Cobb salad with ranch dressing is an American classic with a welcome twist. Here's how to make this perfect lunch or dinner whenever you crave it.
Why we love this recipe
I’ve been totally obsessed with Cobb salad for years. It’s kind of a funny thing to be obsessed with in the 21st century, but I'm rolling with it.
This composed salad, now an American classic, was invented at The Brown Derby restaurant in California during Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Our crowd-pleasing version is simple and flavorful. Cooking the chicken breasts in a little of the fat rendered from the bacon adds both convenience and flavor. And ranch dressing keeps both the blue cheese ratio and the highbrow-to-lowbrow ratio of this recipe just right. It's:
- Delicious, happy-making food
- A main-dish salad, a.k.a. the best
- Equally at home for lunch or dinner, or on a brunch buffet
- Make-ahead friendly (just assemble it at the last minute)
I originally published this recipe here in 2018.
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make this recipe.
- Start with mild, crunchy lettuce like romaine.
- Use really good bacon — thick-cut, uncured applewood smoked bacon is our favorite.
- The more colorful your tomatoes, the better.
- Use Haas avocados — they’re creamy and buttery and perfect.
- Make our perfect hard-boiled eggs.
- Cook the chicken in a little of the rendered bacon fat for extra flavor and convenience. You’ll get a nice brown crust on the outside and then cook covered until just opaque in the center. Boneless, skinless breasts are traditional, but I sometimes use thighs (and did when making the video).
- Make your own homemade ranch dressing in five minutes, or use your favorite bottle. Either way, it just works. For a dairy-free version, you could swap in a plant-based ranch or balsamic vinaigrette.
- I haven't pictured blue cheese because I wasn't in the mood for it on video day (though you can see it in the fancy photos). It's a classic element of Cobb salad but can be a little polarizing, so it's up to you. Maytag blue is a great American choice, and I often use mild, creamy gorgonzola dolce. Both are made from pasteurized cows' milk. You can leave it out to make this recipe dairy-free.
Our favorite sources for meat
For years, I've been sourcing our meat from ButcherBox. We love this curated meat delivery service, which provides grass-finished beef, heritage breed pork, organic chicken, and more from small farms direct to the customer. You can learn more in my extensive Butcher Box review and unboxing.
More recently, we've also become big fans of Cooks Venture for chicken.
How to make it
Here's what you'll do to make a great salad. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.
- Chop and cook the bacon. Remove it and all but a couple tablespoons of the fat.
- Brown the chicken well on one side, then flip, cover, and cook through. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
- Break the lettuce into bite-sized pieces (or shred with a knife) and place into a single large serving bowl or individual bowls. Top with halved tomatoes, quartered hard-boiled eggs, bacon, chicken, sliced avocado, and crumbled blue cheese if you like.
- Drizzle with ranch dressing, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve.
A favorite variation: Shrimp Cobb salad
One of my all-time favorite moves is to substitute shrimp for the chicken in this recipe. Instead of the chicken, peel and devein 1 ½ pounds of jumbo shrimp, leaving the tails on. Season with salt and pepper and cook them in a little bit of the bacon fat for a minute or two per side, until just opaque throughout. Keep everything else the same.
Expert tips and FAQs
Any crisp, mild lettuce or combination that you like is great. In the photos I've used "Blooming Brooklyn Iceberg" from Gotham Greens, a which has a great ratio of crunch to leafiness (and little resemblance to watery old-fashioned iceberg). In the video, I've used romaine hearts, which I thinly sliced crosswise with a chef's knife.
You can do most of the work for this recipe in advance. Cook the bacon, the chicken, and the hard-boiled eggs, and cut them all. Prep the lettuce. Even halve the tomatoes and crumble the blue cheese ahead of time. Keep everything separate until ready to serve, and then assemble it, slicing the avocados just before serving.
Leftovers will keep for a day or two in an airtight container in the fridge.
More favorite salads that make a meal
- 10 cups (750 grams) chopped or torn lettuce (see note 1)
- 2 cups (340 grams) small tomatoes, such as cherry or grape
- 4 hard-boiled eggs
- 2 ripe Haas avocados
- 16 ounces (454 grams) thick-cut bacon
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 ½ pounds/680 grams total)
- 3 ounces (85 grams) good blue cheese (such as Gorgonzola dolce), crumbled
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
- Bottled or homemade ranch dressing
- Chop bacon into bite-sized pieces and place in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned and crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain and pour off all but two tablespoons or so of the bacon fat from the pan.
- Season chicken breasts well with salt and pepper and place in pan. Cook uncovered until nicely browned on the underside, about five minutes. Then flip and cover pan. Continue cooking until chicken breasts are just opaque all the way through.
- Place lettuce in a wide serving bowl (or plate salads individually in wide bowls like these or these).
- Halve or quarter tomatoes depending on size and place in a strip across serving bowl. Quarter the hard-boiled eggs lengthwise and arrange next to tomatoes.
- Halve, pit, and slice avocados and arrange in a strip. If you like, sprinkle with some freshly squeezed lemon juice for both taste and longevity.
- Arrange bacon and blue cheese, if using, on salad. Dice chicken and place onto salad.
- Sprinkle some fine sea salt over both the eggs and the avocado, and then hit the whole salad with some freshly ground black pepper and flaky sea salt. Drizzle with dressing and serve with more dressing to pass at the table.
- Any crisp, mild lettuce or combination that you like is great. In the photos I've used "Blooming Brooklyn Iceberg" from Gotham Greens, a which has a great ratio of crunch to leafiness.
- For the tomatoes, the more colorful the merrier. I like to mix a few different types of bite-sized tomatoes.
- This recipe is naturally keto-friendly and gluten-free.
- You can do most of the work for this recipe in advance. Cook the bacon, the chicken, and the hard-boiled eggs, and cut them all. Prep the lettuce. Even halve the tomatoes and crumble the blue cheese ahead of time. Keep everything separate until ready to serve, and then assemble it, slicing the avocados just before serving.
- Leftovers will keep for a day or two in an airtight container in the fridge.
- One of my all-time favorite moves is to substitute shrimp for the chicken in this recipe. Instead of the chicken, peel and devein 1 ½ pounds of jumbo shrimp, leaving the tails on. Season with salt and pepper and cook them in a little bit of the bacon fat for a minute or two per side, until just opaque throughout. Keep everything else the same.
I originally published this recipe here in 2018.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 672Total Fat: 47.5gCarbohydrates: 15.4gFiber: 7.4gProtein: 46.8g