An easy spinach salad with bacon makes a great main dish or use as a side dish. Featuring a simple homemade vinaigrette dressing and using common pantry ingredients, this summer classic will earn a place on your summer menu.
This was a rescue mission. You are looking at the only copy of a long-time family favorite.
There are many fresh spinach salad recipes, but this version has a lot going for it: bacon, an easy homemade vinaigrette dressing, eggs, and a touch of China with bean sprouts and water chestnuts. So good.
Please enjoy one of our summer favorites. Remember, anything with bacon is wonderful. My wife has made this salad for special summer meals for over 40 years. I haven't changed a thing.
👨🍳How to make this reicpe
- Prepare cooked chopped bacon and hard boil eggs ahead of mixing.
- Mix spinach salad dressing, slice eggs and wash and trim spinach.
- Add all non-dressing ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine.
- Serve and drizzle with dressing.
- Store leftovers sealed well in the refrigerator but store the dressing in a separate container.
🥬How to buy the best fresh spinach
So, how to pick out the best fresh spinach?
- You want dark green leaves with crisp texture and aroma.
- You prefer young baby spinach that will have thin stems.
- Buy freshly picked if possible but avoid bunches with wilted, slimy, or discolored leaves.
- If you are buying bagged, look at the buy-by date and look at it the best you can.
- Don’t overbuy. While you can store it for up to 10 days, it is better consumed in 3-4 days.
🥣Making the dressing
The dressing for the spinach salad is a tasty vinaigrette. It uses Worcestershire sauce and ketchup for an extra special flavor, making this one of your favorite things.
A vinaigrette is usually a combination of oil and vinegar. A standard ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, and this dressing approximates that.
The vinegar part is usually apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar. The tomato in the ketchup adds a bit of acid here also.
The oil can be almost any oil, but we generally use extra virgin olive oil.
You can toss the salad with the dressing if you serve the whole amount, but it is better to store it without the dressing added.
This is a salad, so there are no strict rules. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Fruits: Strawberry, apple, dried cherries, or cranberries
Vegetables: Other lettuce, cucumber, red peppers, sliced mushrooms
Nuts: almonds, pecans, walnuts
Proteins: grilled chicken, shrimp, feta cheese, goat cheese, or blue cheese
Fresh spinach will store well sealed, dry, and cold for up to 10 days in the refrigerator's crisper drawer wrapped in paper towels. Wash only the spinach you are using now. Moisture is the enemy of freshness.
No, this is not a good dish to freeze. Most components will lose texture.
📖Favorite Summer Recipes
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Cut bacon into small to medium pieces and fry in a skillet until crisp and then drain on paper towels—slice four hard-boiled eggs. Clean and wash your spinach.
In a large bowl, combine all non-dressing ingredients and toss well.
Combine all dressing components in a shaker, small jar, or bowl and shake or whisk to mix well.
Serve with dressing on the side to drizzle when serving.
Fresh Spinach Salad with Bacon
- 1 lb spinach - cleaned
- 4 hard-boiled eggs
- ½ lb bacon
- 14 oz bean sprouts - drained
- 8 oz sliced water chestnuts - drained
- 1 medium chopped red onion - optional
- ½ cup sliced fresh mushrooms - optional
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- ½ cup sugar
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons red vinegar - or other vinegar
- ½ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Cut bacon into small to medium pieces and fry in a skillet until crisp and then drain on paper towels—slice four hard-boiled eggs, trim, and wash the spinach.
- In a large bowl, combine all non-dressing ingredients and toss well.
- Combine all dressing components in a shaker, small jar, or bowl and shake or whisk to mix well.
- Serve with dressing on the side to drizzle when serving.
Your Own Private Notes
- Pick out fresh spinach with good dark color and thin stems.
- The water chestnuts and bean sprouts are the limiting factors on the size of this recipe. You can cut the size if you don't mind wasting the extra.
- Serve the dressing on the side since this salad will store better without the dressing.
- Refrigerate leftovers sealed for up to 3 days but the third day is not the best.
- The dressing has lots of taste from Worcestershire sauce and ketchup so it can tolerate using different vinegar or oil if you want.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor note: This is a republish of a recipe originally published on May 24, 2010. That was the first year of the blog, and I just took a few pictures and tossed up the recipe so my kids would stop calling mom for it. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.
Dr. Dan, I have Swiss Chard in the garden which I usually cook / wilt to use with pastas. I find it pretty tough to eat without a little cooking. Can Swiss Chard be substituted for fresh spinach?
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
The spinach is soft, tender, and a bit sweet if you get nice baby spinach. Not at all like the chard I have had so I would not substitute for it.
Since I cook for one, my slow cooker is only a 1 quart size. However, I think it runs a lot hotter than the larger cookers, 2 qt.+, and it's difficult to time recipes correctly. Is this generally true of all small slow cookers or does mine need to be replaced?
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
I have a hard time recommending the very small crockpots. The last time I looked at them, none had thermostats but used reostats. The longer the were turned on, the higher the temp. And high is way uncontrollable.
Cuisinart generally wins reviews of small crockpots and Kitchaid usually wins full-size reviews. But honest reviews that are not just click-bate to sell a product are hard to find anymore. Mostly behind a paywall at Cooks Illustrated.
So I would look at 3-4 quart Kitchenaid or Cuisinart. More expensive is the All-clad. I have had their pots for years with good results but they are generally not included in the roundups due to price.
Remember when you are shopping, You want a timmer, digital control. You will have it for yeqrs so don't skimp too much.
Thanks so much for the advice on small slow cookers but due to your answer, I have another question...I’ve read that slow cookers must be at least half full to operate as the manufacturer intended. If this is true, it doesn’t make sense for me to even use this cooking method for small amounts. And please don’t suggest I freeze leftovers...I have a freezer full now and I’m not crazy about them. I find cooking for one difficult when preparing soups, stews, casseroles, etc.
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
The 50% has been around some but is wrong. The best results are between 25% and 66%. I stretch that some and will go up to 75% on the high end. On the low end, underfilled will cook faster but still can be used. Decide on the endpoint of your cooking (say chicken at 165 degrees or tender potatoes) and check a few times like at half and 3/4 time. Also, if underfilled, don't use high.
Dr. Dan, you are my " go to guy" for alot of my meals. The pork tenderloin with potatoes and carrots, the crock pot ribs, baked chicken thighs - - delicious! And my husband agrees! Thank you!
I've been making this for decades. Originally saw the recipe as a winner of a contest. It was called Sedona Spinach Salad. It is delicious.
I love seeing the old recipe card
Going to make this tomorrow, Looks yummy !
You always have the best recipes
I look forward to your posting them
Thank you Dr. Dan
I think the card is classic. You can't even read part of it due to the food stains. I still have it but now I look on the blog when I need it.
Thanks for the note
I used to make this or a version of it some years ago. I liked the flavors, but disliked chewing the spinach leaves which, to me, have an odd texture. I wonder how the salad would do with romaine lettuce instead of the spinach?
Try "baby" spinach. The smaller the leaves, the more tender. You can try it with romaine. Most of the flavor does come from the other ingredients.
Thanks for the note
Quick ?, for the dressing it asks for vinegar... is it apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar or regular distilled vinegar?
I like apple cider but white will do. By regular distilled I believe is the same thing as white.
Yummy! Sounds totally delicious! Thanks so much for linking this up at this month's salad round up! It's still open if you have others :-)
No, no. He meant the only copy on a card. I pulled it out of the recipe box and the thing felt like it was going to fall apart in my hands!
It wasn't the only copy, I had mom e-mail that to me years ago and I still have it printed out in my kitchen. But yes rescue missions are good here.