How to make a hearty Cobb salad using 8 classic ingredients

How to make a hearty Cobb salad using 8 classic ingredients
A Cobb salad is made using meats, hard-boiled eggs, vegetables, cheese, avocado, and dressing. OlgaMiltsova/Getty Images
  • Cobb salads include lettuce, tomato, onion, chicken, bacon, avocado, boiled egg, and blue cheese.
  • Red wine vinaigrette is a popular dressing because the acidity offsets the rich ingredients.
  • You can make Cobb salad ahead by prepping the chicken, bacon, and egg in advance.

Take a peek at most American restaurant menus and there's a good chance you'll spot a Cobb salad. And its popularity is hardly a surprise. With salty bacon and cheese, creamy avocado, and tangy vinaigrette, this hearty dish is packed with satiating protein and offers a little bit of everything flavor-wise.

According to Meg Scott, culinary director for Heart Creative and co-author of the 2019 edition of "Joy of Cooking," the origins of the Cobb salad can be traced back to the legendary Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood in 1937. The story goes that owner Bob Cobb created this salad while he was rummaging around in the kitchen trying to scrounge up leftover odds and ends to feed guests a late-night meal.

The beauty of a homemade Cobb salad is that you can customize it to your own preferences - using whichever type of cheese or dressing you like, and cooking the meat to your desired level of crispiness.

Standard ingredients in a Cobb salad

All Cobb salads start with leafy greens - but beyond that, Scott suggests sticking to the acronym EAT COBB when compiling your ingredients: eggs, avocado, tomatoes, chicken, onion, bacon, and blue cheese.


Most Cobb salads have chicken and bacon - the chicken adds the bulk of the protein, while the bacon adds a smoky, salty flavor and some crunchy texture.


Scott recommends grilling, roasting, or pan-frying the chicken and then cutting it into bite-sized slices or cubes. The bacon can be baked or air-fried for evenly crispy strips, and then cut or crumbled into very small pieces.

Hard-boiled eggs

One hard-boiled egg should suffice for a Cobb salad, says Yannick Tirbois, co-founder at Culinary Ambition and chef-instructor at Le Cordon Bleu.

The hard-boiled eggs not only further boosts the protein content of this salad, but the yolk brings a subtle richness of flavor. Scott says overcooking the eggs is a major culinary sin when it comes to Cobb salads, so aim for a yolk with a fudgy texture and a deeper yellow color in the center. Scott typically cuts the egg into quarters, but you can also chop the egg into smaller pieces if you want some in every bite.


The greens serve as the base of a Cobb salad. Iceberg lettuce is popular for its crunchy texture, but romaine and endive can be used as well. Scott says watercress can also add a pleasant peppery flavor to your Cobb salad.

Diced tomatoes bring sweetness and acidity to the salad, while onion brings a sharp, aromatic edge. If you're not a fan of raw red onion, Scott recommends using chives or shallots instead for a more delicate bite that doesn't overpower the other ingredients.



Crumbled blue cheese, gorgonzola specifically, has traditionally been a staple of the Cobb salad. If you don't like the pungent flavor of this cheese, Tirbois suggests opting for cheddar instead.


While it's not a required ingredient, Scott notes the avocado brings a creamy, rich texture to the Cobb salad that offsets the crispy bacon nicely. The avocado can be cut into lengthwise slices or chopped into bite-sized cubes.


Today, restaurants offer a variety of different dressings with the Cobb salad - from blue cheese to avocado-ranch. But typically, the Cobb has always been served with vinaigrette, and this is for a good reason. According to Scott, the acidity in the vinegar helps to balance out the richness in the high-fat ingredients such as the bacon, cheese, and avocado.

Quick tip: Scott's go-to vinaigrette recipe for Cobb salads includes: 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons dijon mustard, one minced garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously to combine.

How to make a Cobb salad (serves 2)

How to make a hearty Cobb salad using 8 classic ingredients
You can use whatever cheese or dressing is your preference when making a Cobb salad. Elena Moskalenko/Getty Images
  1. Cook the chicken in a pan on the stovetop, in the oven, or on the grill.
  2. Boil your eggs. Cover them with an inch of water in a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat and leave the eggs covered for 10 minutes.
  3. Cook the bacon. Ideally, in the air fryer or oven for crispy results and easier cleanup. Scott recommends baking it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through.
  4. Assemble other ingredients. Chop one tomato, ¼ cup minced chives or diced onion, two eggs, two chicken breasts, two slices of bacon, and ½ an avocado into bite-sized chunks.
  5. Prepare your vinaigrette if you're making a homemade dressing.
  6. Combine all components. Fill a bowl or plate with a bed of lettuce, then add your chopped ingredients and ¼ cup crumbled gorgonzola (or another preferred cheese).
  7. Add and toss your dressing. Pour on the dressing and toss gently or serve the salad neatly arranged with the dressing on the side.

Should you toss your Cobb salad?

Tossing your salad before serving ensures all the ingredients are evenly coated in the dressing. Scott recommends tossing the greens with vinaigrette on their own, then adding the other ingredients before drizzling on some additional dressing.


Many restaurants neatly arrange the toppings into rows on top of the lettuce, but if you want your ingredients evenly distributed, you can toss them all in a large salad bowl before plating.

Storing Cobb salad

How to make a hearty Cobb salad using 8 classic ingredients
Leave off your avocados and tomatoes if you're storing your Cobb salad and eating it later. Andrei Kravtsov/Getty Images

If you're making your Cobb salad ahead of time or planning to have leftovers, the best way to keep it fresh is to leave the avocado off and keep the dressing separate until serving.

You can cook the chicken, bacon, and eggs and chop the onions in advance. Wait to chop the avocados and tomatoes until you're ready to eat your Cobb salad, says Tirbois, as tomatoes can become mushy and avocados can quickly oxidate and become brown.

Insider's takeaway

This everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salad combines a wide variety of satisfying flavors and textures and is also super high in protein. While blue cheese and vinaigrette are most commonly used, you can substitute these for whichever cheese and dressing you like best. Try tossing the greens in dressing before adding the other ingredients to ensure your lettuce is well-coated.

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