Olive Garden Salad Knockoff

It's been a LONG time since I've been inside an Olive Garden restaurant ... the unlimited salad and bread sticks used to always get me ... I am a sucker for warm, soft bread, you know? Oh, and I just love that salad too ... the dressing, luckily, is easy to replicate, as is the salad itself.

The salad is simple:

1 head of iceberg lettuce, rinsed, dried and torn into bite size pieces
half of a red onion, sliced thin and rings separated out
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
handful of sliced black olives
handful of banana pepper rings (or pepperoncini)
handful of shredded carrot

Layer all in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate.

The most important part of this salad is the dressing ... here's my ORIGINAL recipe, but I've since modified it as follows and personally, prefer THIS now! The main difference is NO corn syrup or garlic AND I used avocado oil instead of the previously called for vegetable oil!

In large wide mouth jar, add the following ingredients:

1 cup mayo (you can make your own, you know!)
2/3 cup distilled vinegar
2 tsp avocado oil
4 tbs of simple syrup (I made mine with Splenda) 
8 tbs of Parmesan cheese, Romano/Parmesan blend works well too, shredded or grated
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp dried parsley
juice of one lemon (smallish in size)

You can either put a tight fitting lid on the jar and shake it like crazy or use an immersion blender, OR dirty up a blender and use that. Whatever you do, you really need to mix it well.

Toss the jar in the fridge for a few hours. When ready to serve the salad, you can dress the salad if you prefer, or serve the dressing on the side.  Just make sure you shake well to redistribute the cheese that will sink to the bottom ;-)


Looking forward to sharing with some of these GREAT Parties ... go check them out!

*This post may contain affiliate links ... click here to read my disclosure :-)


  1. Love this! Never thought to recreate it for at home, pinning for later!

    1. One of our standby favorites around here!

  2. I was just talking about ordering an Olive Garden salad on my blog and linked to your recipe here. Pinned it to try out later as well although I'll have to add a few croutons ;)

    1. Ha! I don't think the "original" recipe or restaurant has croutons either but hey, it's your salad, you add them croutons! ;-)

  3. Hi Jan, love this. Would you like to share this with the other participants in Food on Friday over at Carole's Chatter? I have a weekly link up party – each week there is a different ingredient or theme. The current theme is Salads.

    You can see upcoming themes in one of the pages at the top of my home page. If you would like to join in the fun please schedule a reminder for each week. The collection starts at 7am Friday New Zealand time – which is probably some time Thursday your time – I do find time zones quite confusing. Hope to see you soon. Cheers, Carole

  4. What is simple syrup? How do you make it?

    1. Simple syrup is just a mixture of half water and half sugar. You heat the two over low heat so the sugar dissolves and creates a very loose syrup mixture. It's great in that you don't have to dissolve the sugar when adding it to anything cold and it keeps in the fridge for a week at least ;-)

  5. Congratulations!
    Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing with us. Enjoy your new Red Plate and come back real soon!
    Miz Helen


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