This Vegan 7-Layer Salad recipe is a makeover of a Midwestern classic salad. It begins with a layer of greens, followed by green onions, frozen peas, tofu scramble, veggie bacon, cheddar cheese, and topped with a savory-sweet vegan ranch mayo dressing. That’s a lot of layers of deliciousness! If you want a healthy 7-layer salad for your holiday table, you’ve come to the right place.
This is the perfect vegetarian seven layer salad, just like the kind you’ve loved for years! This one is veganized to taste just as good and more heart-friendly too!
This salad is actually very functional. Because the greens stay on the bottom, they actually stay fresh longer. With the dressing served on top, you can enjoy this 7 layer salad for days. Of course, it never lasts that long in our house. That’s why it’s on our menu for every holiday meal!
Making the 7-Layer Salad Healthy
I consider myself an expert on this topic because I eat vegan salads nearly every day. And the Grand Poobah of salads for me has been the Seven-Layer Salad. My mom makes this for Thanksgiving every year. And it was something I always looked forward to.
Until I became vegan.
In case you need a refresher: the traditional Seven Layer Salad begins with a layer of lettuce (the iceberg kind), followed by green onions, frozen peas, boiled eggs, bacon bits, cheddar cheese, and topped with my mom’s secret mayo dressing.
That’s a lot of layers vegans cannot eat!
For example, if you remove the eggs, cheese, and mayo dressing, you’re left with a 4-layer salad. Nothing to get excited about.
So, the question was, could I make that tasty 7 layer salad vegan? And another important question: could I make a vegan recipe for 7 layer salad healthy? Or at least…healthier?
I resigned myself to a life without my favorite salad. That is, until I found the inspiration to make a vegan (and healthier) version. Imagine…the best vegan seven layer salad!
How to Make Vegan Seven Layer Salad
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time!
I call this the perfect Vegan Seven Layer Salad because not only is it scrumptious, it’s also much healthier than the classic version. Why? Because it’s cholesterol free! In addition, it’s also a vegan gluten free salad (as long as you use gluten-free veggie bacon).
Here’s what the layered vegetable salad looks like:
- Greens — I recommend field greens or romaine for the most nutrition
- Scrambled Tofu — to replace boiled eggs
- Sliced Green Onions — or thinly sliced red onions would work too
- Frozen Peas
- Veggie Bacon — to replace bacon
- Cheddar Shreds
- Creamy Dairy-free Mayo Ranch Dressing.
So, how do we make this delicious Vegan Seven Layer Salad? I’ll explain the steps below. These steps display the process of making the salad and therefore are not in the same order as the layers.
Step One: Scrambled Tofu
Scrambled tofu is a great egg replacer and is so easy to make. It takes around 10 – 15 minutes. Here’s how to do it.
Press the Tofu
First, remove the tofu from the container. Tofu is packed in water and needs to be pressed. You can do this by wrapping the block of tofu with paper towels (or a dish cloth). Either use your hands to press the tofu or place it on a plate and place something with a little bit of weight on top.
Allow to sit for a few minutes to drain excess liquid from the tofu. Or you can use a tofu press (see the link in the recipe card below).
Cook the Tofu
Once the tofu has been pressed, add olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Place the pressed tofu tofu in the skillet and use a spatula to break it into small, bite-size pieces. Cook the tofu over medium heat for about 1 minute.
Add seasonings and stir until the tofu is well coated. Cook the tofu over medium heat for 10 – 12 minutes, occasionally stirring to keep the seasonings mixed and to prevent the tofu from browning.
Once it’s done, turn the heat off and set aside to cool momentarily before placing in a lidded bowl. Place this in the fridge to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Step Two: Greens
This healthy layered salad recipe begins with mixed greens, a healthier base than the iceberg lettuce my mom uses. Of course, romaine is another healthy option to use and it adds some crisp to the salad too.
In fact, there are a variety of healthy greens to choose from as the base for this salad, such as kale.
Get out the dish you will serve the salad in. I used a Pyrex 3.2 quart container that comes with a lid. Tear or cut the greens into pieces. Fill the dish with mixed greens until it’s nearly full.
