Recipe: Healthy Cobb Salad

Lunch Recipes, Poultry Recipes, Salad Recipes

By: Deborah Murphy, MS, RD, LDN


Who says salad isn’t a meal? This healthy Cobb salad is loaded with color and protein and topped with a zingy homemade dijon vinaigrette. Perfect for a work from home lunch or summertime dinner option.

Who doesn’t love a good Cobb salad. Almost every restaurant has one on its menu – because they are such a good salad! It’s always been one of my favorites when I go out to eat, but a traditional Cobb salad isn’t all that healthy. 

Most restaurant Cobb salads are filled with calories from the rich and creamy dressing and the extra serving of bacon.

I didn’t want to give up on Cobb salad so I made my own healthy Cobb salad recipe with less sodium and saturated fat. This lightened up Cobb salad has tons of colorful veggies, a tangy dijon dressing, and plenty of filling protein from edamame, chicken, eggs, and turkey bacon. 

This healthy Cobb Salad is the perfect light dinner or lunch. If you prepare the protein (turkey bacon, eggs, and chicken) ahead of time, this recipe is a snap to assemble and looks fantastic.

Try even more delicious salads by exploring my favorite healthy salad recipes you can eat for any meal!

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    Ingredients You’ll Need

    • Romaine Lettuce: I love the crunch of crisp romaine lettuce in Cobb salad but you can use just about any salad greens (ie – iceberg lettuce, baby spinach, spring mix, arugula) that you like. 
    • Salad Vegetables (cucumber, yellow pepper, grape tomatoes, avocado, red onion): I love all the color (and anti-inflammatory properties!) this combination of veggies adds to this salad. Creamy avocado adds some healthy fats to this lighter Cobb Salad. 
    • Protein (hard-boiled eggs, edamame, chicken): I love this combination of Cobb salad ingredients for a protein-packed salad. All of them can be prepped in advance making it so much faster to assemble this salad. For the chicken, I like to use leftover baked or grilled chicken; you could also use store-bought rotisserie chicken. Not a fan of chicken? You can also use grilled salmon or canned tuna. 
    • Turkey Bacon: for a lighter alternative to pork bacon, I use turkey bacon in my Cobb salad. You can’t have a good Cobb without crispy bacon topping. 
    • Blue Cheese: the cheese traditionally used in Cobb salads is blue cheese. I love the strong flavors of blue cheese but you can substitute with another cheese like feta cheese or cheddar cheese.
    • Dijon Vinaigrette (olive oil, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard): to top your salad, I like to make this bright and tangy vinaigrette made from just a couple simple ingredients. If you don’t have white wine vinegar, you can substitute with red wine vinegar.
    stunning prepared cobb salad in white serving bowl

    How to Make Healthy Cobb Salad

    Cook the Chicken and Bacon: cook the turkey bacon and chicken for this salad up to 2 days in advance. (Alternatively, you can make them in the air fryer.) I like to bake them both at the same time on separate baking sheets. Season boneless, skinless chicken breasts and add to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake until the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Add slices of bacon to a separate parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake until crispy.

    Make the Hard Boiled Eggs: while the chicken is cooking, start your hard boiled eggs. I love this method for hard boiled eggs that are easy to peel.

    Prep the Salad Vegetables: wash and dry the lettuce leaves and chop or tear into bite size pieces. Chop up the other salad vegetables as well (cucumber, yellow pepper, cherry tomatoes, avocado, red onion).

    Make the Dressing: add all the salad dressing ingredients to a mason jar and shake to combine. 
    Assemble the salad: Add all of the salad components together in a large serving bowl or platter OR divide salad ingredients into individual bowls for serving. Want to add some garish? I recommend some fresh chives or chopped dill.

    How to Make Chicken Cobb Salad Dressing

    I think this zesty and delicious dijon vinaigrette is the best dressing for this healthy chicken Cobb salad recipe. It adds tons of flavor but doesn’t weigh down this salad like the high fat, creamy dressings normally paired with Cobb salad.

