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70 Make-Ahead Salads for Summer Entertaining

Spend less time in the kitchen and more time with friends and family at your next gathering thanks to these handy make-ahead summer salad recipes.

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Make-Ahead Hearty Six-Layer Salad

This salad is an all-time favorite. I reach for the recipe whenever I need a dish to pass. It’s easy to make, can be assembled ahead of time and looks great. —Noreen Meyer, Madison, Wisconsin

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Vibrant Black-Eyed Pea Salad

My black-eyed pea salad reminds me of a Southern cooking class my husband and I took while visiting Savannah, Georgia. People go nuts for it at picnics and potlucks. —Danielle Lee, Sewickley, Pennsylvania
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Sweet & Sour Squash Salad

This salad goes over really well with all ages, and it's a good way to get kids to eat summer squash. —Opal Shipman Levelland, Texas
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Watermelon Tomato Salad

Watermelon and tomatoes may seem an unlikely pair, but they team up to make a winning combination in this eye-catching salad. —Matthew Denton, Seattle, Washington
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Heirloom Tomato Salad

This is a simple yet elegant dish that always pleases my guests. Not only is it tasty, but it is healthy, too. The more varied the colors of the tomatoes you choose, the prettier the salad will be. —Jess Apfe, Berkeley, California
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Sunflower Strawberry Salad

We have an annual strawberry festival in our town, so recipes with strawberries are popular here. I've served this salad at luncheons and have always received a lot of compliments.
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Cherry Tomato Corn Salad

Brighten a picnic lunch or backyard barbecue with this cheerful, fresh-tasting salad. If you use want to use sweet corn off the cob, saute the corn for 5 minutes in a skillet before adding to the salad. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Romaine & Cherry Tomato Salad

My mother made this tasty salad for me as a child, and it was my favorite. Now we serve it as a sunny appetizer or entree. —Blythe Twiggs, Buford, Georgia
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Spicy Cajun Potato Salad

Here in Louisiana we have a lot of get-togethers, and if you want your dish to be chosen over all of the rest, it has to have a kick! This does the trick. —Amanda West, Sibley, Louisiana
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Avocado & Artichoke Pasta Salad

A squeeze of lime, a sprinkle of cilantro and a little avocado make this a creamy and zingy pasta salad. —Carrie Farias, Oak Ridge, New Jersey
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Garden Cucumber Salad

If you like cucumber salad like I do, this one’s a cool pick. It’s a mix of fresh veggies, feta and Greek seasoning and so refreshing when the sun’s beating down. —Katie Stanczak, Hoover, Alabama
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Grilled Mango & Avocado Salad

Its so light, delicious, easy to make, and not to mention healthy! Mango and Avocado is simply the best combination you could ever make. A big hit with all my family and friends! —Amy Liesemeyer, Tucson, Arizona
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Tropical Layered Chicken Salad

This is a fresh and delicious recipe that is a big hit whenever I take it to a potluck—always the first to go! —Frances Pietsch, Flower Mound, Texas
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Melon-Berry Salad

The best way to cool down on a warm day is with a chilled fruit salad. Serve this one for breakfast, brunch or dessert. Yogurt and coconut milk make the creamy dressing even more decadent. Wait until just before serving to garnish the salad. Otherwise the toasted coconut will get soggy. —Carrie Hirsch, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
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Balsamic Asparagus Salad

For this asparagus salad, allow enough time to let the flavors blend for at least an hour. That’s one of the secrets to why it tastes so delicious! If you're short on time, use 1/2 cup prepared balsamic vinaigrette instead of making it from scratch. —Dolores Brigham, Inglewood, California
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Colorful Cornbread Salad

When my garden comes in, I harvest the veggies for potluck dishes. I live in the South, and we think bacon and cornbread make everything better, even salad! —Rebecca Clark, Warrior, Alabama
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Balsamic Green Bean Salad

Serve up those green beans in a whole new way–with a green bean salad recipe! The tangy flavors and crunch of these balsamic green beans complement any special meal or holiday potluck. —Megan Spencer, Farmington Hills, Michigan
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Summer Chicken Macaroni Salad

For sunny, lazy days, I make a loaded macaroni salad that’s like three salads in one. The mix of fresh veggies, sweet peaches and crunchy pistachios is a surprisingly delicious combo. —Nancy Heishman, Las Vegas, Nevada
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Khmer Pickled Vegetable Salad

