Food & Drink

7 Easy Hacks That Will Make Your Salads Taste As Good As Sweetgreen


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Source: @sweetgreen
Source: @sweetgreen

There’s just something about a $14 Sweetgreen salad that tastes so much better than the salads you make at home. Maybe it’s that Sweetgreen salad recipes are just elite. Maybe the fact that it costs so much makes you cherish it just a bit more. Or maybe there’s a simple formula to Sweetgreen’s success, and if you just follow those salad tips yourself, you can put together a salad at home that doesn’t suck.

For cost-effectiveness’ sake, I’m leaning into the third option. If we can figure out just what makes Sweetgreen salad recipes so great, we can re-create that in our own kitchens and ultimately save money and feel like we’re not just eating leaves. As a longtime salad-hater who was reborn and rebranded after my first Sweetgreen experience, I am passionate in my pursuit to improve my own ability to make salads enjoyable. If you’re looking to upgrade your salad game and save some money, you’re in the right place. Here are seven easy salad tips to make your at-home concoction taste as good as Sweetgreen:


1. Use in-season veggies and fruits (and prep them ahead of time)

Repeat after me: I deserve to eat great salads. And part of keeping your salads fresh and non-boring means varying your produce so that you’re not eating the same salad recipe over and over. Opt for in-season veggies to ensure that you’re getting the freshest salad toppings in the game while adding loads of variety to your salads.


2. Add fresh herbs for a flavor boost

The secret ingredient for Sweetgreen-level salads at home? Fresh herbs. These little leafy greens pack a ton of flavor that a simple base of kale or spinach just could not achieve on its own. No matter what type of salad recipe you’re using, you can find an herb that’ll jazz it up and make it taste 10 times fancier. As a good rule of thumb, herbs like basil and mint work well in Mediterranean salads, cilantro is your go-to for anything with Asian or Latin-inspired flavors, and dill, parsley, and mint go with pretty much anything.


3. Massage your kale

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but start massaging your kale. Maybe you’ve heard of this phenomenon, but until about a year ago, I hadn’t. I absolutely despised kale when I would try to prep it at home. My salads tasted like the contents of a paper shredder and were so unbelievably bitter. I’d sit there chomping while tears welled up in my eyes as I was filled with regret.

Once I realized the importance of giving my kale a little extra TLC, I truly get the hype. Now that I massage my kale, I swear to you… it’s so much better. Before dressing your kale and adding all the extra goodies on top, use a squeeze of lemon or some vinegar and a pinch of salt. Then start working the kale leaves between your hands until they start to wilt. It’s an absolute game-changer. 



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4. Use contrasting textures

My first Sweetgreen salad experience featured their infamous kale caesar and, besides the fact that the kale actually was edible, it was the texture that really sold me. Parmesan crisps, light but crunchy kale, and soft roasted sweet potatoes in one bite? It was like a party in my mouth. A bit of crunch is key here, and it goes beyond sprinkling in a few croutons. Try experimenting with nuts, seeds, dried fruits, crunchy veggies, parmesan crisps, or roasted chickpeas. Contrast that with some softer textured foods like roasted potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, or caramelized onions, and boom! You’re one step closer to creating a spiced-up salad that you’ll actually look forward to.


5. Cut ingredients to similar sizes

There’s nothing worse than diving your fork deep into a beautiful-looking bowl of salad and emerging with one singular shred of kale. In order to achieve that perfect bite with a little bit of everything, you need to cut your ingredients into similar sizes. There are plenty of gadgets that will chop your salad ingredients with ease, but if you haven’t bought into a 2 a.m. QVC infomercial (we applaud you), you can 100 percent make a chopped salad happen the old-fashioned way (chopping your ingredients separately). Or you could add one of these items to your cart that will make chopping salad so much easier:

Salad Chopper With Bowl
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Salad Chopper Knife
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6. Try new dressings and seasonings

There’s no easier way to take your salad to a new level than by switching up your dressing. Whether you opt for a new homemade dressing or hit up your local grocery store to try something new, you can teleport your salad to a different dimension with little to no effort.

Another great way to add flavor to your salad is to add seasonings to your base. Just like any other dish, salads need seasonings. Per American celebrity chef Bobby Flay, it’s best to season greens and veggies with salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings tickle your fancy before dressing them which helps to draw out their flavors. 


7. When in doubt, use copycat recipes

If you like a particular Sweetgreen recipe, try making it at home. When I tell you I ran to my Google search bar after trying Sweetgreen’s kale caesar, I am not exaggerating. As soon as I got to my laptop, I launched into the pursuit of re-creating a salad that great at home. And while these types of salad recipes take a little more effort than what you may be used to, the flavor pay-off and affordability make it so worth it. Add these five copycat recipes of Sweetgreen’s most popular salads to your to-make list and you won’t be disappointed:

  1. Kale Caesar Salad
  2. Guacamole Greens Salad
  3. Spicy Thai Salad
  4. Spicy Sabizi Salad
  5. Shroomami Salad