Step Three: Green Onions
Next, get out the green onions. Cut off the root end and slice the rest. I use as much of the green onions as I can with this recipe. Spread the sliced green onions evenly over the greens.
Two layers down, five to go!
Step Four: Frozen Peas
Spread the frozen peas on top of the green onions. I use the entire bag so the frozen peas layer is thick enough to create a barrier between the greens and the toppings.
This prevents the greens from getting soggy. That means if you’re lucky enough to have any leftovers, the salad will still taste great the next day too!
Of course, you can make this 7 layer salad without peas. If you need a substitute, consider using edamame or even chickpeas as a replacement.
Step Five: Add Cooled Scrambled Tofu
Evenly spread the cooled tofu pieces on top of the frozen peas. As mentioned above, there’s a reason for the order of these layers. the frozen peas creates a nice barrier between the lettuce and the toppings.
This scrambled tofu layer helps with that as well.
Step Six: Veggie Bacon
The next layer is veggie bacon. There are several options for you to consider to add that delicious bacon flavor and texture. Here are my favorite options:
- Bacon Bits. Believe it or not, they’re accidentally vegan. My mom uses a lot of bacon bits in her salad. However, I find the flavor a bit too strong. So, when I use bacon bits, I just do a small sprinkling. I like a bit of that smoky taste, but not too much. You can choose what works best for you.
- Tempeh Bacon is another great option. It’s easy to make a day ahead too.
- Bacon Almond Slivers. My recipe for Bacon-Flavored Almond Slivers is amazing! I love using these smoky morsels in my recipes, but if you’re tight on time, you’ll want to make them the day before.
- Store-bought Veggie Bacon works too! The Sweet Earth Veggie Bacon is great. However, the Lightlife Fakin’ Bacon is made from Tempeh and is also gluten-free (I confess, it’s my favorite!). Either way, if you’re using a store-bought veggie bacon, follow the instructions on the package and fry it in a skillet until crispy. Then break it into pieces and allow it to cool completely.
Step Seven: Vegan Cheddar Shreds
The next layer is the shredded vegan cheddar cheese. I use either Daiya Cheddar Shreds or Follow Your Heart Cheddar Shreds.
Daiya now offers cheddar bocks. I oftentimes will use that and shred it myself because I can use the smaller holes on my box shredder to make a finer grated cheese. It’s lovely!
Whatever vegan cheddar you’re using, cover the top of the salad with the shredded cheese, leaving a little left over to sprinkle on top.
Step Eight: Vegan Mayo Dressing
For the Vegan Ranch dressing, I call for a dairy-free mayo as the main ingredient. There are many options to choose from, but I prefer Hellman’s Vegan Mayo. Just Mayo is great too, but I have trouble finding it these days.
I mix the mayo with plain vegan yogurt to make it a little bit healthier.
To make the dressing, add the dairy-free mayo, yogurt, and seasonings in a small bowl and stir together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
You can add this dressing to the salad right away if you’re ready to serve dinner or you can refrigerate the salad without dressing and add the dressing immediately before serving.
Vegan 7 Layer Salad Garnishes
We eat with our eyes is true even for salads. Adding a few garnishes can make this salad sing! I like to top it with additional chopped onions, bacon bits or a little bit of the remaining cheddar cheese for garnishing.
- You can use your favorite greens as the base of this salad, such as iceberg, romaine, or even field greens
- Whatever greens you use, be sure to chop them into bite-size pieces
- A typical veggie bacon won’t stay crisp when added to the salad. So, if you’re not going to serve the salad right away, consider this: Make the rest of the salad ahead of time, leaving out the layers beginning with the veggie bacon. Then add the remaining layers beginning with the veggie bacon, immediately prior to serving.
- You can substitute cashew cream for the vegan yogurt. Both work great and will result in a creamy dressing.
- The layers of this salad are very intentional and work well together. I do not recommend adding things like chopped celery, chopped bell peppers, or even cherry tomatoes.