I grew up as a missionary kid in Cambodia, and most of my favorite foods have a Southeast Asian background. Locals love eating this pickled salad for breakfast, but I like it as a side for lunch or dinner, especially with chicken satay. —Hannah Heavener, Belton, Texas
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Mango Barley Salad

I made this fresh, colorful mango salad on the fly and it was a big hit! The bright flavor is perfect for a spring or summer picnic, served right away or chilled. —Dan Wellberg, Elk River, Minnesota
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Layered Salad for a Crowd

This salad is a favorite of my three sons. I took it to a luncheon honoring our school district’s food service manager, and she asked for the recipe. I like to make the dressing the day before so the flavors blend together. —Linda Ashley, Leesburg, Georgia
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Balsamic Cucumber Salad

Cucumber salad recipes are my absolute favorite! This fast, fresh salad is a winner at every get together. It's an easygoing, healthy side dish for kabobs, chicken or anything hot off the grill. —Blair Lonergan, Rochelle, Virginia
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Barley Corn Salad

A terrific alternative to pasta salad, this colorful side dish adds refreshing herb flavor to corn, barley, and red and green peppers. Bring it to your next get-together and see how fast it disappears! —Mary Ann Kieffer of Lawrence, Kansas
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Curried Chicken Salad with Pineapple and Grapes

This fun and flavorful beauty turns last night’s cooked chicken into a delightful salad that’s perfect for lunch. —Linda Bevill, Monticello, Arkansas
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Grilled Vegetable Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

My Italian-style grilled veggies have a wonderful sweet and sour dressing. Best of all, I pick the fresh veggies and herbs from my garden. —Laura Mast, Defiance, Ohio
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White Ale Potato Salad

Take this one outside! My grown-up recipe uses beer instead of mayo, so you don't need to worry about keeping it cool. It's a really popular recipe on my blog, girllikestoeat.com. —Jenny MacBeth, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Southwestern Pork Salad

As pork producers, we're proud to cook and serve the delicious product we raise. This tempting salad is refreshing and colorful. It's a succulent showcase for pork. I know your family will enjoy it as much as we do. -Sue Cunningham, Prospect, Ohio
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Tarragon Asparagus Salad

I love asparagus, and I love it even more when drizzled with my light, lemony vinaigrette dressing with a touch of tarragon. It's perfect as a side for fresh spring meals. —Linda Lace, Winter Park, Florida
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Israeli Pepper Tomato Salad

"This Israeli salad, which is traditionally eaten at breakfast, lends itself to endless variety...you can add foods like olives, beets or potatoes," says Sandy Long of Lees Summit, Missouri
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Overnight Layered Lettuce Salad

This layered salad is a family favorite from a church cookbook I've had for 40 years. The bacon adds a fabulous crunch. —Mary Brehm, Cape Coral, Florida
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Tasty Marinated Tomatoes

My niece introduced me to this colorful recipe some time ago. I make it when I have buffets or large gatherings because it can be prepared hours ahead. This is a wonderful way to use a bumper crop of tomatoes. —Myrtle Matthews, Marietta, Georgia
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Broccoli Salad Supreme

People can't get enough of the sweet grapes and crunchy broccoli in this colorful salad. I appreciate its make-ahead convenience. —Terri Twyman, Bonanza, Oregon
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Chili Cornbread Salad

A co-worker brought this wonderful dish to a potluck several years ago. She had copies of the recipe next to the pan. Now I make it for get-togethers and also supply copies of the recipe. I never have any leftover salad or recipes. —Kelly Newsom, Jenks, Oklahoma
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Pesto Tomato-Cucumber Salad

My sister and I created this fresh salad at one of our "recipe nights" and it's been a hit at every party since! Try red pepper flakes for a little kick if you'd like, or add Greek pepperoncini. —Jennifer Freier, Algonquin, Illinois
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Mediterranean Shrimp Orzo Salad

This pretty crowd-pleaser always stands out on the buffet table. With plenty of shrimp, artichoke hearts, olives, peppers and a host of herbs, it's a tasty change of pace from pasta salads. I serve it with a from-scratch vinaigrette. —Ginger Johnson, Pottstown, Pennsylvania
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Tropical Sweet Potato Salad

