mayo/sugar combination.

  41. Susan
    January 29, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    When do you add the second half of the mayo/sugar combo????

    • Melissa
      January 29, 2015 at 5:33 pm

      You repeat the layers… just like you did the first time, do it again. LOL :)

  42. Susan
    January 29, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    OK. Duh. I just didn’t think you would put the rest of the dressing on top of the salad. I’m taking cold meds. Not thinking clearly. LOL Thank you.

    • Melissa
      January 30, 2015 at 11:29 am

      Aw, no worries, Sweetie :) Feel better. XO

  43. February 15, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    I always put hard boiled eggs in the 7 layer salad. Is that a no no?

    • edith schnupp
      March 12, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      I always add hard boiled eggs. I only use one layer of mayo: on the very top. On top of that I add chopped tomatoes and shredded cheese,and sometimes bacon, but you do not need to. I, too, have been making this over 40 years, in a 9×13 pan. A well liked salad.

  44. dyana
    March 12, 2015 at 9:01 am

    It is also really good to add cooked ground turkey and instead of sugar mixed with the mayo, try taco seasoning! Awesome “taco” salad!

  45. Linda
    March 12, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    B A C O N ~~ You forgot to put in on the recipe, but it looks like it is pictured

    • Melissa
      March 13, 2015 at 5:59 pm

      Hi Linda :)
      You made me scroll alllllll the way down to this comment so I could reply. ;) Anyhoo…. see the last ingredient in the recipe? Yup. It’s bacon. XO ~M

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