12 Must-Try Salad Bar Hacks at Whole Foods Market

Get our insider tips to making your brightest, tastiest salad yet.

salad bar with spinach and couscous in focus

Alan Morgan heads up culinary development for the Prepared Foods department at Whole Foods Market. With our culinary team, he creates new and seasonal recipes for our stores and brainstorms new and exciting ingredients for our salad bar. Get his insider tips below.

The Whole Foods Market Salad Bar is one of my favorite destinations in our Prepared Foods department. With a wide selection of ingredients — crisp green lettuces, vivid veggies, nutty whole grains, plus seasonal and organic options — building a delicious salad is easy and convenient. Try these tips during your next visit to make your brightest, tastiest salad yet.

Break it down.

Before you start building your salad, it’s helpful to break down the ingredients on our Salad Bar into categories. Here’s how I like to do it:

  • Base (greens, grains)

  • Vegetables or Fruit (carrots, beets, radishes, berries)

  • Protein (beans, tofu, chicken, salmon)

  • Crunchy & Creamy (nuts, seeds, cheese)

  • Dressing (balsamic vinaigrette, ranch dressing)

Try to include at least one ingredient from each category to get the best mix of flavors and textures. And if you’re really feeling creative, create your salad around a theme — like Mexican or Greek.

Eat the rainbow.

This one is simple. Fill your salad with as much color as possible — crimson beets, leafy green lettuce, golden squash, ruby pomegranate seeds and more. The more greens, reds, purples, oranges and yellows you can add to your salad, the more nutrients it will contain.

Combine different lettuces.

To get a mix of flavors and textures, I like to combine different lettuces and greens in my salad. One of my favorite blends is romaine lettuce with spinach or arugula — with every bite, you get a blend of soft greens and crisp lettuce.

Make a veggie slaw.

Not in the mood for traditional salad? Instead of a lettuce-based salad, make a crunchy, colorful slaw with red or green cabbage and grated veggies like zucchini, beets and carrots. Add nuts or seeds for more crunch, then toss with a creamy dressing.

Mix in whole grains.

Give your salad a nutty boost by mixing whole grains like quinoa or farro in with your greens. This works best with sturdier greens like baby kale or spinach that will hold up to the weight of the grains.

Add crunch with nuts and seeds.

Crunch is the X factor to any salad — and adding a handful of nuts or seeds instantly adds flavor and texture. Try walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds.

Combine cooked and raw veggies.

We typically offer a mix of cooked and raw vegetables on our Salad Bar. Instead of keeping these ingredients separate, why not bring them together? Combining grilled or roasted veggies with their raw counterparts in your salad can unlock new textures and flavors.

Stop by our Hot Bar.

Think outside the Salad Bar — and take a trip over to our Hot Bar. We may offer ingredients like roasted chicken thighs or grilled veggies that would make delicious additions to your salad.

Shake it up.

Give your container a shake between adding ingredients to ensure even distribution. This also prevents you from adding too much or too little, so you can be sure you have the perfect amount of everything.

Brighten with lemon juice.

For a lighter and brighter way to dress your salad, combine a splash of lemon juice with extra-virgin olive oil in a small dressing container. Shake well, then drizzle over your salad for citrusy flavor.

Don’t forget to season!

Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over your finished salad to amplify its flavors. For a final garnish, many of our Salad Bars also stock chopped fresh herbs, hot sauces, olive oils, vinegars and spices like turmeric.

Short on time? Try a prepared salad.

Don’t have time to build your salad ingredient by ingredient? Fill a small or large container with one of our prepared pasta or grain salads. We have year-round options like our Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad, plus seasonally inspired creations.

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