I had an abundance of sweet potatoes, so I put them to work and came up with this sweet and spicy salad. —Crystal Jo Bruns, Iliff, Colorado
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Citrus-Tarragon Asparagus Salad

I created this colorful salad when I was invited to a friend's Easter egg hunt and potluck picnic. The guests were begging to get my recipe. Let the flavors infuse overnight for the best taste. —Cheryl Magnuson, Apple Valley, California
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Sangria Gelatin Ring

Sangria Gelatin Ring

This gelatin is enjoyed by everyone because you just can't go wrong with fresh berries. —Nicole Nemeth, Komoka, Ontario
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Creamy Grape Salad

Everyone raves when I bring this refreshing, creamy grape salad to potlucks. For a special finishing touch, sprinkle it with brown sugar and pecans. —Marge Elling, Jenison, Michigan
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12-Hour Salad

This recipe was Mom's scrumptious scheme to get her kids to eat vegetables. She never had any trouble when she served this colorful crunchy salad. Mom thought this salad was a real bonus for the cook since it must be made the night before. —Dorothy Bowen, Thomasville, North Carolina
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Grilled Firecracker Potato Salad

I can eat potato salad like crazy. A little spice is nice, so I use cayenne and paprika in this grilled salad that comes with its own fireworks. —Ashley Armstrong, Kingsland, Georgia
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Honey-Melon Salad with Basil

Put the taste of summer in your salad! Loaded with juicy cantaloupe and honeydew, and glazed with a sweet honey dressing, this dish will be gone in minutes. Watermelon is a tasty addition, too. —Khurshid Shaik, Omaha, Nebraska
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Juicy Watermelon Salad

This fruit salad has such a surprising yet fabulous mix of flavors that friends often ask for the recipe. Combine seedless watermelon varieties in yellow, red and pink for a colorful twist. —Heidi Haight, Macomb, Michigan
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Colorful Quinoa Salad

My youngest daughter recently learned she has to avoid gluten, dairy and eggs, which gave me a new challenge in the kitchen. I put this quinoa salad together as a side we could all share. We love it for leftovers, too. —Catherine Turnbull, Burlington, Ontario
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Fresh Sugar Snap Pea Salad

We found fresh sugar snap peas at our town's farmers market. They make a cheerful salad with a tangy dressing. —Courtney Stultz, Weir, Kansas
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Cashew-Chicken Rotini Salad

I’ve tried many chicken salad recipes over the years, but this is my very favorite. It’s fresh, fruity and refreshing, and the cashews add wonderful crunch. Every time I serve it at a potluck or picnic, I get rave reviews—and ( always come home with an empty bowl! —Kara Cook, Elk Ridge, Utah
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Cherry Tomato Salad

This recipe evolved from a need to use the bumper crops of delicious cherry tomatoes we grow. It's one of my favorite cherry tomato recipes, especially at cookouts. —Sally Sibley, St. Augustine, Florida
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Favorite Cucumber Salad

Add a fresh-tasting touch to your menu with this favorite salad. The crunchy cucumbers are tossed with onion, green pepper and a sweet-tart dressing seasoned with celery seed.—Mary Lou Boyce,Wilmington, Delaware
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Tangy Watermelon Salad

The refreshing blend of watermelon, red onions and a splash of citrus always does me proud at picnics and potlucks. I like to prepare it a day ahead so the flavors have a chance to blend, and I use the rind as a colorful serving bowl. If you're short on time, simply substitute any bottled citrus vinaigrette. —Alisha Duncan, Blanchard, Oklahoma
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Chopped Garden Salad

This recipe is always requested by my children for their birthday meal or any other get-together. The flavor combination is so yummy.—Anna Sutherland, Camp, Arkansas
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Summer Macaroni Salad

When we grill, my mother asks me to make this summer pasta salad. To make it extra creamy, I like to keep a small amount of dressing separate and stir it in just before serving. —Carly Curtin, Ellicott City, Maryland
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Crunchy Ramen Salad

For potlucks and picnics, this ramen noodle salad is a knockout. I tote the veggies in a bowl, dressing in a jar and noodles in a bag. Then I shake them up together when it's time to eat. —LJ Porter, Bauxite, Arkansas
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Minty Watermelon-Cucumber Salad

Capturing the fantastic flavors of summer, this refreshing, beautiful watermelon-cucumber salad will be the talk of any picnic or potluck. —Roblynn Hunnisett, Guelph, Ontario
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Potluck Antipasto Pasta Salad

