Cobb Salad

4.75 from 36 votes
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This cobb salad will satisfy your hunger with four proteins, various fresh produce, and a delicious homemade red wine vinaigrette. The recipe makes a hearty portion and is excellent for meal prep.

bowl of cobb salad and a jar of homemade dressing

The kitchen sink of salads was created in the 1920s at the original Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, California. Who knew that a late-night meal by the owner, Robert Cobb, using leftovers would turn into a phenomenon. Thanks to his creativity and desire for variety, it’s now an American staple that you can easily make at home. 

There are several components to the recipe, but nothing you can’t tackle with a bit of prep. The cobb salad takes the typical garden salad to the next level with tender chicken breast, crispy bacon, hard-boiled eggs, creamy avocado, blue cheese, and many vegetables. What brings all of the ingredients together is the tangy red wine vinegar dressing.

Hard boil the eggs

Tender egg whites with firm and creamy centers are the goal. I find that hot-starting the eggs is vital for easy peeling. Why? Immediately exposing the eggs to a hot environment quickly firms them up and prevents the albumin whites from sticking stubbornly to the membrane in the shell. 

I have three reliable methods you can try; boiling, steaming, or pressure cooking in the Instant Pot. You can make the eggs up to 7 days in advance, so you can just crack and go! Cut the eggs in half or quarters for the recipe.

Frying three strips of bacon in a cast iron skillet

Cook the bacon

Thick-cut slices of bacon cook in a hot skillet until crispy. Since you only need four strips, the stovetop is the quickest method. Don’t let that flavorful grease go to waste! Save it to cook the chicken in. You’ll thank me later. Alternatively, you can make a big tray of oven-roasted bacon up to a week ahead to speed up prep time.

Saute the chicken

Boneless chicken breast is very lean and can dry out quickly. Plus, it’s thicker on one end, so it is a challenge to cook evenly. To prevent this, I recommend cutting the pieces in half horizontally to create thinner cutlets, about ½-inch thickness. Alternatively, you can pound it down with a mallet. Flattened pieces allow the protein to cook in less time over moderate heat to keep each slice juicy and tender. 

Before cooking, lightly season the surface with salt, pepper, and paprika. The red spice adds a nice color and flavor dimension. To make the meat even tastier, saute it in the rendered bacon grease. Otherwise, just add one tablespoon of olive oil to a clean pan to cook the chicken. Alternatively, leftover rotisserie chicken makes for a convenient substitution.

Four seasoned chicken breasts cooking in a skillet

Lettuce selection

For the leady greens, I use romaine lettuce for its contrast of texture with dark, tender leaves with lighter crisp ribs. Cut them into ¾-inch thick pieces to make them easy to grab with a fork. A traditional cobb salad may also include other types of lettuce like iceberg, endive, and watercress for a more bitter or peppery taste. Feel free to use a mix.

Add fresh mix-ins

You can’t have a California-inspired recipe without avocados! Use ripe fruit that has a slight give but is still firm when gently squeezed. I like to add big beautiful slices and spread them out into a fan, but you can also chop them into chunks if you prefer. Ripe cherry or baby tomatoes add lovely juiciness to the salad.

Thinly slicing red onions adds a pleasant spice, or you could quickly pickle them as I do in my Greek salad. Finely chopped chives add a delicate onion flavor but without the lingering sulfurous notes.

Don’t forget the cheese

Blue cheese is the classic choice in a cobb salad. The soft marbled blue curds have a characteristic aged moldy flavor from the Penicillium roqueforti strain used during manufacturing. You can use similar types of cheese like Roquefort, Stilton, or Gorgonzola. Try feta or goat cheese for a more mild yet tangy taste. Cheddar and Monterey Jack are popular firm options without the strong taste.

Person gradually pouring oil into a bowl and whisking

Red wine vinaigrette

The cobb salad is typically either served with a blue cheese dressing or a lighter French dressing. As much as I enjoy the creamy option, it can quickly get heavy with the bacon and avocado. To brighten things up and help refresh the palate, I went with a French-style red wine vinaigrette.

This homemade salad dressing is easy to prepare. Simply start with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper as the base. Dijon mustard adds a pleasant pungency, while minced shallots provide hints of garlic and onion without being overpowering. Gradually add the oil to the vinegar and briskly whisk to break the fat into tiny droplets. This process will thicken the consistency and keep it from becoming greasy.

Garnish and serve

This salad makes for hearty portions! You can serve it family-style on a large platter or in smaller bowls. For busy workweeks, I divvy it up into meal prep containers. For the best presentation, place the chicken strips in the center on top of the lettuce. Then arrange the remaining ingredients into little piles around it. Otherwise, you can toss all the ingredients together with the dressing, so it’s easier to serve at the dinner table.

Close up of sliced chicken breast with tomatoes and eggs

FAQ

What are the key ingredients in a cobb salad?

Proteins like chicken (sauteed, roasted, grilled, or coated and fried), hard-boiled eggs, bacon, and blue cheese make this meal an entree. Leafy greens like romaine, endive, watercress, and iceberg. Fruit and vegetables like tomatoes, onions, avocado, and chives. Serve with a French dressing like red wine vinaigrette.

What’s the difference between a cobb salad and a chef salad?

Both are popular American dishes, with similar ingredients like chopped greens, tomatoes, and hard-boiled eggs. The cobb has chicken, bacon, avocado, and blue cheese served with a vinaigrette. The chef has various deli meats like ham, turkey, roast beef, chicken, cucumber, and cheese like Swiss or cheddar and served with light or creamy dressings.

Are cobb salads healthy?

There is a variety of protein from the lean chicken breast, hard-boiled eggs, fermented cheese, and crispy bacon. Paired with fresh produce like lettuce, avocadoes, tomatoes, onions, and a light vinaigrette makes it an excellent low carb and keto entree option. There is no added sugar in this recipe.

