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 it’s topped with a savory-sweet vegan ranch dressing. That’s a lot of layers of deliciousness!
Making the 7-Layer Salad Vegan
I consider myself a salad expert because I eat one 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.
The traditional 7-Layer Salad has these layers: iceberg lettuce, green onions, frozen peas, boiled eggs, bacon bits, cheddar cheese, and a mayo-based ranch dressing.
If you remove the non-vegan layers — eggs, cheese, and mayo dressing — you’re left with a ho-hum 4-layer salad. So, that’s why I’m thrilled with this vegan seven layer salad.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Using crisp greens rather than iceberg lettuce gives this salad color, flavor, crispiness, and even added nutrition
- Tofu scramble is the perfect egg replacer in this salad, creating a similar flavor and texture.
- Frozen peas creates a barrier between the moist lettuce layers and the top layers, keeping this salad crispy and delicious for days!
- Adding the creamy vegan ranch right before serving is another favorite tip for keeping the greens crisp and tasty!
What You Need
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.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Tofu scramble — We’ll replace the layer of sliced boiled eggs with this tasty Tofu Scramble. It’s actually easier than boiling eggs anyway!
- Greens — You can use your favorite greens here, such as iceberg, romaine, field greens, kale, and more.
- Green onions — You’ll need between 3 and 7 green onions, depending on their size and your preference for onions.
- Frozen peas — A 10-ounce bag of frozen peas will work perfectly here. You can make this 7 layer salad without peas: substitute edamame or even chickpeas.
- Bacon bits — You can use storebought bacon bits (learn more about accidentally vegan products). I prefer to use either storebought veggie bacon or this tempeh bacon.
- Vegan cheddar shreds — I use either Daiya or Follow Your Heart vegan cheddar shreds. Or you can buy a block of Daiya cheddar and shred it yourself (which results in a more tender shred, which I like for this salad).
- Dairy-free mayo — I typically use Hellman’s Vegan Mayo because it’s readily available and has a great flavor.
- Vegan yogurt — There are many vegan yogurts these days. Make sure the one you choose is plain and unsweetened. You can substitute vegan sour cream or cashew cream.
- Seasonings — You’ll add both garlic powder and onion powder (or dehydrated onions) as seasonings for the dressing. Some dried parsley is a nice touch too.
- Syrup — You don’t have to sweeten the dressing, but it adds a nice touch. You can use either agave nectar or maple syrup.
- Salt + pepper — Add these to your personal tastes.
How to Make Vegan 7-Layer Salad
I call this the perfect vegan 7-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).
These are the layers:
- Scrambled Tofu
- Sliced Green Onions
- Frozen Peas
- Veggie Bacon
- Cheddar Shreds
- Dairy-free Mayo Ranch Dressing.
Here are the steps to make this vegan 7 layer salad. These steps display the process of making the salad and therefore are not in the same order as the layers.
Step One: Scrambled Tofu
Follow the instructions to make Scrambled tofu. It takes around 10 to 15 minutes.
Once it’s done, turn the heat off and set it aside to cool momentarily before transferring it to a lidded bowl. Cover the dish and place it in the fridge to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Step Two: Greens
Get out the dish you will serve the salad in. I used a Pyrex 3.2-quart container that comes with a lid. Wash the greens and pat them dry. Then tear or cut them into bite-sized pieces. Fill the serving 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!
Step Five: Add Cooled Scrambled Tofu
Evenly spread the cooled tofu pieces on top of the frozen peas. This scrambled tofu layer also helps create a barrier between the greens and the toppings.
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. I find the flavor a bit too strong, so I just do a small sprinkling.
- Tempeh Bacon is another great option.
- Bacon Almond Slivers. 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. Sweet Earth Veggie Bacon is great. Lightlife Fakin’ Bacon is made from tempeh and is also gluten-free. 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
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
Mix the ingredients together and then add salt and pepper to taste. You can make the dressing ahead of time and then pour it over the salad right before serving.
Garnish the salad with additional chopped onions, bacon bits, and the remaining cheddar cheese.
- 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.
- 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.
You can make some of the toppings, like the tofu scramble and ranch dressing, the night before. Then, on 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 go back into the fridge.
Vegan 7 Layer Salad
Creamy Vegan Ranch Dressing
- 2 cup dairy-free mayo
- ½ cup plain vegan 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
- Make the tofu scramble and set it aside to cool.
- Layer One: Get out the dish you will serve the salad in. I used a Pyrex 3.2-quart container. Tear greens into pieces. Fill the dish with greens until it's nearly full.
- Layer Two: Next, cut and discard the root tops off of the green onions. Slice the rest. Spread the sliced green onions evenly over the greens.
- Layer Three: Spread the frozen peas on top of the green onions. Use the entire bag to make a thick layer. This creates a barrier between the greens and the toppings, preventing the salad from getting soggy.
- Layers Four and Five: Evenly spread the cooled tofu pieces on top of the frozen peas. Next, sprinkle with bacon bits.
- Layer Six: Add the shredded vegan cheddar cheese, leaving a little to sprinkle on top.
- Layer Seven: Spread the dressing on top of the salad if you're ready to serve dinner. Or refrigerate the salad without the dressing and add it immediately before serving.
For the Creamy Vegan Ranch Dressing
- For the Vegan Mayo dressing. Add the dairy-free mayo, yogurt, garlic powder, onion powder, and agave nectar in a small bowl and stir until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Top with additional chopped onions, bacon bits or a little bit of the remaining cheddar cheese for garnishing.
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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 post was originally published in 2016 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2020.