The nice thing about this vegan 7 layer salad, is you can make some of the toppings, like the tofu scramble and ranch dressing the night before. Then, the morning of your dinner, simply combine your layers in a serving dish and you’re ready to go.
I always keep this salad refrigerated up until the moment it’s served. Then, after dinner, any leftovers goes back in the fridge.
I love vegan salads. Here are some more you should consider:
- This Vegan Cobb Salad — offers a variety of tasty toppings too!
- This Vegetarian Wedge Salad is perfect as a side dish or main meal. You’ll love the vegan blue cheese dressing to drizzle over the top!
- Enjoy this filling Vegan Caesar Salad featuring croutons and an amazing creamy dressing!
- Everyone loves the amazing Vegan Potato Salad, based off the traditional midwest recipe!
- This Vegan Harvest Salad is served with a tasty pumpkin-infused ranch dressing!
I hope you love this recipe as we do! Have you tried it? Be sure and leave a comment and a rating of this recipe below and then take a quick photo and share it with me using #namelymarly on Instagram. I love seeing your creations!
Vegan Seven Layer Salad
- 15 oz extra firm tofu drained
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash garlic & herb seasoning
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- dash of salt
Vegan Seven Layer Salad
- 4 – 5 cups mixed greens washed, patted dried, & long stems removed
- 3 – 7 green onions washed and sliced
- 10 oz bag frozen peas
- ½ cup bacon bits (I used Bacos because they are vegan or Bacon-Flavored Almond Slivers
- 1½ cups package Daiya Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Creamy Vegan Ranch Dressing
- 2 cup dairy-free mayo
- ½ cup plain coconut yogurt
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup,
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper freshly cracked is best
For the Tofu Scramble
- Remove the tofu from the container. Press the tofu by wrapping in paper towels (or dish cloth).Place on a plate and place something with a little bit of weight on top. Allow to sit for a few minutes to drain excess liquid from the tofu. Or use a tofu press.
- Add the olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Place the block of tofu in the skillet and use a spatula to break it into pieces. Cook over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add Mrs. Dash, nutritional yeast flakes, turmeric and salt and stir until the tofu is well coated. Cook the tofu over medium heat for 10 – 12 minutes, occasionally stirring to keep the seasonings mixed and to prevent the tofu from browning.
- Once it's done, turn the heat off and set aside to cool momentarily before placing in a lidded bowl. Place this in the fridge to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
For the Vegan Seven Layer Salad
- Get out the dish you will serve the salad in. I used a Pyrex 3.2 quart container. Tear mixed greens into pieces. Fill the dish with mixed greens until it’s nearly full.
- Next get out the green onions Remove tops, and slice the rest; I use as much of the green onions as I can with this recipe. Spread the sliced green onions evenly over the greens. Two layers down, five to go!
- Spread the frozen peas on top of the green onions. I use the entire bag so the frozen peas layer is thick enough to create a barrier between the greens and the toppings. This prevents the toppings from getting soggy. That means if you’re lucky enough to have any leftovers, the salad will still taste great the next day.
- Evenly spread the cooled tofu pieces on top of the frozen peas. Next sprinkle with bacon bits. My mom uses a lot of bacon bits, but I just do a small sprinkling because I think their flavor can be overwhelming. I like a bit of that smoky taste, but not too much. You can choose what works best for you.
- The next layer is the shredded vegan cheddar cheese. Cover the salad with the package of shredded cheese, leaving a little left over to sprinkle on top.
For the Creamy Vegan Ranch Dressing
- For the Vegan Mayo dressing. Add the dairy-free mayo, coconut yogurt, garlic powder, onion powder, and agave nectar in a small bowl and stir until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can add this dressing to the salad right away if you’re ready to serve dinner or you can refrigerate the salad without dressing and add the dressing immediately before serving.
- Top with additional chopped onions, bacon bits or a little bit of the remaining cheddar cheese for garnishing.
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This layered veggie salad post was updated to include larger photos and some edits to the recipe. Here’s an example of one of the previous photos on this post.