The Best Salad Greens for a Dinner Party

The best leaves to avoid serving a soggy salad.

Published July 25, 2023.

If you’re having a dinner party, it’s almost obligatory to serve a big bowl of salad.

Here’s the problem: You’re also making other dishes. And if you’re prepping your salad ahead of time, it sits there. Dressing or not, salad greens may start to wilt the longer they sit out.

The key to avoiding a soggy salad is to know your greens. Some salad greens are sturdier than others.

Follow our handy list of sturdy versus delicate greens, and keep reading for tips if you’re serving salad for a crowd. 

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Sturdy Salad Greens

Sturdy greens with strong centers and crisp, tougher leaves hold up under the weight of dressings and other ingredients. These are optimal for make-ahead salads. 

  • Kale: For a salad that truly lasts, kale is at the top of the list. These leaves can be tough for a salad without a hot soak, which is an important step in our Kale Caesar Salad. After the soak, the greens need to cool down. We transfer the dressed greens to the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes or up to 6 hours, making this recipe truly make ahead.
Watch Becky Hays show Julia Collin Davison how to make our Kale Caesar Salad.

Delicate Salad Greens

Though still great salad options, the following leafy greens are best served immediately. Avoid delicate leaves that will wilt quickly after being cut, torn, or shredded.

  • Spinach 
  • Red Leaf Lettuce 
  • Green Leaf Lettuce
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Bibb

Salad Tip #1: Use a Salad Spinner

The most successful salads have the driest leaves. Dressing can better cling to the greens and the excess water won’t break down leaves prematurely. Invest in a good salad spinner (such as our winner, the OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner) and watch how your salads improve.

Also: You should be washing your greens inside the salad spinner. Trust us, you’ll save a lot of time.

Salad Tip #2: Add the Dressing to the Bowl First

Salad dressings can weigh down greens, dampen candied nuts, and sog out croutons. Add the dressing to the bowl before your salad for even coverage as you toss everything together. And use the largest bowl you can find. 

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