Skip to main content
Cooking Tips

Why You Should Add Your Salad Dressing Before Your Salad

The architecture of your salad matters.

Let me guess: when making a salad, you usually save the dressing for last, right? You assemble the components in the bowl, and then drizzle it with dressing just before serving it.

But what if I told you to flip that step on its head?

Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter

Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!

Our Complete Salad Cookbook has a wealth of information when it comes to constructing the very best salad—as either a side or a main dish in its own right—and among these helpful tips is one you might not expect: your salad dressing should be the first thing you add to the bowl. 

We all realize the importance of architecture when it comes to building a safe and sturdy building; well, the same philosophy applies when constructing a salad. 

For the best salads, start with your vinaigrette, then add lettuce and the other components. Once you’re ready to eat, toss the salad just before serving. Be sure to leave any crunchy toppings (such as nuts or croutons) until the very last step.

By adding your dressing to the bowl first, you avoid a soggy salad, as the majority of toppings won’t touch the liquid. It also makes tossing the salad and fully coating your greens easy, as you simply have to toss a few times to ensure an even distribution of dressing. 

You can even whisk together your vinaigrette directly in the bowl for one less dirty dish to clean. (Looking to go above and beyond? Season your salad bowl, too.)

So the next time you’re prepping your salad, remember that dressing the bowl is the way to go for a sturdy foundation, and a delicious result.