Chicken breast, hard-boiled eggs, blue cheese, and avocado in a salad bowl

How to keep the dressing from separating

A salad dressing creates an emulsion by mixing two ingredients (olive and vinegar) that don’t typically combine and keeping them suspended. Most dressings are semi-permanent emulsions, meaning eventually, they separate over time. Mustard helps to keep a longer suspension and acts as an emulsifying agent. You can also use a small amount of mayonnaise if storing the dressing for longer than a few hours.

Cobb Salad

Cobb salad is an American low-carb entree made with fresh produce, various proteins and tossed in a tangy red wine vinegar dressing.
4.75 from 36 votes
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Servings 4 servings
Course Salad
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 cups ice cubes
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 4 strips bacon, thick cut, about 6 ounces
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, 2 pieces
  • 10 cups romaine lettuce, cut into 3/4-inch pieces, about 3 hearts
  • 1 cup baby tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large avocado, sliced or cubed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 2 ounces blue cheese, about ½ cup
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots

Instructions 

Hard Boiled Eggs

  • Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the eggs by 1-inch once added. Bring to a boil at 212°F (100°C), then carefully place the eggs inside. Cook for 30 seconds, then place the lid on and reduce heat to low. Cook on a low simmer for 12 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, add ice and cold water. Once the eggs are done, immediately transfer them to the ice bath to chill for 15 minutes. Afterward, crack the sides of the eggshell, peel, and cut each in half lengthwise.

Bacon

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 4 minutes on each side. Save the pan and grease to cook the chicken. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess grease. Once cooled, chop into ½-inch pieces.

Chicken

  • Seasonings: In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and paprika.
  • Prep: Cut each piece of chicken in half horizontally. This should create four ½-inch thick pieces. Evenly season both sides of the chicken with the seasoning mix.
    Alternatively, place one of the chicken pieces between two plastic sheets or in a large plastic bag. Flatten to an even thickness, about ½-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining piece.
  • Cook: In the same pan used to fry the bacon, cook the chicken. Heat the pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken. Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C), about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate to cool. Slice crosswise into strips, or cut into cubes.
    Alternatively, use a large clean skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Lettuce

  • Chop the lettuce into about ¾-inch pieces yielding about 10 cups. Transfer to a salad spinner, rinse with cold water, and dry.

Salad Dressing

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  • Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, continuously whisking until a thickened dressing is formed. Add the minced shallots and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To Serve

  • In serving bowls or on a large platter, evenly portion out the lettuce. Top with the sliced eggs, chicken, bacon, tomatoes, red onion, avocado, chopped chives, and blue cheese. Cover and refrigerate if not eating immediately. Drizzle dressing on top or serve on the side.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Make ahead: Salad ingredients and dressing can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Whisk dressing before using.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 693kcal (35%)Carbohydrates 7g (2%)Protein 46g (92%)Fat 53g (82%)Saturated Fat 12g (60%)Polyunsaturated Fat 5gMonounsaturated Fat 25gCholesterol 295mg (98%)Sodium 1054mg (44%)Potassium 166mg (5%)Fiber 4g (16%)Sugar 2g (2%)Vitamin A 4850IU (97%)Vitamin C 41.3mg (50%)Calcium 120mg (12%)Iron 3.8mg (21%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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12 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy says

    Wow Jessica, knockout beautiful salad. I hope to have my kitchen back together by the end of the week. Plus a new stove. I have requested your cookbook for Mother’s Day so hope someone buys it for me but if not I will have to buy myself a gift. : )

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you SO much Judy. I can’t wait for you to get your kitchen back in order. If you don’t receive a copy of my book for Mother’s day, let me know and I’ll send you one. You are the BEST!

      • Judy says

        Oh that is so sweet. Thank you. I kinda got an eye roll when I mentioned it. My husband is not a cook at all so I guess there is a lack of appreciation for how much a cookbook can mean and I am always raving about you and sending my kids your recipes.

  2. Aimee says

    Honestly, I love Cobb salad, so much so that if I were forced to only eat one salad for the rest of my life, this might be it! This is such a good classic recipe to have on hand. I also love that you oven bake bacon for the week. My husband eats eggs and bacon for lunch so that might be good for saving time.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Aimee- You are the ultimate cobb salad enthusiast, love! I think you will really enjoy this recipe. It certainly is a huge time and cost savor making bacon at home and using it throughout the week. My husband makes egg and bacon tacos every morning for breakfast, so it definitely comes in handy!

  3. Allison says

    Jessica,
    People like you make cooking less intimidating and fun! I never imagined myself making such beautiful but ordinary recipes. Now I am psyched to try just about anything. I once was a woman who couldn’t cook. Well, how you like me now? I am cooking beet salads without a chef! Thank you!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You are a rock star Allison! I am so overjoyed to hear that I can help you gain confidence in the kitchen, that’s all I want for my readers 🙂 You can do it, and have fun in the process. Just play and explore in the kitchen, and the learning will follow. Let me know what else you make!

  4. Nancy Whittenberg says

    I hate to admit that at my age, 69, I have neither made nor eaten a Cobb salad. After seeing this recipe, it’s next on the menu. Thanks.

  5. christian alexander says

    Followed this to the letter, and it came out flawlessly — great recipe — advanced but thoroughly executable — and if you follow, the rewards are yours … damn good.

  6. Larry J. Battaglia says

    Reference Cobb Salad. I will make it…but where is my anchovy? The family will elect a new Godfather and put a fish in my bed if I spring this on them without the anchovy. Ouch!
    Larry J. Battaglia
    PS. I am putting at least one in…just so you know…lol