Friday, August 28, 2020

Copycat Olive Garden Salad and Dressing Recipe

Our Copycat Olive Garden Salad is like the restaurant version, even the Olive Garden salad dressing! Skip eating out - make this recipe yourself! 

Copycat Olive Garden Salad
I am such a fan of Olive Garden that I knew I had to create a few of my favorite copycats to enjoy at home.

When you can't make it to the restaurant, you can always make this salad and copycat dressing for yourself.

And, have you had a chance to try my Olive Garden alfredo sauce? It's a scrumptious copycat recipe loaded with cheese, cream, and a special ingredient to really take it over the top.

Copycat Olive Garden Chicken Parmesano Vino Bianco recipe with a rich and creamy Parmesan white wine cream sauce so delicious it may transport you to Italy.

Olive Garden Copycat Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana is the ultimate copycat recipe of the classic Olive Garden soup made quick and easy in a pressure cooker.

salad dressing poured over top of a bowl of salad

Copycat Olive Garden Salad Ingredients

Olive Garden Salad is so amazing you may eat the salad and skip the meal. Now you can make your own salad dressing copycat recipe at home.

A crisp salad with a tart, sweet, and cheesy dressing will keep you coming back for more!

This Olive Garden Salad has chopped romaine lettuce, red onion, Roma tomatoes, Pepperoncini peppers, pitted olives, and seasoned garlic croutons (try these homemade croutons).

I prefer the crisp of the romaine hearts over the American salad blend, so I used romaine in the salad.

And, of course, what makes it truly special is the Olive Garden salad dressing on top.

The salad dressing is fabulously tart and sweet with creamy Romano cheese throughout. It is absolutely amazing. You are going to love it!

Tools needed
  • Blender- You can use any blender, but I absolutely love this one! I use it for ice cream, smoothies, soups, my tomato sauce, and naturally this salad dressing.
  • Salad Bowl- 
  • Salad Tongs - These bamboo salad hands are my favorite
  • Cheese grater - any will work but this is my go to

Olive Garden salad dressing poured over salad

How to make Olive Garden Salad dressing?

Of course, this copycat Olive Garden salad wouldn't be complete without their signature dressing. 
Thankfully, it's very simple to make at home.

You only need a few simple ingredients to make this including mayonnaise, oil, Romano cheese, and a few seasonings.

If you prefer dressing to be yellow in color (like the original) add pinches of turmeric until it reaches the desired shade (thanks to a reader for the tip).

I left it out in the above photo.

Be sure to let the salad dressing sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before you use it.

This extra time lets the flavors meld. You won't believe the difference it makes.

How do I store leftover dressing?

The dressing will make enough for about four bowls of salad. You can store the leftovers in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed Mason jar.

They will last for about a week. That way, you can enjoy another salad again soon. Or, why not use it to marinate your chicken breasts? They taste amazing that way.

Frequently asked questions

What type of olives are in the Olive Garden salad?

The traditional salad at Olive Garden contains whole black olives. Buy them pitted to save time when preparing the salad.

Of course, you can always add in another type of olive if you prefer. But, black olives are traditional.

creamy dressing poured on salad - close up view 

How many calories are in Olive Garden salad dressing?

The traditional Olive Garden salad dressing contains 80 calories per one fluid ounce. But, if you use the reduced-fat version of their dressing, it contains only 30 calories.

Either way, watch how much you add to this copycat Olive Garden salad because the calories can add up quickly.

What type of cheese do you use in Olive Garden salad?

I use Romano cheese when I make this recipe. But, I have heard from some people that they like to use Parmesan as well.

Please do not buy the powdered mixed cheese in the Italian section of your grocery store. Start with fresh Romano and grate it yourself using a handheld cheese grater.

It's an absolute must and really changes the flavor of the salad.

What should I serve with this salad?

My Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana is a delicious soup to serve along with this copycat salad recipe.

Or, why not enjoy it with a few thick slices of my simple Amish white bread recipe. My no-knead roasted garlic skillet bread would be another delicious option.


With love from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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Olive Garden dressing recipe poured over salad

Yield: 8
Author: Donna Elick
Copycat Olive Garden Salad and Dressing

Copycat Olive Garden Salad and Dressing

Olive Garden Salad is so amazing you may eat the salad and skip the meal. Now you can make your own salad dressing copycat recipe at home. A crisp salad with a tart, sweet and cheesy dressing will keep you coming back for more!
Prep time: 10 MCook time: 0 MTotal time: 20 M


  • 3 romaine lettuce hearts, washed and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 4 pickled Pepperoncini
  • 10 large pitted black olives
  • 1/2 cup seasoned croutons
  • 1/4 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
Olive Garden House Dressing Copycat
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra light tasting olive oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 2 tablespoon fresh grated Romano cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar


  1. In the bowl of a blender, combine dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  2. In a large salad bowl, layer salad ingredients in order beginning with lettuce. Pour salad dressing over salad and toss to combine.
  3. Serve and enjoy!
  1. If you prefer dressing to be yellow in color (like the original) add pinches of turmeric until it reaches the desired shade (thanks to a reader for the tip). I left it out in the above photo.

long photo of salad with dressing poured over top

Originally published May 2014, updated and republished August 2020

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  1. Never heard of Romaine cheese.

  2. This is so insane! After a very interesting day today (5 days of school left), my husband treated me (and the little one) to dinner at Olive Garden. I think all we wanted was the salad! Can't wait to try this one!

  3. Now I can have their salad with enough olives in it :)

    1. It's like the amount of olives (and peperoncinis are counted as per the people at the table(4 people = 4 olives and peppers)

  4. thank you, thank you , so yummmmmmmyyyy!

  5. Thanks for the recipe...and Cathy you are right about the olives!

  6. Olive garden house dressing would not have mayo in it - it is a Italian style oil based dressing not a creamy one.

    1. Olive Garden is a chain restaurant, that does
      not have authentic Italian food. They cater to the American palate. Most of their food does not follow traditional cooking methods.

    2. Ovie Garden is more of a oil based dressing

    3. My Olive Garden serves a vinaigrette type dressing.

    4. olive garden dressing is definitely a creamy vinaigrette- you may not be able to tell while it's on the salad but if you see it in the bottle (that they sell) it isn't just oil based. keep in mind mayo is just egg and oil.

  7. you can buy the dressing at Wal-mart, Sam's Club,Winn Dixie and Publix or from Olive Garden

    1. Or you can make this version that is created without unnecessary coloring and preservatives. Enjoy!

    2. I love this version! Clean eating!

    3. The dressing sold at Sam's Club tastes nothing like the dressing at the restaurant! A major disappointment and since they only sell two jars packaged together, I had to discard two bottles of it.

  8. My whole family looooves the salad at Olive Garden! Can't wait to make this for them!

  9. Their salad is the best! Can't wait to try this at home version.

  10. I would suggest that if you do want to color it add pinches of turmeric til you get the desired color. Good for you too.

    1. Thank you for stopping by MrsKD! That is my excellent advice.

  11. Can't wait to try this dressing. And FYI: I just ordered your cookbook from B&N!


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