A Simple Spinach Salad with an easy homemade vinaigrette dressing, toppings, and baby spinach. Use it as a side dish, or load up the proteins for a delicious summer lunch.
There are many fresh spinach salad recipes, but this easy recipe has a lot going for it, with the base being tender baby spinach, a simple homemade vinaigrette dressing made with ketchup, and loads of delicious toppings of your choice.
Our variation has bacon, hard-boiled eggs, and a touch of China with bean sprouts and water chestnuts. A classic summer salad that will earn a place on your summer menu. But we commonly use it for holiday meals or gatherings with family or friends, like picnics or potluck parties.
This recipe post was a rescue mission. This was the only copy of a long-time family favorite and had to be saved and published for the world to see.
- Baby Spinach—fresh, cleaned well
- Eggs—hard boiled
- Bean sprouts
- Water chestnut
- Mushrooms—fresh, sliced, optional
Spinach Salad Dressing
- Olive oil
- Worcestershire sauce
- Vinegar—red or other vinegar
👨🍳How to Make This Simple Spinach Salad
- Mix spinach salad dressing along with wash, trim, and dry spinach.
- Prepare any toppings, like chopping the red onion, cooking bacon, draining cans of bean sprouts, and water chestnuts. Slice hard boil eggs.
- Add all non-dressing ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine.
- Serve with the dressing on the side and drizzle with the dressing.
- Store leftovers sealed well in the refrigerator but store the dressing in a separate container.
✔️Optional ingredients and variations
This is a salad, so there are no strict rules. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Fruits: Strawberry, apples, blueberries, raspberries, dried cherries, or cranberries
Vegetables: Other lettuce, cucumber, red peppers, sliced mushrooms
Nuts: almonds, pecans, walnuts
Proteins: grilled chicken, shrimp, feta cheese, goat cheese, Parmesan cheese, or blue cheese
🥬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, so buy right and buy late.
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.
A vinaigrette is usually a combination of oil and vinegar. A standard ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, which this dressing approximates.
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.
Baby spinach is bite size, tender, and sweet with the right amount of crunch when fresh. Older spinach is bigger and tougher.
❄️How to store leftover spinach salad
Start with how you serve the salad—instead of tossing the salad with the dressing, serve the dressing on the side. The salad will store much better without the salad dressing coating the other ingredients.
Seal the salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It is delicious in 1 day, OK at two days, and by day three should be consumed or destroyed. The salad dressing will be good refrigerated and airtight for a week.
This is not a good dish to freeze. Most components will lose texture.
- Wash hands and surfaces before starting.
- Properly rinse and clean fresh vegetables.
- Don't leave food sitting out for over 2 hours if the environmental temperature is under 90° or 1 hour if over 90°F. If over these time limits, it should be discarded.
- Do not use the same utensils that previously touched raw meat without proper cleaning to prevent cross-contamination.
See Summer Food Safety for more safety tips.
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Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Combine all dressing components in a shaker, small jar, or bowl and shake or whisk to mix well.
Wash, trim, and dry spinach. Prepare any toppings, like chopping the red onion, cooking bacon, draining cans of bean sprouts, and water chestnuts. Slice hard boil eggs.
In a large bowl, combine all non-dressing ingredients and toss well.
Serve with dressing on the side to drizzle when serving.
Simple Spinach Salad
- 1 lb baby spinach - cleaned and dried
Our favorite toppings—many more in the recipe post
- 4 hard-boiled eggs
- 3-4 strips bacon - chopped, fried, and drained
- 14 oz bean sprouts - drained
- 8 oz sliced water chestnuts - drained
- 1 medium chopped red onion - optional
- ½ cup sliced fresh mushrooms - optional
Spinach Salad Dressing
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- ½ cup sugar
- ¾ cup olive oil - or other vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons red vinegar - or other vinegar
- ½ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Combine all dressing components in a shaker, small jar, or bowl and shake or whisk to mix well.
- Wash, trim, and dry spinach. Prepare any toppings, like chopping the red onion, cooking bacon, draining cans of bean sprouts, and water chestnuts. Slice hard boil eggs.
- In a large bowl, combine all non-dressing ingredients and toss well.
- Serve with dressing on the side to drizzle when serving.
Your Own Private Notes
- Pick out fresh baby spinach with good dark color and thin stems.
- The water chestnuts and bean sprouts are the limiting factors in the size of this recipe. You can cut the size if you don't mind wasting the extra.
- Many other toppings are suggested in the recipe post.
- 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.