    To make this Cobb salad dressing: add all the ingredients (dijon mustard, olive oil, white wine vinegar, garlic, dill, salt, and pepper) to a glass mason jar with a lid so you can easily shake the ingredients to mix. This will keep for at least a week in the fridge so you can make it ahead of time. (You can also double the recipe and save the extra for other salads!)

    stunning healthy cobb salad prepared with dressing on the side

    Tips for the Best Healthy Cobb Salad

    • Use fresh ingredients to get the most flavor and nutrition in your salad.
    • Don’t forget to wash and dry your lettuce. I use a salad spinner to get all the extra water off my washed lettuce. 
    • Prep your ingredients ahead of time to save time. Hard boiled eggs, bacon, and grilled chicken are all easy meal prep items that will help make the assembly of this meal (and others) a snap!
    • When possible, add the juicy tomatoes, avocado, and salad dressing just before serving so that your salad doesn’t get soggy and your avocado doesn’t brown. Store any leftover salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days.

    Is Cobb Salad Healthy?

    No, traditional Cobb salads (especially those from restaurants) can be high in calories, fat, and sodium. Making a Cobb salad at home gives you control over the ingredients so you can make a healthier version.

    For my healthy Cobb salad, I swapped the creamy dressing for a dijon vinaigrette and paired back the bacon and blue cheese.

    How Many Calories in Cobb Salad

    If you’re wondering if Cobb salad is good for weight loss – it depends. A classic Cobb salad usually contains 600 calories or more and over 40 grams of fat. Chick Fil A has a popular chicken Cobb salad that contains even more at 850 calories and 61 grams of fat.

    I’ve cut the calories and fat by making my own dressing and swapping out the traditional bacon with turkey bacon. So this recipe is 413 calories and only 20 grams of fat. Much healthier than the traditional Cobb!

    What’s the Difference between a Cobb Salad and a Chef’s Salad?

    Both the Cobb salad and chef’s salad typically include greens, hard boiled eggs, meat, and vegetables. However, unlike a chef’s salad – the Cobb salad also contains tomatoes, blue cheese, and avocado. While a chef’s salad usually has diced ham.

    Other Healthy Salad Recipes You’ll Love

    Total Time: 35 minutes

    Yield: 4 serving(s)

    Ingredients

    • ½ lb marinated boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 4 slices of peppered turkey bacon
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 head romaine or leafy green lettuce, washed and cut
    • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced
    • 1 cup yellow pepper, diced
    • 1 handful cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 avocado, cubed
    • 1/3 cup red onion, chopped
    • 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
    • 1 cup edamame, cooked
    • Dressing
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 clove garlic minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon dill (dried)
    • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt

    Directions

    1. Cook the Chicken and Bacon: cook the turkey bacon and chicken for this salad up to 2 days in advance. (Alternatively, you can make them in the air fryer.) We like to bake them both at the same time on separate baking sheets. Season boneless, skinless chicken breasts and add to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake until the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Add slices of bacon to a separate parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake until crispy.
    2. Make the Hard Boiled Eggs: while the chicken is cooking, start your hard boiled eggs. We love this method for hard boiled eggs that are easy to peel.
    3. Prep the Salad Vegetables: wash and dry the lettuce leaves and chop or tear into bite size pieces. Chop up the other salad vegetables as well (cucumber, yellow pepper, cherry tomatoes, avocado, red onion).
    4. Make the Dressing: add all the salad dressing ingredients to a mason jar and shake to combine.
    5. Assemble the salad: Add all of the salad components together in a large serving bowl or platter OR divide salad ingredients into individual bowls for serving.

    Nutrition Information Per Serving

    Calories: 413

    Protein: 18 gram(s)

    Fat: 20 gram(s)

    Carbohydrates: 28 gram(s)

    Fiber: 11 gram(s)

    Sugar: 8 gram(s)

    From the kitchen of:

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