I love trying new recipes, and this one for Italian pasta salad tops all other varieties I've tried. With beans, cheese, sausage and vegetables, it's a hearty complement to any meal. —Bernadette Nelson, Arcadia, California
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Fresh Cucumber Salad

Crisp, garden-fresh cukes are always in season when we hold our family reunion, and they really shine in this simple salad. The recipe can easily be expanded to make large quantities, too. —Betsy Carlson, Rockford, Illinois
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Red Potato Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette

At our house, a red potato salad with red onion, Greek olives and lemony vinaigrette is a zippy improvement on the usual mayo-based salads. —Elizabeth Dehart, West Jordan, Utah
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Marinated Three Bean Salad

Fresh herbs and cayenne pepper provide the fantastic flavor in this marinated salad featuring fresh veggies and canned beans. —Carol Tucker, Wooster, Ohio
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Tomatoes with Buttermilk Vinaigrette

We make the most of tomatoes when they are in season and plentiful, and I love an old-fashioned homemade dressing with summery taste. —Judith Foreman, Alexandria, Virginia
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Sour Cream Cucumbers

We have a tradition at our house to serve this creamy cucumber salad with the other Hungarian specialties my mom learned to make from the women at church. It’s especially good during the summer when the cucumbers are freshly picked from the garden. —Pamela Eaton, Monclova, Ohio
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Sweet Pepper Pesto Pasta

What’s a family gathering or potluck without at least one pasta salad? This one's great freshly made or for several days after. We like it warm or cold. —Karen Hentges, Bakersfield, California
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Corn Pasta Salad

After tasting this cool salad at a family reunion, I immediately asked for the recipe. It has tricolor pasta, sweet corn, juicy tomatoes and crunchy peppers to make it pretty and tasty. —Bernice Morris, Marshfield, Missouri
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Green Bean Pasta Salad

I like to prepare this special green bean pasta salad with fresh green beans and homegrown dill. Serve chilled or at room temperature. —Chris Snyder, Boulder, Colorado
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Cucumber and Red Onion Salad

This cucumber and onion salad is one of the first recipes I came up with myself. It's a great salad for picnics or potlucks. I always come home with an empty bowl! —Brynn Steckman, Westerville, Ohio
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Minty Watermelon Salad

My four year old twin grandchildren love to cook and create in the kitchen with me. Last summer, the three of us were experimenting with watermelon and cheese and that's where this recipe began. It's ideal for neighborhood gatherings and picnics, or as a healthy snack on a hot summer day. —Gwendolyn Vetter, Rogers, Minnesota
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Summertime Tomato Salad

My crazy good salad has cherry tomatoes, squash and blueberries together in one bowl. Then I layer on the flavor with fresh corn, red onion and mint. —Thomas Faglon, Somerset, New Jersey
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Layered Cornbread Salad

When the garden comes in, we harvest the veggies and layer them with cornbread and sweet relish for this snappy salad. Everyone wants seconds. —Rebecca Clark, Warrior, Alabama
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Strawberry Pasta Salad

Bow tie pasta with strawberries makes a refreshing salad, especially with a little chopped mint. I multiply it for brunches, potlucks, even tailgates. —Barbara Lento, Houston, Pennsylvania
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Pesto Quinoa Salad

My daughter-in-law got me hooked on quinoa, and I'm so glad she did! I've been substituting quinoa in some of my favorite pasta recipes, and this dish is the happy result of one of those experiments. I love using my garden tomatoes and peppers in this salad; however, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers are equally delicious. —Sue Gronholz, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
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Black-Eyed Pea Tomato Salad

Spending time in the kitchen with my late aunt was so much fun because she was an amazing cook and teacher. This black-eyed pea salad was one of her specialties. It's easy to make and is a nice alternative to pasta or potato salad. Add cooked cubed chicken breast to make it a meal on its own. —Patricia Ness, La Mesa, California
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Simple Waldorf Salad

This is my go-to salad when I need a quick little meal. When I want a sweeter taste, I use whipped cream instead of yogurt. —Wendy Masters, East Garafraxa, Ontario

Caroline Stanko
As Editor, Caroline writes and edits all things food-related and helps produce videos for Taste of Home. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find Caroline cooking up a feast, planning her next trip abroad or daydreaming about her golden retriever, Mac.

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