Chef Salad with Ham

Chef Salad is a modern take on the old-school classic. Meat, cheese, and other tasty ingredients are piled on top of crisp greens, drizzled with creamy, tangy ranch dressing.

Hearty enough as a meal on its own, and impressive when served buffet-style!

chef salad

Chef Salad with Ham

Need more extra-special recipes for when you have guests over? This Creamy Tuscan Chicken, Peach Pork Chops, and Chicken Marsala are guaranteed to wow at any dinner party.

Chef Salad has a glitzy history. Some food historians claim that it was created by a Ritz-Carlton chef in 1940s New York City. Others attribute it to another high-profile chef at the prestigious Hotel Pennsylvania in the 1920s. No matter its exact origins, one thing is true— it’s hands-down one of the most amazing salads ever.

It can’t be easier to make. Make a bed of lettuce, chop your ingredients, and put them on top however you want. Drizzle with dressing or serve it on the side. That’s it!

I love serving it family-style where each component is arranged in beautiful rows on top of the greens, ready to be enjoyed however you want it. It’s also great as a refreshing lunch or dinner with some garlic bread on the side!

chef salad layered on a plate

What is Chef Salad?

It’s a classic American salad. The basic foundation is the same: any cold meat such as ham, cheese, lettuce, boiled eggs, vegetables like tomatoes and onions, and dressing. 

But true to its name, YOU are the chef here. Change up the meat, use whatever veggies you have on hand, swap out the lettuce with your favorite greens, and use any dressing you’d like!

Just remember to follow the basic recipe foundation to create a true Chef Salad. 

What is the difference between a Cobb salad and a chef salad?

Though they share similar basic components, a Cobb salad requires more specific ingredients. Instead of cold meats, it’s typically topped with grilled chicken and bacon. It also has avocados. 

Because avocados are already creamy, the dressing for Cobbs is usually a red wine vinaigrette versus Ranch dressing for the Chef version.

Crumbled blue cheese is also a conventional Cobb ingredient instead of the usual cheddar for Chef Salad.

chef salad close

Chef Salad Ingredients:

  • For the salad: First, wash, dry, and chop some crisp romaine or ice berg lettuce. Prepare cheddar or swiss cheese. Dice ham. Slice green onions, boiled eggs, and cherry tomatoes. Drain one cup of sweet corn and cut cucumbers into rounds. 
  • For the homemade Ranch dressing: You will need onion powder, garli cpowder, and milk. For extra tang and creaminess, get some sour cream ready. You’ll also need some mayonnaise for a richer dressing. Chop fresh dill, garlic. Prepare some fresh lemon juice, plus salt and pepper to taste. 

How to make Chef Salad:

  1. Put the salad together: Lay the greens on the bottom of the serving dish. Arrange the rest of the ingredients on top as you prefer.
  2. Make the dressing. Combine all the ingredients for the homemade Ranch. Drizzle on the salad. 
  3. Serve. Toss everything to combine. Serve.

Chef Salad recipe variations:

  • Try other deli meats: use roast beef, turkey, chicken, and chopped bacon
  • Add other vegetables: olives, bell peppers, peas, and carrots are other popular additions
  • Add crunch: seasoned croutons and nuts add a nice layer of texture and flavor
  • Experiment with dressings: this dish also tastes great with honey mustard vinaigrette, bleu cheese dressing, chipotle ranch, or even just very good olive oil

What to serve with?

This goes great with most mains! Try pairing it with some Baked Lemon Thyme Chicken for a balanced meal or these delicious Salmon Patties. If you want to keep it simple, serve it with some garlic bread and a glass of cold Blueberry Lemonade.

chef salad with ham

Can you make it ahead?

Definitely. Prepare the individual components and store them in sealed containers. Mix up the dressing and keep in a separate container. On the day of serving, just assemble and serve.

Got any leftovers? Undressed salad can last up to five days, while you’ll want to eat dressed salad the same day so that the dish doesn’t get soggy.

More salad recipes:

Recipe Tips:

  • Serve the dressing on the side so guests can control the amount on their plate.
  • Dry the greens thoroughly then chill so they taste extra fresh and crisp. 
  • Season everything lightly, from the lettuce to the dressing, to brighten up the flavors.
  • Fresh herbs like basil and oregano add a tasty kick to the dish. 
5 from 7 votes
chef salad
Chef Salad with Ham
Prep Time
20 mins
Total Time
20 mins

Chef Salad is a modern take on the old-school classic. Meat, cheese, and other tasty ingredients are piled on top of crisp greens, drizzled with creamy, tangy ranch dressing.

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chef Salad
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 862 kcal
Author: Catalina Castravet
  • 8 cups lettuce iceberg
  • 8 ounces ham diced
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese diced
  • 4 ounces siwss cheese diced
  • 4 boiled eggs sliced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes sliced
  • 1 cup sweet corn
  • 2 cups cucumbers chopped
Ranch dressing:
  • 1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Chopped green onions
  1. Wash and dry the lettuce. Chop it and add it to a salad bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients.
  3. Combine the Ranch ingredients in a bowl, and drizzle on top of the salad.
  4. Toss to combine and serve.
Nutrition Facts
Chef Salad with Ham
Amount Per Serving
Calories 862 Calories from Fat 927
% Daily Value*
Fat 103g158%
Saturated Fat 30g188%
Cholesterol 331mg110%
Sodium 1578mg69%
Potassium 912mg26%
Carbohydrates 22g7%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 12g13%
Protein 39g78%
Vitamin A 2299IU46%
Vitamin C 26mg32%
Calcium 574mg57%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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